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Elain KinchPublic defender Jennifer Bias and justice advocate Elaine Kinch were named Women of the Year by the Racine Dominicans for their work in Racine and other communities in the state.

Since 2005 the Racine Dominicans, a community of Catholic sisters and lay associates, have honored woman through the Woman of the Year Award, which recognizes the work being done by local women. Bias and Kinch were honored for their work of helping to “form a more perfect union” as part of Women’s history month, according to a press release by the Racine Dominicans.

The two were given the awards at a prayer service at the Siena Center on Sunday.

Starting with the trial division for the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s office in 1987 as an assistant public defender, Bias now serves as the regional supervisor in Racine County.  She has served on numerous boards including the Commission to Reduce Racial Disparity in Wisconsin’s Criminal Justice System and the Oversight Commission.

Her work has “focused on advocacy and accountability in reducing racial disparity,” and one of her presentations is titled “the Best Defense is No Defense,” a program she has presented to young people in the community.

Kinch founded the Racine Coalition for Peace and Justice in 2002. She now serves as the co-chair of the coalition and helped bring Rabbi Brant Rosen, co-founder of the Rabbinical Council of the National Jewish Voice for Peace, to Racine. Over the past 30 years, her passion has been focused on helping people become more aware of injustices that Racine residents are experiencing.

She organized the Central America Solidarity Coalition of Racine, took part in five human rights delegations to Central America, helped organize a human rights rapid-response network and presented what she learned to a number of groups in Racine. Her experiences compelled her to take in two Salvadoran refugees.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.