The Awakenings Foundation was the inspiration of Jean W. Cozier, a Chicago-area writer, musician, and sexual abuse survivor who has showcased the stories of other survivors since 1998. Previously, Jean worked in corporate communications as an independent scriptwriter and filmmaker from 1982 through 1997. She holds a B.S. in Radio/TV/Film Production from Northwestern University.
In 1998, Jean lost her cousin, artist, and sexual abuse survivor Judith Dawn Hickey, to cancer. Before Judith died, Jean made a promise to her that she would work to help other survivors find healing and empowerment through the arts. Jean founded the Judith Dawn Memorial Fund for the Arts in 1998 and administered it in partnership with the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center in Gurnee, Illinois, until 2012, when the Awakenings Foundation took over its administration. Between 1998 and 2016, the JDMF awarded over $100,000 in individual grants to survivors who wished to pursue healing through creative expression. Currently, this program is being re-envisioned as a grants program administered by The Awakenings Foundation.