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2015 ProtectHer Award Recipients (center) Katie Pedigo, Nancy Ann Hunt, Caren Prothro, Captain Jeoff Williams, Jennifer Barkley, Jeanne Johnson Phillips - photo by Kristina Bowman

Three recipients - local, state, and national – to be honored at April 10 Luncheon, featuring Kevin Costner


New Friends New Life (NFNL), a nonprofit that restores and empowers formerly trafficked girls and sexually exploited women and children, announced its 2015 ProtectHer Award recipients at a February 3 launch party at the home of Carolyn and David Miller for the 12th Annual WINGS Luncheon.  The Letot Girls’ Center, Texas Department of Public Safety, and Sabre will be honored at the April 10 WINGS Luncheon, 11:30 a.m., at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, for their visionary guidance and leadership in protecting the rights of women and girls.  The April luncheon, featuring Kevin Costner as its headliner, is chaired by The Honorable Jeanne Johnson Phillips and Honorary Co-Chairs Ruth Altshuler and former First Lady Laura Bush.


The 2015 Local ProtectHer Honoree, The Letot Girls’ Residential Treatment Center, empowers the community’s youngest victims.  Each year, more than 9,700 youth, ages 10 to 17, come into contact with Dallas County law enforcement.  Many have run away to escape physical, sexual and emotional abuse or neglect.  A partnership between NFNL and the Letot Girls’ Center is sending licensed professional counselors to the Letot Girls’ Center to provide sexual abuse recovery therapy to high risk and trafficked teen girls. Research shows when treatment services are provided in conjunction with vital community resources both the youth and family benefit, and the statistics for long term success improve.


“Girls who have been exploited have experienced far too much ugliness, chaos and degradation in their young lives,” said President Emeritus of the Letot Center Capital Foundation Caren Prothro, who will accept the award.  “While we cannot return their childhoods to them, we can give them a safe and caring place to rebuild their lives.”  


The Letot Girls’ Center is nationally unique, designed and developed to address issues unique to the community’s exploited girls – extreme abuse, trafficking and abandonment.  The Girls’ Center is the result of strong support and years of collaboration between the Dallas Police Department, Dallas County Commissioners Court, and the Dallas County Juvenile Department. 


“We offer our sincere appreciation to the Letot Center, Letot Capital Foundation and Caren Prothro for their commitment to youth in our community,” said New Friends New Life Executive Director Katie Pedigo.  “Letot is a shining example of a public/private partnership making the difference in the lives of the invisible girls in our city.”


The 2015 State ProtectHer Honoree is the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), whose mission is to protect and serve Texas in an ever-changing threat environment. Their Human Trafficking Squad – located in Dallas, is the first in the state.   In 2009, DPS, working with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, developed the Interdiction for the Protection of Children Program to train over 7,000 patrol officers on detection, interdiction and rescue of child victims of sex trafficking and exploitation as well as the proper handling of such cases.  For most of these children a skilled and well-informed patrol officer is their only hope of being rescued. 


Additionally, DPS recently collaborated with local, state and federal agencies to produce the 2014 Texas Human Trafficking Assessment using collective information and perspectives from law enforcement, homeland security, and other government agencies.  This is an invaluable resource to developing an accurate and complete assessment of human trafficking in Texas. This collaboration underscores the commitment of DPS across the state to share information, intelligence, and capabilities to effectively address public safety threats across all jurisdictions.


“DPS officers are trained that no 16-year-old girl gets on a bus coming to Dallas hoping to have sex with 10 different men per day,” said Captain of the Criminal Investigations Division Jeoff Williams, who will accept the award on behalf of the squad.  “Anyone who thinks she consents to this is naïve.”


Captain Williams also supervises two major drug squads, a major gang squad, and an intelligence squad. 


“New Friends New Life is grateful to honor the Department of Public Safety Human Trafficking Squad because these agents are on the front lines each day – rescuing victims and seeking justice for their johns and traffickers,” added Pedigo.


The 2015 National ProtectHer Honoree, Sabre, is a leading technology provider to the global travel and tourism industry.  Headquartered in Southlake, Sabre operates offices in approximately 60 countries around the world.   In 2012, as part of Sabre’s corporate responsibility program to help bring positive social change, Sabre developed “Passport to Freedom” – a program designed to help fight human trafficking and provide support to victims and survivors. Sabre’s goals for Passport to Freedom include increasing awareness and educating the travel industry on human trafficking issues, advocating for legislative change, and providing opportunities for travel industry leaders to collaborate on how to positively make a difference in one of the world’s worst crimes. This comprehensive initiative seeks to unite the travel and tourism industry to fight child sex trafficking and human slavery.


Sabre originally developed an online training course for its 10,000 employees on how they can personally make a difference in the effort to eradicate human trafficking, but the company has since made the training available to the public via


Additionally, Sabre created the first ever scholarship program, dedicated to making post-secondary education and vocational training attainable for trafficking survivors, paving the way for secure and sustainable employment opportunities.


“The Passport to Freedom scholarship program helps victims reclaim their freedom and their lives by giving them critical life skills and career training,” stated Jennifer Barkley, Sabre’s corporate responsibility manager, accepting the award on behalf of Sabre.


“New Friends New Life is very grateful to good corporate citizens like Sabre,” added Pedigo.


Tickets for the 12th Annual WINGS luncheon are $175; sponsorships available.  For more information, visit or call (214)965-0935.



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Kevin Costner to Keynote April 10 WINGS Luncheon

Costner’s involvement ties into upcoming launch of nonprofit’s new Men’s Initiative to create a greater awareness of human trafficking

and how community’s support can change lives

New Friends New Life, a nonprofit that restores and empowers formerly trafficked girls and sexually exploited women and children, announces that Kevin Costner will headline 12th Annual WINGS Luncheon, on Friday, April 10, 2015, 11:30 a.m., at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, 300 Reunion Blvd., Dallas, Texas 75207.  The luncheon will feature Costner in an interview format with Producer Gary Cogill; an awards presentation; and an update about the work of New Friends New Life by Executive Director Katie Pedigo.   Luncheon Chair The Honorable Jeanne Johnson Phillips joins Honorary Co-Chairs Ruth Altshuler and former First Lady Laura Bush and incoming Board Chair Nancy Ann Hunt in promoting what organizers hope will be the nonprofit’s biggest fundraiser to date.

“New Friends New Life is about protecting the most vulnerable citizens of our city – our children,” said The Honorable Jeanne Johnson Phillips, luncheon chair.  “With an estimated 400 teens on the streets each night, as targets of human traffickers, I believe that it is incumbent upon each of us who care about Dallas to do everything we can to send a message that Dallas is a no tolerance zone for human trafficking. We are honored that Laura Bush and Ruth Altshuler are supporting New Friends New Life as honorary chairs for this luncheon. Their leadership on issues related to women and girls is some of the finest in the world, and they set a great example for all of us.”

Kevin Costner began his career starring in independent films, gradually earning small parts in more established movies. His first major motion picture role was in the coming of age comedy, “Fandango.” Throughout his career, Costner has varied his choices with comedy, action and drama role. He has appeared in such popular box-office hits as “No Way Out,” “Bull Durham,” “Field of Dreams,” “The Bodyguard” and “Wyatt Earp.” His exceptional filmmaking abilities were showcased in “Dances with Wolves,” which he produced, directed and starred in, and which won seven Academy Awards including “Best Picture” and “Best Director.” When Costner is not working on films, he sings lead vocals and plays lead guitar in his band, Modern West, and can be seen playing venues across the country. The band’s song “The Angels Came Down” from their album “Turn It On,” was recently adopted by the Gold Star Moms and Gold Star Wives organizations, which support the mothers, wives and families of fallen soldiers.

“We believe Kevin Costner has stepped out on issues related to women and children in a way that is meaningful,” added Phillips. “He understands that human trafficking is one of the worst conditions a person can find themselves in, and his leadership, we believe, encourages both men and women to take up the fight against this terrible crime.”

Serving more than 1,000 women and children annually, New Friends New Life provides holistic services for sexually exploited girls, women, and their children including access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health and spiritual support.  Staff and volunteers provide counseling for women and their children; a program for children of protégés; and a therapeutic prevention program at Letot Girls’ Center and the Dr. Jerome McNeil Detention Center.  By partnering with agencies and individuals, NFNL helps to provide legal assistance, medical services, budget counseling, job-readiness training, and educational opportunities. The nonprofit’s High Risk and Trafficked Teen Girls Program offers sexual abuse recovery groups for adolescents, teaching girls, ages 12 to 17, how to define, recognize, and ultimately recover from abuse.  The program is an intervention and prevention effort to help girls avoid a lifetime of exploitation as human trafficking victims. 

“On behalf of the women and children served by New Friends New Life, we are grateful for the overwhelming community support to provide true transformation and freedom for those that need it so desperately,” said Katie Pedigo, executive director, NFNL.   “New Friends New Life raises awareness in our community, provides basic support for trafficked women and girls and advocates for freedom so that everyone in our communities can share the same human rights that our country promises.  This organization is about children – children seeking a life without sexual abuse and emotional trauma.  No 14-year-old girl should be bought and sold at the whim of a john and hands of a trafficker.  By supporting New Friends New Life, you are declaring that every young child deserves to be free.”

Sponsorships are available, ranging from 1,750-$50,000.  Individual tickets – if not sold out via sponsorships – will be available beginning Feb. 4 at $175 each.  Contact Kelly Cruse,, (214) 965-0935. Past WINGS luncheon speakers have included Sally Field, Barbara P. Bush, Nicholas Sparks, and Harriet Miers.

"It is through the continued support of many that our New Friends New Life women and children can have possible ...the promise that their tomorrows ...won't have to be like their yesterdays,” said Nancy Ann Hunt, 2015-16 board chair.  “It takes a village of efforts and multiple resources to impact change in someone's broken life. We each deserve to not just survive, but to live, and to live fully as God intended." 

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ABOUT NEW FRIENDS NEW LIFE: New Friends New Life, begun in 1998, restores and empowers formerly trafficked girls and sexually exploited women and their children. By providing access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health and spiritual support, New Friends New Life helps women and their children overcome backgrounds of abuse, addiction, poverty and limited opportunities. For more information about New Friends New Life, visit the agency’s website at or call (214) 965-0935.