Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) recently announced its new national president is Helen Witty, effective Jan. 1.
Witty joined MADD in 2000 after her 16-year-old daughter, Helen Marie, was killed by a drunk and drugged driver while rollerblading on a designated bike path near the family’s Pinecrest home on a clear June afternoon.
“I landed in MADD’s capable lap, completely shattered,” Witty said. “I cherish the opportunity to comfort those so deeply impacted by the crime of impaired driving, to listen to their stories and give the empathy and encouragement I received. It is our stories that hold the power and unite us.”
As president, Witty will serve as national spokesperson and chief advocate for MADD, which grew from a grassroots movement begun by a grieving mother in 1980 to one of the most influential and effective organizations in history.
“It is an honor to join the courageous voices who have used their passion to further MADD’s mission toward a future of ‘No More Victims,’” she said.
Witty spent 11 years as a MADD volunteer victim advocate and seven years as a staff member in Miami, sharing her story with area school children, police officers, federal agents and hospital workers, among others.
She has delivered MADD’s message in classrooms, churches, airports, seaports and to local and national television audiences. To this day, Witty and her husband, John, are recognized around Miami for their work to help end the crime of impaired driving, and the tragedy that fuels them.
After the death of a Miami cyclist in 2012 by a hit-and-run driver, Witty worked with community partners and activists to help pass the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act. The law imposes the same sentence for drivers who flee the scene of a fatal crash as DUI manslaughter offenders.
“Since the unimaginable loss of her daughter, Helen Marie, Helen has devoted her life to stopping this 100 percent preventable crime,” said Vicki Knox, interim CEO and chief operating officer. “A compassionate listener and powerful storyteller, she has spent 18 years championing MADD’s mission to fight drugged driving and end drunk driving.”
In addition to her work with MADD, Witty spent nine years as a Delta Air Lines employee and eight years as a college advisor in Miami-Dade Public Schools. She graduated from Virginia’s Sweet Briar College with degrees in Spanish and German. Witty lives in Pinecrest with her husband in the childhood home her father built. They have a surviving son, John, who resides in New York, where he is completing a PhD in art history.
Visit www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.