About our Honoree: Theresa Robertson, Ph.D.
Theresa Robertson, Ph.D., LCPC, NCC is one of the three founding members of PARSOL. Her desire to work toward change in registration laws happened, as it often does, when she became aware of the extraordinary irrational and harmful restrictions imposed on a loved one. Stunned by the reality of the burdens of registration she began researching to learn more about the realities of public registration. What she learned was even more stunning. She realized that as nonsensical and devastating as the restrictions her loved one was subjected to were, there were many others who were subjected to even more harsh requirements. Another realization was that many of these individuals lacked the resources and supports needed to move toward a life of meaning, dignity, and value.
She searched for criminal justice reform organizations in PA that were looking into these laws and came up empty. Eventually, she discovered the National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws (NARSOL) and in January 2017 became the NARSOL State Contact for Pennsylvania. Two of the individuals who NARSOL connected her with were interested in working toward changing sex offense laws and policies. The three of them, Theresa, Carol, and Stew, met for lunch and initiated the first discussion about organizing a NARSOL affiliate group in Pennsylvania.heresa continued as the NARSOL Contact for Pennsylvania which resulted in ongoing connections from Pennsylvania citizens impacted by these laws. On occasion those calls resulted in connecting with others interested in helping to build a NARSOL affiliate in our state. Gradually these talented and committed individuals came together to officially launch PARSOL on March 11, 2018. Theresa first took the seat as chairperson that November.
As a fierce advocate on the road to rational sex offense laws in Pennsylvania, she attended NARSOL conferences, criminal justice reform rallies, a PA Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, presented on an array of topics that impact those impacted by sex offense laws, including the NARSOL conference, PA Reentry Council (PARC) quarterly meeting, B4UAct annual workshop, the Pennsylvania Reentry Housing Symposium, and a variety of mental health conferences. She has also represented PARSOL as a guest on the Registry Matters podcast, launched the PA Fearless Group, and served on the PA Attorney General’s Reentry Council (PARC) and the Sub-committee for Persons Convicted. Changing a popular narrative based on myths and moral panic is an emotionally draining roller coaster. There are legal victories that set one’s spirits high, all to be quickly brought down by a new statute or a separate legal loss. She’s gone through all of this while taking care of her family, working full-time, and completing her Ph.D. which was awarded in 2018. Along the way, PARSOL hascontinued to grow and expand its reach with the now Dr. Robertson at the helm.