James Gierke is a native of Southern Arizona. He began his career in Social Work in Tucson, Arizona in 1999. In 2002, he joined the Pima County Attorney’s Office, Victim Witness Program. He worked primarily as a crisis advocate, responding to crime scenes with law enforcement to provide crisis intervention to victims and witnesses of offenses including Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Aggravated Assault, and Homicide. He became associated with The National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) Crisis Response Team, and was called upon to provide crisis services at large scale and mass casualty national disasters.
In 2007, he was appointed to a position at Arizona Department of Corrections, where he coordinated Employee Assistance Programs. He developed and implemented innovative procedures focused on transitioning returning military veterans to work. He assisted with developing employee based peer support, and managed the Arizona Department of Correction’s Critical Incident Response Teams. In that same year, James served on NOVA’s National Task Force on Identity Theft, a task force to examine the effects of victimization of identity theft and services which may be afforded those crime victims. He drafted the first Identity Theft Victim Assistance Curriculum. In the intervening years, he created and implemented AWARE, a cyber-safety and victim assistance training program that focuses on technology related victimization.
In 2010, James returned to the Pima County Attorney’s Office to focus on Prosecution based court advocacy. He led the Specialty Prosecution Domestic Violence Court team, and coordinated community resources to enhance responses to victims of Domestic Violence. On January 8, 2011, James was called upon to assist after a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, where 6 people were murdered. 18 people, including U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords were shot. In the wake of that tragedy, James assisted in coordinating Victim Services responses with local and federal agencies.
In November of 2011, James became Director of Victim Services for NOVA. In addition to his focus on National level victim assistance programs, he maintained service to his local community. He worked with Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse in Tucson, Arizona to create a community based Victim Advocacy Program as part of a Municipal Domestic Violence Court. He also worked with local agencies to provide direct services to men who were court ordered to Domestic Violence intervention.
A nationally recognized expert on victim assistance, James has provided training and technical assistance to staff of more than 1,000 victim services and law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. He frequently presents on topics ranging from cyber-crimes and identity theft to sexual assault, domestic abuse, and homicide victimization responses.
James joined Homicide Survivors, Inc. in October of 2017 as Executive Director. He is honored to work with an organization dedicated to advocacy, support, and assistance to family and friends who have lost a loved one to murder.
Bi-Lingual Advocate - Liz Martinez
Liz Martinez is the bi-lingual advocate at Homicide Survivors. Liz has a degree in accounting from Chaparral College and has worked in mortgage loans, banking, tax preparation and bookkeeping.
She is a native Tucsonan and has three adult children; two sons & a daughter. In 1998, her youngest sister Sandra was a victim of a murder/suicide by her live-in boyfriend. She left behind three young children whom Liz then helped to raise along with her other surviving sister and mother.
After her sister’s homicide, Liz became involved with Homicide Survivors and started working as an office assistant and victim advocate from 2003 – 2004. She returned in October of 2013.
Liz enjoys hiking in the beautiful Tucson desert with her family and her dog, Sparky. After decades as a survivor, Liz feels proud and fortunate to be able to help survivors in their journeys towards acceptance, understanding & growth.
Cochise County Advocate - Sue Dupee
Sue Dupee is the Cochise County advocate. Sue was born and raised in central Ohio, lived in Southern California and Phoenix before settling in the Benson/Tucson. Sue retired from a thirty year banking career serving in various branches and departments. She also owned and ran a deli and more recently a machine shop.
Sue met and married her wonderful husband Bill in Arizona and immediately became a mom to three children - 8 (Stephanie), 13 (Curt) and 17 (Chris). Sue unwillingly joined the world of Homicide Survivors when her daughter, Stephanie was murdered in 1995. Since then her life mission has focused on both volunteering and working for Homicide Survivors as well as volunteering with numerous other victim related organizations including the Pima County Attorney’s Victim Services Division and the Cochise County Victim Compensation Program.
Sue also enjoys caring for her German Shepherd - Lady, horses - Lass and Mr. Ed, and cats - Tika, Rosie and Sarge.
Victim Advocate - Sylvia Alvarez
Sylvia Alvarez was born in the small mining community of San Manuel Arizona. Grew up in the town of Oracle. Graduated from San Manuel High School. Attended college at CAC in Coolidge.
Sylvia became a mother to two sons, Michael and Daniel. They were her pride and joy, and she valued close relationships with both. They enjoyed attending concerts, outdoor festivals and going to the movies together. The boys grew up in the small town of Oracle, Arizona. Life changes brought them to Tucson.
Sylvia was employed as certified caregiver over the past twenty years. She was also trained as a pastry cook working at Wildflower, Hilton El Conquistador as well as the Marriott at Starr Pass.
In 2015, the loss of her son brought her to Homicide Survivors for emotional support after Michael was killed in a drunk driving crash on Valentine’s day. Sylvia began volunteering at HSI, giving back to the people that helped her during the most difficult time in her life.
In September of 2017, Sylvia joined Homicide Survivors as a Victim Advocate. She finds helping survivors rewarding, comforting as well as healing for her during her ongoing grief process.
Born in Mexico to two parents that always encouraged her to help others, Dennisse became involved in community and social justice groups at a young age. After graduating high school, Dennisse moved to Tucson and attended the University of Arizona to study Communications. In 2005 she began volunteering for missing children and quickly learned she had a passion for a new career. In 2007 she started working for Homicide Survivors as an advocate. She worked along side Gail Leland, the founding director of Homicide Survivors. She developed great relationships with our survivors and worked with great passion to follow our mission.
In 2010 she went on to work for Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse. At Emerge, she worked many different case management positions within their shelter, lay legal, and housing programs.
In 2016 Dennisse took time to care for her newborn twins and her young son. In 2017, she returned to work as a Volunteer Coordinator for TIHAN (Tucson Interfaith HIV/Aids Network). Dennisse highly enjoyed working with volunteers and coordinating events for people living with HIV and Aids in our community.
In April of 2018, Dennisse chose to come back and work with our survivors and continue our mission. Dennisse is our new Volunteer Coordinator/Advocate and hopes to grow and formalize our program to better serve families and friends of murder victims.
Dennisse enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and twin girls. She likes to spend time outside, play games, cook, entertain friends and family, read, watch movies and write.
Dennisse feels honored to be back at Homicide Survivors and will continue her work for us living out her true passion for advocacy and support.