Protect Our Defenders Foundation
3139 Bay Shore Rd
Sarasota FL 34234

Protect Our Defenders (POD) is the only national organization solely dedicated to addressing the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the military and to combating a culture of pervasive sexual harassment and retribution against victims. We honor, support and give voice to survivors of military sexual assault – including both service members and civilians assaulted by members of the military.  We provide pro bono case work and legal referrals.  

We seek reform to ensure all survivors have access to a fair, impartially administered system of justice.
CEO/Executive Director President, Col. Don Christensen Ret. (USAF)
Board Chair Davis Weinstock
Board Chair Affiliation Clark & Weinstock
General Info
Tax Exempt Status Public Supported Charity
Incorporation Year 2012
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes June 2017
State Registration 0
IRS Letter of Determination
Financial Summary
Projected Revenue $55,000.00
Projected Expenses $18,875.00
Impact Statement


1.  POD works to change the culture of sexual assault and harassment, to empower victims and enforce their rights within the broken military justice system.  Our goals include making sure that the victim's rights are enforced and we constantly review our cases to assure that we are doing everything within our power to meet this goal.
2. Ensure that active duty service members, veterans, and U.S. civilians have access to legal assistance and case support to protect their rights related to VA benefits, retaliatory discharges, errant medical diagnoses, and privacy rights.
3. Grow MST support groups. 
1. 6 reforms passed into federal law that established basic legal protections for victims in the military, including: guaranteeing victims the right to legal representation; reforming hearing processes that had led to the abuse of victims; and strengthening victims’ privacy rights for mental health counseling records.
2.  POD’s Pro Bono Network is the only program in the country providing free legal services specifically for survivors of military sexual assault and harassment. 
3.  POD has been featured in over 1,200 articles and works closely with editorial boards to influence public opinion and award-winning reporters who have exposed this crisis. We have coalesced and work with a network of over 2,500 survivors and family members, over 500 of whom who have actively participated in national advocacy campaigns, met with their elected officials and shared their stories in over 1,000 news reports.
4.  Empowered over 30 advocates to speak with the media, elected officials and to do important work on the ground: volunteering at local VA centers and advocating for improved VA MST services; running a state’s first women veterans conference; forming local peer support groups; and running one of the only online male MST support groups.
5.  Removed over 32,000 misogynistic materials from DoD hard drives and offices.
Needs Statement

Funding is respectfully requested for the following:

1) Pro Bono Network (PBN): The only program in the country providing free legal services specifically for survivors of military sexual assault and harassment including active duty, veterans, and civilians. PBN staff and our partners at major law firms protect victims’ rights related to VA benefits, retaliatory discharges, errant medical diagnoses, and privacy rights.

2) Training and Education: POD provides speakers—experts and survivor advocates—and training materials for assault prevention and education programs at military bases and VA centers. Our mini-documentaries with survivor stories are repurposed for military, VA and community training events.

3) Policy: Through legal challenges in military courts, reports exposing abuse, and policy advocacy, POD works to change the culture of harassment, to empower victims and enforce their rights within the broken military justice system.

4) Advocacy and Mentoring: POD trains survivors to speak with the press, their members of Congress, and at local events across the country. We work with a national community of survivors, families, and organizations to develop advocacy materials to educate the public.

5) Media: POD works with national and local news outlets to break investigative reports that keep the issue in the headlines.

Background Statement

The women and men who serve in our Armed Forces should not have to work in an environment where harassment and sexual assault is widespread and victims face retribution for reporting their assaults. Service members deserve a system of justice worthy of the American principles they have dedicated their lives to protect. The prevalence of rape, harassment, retaliation and misogyny in the military and a culture that has allowed it to persist erode military values of integrity and sacrifice, undermine good order and discipline and exacerbate existing inequalities for women, people of color and LGBTQ service members. Reforming this culture will strengthen our military, and promote unit cohesion and morale. Protect Our Defenders has a deep understanding of military process and procedure. We work respectfully and collaboratively, engaging stakeholders who can speak from personal experience about the need for reform, to promote change from outside and from within the military.

Protect Our Defenders deploys a multifaceted effort towards reform. Every day, through policy reform, advocacy, public education, and pro bono support, we work to provide those who serve in our military a safe and respectful environment free from harassment and abuse, and to create a justice system that can fairly and effectively adjudicate these crimes.

These efforts are directly informed by our work with survivors, their families, and current and former military members, and are grounded in our core values.

Areas Served
Areas Served
FL- Sarasota
Service Categories
Primary Org Type Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy
Secondary Org Type Human Services
Tertiary Org Type Crime & Legal - Related
Statement from the Board Chair/Board President
Description Founded in 2013, Protect Our Defenders’ Pro Bono Network is the only program in the country providing free legal services specifically for survivors of military sexual assault and harassment. Active duty service members, veterans, and U.S. civilians living across the country are able to access legal assistance and case support for the often traumatizing and complex legal and professional issues related to their assaults. This year, we expanded our services to civilians, including military dependents, who have been assaulted by service members and find themselves navigating the broken military justice system with little support and few resources.
Budget $200,000
Category Crime & Legal, General/Other Crime & Legal, General/Other
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Adults Victims Females
Short Term Success

In 2015, 255 survivors requested assistance from POD. Of these, 195 survivors completed an interview and 119 survivors received case assistance, often including victim legal representation for the military justice process, protection from retaliation, discharge record corrections, and assistance with receiving needed health care. In 2014, over 200 survivors had completed an in-depth interview with our intake staff and POD provided 109 victims with legal referrals, guidance and/or casework assistance.

Long Term Success

The issues faced by survivors who come through our PBN have focused our agenda and led to meaningful policy change. For example, POD helps fight adverse motions and rulings by military judges in the active criminal cases of the victims we are able to place with attorneys. These rulings have the potential to improve the experience of all victims of military sexual assault. 

Program Success Monitoring  POD monitors PBN service outcomes by tracking all communications and case developments with survivors and their attorneys. Our staff members with research and analysis expertise are also developing evaluations using data from survivor intake data and designing surveys to evaluate satisfaction and strengths.
Program Success Examples

Case story, shared with permission, name changed: “If it were not for Protect Our Defenders, I would not have been able to go up against the [Army criminal investigators] nor would I have been in any way able to utilize attorneys with such experience in a case like mine. My fear level was minimized greatly for having [your] support staff talk me through my concerns. [You] also helped me gather the strength to continue my fight for justice...I am forever grateful to POD.” Erica, a former civilian employee of the Department of Defense, was physically and sexually assaulted by her supervisor, an Army officer. POD found Erica an attorney team to represent her during criminal proceedings. When the Army informed Erica they would not be prosecuting, these attorneys advocated for the military to hold her assailant accountable. POD has also connected Erica to both local services to help her with the restraining order so that Erica and her family are able to remain safe.

CEO/Executive Director
CEO/Executive Director President, Col. Don Christensen Ret. (USAF)
CEO Term Start 2014
CEO/Executive Director Email

Don Christensen, Colonel, USAF (Ret.) served as chief prosecutor for the United States Air Force between 2010 and 2014. He served as a trial counsel, defense counsel or military judge for every year of his 23-year career in the United States Air Force.

Christensen has served as an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate, Area Defense Counsel, Circuit Defense Counsel, Deputy Chief Circuit Defense Counsel, and Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, as a deployed Staff Judge Advocate, Chief Circuit Trial Counsel, and Staff Judge Advocate and as a Military Judge. He has tried over 150 courts-martial as a trial and defense counsel and has presided over 100 trials as a military judge.

Former CEOs/Executive Directors
Senior Staff
Staff & Volunteer Statistics
Full Time Staff 5
Part Time Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % 100
Professional Development Yes
Contractors 3
Volunteers 20
Management Reports to Board
CEO/Executive Director Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes

POD collaborates with media, nonprofit and research organizations, policy makers, advocacy groups, civilian attorneys and the military, both by educating these groups and in working with them to broaden our reach.  

External Assessments and Accreditations
Awards & Recognition
Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social CourageGeorgia Tech2016
Risk Management Provisions
Fundraising Plan Under Development
Communication Plan Under Development
Strategic Plan Under Development
Strategic Plan Years 1
Strategic Plan Adopted Jan 2016
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Continuity of Operations Plan Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
Policies and Procedures Under Development
Board Chair
Board Chair Davis Weinstock
Company Affiliation Clark & Weinstock
Board Term Dec 2014 to Dec 2016
Board Chair Email
Board Members
Board Members
Colonel Don Christensen President, Protect Our Defenders
Lt. Paula Coughlin Retired, US Navy
Congressman George "Buddy" Darden Partner, McKenna, Long and Aldridge
Nicco Mele Harvard Professor
Secretary and General Cou Russell H Miller Miller & Olson, LLP
Nancy Parrish Community Leader
Chief Financial Officer Kirk Pessner Miller & Olson, LLP
Lilli Rey Community Leader
Davis Weinstock Clark & Weinstock
Dr. Wendy Wolf Community Leader
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Board Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 10
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Gender
Male 5
Female 5
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 99
Board Orientation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 78
Board Self-Evaluation Yes
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Board Conflict of Interest Policy Yes
% of Board Making Monetary Contributions 100
% of Board Making In-Kind Contributions 100
Fiscal Year Projections
Fiscal Year Begins 2016
Fiscal Year Ends 2016
Projected Revenue $55,000.00
Projected Expenses $18,875.00
Organization has Endowment No
Capital Campaign
In a Capital Campaign No
Campaign Purpose
Campaign Goal
Campaign Dates 0 to 0
Amount Raised To Date 0 as of 0
Historical Financial Review
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$13,325$9,200$3,000
Administration Expense$550$650$50
Fundraising Expense$5,000$0$0
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses2.910.330.18
Program Expense/Total Expenses71%93%98%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue9%0%0%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$26,525($9,600)($3,000)
Current Assets$26,525($9,600)($3,000)
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$0$0$0
Total Net Assets$26,525($9,600)($3,000)
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201520142013
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountContributions, gifts, grants $55,000Contributions, gifts, grants $3,250Contributions, gifts, grants $550
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount0 $00 $00 $0
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount0 $00 $00 $0
CEO/Executive Director Compensation
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities------
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%----
Financials Comments
Financial Comments by Organization
POD employs local contractors and POD's graphic designer is a local Sarasota military veteran.  There are 80 local self-identified survivors, veterans, and family members who are part of our Survivor Community.  Thirteen local survivors have requested free legal and case services through our pro-bono network.  In addition, there are 113 donors in the area and 340 citizens have signed letter regarding policy changes relative to victor's rights and a change in the military justice system.
To date, POD has spent in excess of $20,000 in the Sarasota area addressing the needs of survivors of rape and sexual assault and their families.  POD has raised funds in this area of $50,000.
POD is actively involved in education and awareness in Sarasota through events with the Paterson Foundation Veterans Legacy Summit; the Community Foundation and the local Veterans for Common Sense.  In addition,  POD also participated in the Sarasota based Through Women's Eyes and film festival and the Sarasota Film Festival, with the showing of The Invisible War and bringing Tailhook whistleblower and Navy pilot Paula Coughlin to Sarasota during the festival for extension discussion on the film and the issues of sexual assault in the military.
Financial Comments by Foundation IRS Form 990's are for the national level. Financial information taken from compilations. 
Nonprofit Protect Our Defenders Foundation
Address 3139 Bay Shore Rd
Sarasota, FL 94010
Phone 202 733-5196