HER POSSE


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“I will never forget the first time I locked eyes with a woman outside a brothel in the red light district of Calcutta. She was my age, born into a different set of circumstances. Her eyes were vacant.Every time I think of that moment, I think of her emptiness. I vow to use my voice and resources to uncover opportunities for her and others in her situation. It could have been the other way around.”

–Kristy Norbert

Kristy Norbert

Executive Director and Co-founder, LCSW

Appreciating that circumstance is all that separates her reality from those of marginalized populations, Kristy has spent 17 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. As Dorothy Day stated, “We have all known the long loneliness, and we have found that the answer is community”.

Read Balancing Act by Kristy NorbertRead When we know better, we do better by Kristy NorbetRead The Sizable Wake of Exploitation by Kristy Norbet


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“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

Melba Robinson

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.


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“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

Kate Okamoto

New York Advocate, LCSW-R

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.

 

“Having been both in foster care and a homeless youth, I uniquely recognize the need for advocacy in breaking down barriers for marginalized populations to reach full independence. It just takes one person who believes you deserve to be seen to set a new course.”

–Alexandra Molina

Alexandra Molina

Southern California Advocate

Alexandra Molina has an extensive history working and advocating for the homeless population and victims of trafficking. As a former homeless youth herself, Alexandra brings a wealth of personal and clinical experience to Empower Her Network. Alexandra received a full scholarship on the Oprah Winfrey show back in 2004. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Loyola Marymount University, Alexandra worked as a case manager for Covenant House California where she secured funding for the renovation of their residential facilities.  Alexandra now serves as our Southern California Advocate. She believes in assisting victims of trafficking with an empathetic, compassionate, and trauma-informed approach.

“The Empower Her Network is exactly what we female survivors of abuse need to recreate a healthy life. For years, I have served women whose urgent needs fall between the cracks of our mental health and social service system. I feel truly grateful to be a part of this Network and to use this platform to transform lives. The future is female. Investing in women is the best way to transform our world; empower her.”

–Dr. Ileana Abreu

Dr. Ileana Abreu, EdD (ABD)

Dr. Ileana Abreu, EdD (ABD) is a holistic educator that specializes in transformational mentorship. By providing education and motivational coaching, she leads clients to experience authentic, life-changing breakthroughs. Ileana believes in the power of the brain to heal and transform itself after trauma. She has a background in international development and community organizing, and presently serves survivors of abuse through her private practice in the Tampa Bay.

Marianna Wells

Intern

Marianna Wells is currently an undergraduate student at Connecticut College studying International Relations. She became involved in Empower Her Network through an Anthropology class, “Security, Trafficking and Violence,” where she, for the first time, began to critically examine her position in the world and the importance of women standing up for one another. Additionally, she was recently admitted to the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy, where she is learning the power in solidarity, collective action, and grassroots activism. She hopes to further her understanding of the impacts of trafficking and the resilience of women.

Board of Directors


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“Once you know about the reality of human trafficking you cannot un know. Luck alone granted me a safe childhood where education was valued and provided. Leveraging my undeserved privilege to benefit the resilient, ambitious survivors collaborating with Empower Her Network is an honor.”

–Abby Fabiaschi

Abby Fabiaschi

Chair and Co-founderAbby Fabiaschi is a mother, novelist, and human rights activist that has long been a believer in economic solutions to social and cultural problems. When she read HALF THE SKY five years ago it ignited a fierce desire to fight the human trafficking epidemic, and she joined the board of Her Future Coalition, which works with survivors in Asia. She came to learn there are three main components to the movement: exiting the life, change advocacy, and rebuilding lives. That last piece is particularly important: Exiting the life without an 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. Abby is thrilled to bring the tenants of what she learned with HFC to help transform the lives of survivors domestically at Empower Her Network. With resources and effort, a path to independence is attainable.

Read Choice and Decriminalization of Sex Work by Abby FabiaschiRead Confused by How Section 230 Protects the Bad Guy? by Abby FabiaschiRead Score 1 for Humanity by Abby Fabiaschi


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Maureen O’Toole

Treasurer

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. Maureen met Abby and Kristy during a brief interlude at Her Future Coalition. When asked to join the board of their new effort she jumped at the opportunity to work with these committed women, in an area that seems to be the culmination of years of work.


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Chetana Gowda

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.

Read Celebrating Diwali  by Chet Gowda


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“I joined Empower her Network because I found a group of individuals who are not waiting a single moment to “improve the world.”

–Priscilla Angenor

Priscilla Angenor

Priscilla Angenor is the Owner and Principal Attorney of Angenor Law Office. Priscilla is a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association, Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys, and the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association. Growing up as an inner city kid left her acutely aware of the challenges faced by people with limited means and resources. Her commitment to the community shines through with Project Bread, helping to get SNAP benefits out to more people, and fighting for her underserved clients in the courtroom.

Read Choice and Decriminalization of Sex Work by Priscilla Angenor


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Kerri McKeever, 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.

Advisory Network

Katisha Andrew

Katisha is a nonprofit human services administrator with a passion for social justice, poverty alleviation, and racial and gender equality. She brings over a decade of experience working with Sanctuary for Families— delivering holistic services to victims 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.


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Dr. Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco

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


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Kush Patel

Kush Patel is an entrepreneur who believes in taking an active role in helping others. Leveraging his 8 years of business and real estate experience, he has consistently sought the opportunity to mentor or champion others. From being one of the pilot members of the SPARK tutoring program at Babson College, to working with Made By Survivors in a consulting and fundraising capacity, to mentoring inner-city high school students through Minds Matter Boston, Kush has a history of being involved in causes that enhance opportunities for individuals from a variety of backgrounds and situations.


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Lisa Salzer-Wiles

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”.


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“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

Julie Zuraw

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


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Laura Brodsky

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.

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