FBI Presents Grace Leon with the FBI Directors Community Leadership Award
CLEVELAND, OH—The Cleveland Division of the FBI is pleased to announce that Cleveland resident Grace Leon, Crisis Intervention Specialist for FrontLine Service, has been named the recipient of the 2022 Director’s Community Leadership Award. FBI Cleveland Special Agent in Charge Gregory Nelsen will present her with the award during a closed ceremony on March 14, 2023, at the FBI Cleveland Field Office.
The Directors Community Leadership Award (DCLA) honors organizations and individuals who are doing the hard work of improving their communities.
Established in 1990, the FBI’s Director’s Community Leadership Award is a formal means for each FBI field office across the country to publicly recognize the persons or organizations that have made significant contributions assisting law enforcement in their mission to educate about and prevent violent crime in the community.
Each of the FBIs 56 field offices have an opportunity to nominate an individual or organization to be considered for the prestigious award. While each field office can nominate one or several nominees, not every field office will have an honoree. Recipients are chosen by the FBI Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC.
Awardees are recognized for supporting the FBI’s mission and fostering the Bureau’s connections to those we serve. Leon will also travel to Washington, D.C., at the invitation of FBI Director Chris Wray on May 5 for a formal DCLA ceremony honoring all field office recipients.
It was 22 years ago that Grace Leon lost her husband to gun violence. Her husband, Wayne Leon, a Cleveland Police officer, was shot and killed in the line of duty. While grieving the loss of her husband, Grace realized her mission for the rest of her life would be to help others in similar situations. She went back to college and became a Licensed Social Worker. In 2015, Grace helped start a pilot program between the non-profit organization, FrontLine Service, Traumatic Loss Response Team, and the Cleveland Division of Police (CDP), Homicide Unit.
Grace found that there was no shortage of work for her and the CDP Homicide Unit. In 2022, there were 160 homicides in the City of Cleveland. Grace has touched each of those cases in one way or another. She serves as a liaison between homicide detectives working to solve cases, and the families dealing with tremendous grief. She confers with detectives to assist with getting family questions answered, and she serves as a trusted person for victims' families to go to if they believe they have further information regarding their loved one’s case. However, Grace not only assists CDP Homicide Detectives, but she is also someone that the Cleveland FBI Violent Crime Task Force (VCTF) relies upon.
In recent years, CDP created an initiative targeting the high numbers of unsolved murders by partnering with the FBI Cleveland VCTF. This unique collaboration is referred to as the Homicide Review Task Force (HRTF). This Task Force embeds two FBI Cleveland Special Agents, with Homicide Detectives and one Intelligence Analyst, to review and investigate cold and suspected serial homicide cases. It was through this union that the Cleveland Division was fortunate enough to further our relationship with Grace.
Over the course of 2022, members of the HRTF, the VCTF, and the Cleveland Division Victim Specialist (VS), have called upon Grace on countless occasions. The HRTF members often encounter families who are dealing with years of unaddressed loss. These cold cases can evoke old memories, grief as well as other emotional responses. Grace steps right in to provide counseling to those families to make sure they are not forgotten and to make sure their loss is acknowledged. FBI Victim Specialists are frequently in touch with Grace, by collaborating on a case, sharing resources, and assisting each other with helping victims. It is her knowledge and her passion to help those in pain, that our Victim Specialists and Special Agents, who work with her daily, find to be invaluable.
Grace is extremely gracious in volunteering her time to numerous non-profits that help rebuild the lives of police survivor families and co-workers, including Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), where she serves as the Ohio Northeast Trustee. Grace also volunteers with the Cuyahoga County Bluecoats, which is a charitable organization devoted exclusively to the well-being of families of Cuyahoga County safety officers who have lost lives, or who have become permanently disabled or incapacitated in the line of duty.
Grace is a proud graduate of the FBI Cleveland Citizens Academy Class of 2014 and served over five years on the board of the FBI Cleveland Citizens Academy Alumni Association.