Four recipients – international, national, state and local – to be honored at May 10 Luncheon, featuring Joe Ehrmann
New Friends New Life (NFNL), a nonprofit that restores and empowers formerly trafficked teen girls and sexually exploited women and children, has announced its 2017 ProtectHer Award recipients. Airline Ambassadors International, United States Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, Governor Greg Abbott’s Child Sex Trafficking Team and Parish Episcopal School will be honored at the May 10 New Friends New Life Luncheon, 11:30 a.m., at the OMNI Dallas Hotel, for their visionary guidance and leadership in protecting the rights of women and girls. The luncheon, featuring Joe Ehrmann as headliner, is chaired by Lisa Cooley and Tanya Foster and Honorary Co-Chairs Gail and Dr. R. Gerald Turner.
“New Friends New Life is thrilled to honor these international, national, state, and local partners in our advocacy and prevention efforts to eradicate sex trafficking and exploitation,” said Kelly Cruse, executive director, New Friends New Life. “We are thrilled to add an international recipient for the first time this year. The dedication of each of these recipients to this crime has saved lives. By working together, we will continue to safeguard the rights of women and girls who are at-risk or have already suffered the degradation and trauma of sex trafficking and exploitation.”
Airline Ambassadors International, the first-time international ProtectHer recipient, holds training sessions in airports around the world teaching airline personnel the key warning signs of trafficking. Once these signs are identified, flight attendants notify pilots, who notify ground crews to have police waiting at the gates upon arrival, saving the lives of children and young women.
“Perpetrators are trafficking 800,000 victims across international borders every year and are moving them frequently to keep them powerless,” said Nancy Rivard, president, Airline Ambassadors International. “If you estimate that every flight attendant sees 4,000 people a month, that’s well over 2 million that will be scanned as a result of those who have been trained thus far. Whether a CEO of an airline, a flight attendant, a pilot…each wants to do the right thing, and we are teaching them how to recognize it, report it, and save the life of a child.”
National ProtectHer honoree U.S. Senator Rob Portman is the founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking and has authored five federal anti-trafficking laws since 2012: Bringing Missing Children Home Act; Child Sex Trafficking Data and Response Act; Combat Human Trafficking Act; End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act; and Child Sex Trafficking Amendment Signed Into Law As Part of Violence Against Women Act. Additionally, he works to combat illegal online marketplaces for sex, including an investigation into how sex traffickers use websites like Backpage.com – which is headquartered in Dallas. He has not only received praise from human rights organizations, but Congress unanimously passed Senator Portman’s resolution to require Backpage.com to submit documents relevant to his 18-month investigation of online sex trafficking. As a result, the CEO of Backpage.com now faces 2 years in prison.
The 2017 state ProtectHer honoree is Governor Greg Abbott’s Child Sex Trafficking Team (CCST), which in 2016, changed the landscape of Texas’ fight against the horrific crime that is child sex trafficking. CCST began a study of the scope of child sex trafficking in Texas and identified gaps in victims’ services and law enforcement response along with best practice solutions to fill those gaps. Additionally, CCST expanded existing therapeutic and trauma-informed services for victims of trafficking and trained law enforcement and the child welfare system on identifying and addressing child exploitation.
“In just one year, our Child Sex Trafficking Team has provided invaluable training and technical assistance to law enforcement, child protection services, juvenile justice and community and faith-based organizations tasked with combatting child sex trafficking,” said Governor Abbott. “I am grateful to New Friends New Life for their recognition of CSTT’s hard work, but there is much more to be done. I look forward to building on the success of this past year and continuing in our efforts to prevent and combat sex trafficking in the State of Texas.”
The 2017 local ProtectHer honoree, Parish Episcopal School, piloted the New Friends New Life Men’s Advocacy Group’s manKINDness Project© High School Program, a 60-minute interactive learning experience tailored to teen boys. Through candid conversations about value and respect, the learning objectives for the young men who complete the program are three-fold: learn the power of words and how thoughts influence behaviors and actions; examine ties between respect for women and girls and socialization of sex trafficking and exploitation where nightly in Dallas alone, 400 teen girls are trafficked, and identify solutions in school and community that demonstrate positive, healthy attitudes toward girls and women and themselves.
Parish Episcopal School Former Head Football Coach and Men’s Advocacy Group Member Scott Nady stated, “I’m in charge of 60 boys every fall, and I want to do the most I can to help them understand the issue, what starts the problem, and the chain of events that leads a young lady into this situation. If every coach in North Texas received this challenge, think of the army of men trained to help eradicate this problem. I challenge other coaches to come on board to help train the next generation to identify and execute healthy relationships with women and stop the cycle of sex trafficking.”
The international, national, state and local ProtectHer Awards will be recognized at the May 10 New Friends New Life 14th Annual Luncheon by the New Friends New Life’s Men’s Advocacy Group Board, formed in 2015, to mobilize men to take action against sex trafficking and exploitation by raising public awareness, legal advocacy, and corporate engagement.
“These awards recognize people who are effecting change – they are the catalysts making things happen to improve the lives of trafficked and exploited women and girls,” said Chris Kleinert, CEO and President of Hunt Consolidated Investments and Chair of New Friends New Life’s Men's Advocacy Group Board. “It is our hope these awards will inspire and motivate other people to stand up and join us in this important fight.”
“All of our ProtectHer Award recipients are playing a key role in helping us move Texas closer to a no-tolerance zone for those who prey upon our children,” Cruse added. “Our women and girls are not for sale.”
Tickets for the 14th Annual luncheon available from $250; sponsorships are also available. For more information, visit www.newfriendsnewlife.org or call (214)965-0935.