“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.”
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”.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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.