President and Chief Executive Officer, The Paley Center for Media
“Sex trafficking is not a ‘victimless crime,’ and it is happening right under our noses in neighborhoods around this state: women and girls enslaved and exploited. Whether or not the rise in sex trafficking is a response to a culture that condones sex for money, that objectifies women and girls, that plays into vulnerabilities resulting from poverty, homelessness, abuse in the home, it is a reality and will not end without you.”
Throughout her career, Pat Mitchell has engaged the power of media to tell the stories of women, celebrating their accomplishments and exposing the challenges to full equality and empowerment. As the first woman President/CEO of PBS, the first woman to own, produce and host a national show for women, and an award winning documentary producer, she is a role model and a mentor for women in media and a committed advocate for women and girls around the world.
Housing Supervisor, Spanish Action League
"Modern day slavery does exist. The invisible people walk amongst us every day. I have the honor of crossing paths with them to let them know that there is help and hope."
A survivor of domestic and sexual violence who learned the hard way that, "the most beautiful things emerge from the ugliest of situations," Elisa Morales believes that we weren't put on this earth to see through each other, but rather to see each other through. Fighting trafficking one person at a time, she moves mountains when someone's freedom is at stake.
Founder, Equality Now
“We can change the world we live in. I want to live in a world where human trafficking is an artifact of history, not a multibillion industry that preys on forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation.”
Jessica Neuwirth is the founder of Equality Now, an international human rights organization established in 1992 to work for an end to all forms of violence and discrimination against women. She led the initiative advocating for the prosecution of Big Apple Oriental Tours, the first sex tourism company prosecuted in the United States. She is one of the founders of the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition.
President, New York City City Chapter, the National Organization for Women
“If we don’t stem the tide of demand for prostitution, that demand will continue to be met by coercion, violence, force and exploitation. Our great challenge as a society is to change attitudes, to stigmatize going ‘to a prostitute.’”
As President of NOW-NYC, Sonia Ossorio has worked to advance women’s rights in the criminal justice system, with particular emphasis on trafficking victims’ rights. In recognition of her extensive advocacy on behalf of trafficking victims, which includes launching NOW-NYC's anti-trafficking campaign and assisting with the drafting of New York's groundbreaking anti-trafficking legislation, Governor Cuomo honored her with the Outstanding Public Service Award.
Mary Lake Polan, M.D.
Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Columbia University School of Medicine
“A woman's body belongs to her. Not to her family or to a stranger who is selling her for profit. Sex trafficking - selling and imprisoning girls - is wrong and must be stopped, whether in the developing world or at home in the USA. And we all, men and women, need to work to stop sex-trafficking.”
Dr. Mary Lake Polan has combined rigorous scientific research with a humanistic clinical approach, in a career spanning women's health, clinical medicine, medical education, and governmental organizations. She has drastically improved maternal health services in Eritrea, a small country on the eastern coast of Africa, by founding the Eritrean Women's Health Project, a health initiative for fistula repair.
Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
"Prostitution is the world's oldest oppression."
An ecofeminist who links the worldwide oppression of women to the destruction of the environment, and a longstanding social justice activist, Norma Ramos is the Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, the first nongovernmental organization to combat the trafficking of women and girls globally.
District Attorney, Nassau County
"Sex trafficking victims need help and support, not criminal punishment. That's why I established a special human trafficking part in Nassau County to help women and punish those who exploit them."
As the District Attorney of Nassau County, Kathleen Rice is known for her innovative, tough, and smart-on-crime initiatives. Since taking office in 2005, she has effectively prosecuted perpetrators of crimes of gender violence and focused on ensuring protection and justice for victims of sex trafficking.
Carol A. Robles-Roman
Deputy Mayor for Legal Affairs and Counsel to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
“Trafficking can thrive because this crime is often hidden from the public eye. We can fight this human rights violation by recognizing the signs and knowing how to help potential victims, particularly at risk youth.”
Carol Robles-Roman has played a key role in spearheading the City’s anti trafficking initiatives, including the multi-media public education campaign, “Let’s Call an End to Human Trafficking,” which brings human trafficking out of the shadows by increasing public awareness of the problem.
President and CEO, Covenant House
“Jailing underage prostituted children and teenagers doesn't solve the problem of sexual exploitation; it's the johns, gangs, cartels and pimps who buy them and sell them who need to be identified, punished, jailed, fined, and, if they use the bodies of minors, placed on sex offender lists.”
A father, activist and child advocate, Kevin Ryan spent nearly a decade during the 1990s on the frontlines of Covenant House's mission with homeless and trafficked children on the streets of New York and New Jersey before he was appointed by the governor of New Jersey as the state's first child advocate. He returned to the charity of his heart, Covenant House, as its fourth international president in 2009. Covenant House, the largest organization in the Americas helping exploited, homeless, runaway and trafficked children and youth, helps more than 56,000 kids annually in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala.
Human Trafficking Specialist, Worker Justice Center
"Slavery is a reality that humanity has had to deal with throughout history. Fortunately, there has always been and there will always be people who find slavery unacceptable and will risk everything to fight for freedom and equality for all. I accept the challenge and welcome the fight."
Activist, poet, and hip hop artist, Renan Salgado is a Human Trafficking Specialist at the Worker Justice Center of New York. He is involved in the investigation, rescue, and provision of legal services to victims of modern slavery in the State of New York, as well as the training of law enforcement and NGOs.
Program Coordinator, Advocacy Lab
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela
Maya Saoud is an educator and activist serving as the Program Coordinator and Interim Executive Director of The Advocacy Lab, a non-profit providing New York City high school students with human rights education and advocacy skills training. Each year, students are exposed to the issue of sex trafficking in NYC and are moved to action in their communities.
Eric T. Schneiderman
Attorney General of New York
"Through robust enforcement of the law and continued collaboration, we can help eliminate trafficking crimes and prevent the unlawful exploitation of victims in our state.”
Eric Schneiderman, the Attorney General of New York State, is known for standing up to powerful interests on behalf of everyday New Yorkers. Under his leadership, the Attorney General's Office initiative to combat sex and labor trafficking has implemented a working group to investigate potential cases, prosecute perpetrators, and connect survivors with service providers who specialize in their unique needs.
Executive Director, Girls for Gender Equity
“I’m an activist, and the trafficking of girls, women and boys makes me angry; an anger born from hurt, fear, and a disdain for injustice.”
Joanne Smith is the founder and Executive Director of Girls for Gender Equity, an organization dedicated to ending gender-based violence, and a recipient of numerous awards for her work in the field of women’s and LGBTQ rights. Through her engagement with the Move to End Violence, a ten- year initiative aimed at strengthening collective efforts to end violence against women in the United States, she has tirelessly advocated for the elimination of trafficking both in the United States and abroad.
“The human spirit can be even stronger than everything designed to suppress it.”
Renowned feminist leader and journalist, Gloria Steinem is the author of
Revolution from Within, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, Moving Beyond Words,
Marilyn: Norma Jean
. In partnership with Ruchira Gupta, she has travelled throughout the U.S. and India to raise awareness of the devastating impact of the commercial sex trafficking industry on women, girls, and communities.
Susan K. Stern
Chair, The President's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships
“Trafficking is a very lucrative business of high profits and low risk. We need to create a paradigm shift, making it low profit and very high risk.”
A national community leader, Susan Stern has ignited communities of faith to take action to end modern slavery across the country. She serves as the Special Advisor on Government Affairs to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, National Campaign Chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, and Chair of the New York State Commission on National and Community Service. Under her leadership, the President's Advisory Council has called on faith and community leaders to be the voice for those whose cries are not heard and who cannot speak for themselves.
Chair of the Board, New York Women’s Foundation, and former New York State Superintendent of Banks
Working to end sex trafficking, she recalls a pimp’s modus operandi, “Young girls, especially troubled young girls, you promise them heaven. They’ll follow you to hell.”
After breaking gender barriers in the world of finance, where she served as New York State Superintendent of Banks and Chairwoman of the New York State Banking Board, Diana Taylor now devotes her leadership to gender equality as Chair of the Board of the New York Women’s Foundation and a Board Member of GEMS.
Cyrus Vance, Jr.
District Attorney, New York County
“Sex trafficking takes a devastating human toll on its victims and its perpetrators prey upon some of the most vulnerable members of society.”
District Attorney of New York County since 2010, Cyrus Vance created a Human Trafficking Program aimed at dismantling sex trafficking from top to bottom by going after traffickers, drivers, and johns. Trafficked women are treated as the victims they are, receiving support together with their families, while law enforcement receives intensive education about this uniquely vicious crime.
New York City Urban Project Director, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship
"To free people from physical and spiritual chains, we must be set free from our own physical and spiritual slavery. We cannot not testify to a freedom we don't know for ourselves."
Jonathan Walton is a poet, a social justice activist and missionary and anti-trafficking advocate for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, the largest student group in the world.
Legislative Director, YWCAs of New York State
“We must recognize that trafficking is happening in our communities, the failure to do so is tantamount to failing victims. And we must address the cultural norms that create an atmosphere where people can buy and sell women and girls.”
Shannon Wong has been working to end violence against women for over 20 years. Currently, she is the driving force behind the legislative advocacy efforts of the New York State YWCAs whose mission is eliminating racism and empowering women.
Photography by Lynn Savarese Sponsered by The New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition Media Inquiries: Melissa McNamara, email@example.com