Lilynn Cutrer

2017 Jack V. Doland Award Winner





Her strongest commitment is to improving the lives of families and children in our community and across the state, especially young girls who have been victimized or are considered to be at-risk. She assisted in creating the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program in Calcasieu Parish with the support and assistance of the Junior League of Lake Charles, Inc.  CASA provides children who have been abused and neglected with a trained volunteer who will be their voice and advocate in court.  The program is still running strong today in our courts under the leadership of Family and Youth.  

She has also volunteered countless hours to Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana, both at the local and state level.  Throughout the twenty years that she has worked in the family and juvenile justice system, both as a Juvenile Assistant District Attorney and as a Judge, she has seen many cases of physical, sexual and emotional abuse in which the victims are young females.  With the influx of human trafficking in our community and in our state, the abuse and victimization of young girls is escalating.  She recognized a need for local services and support for female victims who comprise a vulnerable, at-risk population in our community.  She created a gender-specific, community-based, comprehensive program to facilitate a healing and recovery process entitled “You Raise Me Up.”  This amazing program recognizes that young girls who are victimized have specific and unique needs. The program provides experiences and opportunities that many of the girls have never had.  The girls are of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds, as abuse and neglect know no boundaries. 

“You Raise Me Up” is a program for girls ages 10-17 that provides a structured and consistent curriculum that addresses the needs of abused and neglected girls.  Twenty girls participate in the program each year, meeting on Tuesday nights for a period of nine months.  The weekly meetings are centered on group therapy sessions with licensed professional counselors. The group allows the girls to voice their opinions and ideas and share their personal experiences in a non-judgmental environment.  Other activities include art therapy and mentoring by our Jack V. Doland recipient.  Birthdays and holidays are celebrated with the girls.  The girls are provided with a hot, sit-down meal around a large table each week.  Counselors are available to work with the girls and their families throughout the week on issues in their home, school, and personal life. A special graduation ceremony concludes the program which includes their families, local judges, the caseworkers and agencies involved in the program.  Our recipient personally develops edits and creates a DVD for each girl of the memories shared during the nine month program.  Her focus is to instill pride, self-respect, respect for others and skills to live as a happy, productive and self-sufficient member of society.

Our recipient single handed began the efforts to renovate a suite of offices in the courthouse for the girls to meet in a calm and safe environment. She volunteers her own time each Tuesday, even after grueling days at work and having a family of her own!  She discusses health issues, skin care, healthy diets, dealing with life’s problems and provides incentives for the girls.

Some of her accolades include:

  •  2000-She was recognized for her contributions to the community by the U.S. Postal Service during National Women’s History Month.

  • 2004-She was named “Active of the Year” by the Junior League of Lake Charles, Inc.

  •  2007-Louisiana Department of Social Services recognized her for outstanding commitment to public service in the best interest of Louisiana’s Children and Families.

  •  2010-Family and Youth chose her as the recipient of their “Light of Hope Award.”

  •  The Times chose her for inclusion in “40 under 40” which recognized 40 individuals under 40 years old making an impact in our community.

  • 2012-The Louisiana Supreme Court recognized her leadership qualities by choosing her as one of the one of 36 judges in the state chosen for the Louisiana Judicial Leadership Institute.

  • Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana, Inc. named her a “Champion for Children” for her efforts in preventing child abuse in our community and across the state.

  • 2017-Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services awarded her the Outstanding Judge Award in honor of her commitment to public service in the best interest of Louisiana’s Child Support Program.