Women of Influence: Alabama’s First Lady Dianne Bentley

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The most fitting woman for our inaugural Woman of Influence profiles is Alabama’s first lady Dianne Bentley.

Watch out Tennessee: If our first lady has anything to do with it you won’t be the only Volunteer State. Assuming the role Jan.17, 2011, Bentley is the perfect role model to inspire Alabama women to find a local cause they can invest their time in to make a real difference in the lives of others.

Long after Gov. Robert Bentley‘s term ends the first lady’s work to improve and bring attention to Alabama’s Domestic Violence Prevention and Family Justice Centers will continue to save and change lives.

We don’t like to talk about it, but domestic violence affects men, women and children across Alabama and the nation. Dianne Bentley isn’t offering shallow photo op or bumper sticker solutions: She has pushed for real changes to the system, and she’s not doing it alone. Among her resources is former Florida first lady Columba Bush,  well known and nationally recognized for her efforts in the Sunshine State to strengthen the system to protect victims and prevent violence.

After visiting every shelter in the Alabama and talking to advocates, victims and professionals,  Bentley said last month that she’s advocating domestic violence prevention legislation to strengthen Alabama’s system. According to her office, “The First Lady Dianne Bentley Domestic Violence Prevention Legislation aims to modernize domestic violence laws, increase state funds toward lifesaving services for victims and their children, and strengthen victim protection through law enforcement and judicial provisions.”

Working with the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence  Bentley is helping those who need it most.

However, she’s not going to spend her time leading our state with only a singular initiative – no matter how large it is.

Bentley is also working to bring attention to adoption and foster care issues. In her official biography, the Office of the First Lady tells about her and the governor’s children: “Two of their sons are adopted but they have been loved so long no one remembers which two.”

The Bentleys have committed to ensuring every child in the state welfare system receives the same kind of love as their children. She has headlined events, discussed this important issue with the media, and has made it a focal point of her time as first lady.

Every community, every woman, every man, every child deserve to be loved and cared for, and our first lady is providing the leadership to do it.

So we salute you, first lady Dianne Bentley. Thank you for being a woman  we all admire, a woman we can all emulate in bestowing the gift of our time and talents to tackle tough subjects.

There’s is no one more appropriate to be Alabama Today’s first Woman of Influence.

Victims of domestic violence can call the state’s hotline at (800) 650-6522 to receive information about the nearest available domestic violence shelter. More resources can be found on the website for the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

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