Executive Director and Co-Founder, Connecticut Advocate, LCWS-C.
Appreciating that circumstance is all that separates her reality from those of marginalized populations, Kristy has spent 20 years leveraging her social worker background as an advocate for the vulnerable among us. Empower Her Network benefits from all Kristy learned and experienced during her time as Executive Director of Boys Hope Girls Hope of Baltimore and Her Future Coalition. She runs transparent programs with the goal of building up those in need towards a day where they can support themselves.
Chair and Co-Founder, Bestselling Author
Abby graduated from Babson College and is a believer in economic solutions to social and cultural problems. There are three main components to the movement: getting out, change advocacy, and rebuilding lives. That last piece is particularly important: Exiting the life without an extended aftercare plan results in re-trafficking, further exploitation, or a life of poverty. It’s also tricky: There isn’t a one-path-fits-all solution. Leveraging her past work as a high tech executive, Abby built a repeatable, scalable backend for the program that offers a low-operating footprint and 100% donor transparency.
Treasurer of the Board, CFA
Kerri McKeever, CFA was valedictorian of her MBA class at Babson College and has been in finance over 15 years, starting as a bond trader and working her way up to specializing institutional investments. She understands the power of funding and how its existence often determines whether potential is realized. Upon learning about EHN’s mission and commitment to transparency, Kerri raised a hand to bring her expertise to the table.
Board Member, Head of Investor Development at Wealth Management Company
Maureen has had a long career in finance, starting at a time when there were few senior female role models. Coming of age in the early days of feminism made its mark and she was determined to be financially independent. That belief found an avocation when she initiated her fundraising work with Women’s World Banking, a global women’s focused micro finance group. Hearing first hand from women whose incomes “helped me keep my daughter from being trafficked” opened up a new passion for ensuring women had education and access to financial independence. Two years ago she heard a presentation about the size and scope of the US trafficking industry and her thoughts expanded towards the US.
Priscilla Angenor (1977-2020)
Priscilla’s life was anchored by a set of principles she openly shared. Her candor and commitment informed and helped shape the board of Empower Her Network. Here, we honor and uphold the values that Priscilla contributed.
Board Member, CEO Runaway Girl
Carissa Phelps is CEO of Runaway Girl, Inc. and a respected advocate in the anti-human trafficking community. She holds both a Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law and an MBA from UCLA Anderson. As a survivor who has rewritten her narrative on her terms, Carissa exemplifies the transformative power of education and employment.As a leader in the anti-human trafficking movement for over a decade she has helped to bring global and local attention to the issue of human trafficking, and has been part of significant changes in legislation, policies, and protocols to improve responses to human trafficking. Carissa is the author of Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets One Helping Hand at a Time (Viking 2012), her award-winning memoir. In 2008, she also co-produced, CARISSA, and award-winning, short documentary film about her life.
Secretary of the Board
After learning about the human trafficking epidemic in India, where Chet’s parents were born and extended family remains, Chet became determined to be a part of the solution. Appreciating the correlation between education and opportunity led Chet to Empower Her Network, where she is excited by the possibilities presented to the survivors among us. Chet graduated from Johns Hopkins University and The London School of Economics. She lives with her husband and two boys in Tampa, Florida.
Board Member, Founder + Partner of Exakt Marketing & Local Revival Co.
Summer has always been an artist at heart. Growing up in North Carolina, she graduated with a degree in marketing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, followed by attending the Art Institute of Atlanta for two years. In 2006, she started her first graphic and web design company called Good Dog/Bad Dog Creative Design. Six years later, she merged with a local social media company to form Exakt Marketing, both in Tampa, Florida. While Exakt Marketing allows her to put her artistic and marketing skills to work, what truly makes her happy is to feel connected and inspired by the communities in which we live. She is thrilled to join the board of Empower Her Network, where she will be in charge of strengthing both the online and offline EHN brand.
Board Member, President, The Change Reaction
For nearly three decades, Wade Trimmer has developed innovative organizations and programs that have impacted individuals experiencing homelessness and those facing issues surrounding poverty and systemic injustices. He is the co-founder of three organizations, The SCV Youth Project, The Mentoring Project, and Project Town Angels. Wade is currently active on several non-profit boards, including Bruin Shelter, a shelter for college students experiencing homelessness, and Human Trafficking Legal Network. He has held executive positions at several organizations in Los Angeles, including San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission and National Health Foundation. Wade is the President of The Change Reaction, a philanthropic movement providing financial resources directly to individuals facing urgent needs. Wade’s educational background is in design and architecture, and he is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at MIT in Data, Economics, and Development Policy. Wade is an avid cyclist and runner and belongs to a motorcycle club committed to serving the community. He and his wife, Jenn, have been married for 26 years and are the proud parents of three boys, ages 21, 18, and 16.
Board Member, Long-time Leader in Social Justice Philanthropy and Women’s Rights Work
Puja Dhawan is a long-time leader in social justice philanthropy and women’s rights work. For over a decade, Puja advanced girls’ and women’s human rights at the NoVo Foundation after coming into the Foundation during its early work. As Director of NoVo’s Initiative to End Violence Against Girls and Women, Puja led all of the initiative’s grantmaking and operational work and managed a dynamic five-person team. Under Puja’s leadership, the Initiative distributed $50 million in annual grantmaking to over 200 organizations with a dedicated focus on meaningful partnership and community-building with grantees. Its work was based throughout the United States, Europe, and the Global South and spanned transformational movements rooted in racial, gender, and economic justice. Puja now provides strategic consulting services for philanthropic and social justice organizations. She is based in Seattle, WA.
Atlanta Advocate, MSW, CLC
Melba Robinson has an extensive history of working for and collaborating with trafficked and commercial sexual exploitation victims throughout Georgia. Currently Program Director of Haven Atlanta, Melba’s expertise is in working with children and families, case management, and program & curriculum development. She joined Empower Her Network because she believes aftercare support is crucial for survivors on their road to independence.
I believe in Empower Her Network’s mission at it’s core. The first survivor that I encountered made me think of my favorite poem “Footprints”. These women are resilient and able to walk on the sand with both feet. At times they may face obstacles that may hinder them for whatever reason. EHN is there to provide extra support and carry them during these times so they can get back on their feet and work towards self-sufficiency. – Melba Robinson
New York City Empowerment Advocate
As a clinical social worker who has spent the last eight years focused on the advancement, health, and healing of people affected by gender based violence, Kate Okamoto, LCSW-R joins Empower Her Network as our New York Advocate and Program Committee member. Her experience as the Supervisor of the Anti-Trafficking Initiative at Sanctuary for Families’ Legal Center and therapeutic expertise counseling and advocating for victims of human trafficking and other extreme abuse makes her an invaluable resource as we build out survivor programs and evaluate nominations. Kate received her master’s degree from the Silberman School of Social Work, Hunter College, and completed post graduate training at the Trauma Studies Center at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy.
When I think of Empower Her Network, I think a lot about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. By collaborating with organizations already meeting the critical basic needs of survival and healing at the bottom of the pyramid, we at EHN can set our sights high and accompany survivors on the path of self actualization. – Kate Okamoto
New York City Empowerment Advocate
Jaycie is graduating from NYU Steinhardt’s Counseling in Mental Health and Wellness program in May 2019 and is currently receiving her training as a trauma therapist at Crime Victims Treatment Center. She has previously worked with survivors of human trafficking, sexual exploitation, domestic violence and other forms of gender violence. She was drawn to Empower Her Network as a result of her passion to empower survivors and her strong belief in their resilience. She is also a Yoga Alliance certified RYT-200 yoga instructor and is training to become a certified MBSR (Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction) teacher.
I believe that healing begins when an individual is no longer sitting alone with overwhelming emotions. Empower Her Network stands by survivors side, providing the healing and empowering advocacy enabling survivors to live safe and fulfilling lives. – Jaycie Hu
Southern California Empowerment Advocate
Camille has worked to address human trafficking in various capacities across the country through awareness, aftercare, community engagement, and prevention efforts. She has worked with NGOs, a state government agency, nonprofit organizations, university students and professors, aftercare agencies, clinicians, service providers, and law enforcement personnel. She currently serves as an advisory board member for SAFE Coalition for Human Rights and a consultant for the Human Trafficking Legal Network in Los Angeles. Camille is currently pursuing her PhD in Psychology from Meridian University. She is a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200) and has received training in trauma-informed yoga and dance, somatic psychology, mindfulness, and expressive arts therapy. She was drawn to Empower Her Network in belief she shares in the creative resilience of survivors.
I am thrilled to be a part of this work with Empower Her Network. It is an honor to walk alongside survivors in their journey, and I am in awe of their creativity, strength, and resilience. The support offered through Empower Her Network expresses, “You are not alone,” a vital thread of both hope and action as survivors navigate transitional territory into new states in life. – Camille Mica
Baltimore Empowerment Advocate
Shamere McKenzie is a consultant, activist, subject matter expert on human trafficking and a sought-after award winning internationally recognized speaker. She is the Chief Executive Officer for Sun Gate Foundation, an anti-trafficking organization that provides educational opportunities for survivors of human trafficking. In addition, she serves as co-chair for the victim’s services committee of the Maryland State Human Trafficking Task Force and the Anti-Trafficking Ambassador to Jamaica.
I strongly believe life is about using your skills, gifts and talents to help others. It is one thing to face adversity, but it is another to overcome, reach back, give a hand and help others in similar situations soar into greatness. Survivors have a transcendent power deep within ready to take flight. With added support, they can launch into a life of fulfilled dreams and goals. This is why I believe in Empower Her Network. – Shamere McKenzie
Northeastern Ohio Empowerment Advocate
Akia Lampkin is a career advocate. She is an Ohio Licensed Social Worker with over 20 years of experience. In 2017, she graduate from Lake Erie College with her MBA, 20 years after earning her BA in Communication and her BSW in Social Work. She is a public speaker, diagnostic assessor, published poet, teacher, facilitator and profound woman of God. She desires to empower women to live a life of promise and victory…Empower Her Network will allow her to continue to do that. She has been married for 10 years and is the the proud mother of three.
Portland Empowerment Advocate
Lena has worked with and for survivors of sexual violence and trafficking for almost a decade. She led a survivor advocacy program for commercially sexually exploited youth in Portland, OR and works closely with the survivor-led anti-trafficking community both locally and nationally. Lena has a Masters Degree in Public Health from Tulane University.
Clinical Social Work Student, Hunter College, NYC
Taylor has spent several years working with survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, and other forms of gender-based violence as a case manager and advocate. Currently a clinical social work student at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College in New York City – she is thrilled to be a part of the Empower Her Network team and is so motivated by EHN’s commitment to long-term solutions and opportunities for survivors.
Chicago Empowerment Advocate
Virginia believes in the power of genuine human connection, compassion, and the absolute necessity of creating individualized treatment plans specific to each client’s unique history, cultural background, socioeconomic status, and goals. Empower Her Network benefits from her experience, education, and skills in the field! She earned her Bachelor of Sciences in Psychology and International Studies degree at Loyola University Chicago and her Master of Arts in Counseling degree from Northwestern University. Virginia’s clinical training began at The Family Institute at Northwestern where she specialized in treating adults struggling with various personalitydisorders, relationship struggles, disturbed eating patterns, transitioning, and sexual assault. Virginia then went on to complete a clinical internship at Heartland Health Outreach’s International Faces program where she provided community mental health services, individual,and in-home therapy to refugees and asylum seekers across the Chicago-land area, and now to survivors of trafficking at Empower Her Network!
Southern California Empowerment Advocate
Jessica has been working in the anti-trafficking movement for the last five years. In her various roles, including lead case manager, she facilitated; art therapy, empowerment groups, alternative healing focused on anti oppressive work theory and trauma informed care. She trains others in Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, LGBTQ & Latinx Trafficking, and health education. Jessica has published research on sex industry life balance and hopes to continue learning and educating. She is a small business owner and graduated with her Master’s in Nonprofit Management.
Baltimore Empowerment Advocate
A native from the country Trinidad and Tobago, Lauren was offered the opportunity to further her studies at age 18. She migrated to the US, obtained an Associates Degree in Allied Health with a concentration in Addictions. She then went on to get her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social work. She holds positions within the Baltimore City Polic Department human trafficking unit, and Co-Chairs the Public Awarness Committee Maryland Human Trafficking Task force. She is also a Court Appointed Special Advocate for CASA, and the Baltimore Empowerment Advocate for EHN!
Ohio Empowerment Advocate
Erica Howard passionately believes in the intrinsic worth and value of every human being. It is woven into her being to fight for freedom, advocate for social justice and pursue racial equality. For the last 8 years at RAHAB ministries she has walked alongside survivors of sexual abuse and trafficking in various capacities to bring hope and restoration. She holds a BA in Social Work from the University of Akron and has 25 years of business management and banking management experience in which she worked to impact poverty in the lives of those most vulnerable in the community. She is currently getting her MSW. This unique combination of experience lends to a perspective that enables her to create change at multiple levels within communities and organizations to positively impact the lives of individuals. She is honored to be part of Empower Her Network and believes that everyone has a story that only their voice can tell!
Tampa Empowerment Advocate
Joshlyn Lawhorn has worked as a social justice activist against racialized, gender-based violence for 7 years. Obtaining her B.A. in Communication & Sociology, she worked as a certified trauma- informed care advocate for domestic violence and sexual assault victims in Clarion, PA. While earning her M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Florida, she worked with commercially sexually exploited youth. She provided CSEC survivors with self-sufficiency plans to prepare them to transition after foster-care into independent living. She believes that a communal, multi-faceted healing is necessary to end the fight against human trafficking. At Empower Her Network she will support survivors’ growth towards fulfillment and independence.
EHN’s Alumni Coordinator
McKenna Callahan is EHN’s Alumni Coordinator! McKenna has been involved with EHN since inception, and helped to establish the Atlanta chapter. She is now pursuing her MSW at the University of Georgia and hopes to continue her work with EHN. In addition to her regular coursework, she plans to work with Dr. David Okech, a professor at UGA’s School of Social Work and founder of the African Programming and Research Initiative to End Slavery (APRIES), who specializes in trafficking research and focuses on designing evidence-based interventions to inform programs and policies that improve the wellbeing and increase economic empowerment for survivors.
“What I love about Empower Her Network is its focus on helping survivors gain their independence. There are many programs that provide short-term assistance, but few have a mission like that of EHN. Preventing re-exploitation through a reliable, present, and supportive network is imperative to cementing long-term stability in the lives of EHN members.It is truly an honor to work alongside them!”
Coordinator for CILEC (Citiwide Immigrant Legal Empowerment Collaborative)
Katisha is a nonprofit human services administrator with a passion for social justice, racial and gender equity.
She brings over a decade of experience working with Sanctuary for Families—where she directed helping hand grants to help meet the temporary financial emergency needs of survivors of domestic violence, commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, and other related forms of gender-based violence—to Empower Her Network’s Program Committee. A graduate of Union College, Katisha went on to be a member of the first graduating class of the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College, where she earned her Executive Masters in Public Administration. Her dedication to be a part of the solution is inspiring.
Accomplished Survey Methodologist, Research Scientist, and Quantitative and Qualitative Consultant on issues related to human trafficking
Dr. Mehlman-Orozco currently serves as the CEO of an anti-trafficking consulting firm, Mahn, Mehlman & Associates, and teaches human trafficking and social justice material at her alma mater George Mason University. Her book, Hidden in Plain Sight: America’s Slaves of the New Millennium, is a leading resource for anti-trafficking advocates.
Read Domestic Trafficking by Kimberly Mehlman
Designer and Founder of Lulu Frost Jewelery
Designer Lisa Salzer-Wiles founded jewelry brand Lulu Frost in 2004 with the purpose of spreading meaning through each of her works. Lulu Frost is beloved for its modernistic approach to celebrating the past, coupled with a brand commitment to create lasting value and meaning in each and every piece. Lisa believes, “Metal is from the earth, it is so rich and elemental. The power and energies it carries, become those that the wearer can carry”.
Founder and CEO of Julie Zuraw Group
Julie Zuraw is CEO of the Julie Zuraw Group, a consultancy that has been committed to developing executive leaders, and particularly women, since 2003. She is an expert in corporate positioning strategy, having been the strategy lead for the Publicis Brand Optimization Systems Group, where she built the group’s brand education practice and oversaw global client operations and brand identity initiatives. She has held various management roles in New York City political campaigns, and has been a faculty member at both Columbia University and Barnard College, where she has taught courses to undergraduates on skill-development pedagogy and to graduate students on pitching their professional projects, in addition to developing the renowned “Speaking Fellows” program, which builds young women’s voice and power. Julie is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College.
Read Women’s Voices? They’ve Been There All Along by Julie Zuraw
I think about EHN every time I work with a female executive on accessing her own power. The survivors EHN has the privilege of working with teach us all that our power is entirely in our own hands, and that the choice to use it is what sets you free. – Julie Zuraw
Community Activist, Fundraiser Extradinaire
After fourteen years volunteering for her local Big Brothers Big Sisters, Laura now focuses her fundraising experience and charitable enthusiasm on organizations with less staff. Empower Her Network is hugely fortunate to have this helper by nature, whose passion is to advocate for marginalized populations ready to go the next mile, on the team.
Vice President of Corporate Responsbility, Inclusion and Diversity for Wellcare Health Plans
Crystal Warwell Walker is Vice President of Corporate Responsibility, Diversity and Inclusion for WellCare Health Plans. She brings nearly 25 years of branding and public, media and community relations experience to the table when advising Empower Her Network. Crystal has a master’s in public relations from the University of Florida and a bachelor’s in magazine journalism from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University.
Board Member, Founding Director, Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership at Berkeley Haas Business School
Dr. Kellie McElhaney founded the Center for Equity, Gender And Leadership (EGAL) at Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley and is a leading expert on equity fluent leadership, value-creating strategies of diversity and inclusion, and corporate social responsibility. The Center for Gender, Equity and Leadership, launched in November 2017, educates equity fluent leaders to ignite and accelerate change. Kellie helped develop this leadership concept and teaches it globally. Kellie authored a book entitled Just Good Business: The Strategic Guide to Aligning Corporate Responsibility and Brand. Kellie consults and keynotes for Global 1000 companies and organizations all over the world on her areas of expertise. She earned her B.A. from the University of North Carolina, her M.A. from Ohio University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.
Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Christine White is on the Program Committee at Empower Her Network. She currently serves as a Senior Lecturer in the Law and Society Minor in MLaw Programs at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her area of expertise and research surrounds issues of the role race plays in the criminal justice system and the transnational crime of human trafficking. Christine commits her time and skills to criminal justice reform including the protection of human trafficking survivors.
Owner & Founder, Vêtue Boutique
Rowena was born and raised in the Philippines and has called Tampa, FL her home in the last 11 years. She attended California State University, San Bernardino where she received her BA and later on her MSW. Her early career as a Clinical Therapist working with the chronically mentally ill population has helped her transition in other careers in Human Resources, Training & Organizational Development, and Program Management for the Army Family Action Plan in Ft. Campbell, KY. She has served as a Board Member for the Ft. Campbell Officers Spouses Club and MacDill Spouses Club. With both her kids grown, she launched Vêtue Boutique online in 2017 to help women empower themselves one outfit at a time with her collection of body positive and size inclusive fun, chic and affordable women’s clothing and accessories while donating some proceeds of her sales to various local charitable organization and causes.
CEO & Founder, RBI, Survivor Leader and Author of In Pursuit of Love
Rebecca thought she found her fairytale when she moved to Las Vegas with her boyfriend. But her dream became her nightmare when her boyfriend became her pimp at the age of 19. Trapped in a life of chaos, coerced into prostitution, abused and controlled by her trafficker, Rebecca was forced into sex trafficking for nearly six years. Many attempted escapes, two brandings, and several pimps later, Federal Investigators raided the home, allowing her an eventual avenue for escape. She speaks on leadership and founding non-profits, serves on the United States National Advisory Committee, Dept of Justice Human Trafficking Advisory Council, the board of Exodus Cry and the Advisory Network and Program Committee of Empower Her Network
Senior Producer at FCB Chicago
After Valerie graduated from college during one of the worst economic times, she was unsure of where to go next. Through connections, she interviewed at an advertising agency in Chicago, where she instantly fell in love with the city and the creativity that flourished in the industry. Ten years later, one career pivot and a short stint in LA, Valerie is still working in the ad world and loving the “windy city.” Valerie’s current job is a mix of something she always loved as a child- puzzles. Using that knowledge, she routinely takes creative ideas and meticulously figures out how to fit them seamlessly together within a client’s vision and budget. Sometimes these tasks are as simple as four-piece puzzles, while others feel like 1,000 pieces scattered in front of her. However, she thinks it’s the perfect role that allows her to tap into her creativity while also thinking through strategy and innovative solutions. She’s worked with numerous clients ranging from healthcare to CPG to an international shoe store. While her job keeps her professional life fulfilled, her desire to help others both locally and across the U.S was still lingering. She is thrilled to join the Empower Her Network advisory board, where she will use her skills and knowledge to help highlight all the incredible things Empower Her Network does and increase their awareness.
Owner/Creative Director, Medina Creative Design
Jennifer is a graduate of the Art Institute of Atlanta and brings 25 years of experience as a Brand Consultant and Graphic Designer. She was Lead Designer for the brand marketing re-brand team for a major financial company’s IPO, where she provided strategic design guidance, as well as the development/design and facilitation of brand training materials. She currently holds the role of Brand Manager and Art Director. Jennifer has always been a firm believer in not only giving back but getting involved. From 2004-2009, she served on the Communications Advisory Committee for Camp Twin Lakes, a camp facility that caters to children with life challenges. Her contributions were as a brand advisor as well as re-design of all Camp Twin Lakes marketing materials. When the opportunity presented itself to work with EHN, it just made sense. We are meant to do much more, much bigger things outside of ourselves – and what better way than to be part of an organization whose mission is to lift others? For that reason, Jennifer is excited to bring her knowledge and expertise to continue to promote and elevate the Empower Her Network brand.
Vice President of Development, Inclusion and Wellness, ESPN
Tonya Cornileus is the Vice President of Development, Inclusion and Wellness at ESPN where she serves as an integral member of the Human Resources senior leadership team and regularly acts as an advisor to other senior management at ESPN. Dr. Cornileus is responsible for learning and organization development, talent management, diversity & inclusion, and wellness. Dr. Cornileus joined ESPN in November of 2009. Dr. Cornileus’ philanthropic endeavors focus primarily on promoting education. In 2019, she established the Tonya Harris Cornileus CJC Diversity in Communications Endowed Scholarship Fund at the University of Florida. She mentors high school and college students and sits on the board of the Greater Hartford Urban League. She earned her Ph.D. and M.Ed. in Human Resources and Organizational Development from the University of Georgia and her bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications from the University of Florida. Tonya believes that she would determine what success is in her terms, and has since developed and helped others in Your Aha Life. She shares the values at Empower Her Network, and believes that survivors should be given the option for a new destination – “Destination; Her Choice.”