Rachael Denhollander is an attorney, advocate, and educator who became known internationally as the first woman to file a police report and speak publicly against USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, one of the most prolific sexual abusers in recorded history. As a result of her activism, over 250 women came forward as survivors of Nassar’s abuse, leading to his life imprisonment. Additionally, her courageous tenacity and ongoing advocacy helped trigger a complete upheaval at both USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, where former executives and high-ranking officials face numerous criminal charges for their complicity in covering up Nassar’s abuse and lying about what they knew.
For her work as an advocate and educator on sexual assault, Rachael was named one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” and one of Glamour Magazine’s “Women of the Year” in 2018. Additionally, she received the “Inspiration of the Year” award from Sports Illustrated, was a joint recipient of ESPN’s “Arthur Ashe Courage Award,” and was named a “Michiganian of the Year” by The Detroit News. She is the recipient of numerous other awards and recommendations, including the “CHILD Protector Award” from CHILD USA, the “Integrity and Impact Award” from Dow Jones Sports Intelligence, and HeartAmbassador’s “Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributing to Social Justice.”
Rachael has been recognized and honored in both the Kentucky and Michigan legislatures for her advocacy, and has been active in spearheading legislative reform at the state level. She has lectured and participated in live Q&A’s on the campus of numerous universities across the nation, including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, NYU, UC Berkeley, USC, and others. She continues to educate on issues of abuse through supporting and speaking at organizations that advocate for victims of sexual and domestic abuse, teaching at abuse prevention conferences, and helping companies and other institutions create safe environments for addressing abuse and harassment. A committed Christian, Rachael has also been at the forefront of condemning the problem of abuse that often plagues churches and religious organizations while working to address the underlying dynamics. Additionally, she was a panelist with a United Nations Peace Messenger Organization at the UN’s 62nd Commission on the Status of Women.
A member of the California Bar Association, Rachael has educated attorneys on the dynamics of sexual abuse at the American Bar Association’s Sports Law Forum, and was the commencement speaker at the graduation ceremony of Brandeis School of Law in Louisville, KY.
Prior to beginning her work as an advocate and educator, she worked in public policy, performed research and writing for human rights organizations, and spoke in a variety of capacities, including testifying before state judiciary committees. She has also taught in legislative action days, and authored and taught a summer camp course on appellate advocacy and judicial philosophy to talented high school students.
She has appeared on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX News, BBC, NPR and regularly appears in national and international print media, including The Washington Post, Der Spiegel, The Wall Street Journal, and the Associated Press, and is a New York Times and Vox op-ed contributor.
Rachael holds a Juris Doctorate from Oak Brook College of Law and possesses an honorary doctorate from the American University of Paris.
She, along with her husband Jacob, lives in Louisville, Kentucky with their four young children.
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