Team Bios
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Board of Directors


Nicole Williams

Board Chair, Career Expert and Bestselling Author

After working with a woman who had been trafficked, Nicole committed to supporting survivors with career development and placement opportunities.  Nicole has worked in the career industry for over 20 years most notably as LinkedIn’s Career Expert and Consumer Spokesperson and the TODAY SHOW Career Contributor. Nicole has built a successful business as a career consultant working alongside Fortune 500 companies both to create innovative marketing campaigns targeted toward professional women (i.e.: Ford, Gap, Proctor and Gamble) and professional development programming with the goal of attracting and retaining female talent (i.e.: Google, Ally Bank, Latham). Nicole believes in the inextricable connection between the work we do the quality of life we live and leapt at the opportunity to co-chair EHN’s Board to focus on expanding career programming to the growing EHN members and Alumni Network.


Carissa Phelps

EHN Ambassador, CEO Runaway Girl

Carissa Phelps is CEO of Runaway Girl, Inc. and a respected advocate in the anti-human trafficking community. She holds both a Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law and an MBA from UCLA Anderson. As a survivor who has rewritten her narrative on her terms, Carissa exemplifies the transformative power of education and employment.As a leader in the anti-human trafficking movement for over a decade she has helped to bring global and local attention to the issue of human trafficking, and has been part of significant changes in legislation, policies, and protocols to improve responses to human trafficking. Carissa is the author of Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets One Helping Hand at a Time (Viking 2012), her award-winning memoir. In 2008, she also co-produced, CARISSA, and award-winning, short documentary film about her life.


Puja Dhawan

Board Member, Long-time Leader in Social Justice Philanthropy and Women’s Rights Work

Puja Dhawan is a long-time leader in social justice philanthropy and women’s rights work. For over a decade, Puja advanced girls’ and women’s human rights at the NoVo Foundation after coming into the Foundation during its early work. As Director of NoVo’s Initiative to End Violence Against Girls and Women, Puja led all of the initiative’s grantmaking and operational work and managed a dynamic five-person team. Under Puja’s leadership, the Initiative distributed $50 million in annual grantmaking to over 200 organizations with a dedicated focus on meaningful partnership and community-building with grantees. Its work was based throughout the United States, Europe, and the Global South and spanned transformational movements rooted in racial, gender, and economic justice. Puja now provides strategic consulting services for philanthropic and social justice organizations. She is based in Seattle, WA.


Chetana Gowda

Secretary of the Board

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.

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Kerri McKeever

Treasurer of the Board, 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.

Maureen O'Toole

Maureen O’Toole

Board Member, Head of Investor Development at Wealth Management Company

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.


Lisa Specht

Board Member, Accomplished Attorney, Philanthropist, Journalist, and Activist

Lisa Specht is a civic leader, accomplished attorney, philanthropist, journalist, activist, and door-opener for those who share that tenacious spirit. Lisa is listed as one of the most influential people in Los Angeles “LA 500”, along with many honors and awards (including SUPER Lawyer—our personal favorite). Lisa has worked tirelessly to elevate clients, relationships, businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies to their most productive and effective state. A strong belief in the power of financial independence attracted Lisa to Empower Her Network; we couldn’t be more grateful.

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Summer Taylor

Board Member, Founder + Creative Director of Local Revival, Inc.

Summer has always been an artist at heart. Growing up in North Carolina, she graduated with a degree in marketing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, followed by attending the Art Institute of Atlanta for two years. In 2006, she started her first graphic and web design company called Good Dog/Bad Dog Creative Design. Six years later, she merged with a local social media company to form Exakt Marketing, both in Tampa, Florida. While Exakt Marketing allows her to put her artistic and marketing skills to work, what truly makes her happy is to feel connected and inspired by the communities in which we live. She is thrilled to join the board of Empower Her Network, where she will be in charge of strengthing both the online and offline EHN brand.


Rachel Thomas

Board Member, Director of Sowers Education Group and Author

A graduate of UCLA and a personal survivor of human trafficking, Rachel has extensive experience teaching, training, curriculum writing, public speaking and mentoring. As director of Sowers Education Group and lead author of Ending The Game: An Intervention Curriculum for Survivors of Sex Trafficking, Rachel has helped millions to become more aware of human trafficking and has helped hundreds of survivors break the bonds of attachment to traffickers and the lifestyle of commercial sexual exploitation. Recently, Rachel was appointed to the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking for a term of 2 years.

Crystal Walker

Crystal Walker

Vice President, Communications at Aetna, a CVS Health Company

With over 25 years in branding and public, media and community relations, Empower Her Network will benefit from Crystal’s expertise. Crystal joins the board to propel EHN’s strategy, growth and visioning; bringing Empower Her Network a premier thought leader in the industry. Crystal has a master’s in public relations from the University of Florida and a Bachelor’s in magazine journalism from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.

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Brook Istook

 Board Member, Social Impact Executive and Human Trafficking Expert

Brooke is a social impact executive and consultant with over 20 years experience across non-profit, technology and consulting sectors.  Early in her career, she spent over 12 years working with global technology consulting companies Accenture and Cognizant, supporting Fortune 500 clients in telecommunications, financial services and entertainment.  As a strategy and operations executive at Thorn, Brooke built global programs, technology products and operations from the ground up to combat online child sexual exploitation and trafficking.  Having worked in the anti-trafficking field for nearly a decade, she is passionate about Empower Her Network’s mission and the power of economic empowerment and dignified employment to bring about healing and recovery for survivors.


Cortney Stapleton

 Board Member, CEO of Bliss Group

Cortney is CEO and owner of The Bliss Group, a 50-year-old marketing communications firm focused on Financial Services, Professional Services, Healthcare, Tech, and Impact. She is also the founder of the marketing platform The Next Practices Group. In addition to EHN she sits on the Board of Trustees for the Institute of Public Relations. Cortney, with several of her trusted industry colleagues and former clients, started Exponent Women over five years ago, an overt networking organization for senior women in the PE and merger and acquisition community. Prior to her career in marketing and PR, Cortney worked in the non-profit sector and government sectors. She held board positions for the Council on Accreditation, which accredits thousands of health and human services organizations in the US, Social Current, focused on setting DEI standards for the social sector nationally, Alliance for Strong Families and Communities and Red Light Children, an anti-child trafficking organization. She has done pro-bono work with universities and the United Nations. She graduated magna cum laude from New York University with a MS in international relations and earned a BA in political science and environmental studies from St. Michael’s College.


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Kristy Norbert, LCSW

Co-Founder, Executive Director

EHN’s co-founder and executive director, Kristy Norbert (LWSC) is a thought leader in the anti-trafficking movement who champions the importance of investing resources beyond initial stability to pave paths to fiscal independence that break generational barriers of exploitation and poverty for victims of labor and sex trafficking.  Kristy has over 20 years experience working with marginalized groups, and believes her role is to honor people and communities for who they are and who they want to be.


Abby Fabiaschi

Co-founder, Director of Partnerships

Abby is an international best-selling author (I Liked My Life, St. Martin’s Press), and a data geek who— inspired by the results of economic empowerment programs among the homeless population—co-founded Empower Her Network in 2017. Opening exit ramps for trafficking survivors closes on-ramps for their children—a worthy investment.  Leveraging her work as a high-tech executive, Abby built a repeatable, scalable backend for the program that offers a low-operating footprint and 100% donor transparency. She enjoys partnering with engaged corporations, foundations, and humans to get this innovative program to more survivors, sooner.

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Kate Okamoto, LCSW-R

 Program Director

Kate has spent the last 15 years focused on the advancement, health, and healing of people affected by gender-based violence and systemic oppression. She specializes in the treatment of complex trauma; training other professionals to work with trafficking survivors, and the neurobiological effects of trauma.  She began at EHN as the first NY Advocate, and then worked as the West Coast Program Manager before assuming her current role. Before coming to EHN she held a position at Montefiore Medical Center’s Rose F. Kennedy Children’s Rehabilitation and Evaluation Center as Clinical Manager of Trauma Services in the GABI program working with parents and their children to heal the intergenerational legacies of attachment trauma.  Until 2017, Kate served as the Supervisor of the Anti-Trafficking Initiative at Sanctuary for Families’ Legal Center where she honed her therapeutic expertise in counseling and advocating for victims of human trafficking, domestic and sexual violence, and immigrant communities.  She received her master’s degree from the Silberman School of Social Work, Hunter College, and post-graduate training at the Trauma Studies Center at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy.

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
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Camille Mica, PhD, ABD

Texas Empowerment Advocate

Camille earned her BA in Psychology and Theology from Franciscan University. During her time there, she witnessed the impact of poverty, addiction, and sexual exploitation of women as well as experiencing the mutually transformative power of personal relationship. She began advocating for human trafficking and CSE (commercial sexual exploitation) awareness and interned with the Ohio Department of Health to assist in developing training for state employees. She went on to work with other organizations including serving as an advisory board member for SAFE Coalition for Human Rights and as a member of the San Diego Board of Supervisors Human Trafficking Advisory Council – Victim Service Committee. Camille completed her MA in Psychology from Meridian University and supervised clinical psychotherapy experience. She has addressed human trafficking in various capacities across the country since 2012 through awareness, aftercare, and prevention efforts in local and global contexts. Along with working in several nonprofits/NGOs, she has engaged with faith communities, university students and faculty, clinicians, legal networks, and law enforcement personnel. Camille is grateful to walk alongside survivors and loves learning-with and -from many voices and stories. She looks forward to envisioning transformative possibilities together. She was drawn to Empower Her Network in the belief she shares in community collaboration, the creative resilience of those who have survived trafficking, and the vital importance of relational and accompaniment amidst challenging transitions.

I am thrilled to be a part of this work with Empower Her Network. It is an honor to walk alongside survivors in their journey, and I am in awe of their creativity, strength, and resilience. The support offered through Empower Her Network expresses, “You are not alone,” a vital thread of both hope and action as survivors navigate transitional territory into new states in life. – Camille Mica
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Katherine Williams, LCSW

New York  Empowerment Advocate

Katherine has 8 years of experience serving survivors of gender-based violence, most recently as a Program Director at Sanctuary for Families’ transitional shelter. Her expertise with direct practice and program management is built on a foundation of trauma-informed and client-centered values. Katherine has always been impressed with the resilience and fortitude of the survivors she serves, and is a fierce advocate for those navigating challenges such as discrimination and structural oppression. When these barriers are removed, survivors’ ambitions can be realized and for this reason Katherine is proud to join Empower Her Network’s mission.

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Erica Howard, LSW

Northeast Ohio Area Manager

Erica Howard passionately believes in the intrinsic worth and value of every human being. It is woven into her being to fight for freedom, advocate for social justice and pursue racial equality.  For the last 8 years at RAHAB ministries she has walked alongside survivors of sexual abuse and trafficking in various capacities to bring hope and restoration.  She holds a BA in Social Work from the University of Akron, MSW from Florida State University, and has 25 years of business management and banking management experience in which she worked to impact poverty in the lives of those most vulnerable in the community.  This unique combination of experience lends to a perspective that enables her to create change at multiple levels within communities and organizations to positively impact the lives of individuals. She is honored to be part of Empower Her Network and believes that everyone has a story that only their voice can tell!

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Jessica Hernandez, MANP

California Empowerment Advocate

Jessica has been working in the anti-trafficking movement for the last five years. In her various roles, including lead case manager, she facilitated; art therapy, empowerment groups, alternative healing focused on anti oppressive work theory and trauma informed care. She trains others in Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, LGBTQ & Latinx Trafficking, and health education. Jessica has published research on sex industry life balance and hopes to continue learning and educating. She is a small business owner and graduated with her Master’s in Nonprofit Management.


Lauren N Benjamin, MSW, VASI

Mid Atlantic Empowerment Advocate

A native from the country Trinidad and Tobago, Lauren was offered the opportunity to further her studies at age 18.  She migrated to the US, obtained an Associates Degree in Allied Health with a concentration in Addictions.  She then went on to get her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social work.  She holds positions within the Baltimore City Polic Department human trafficking unit, and Co-Chairs the Public Awarness Committee Maryland Human Trafficking Task force.  She is also a Court Appointed Special Advocate for CASA, and the Baltimore Empowerment Advocate for EHN!

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Hazel Imbert, LMHC

New England Empowerment Advocate

Hazell Imbert (she/her/ella) is a bilingual mental health counselor. Since 2017, she has worked with English and Spanish speaking survivors of interpersonal violence, including survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, and identity-based discrimination. She has facilitated training including training service providers in working with LGBTQ+ survivors of interpersonal violence, vicarious trauma and resilience. Hazell is interested in and is passionate about working with marginalized communities including undocumented immigrants, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community. She is also passionate about anti-oppression work and promoting equitable language access for Spanish speakers. 

Hazell Imbert (she/her/ella) es una consejera bilingüe. Desde el 2017, ella ha trabajado con sobrevivientes de la violencia interpersonal, incluyendo sobrevivientes de la violencia domestica, la violencia sexual, el trafico humano, y la discriminacion basado en la identidad. A Hazell le interesa y se siente apasionada de trabajar con comunidades marginalizadas incluyendo a los inmigrantes indocumentados, personas de color, y la comunidad LGBTQ+. Ella ha dado entrenamientos incluyendo entrenando a proveedores de servicios trabajando con los sobrevivientes de la violencia que son parte de la comunidad LGBTQ, el trauma secundario y la capacidad de recuperarse del trauma. También ella se siente apasionada de participar en esfuerzos promoviendo la anti-opresión y la promoción al acceso equitativo para las personas que hablan en español.

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Joshlyn Lawhorn, MWGS

Florida Empowerment Advocate

Joshlyn Lawhorn has worked as a social justice activist against racialized, gender-based violence for 7 years. Obtaining her B.A. in Communication & Sociology, she worked as a certified trauma- informed care advocate for domestic violence and sexual assault victims in Clarion, PA. While earning her M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Florida, she worked with commercially sexually exploited youth. She provided CSEC survivors with self-sufficiency plans to prepare them to transition after foster-care into independent living. She believes that a communal, multi-faceted healing is necessary to end the fight against human trafficking. At Empower Her Network she will support survivors’ growth towards fulfillment and independence.

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Tika Thornton, Lived Experience Expert

California Empowerment Advocate

Tika is a Los Angeles Survivor leader and TEDx Speaker dedicated to fighting to end human trafficking. Tika has co-developed and led the TAY/Adult Crisis Response Team with Dr. Stephany Powell at Journey Out, where she has bridged the gaps between service providers, law enforcement, and lived experience experts. She also mentors’ youth on CSEC prevention and intervention for Saving Innocence and juvenile probation. Tika currently serves as a Core Team member on the Long Beach Human Trafficking Task Force, an active California CSEC Advisory Board member. She has previously served as a board member of Qualified Academy (formerly known as Two Wings) and Long Beach GRIP. She is an experienced trainer, having trained emergency service personnel, service providers, and community members on best-supporting individuals who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation. Tika is driven by the belief that she needs to be the change she strives to make.

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Robin Miller, Lived Experience Expert

Pacific Northwest Empowerment Advocate

Born and raised in Vancouver, WA, Robin Miller earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Science from Portland State University and is a case manager and advocate providing direct service to victims of commercial sexual exploitation. As a member and survivor services specialist with the Trafficking Task Force of Clark County (Washington) and the Human Trafficking Advisory Committee for Oregon State’s Department of Justice, Robin has 8+ years of experience presenting on the complex issues relating to the sex trade. She’s a board member with the EPIK Project and a consultant for the Trafficking Law Center in Portland, Oregon. Her biggest joy is spending time dancing and making TikTok’s with her granddaughter.

 Marlie Hyde, LMSW

 Alabama Empowerment Advocate

As an enthusiast, educator, mentor, advocate for the oppressed and underserved who walk among us. Marlie’s mission to walk alongside like-minded purpose driven professionals who are passionate about inspiring, producing, collaborating!

With 9-years of experience working directly with women and minors who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. Marlie has established multidisciplinary teams, developed curriculum, launched intentional programming, formed partnerships and collaboration with federal and local law enforcement, developed policies and procedures for long term, short-term, transitional residential programs. 

With over 15 years’ experience working directly with various populations; she understands the basis of utilizing different methodologies that is conducive to the success of organizations and THOSE being served. Her previous leadership role as CPO with WellHouse, one of the largest human trafficking residential facilities in the country has inspired Marlie to walk alongside other professionals who aspire to develop and operate residential treatment facilities. Marlie is a licensed masters social work, certified crisis intervention instructor, certified cognitive-behavioral therapist. I am honored and looking forward to continuing this fight in anti-human trafficking with EHN!!

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Chunquanda Steverson

Georgia Empowerment Advocate

Chunquanda has a bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Studies, with an emphasis on Family Relations, and is a nationally certified victim’s advocate who has over a decade of experience assisting adult survivors on their journey toward self-sufficiency. Her dedication reflects a deep sense of empathy and a desire to empower survivors to rebuild their lives and overcome the challenges they face.

Ashley Maha’a, Lived Experience Expert

Hawaii Empowerment Advocate

Ashley’s journey began in substance use and recovery before a transformative encounter with a human trafficking survivor in 2015 redirected her focus. Graduating Magna Cum Laude in Criminal Justice, Ashley has co-authored research papers, aided in curriculum development, and become a sought-after national speaker. Her impact extends to legislative successes and significant contributions to the movement’s awareness and reporting efforts.


Dana Barr

Program Assistant

Dana Barr earned a BA in Economics from Kennesaw State University and an MS in Data Science & Analytics from Clemson University. Driven by a genuine passion for making a difference, Dana left the corporate world to join Empower Her Network. As Program Assistant, she is responsible for developing logical workflows, data integrity/analytics, and monitoring operations. Proficient in Salesforce and data management, Dana ensures accurate information runs through a sound backend process that results in efficiency and transparency.

Advisory Network

Katisha Andrews

Katisha Andrew

Coordinator for CILEC (Citiwide Immigrant Legal Empowerment Collaborative)

Katisha is a nonprofit human services administrator with a passion for social justice, racial and gender equity.

She brings over a decade of experience working with Sanctuary for Families—where she directed helping hand grants to help meet the temporary financial emergency needs of survivors 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.

Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco

Dr. Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco

Accomplished Survey Methodologist, Research Scientist, and Quantitative and Qualitative Consultant on issues related to human trafficking

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

Lisa Salzer

Lisa Salzer-Wiles

Designer and Founder of Lulu Frost Jewelery

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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Julie Zuraw

Founder and CEO of Julie Zuraw Group

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

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
Laura Brodsky

Laura Brodsky

Community Activist, Fundraiser Extradinaire

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.


Dr. Kellie McElhaney

Board Member, Founding Director, Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership at Berkeley Haas Business School

Dr. Kellie McElhaney founded the Center for Equity, Gender And Leadership (EGAL) at Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley and is a leading expert on equity fluent leadership, value-creating strategies of diversity and inclusion, and corporate social responsibility. The Center for Gender, Equity and Leadership, launched in November 2017, educates equity fluent leaders to ignite and accelerate change. Kellie helped develop this leadership concept and teaches it globally.   Kellie authored a book entitled Just Good Business: The Strategic Guide to Aligning Corporate Responsibility and Brand.  Kellie consults and keynotes for Global 1000 companies and organizations all over the world on her areas of expertise.  She earned her B.A. from the University of North Carolina, her M.A. from Ohio University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.


Christine White

Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Christine White is on the Program Committee at Empower Her Network.    She currently serves as a Senior Lecturer in the Law and Society Minor in MLaw Programs at the University of Maryland, College Park.  Her area of expertise and research surrounds issues of the role race plays in the criminal justice system and the transnational crime of human trafficking. Christine commits her time and skills to criminal justice reform including the protection of human trafficking survivors.


Rebecca Bender

CEO & Founder, RBI, Survivor Leader and Author of In Pursuit of Love

Rebecca thought she found her fairytale when she moved to Las Vegas with her boyfriend. But her dream became her nightmare when her boyfriend became her pimp at the age of 19. Trapped in a life of chaos, coerced into prostitution, abused and controlled by her trafficker, Rebecca was forced into sex trafficking for nearly six years. Many attempted escapes, two brandings, and several pimps later, Federal Investigators raided the home, allowing her an eventual avenue for escape.  She speaks on leadership and founding non-profits, serves on the United States National Advisory Committee, Dept of Justice Human Trafficking Advisory Council, the board of Exodus Cry and the Advisory Network and Program Committee of Empower Her Network


Valerie Bonner

Senior Producer at FCB Chicago

After Valerie graduated from college during one of the worst economic times, she was unsure of where to go next. Through connections, she interviewed at an advertising agency in Chicago, where she instantly fell in love with the city and the creativity that flourished in the industry. Ten years later, one career pivot and a short stint in LA, Valerie is still working in the ad world and loving the “windy city.” Valerie’s current job is a mix of something she always loved as a child- puzzles. Using that knowledge, she routinely takes creative ideas and meticulously figures out how to fit them seamlessly together within a client’s vision and budget. Sometimes these tasks are as simple as four-piece puzzles, while others feel like 1,000 pieces scattered in front of her. However, she thinks it’s the perfect role that allows her to tap into her creativity while also thinking through strategy and innovative solutions. She’s worked with numerous clients ranging from healthcare to CPG to an international shoe store. While her job keeps her professional life fulfilled, her desire to help others both locally and across the U.S was still lingering. She is thrilled to join the Empower Her Network advisory board, where she will use her skills and knowledge to help highlight all the incredible things Empower Her Network does and increase their awareness.


Jennifer Medina-McCormick

Owner/Creative Director, Medina Creative Design

Jennifer is a graduate of the Art Institute of Atlanta and brings 25 years of experience as a Brand Consultant and Graphic Designer. She was Lead Designer for the brand marketing re-brand team for a major financial company’s IPO, where she provided strategic design guidance, as well as the development/design and facilitation of brand training materials. She currently holds the role of Brand Manager and Art Director. Jennifer has always been a firm believer in not only giving back but getting involved. From 2004-2009, she served on the Communications Advisory Committee for Camp Twin Lakes, a camp facility that caters to children with life challenges. Her contributions were as a brand advisor as well as re-design of all Camp Twin Lakes marketing materials. When the opportunity presented itself to work with EHN, it just made sense. We are meant to do much more, much bigger things outside of ourselves – and what better way than to be part of an organization whose mission is to lift others? For that reason, Jennifer is excited to bring her knowledge and expertise to continue to promote and elevate the Empower Her Network brand.


Tonya Cornileus

Vice President of Development, Inclusion and Wellness, ESPN

Tonya Cornileus is the Vice President of Development, Inclusion and Wellness at ESPN where she serves as an integral member of the Human Resources senior leadership team and regularly acts as an advisor to other senior management at ESPN. Dr. Cornileus is responsible for learning and organization development, talent management, diversity & inclusion, and wellness. Dr. Cornileus joined ESPN in November of 2009.  Dr. Cornileus’ philanthropic endeavors focus primarily on promoting education. In 2019, she established the Tonya Harris Cornileus CJC Diversity in Communications Endowed Scholarship Fund at the University of Florida. She mentors high school and college students and sits on the board of the Greater Hartford Urban League.  She earned her Ph.D. and M.Ed. in Human Resources and Organizational Development from the University of Georgia and her bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications from the University of Florida. Tonya believes that she would determine what success is in her terms, and has since developed and helped others in Your Aha Life. She shares the values at Empower Her Network, and believes that survivors should be given the option for a new destination – “Destination; Her Choice.”


McKenna Callahan

EHN’s Alumni Coordinator

McKenna Callahan is EHN’s Alumni Coordinator!  McKenna has been involved with EHN since inception, and helped to establish the Atlanta chapter.   She is now pursuing her MSW at the University of Georgia and hopes to continue her work with EHN. In addition to her regular coursework, she plans to work with Dr. David Okech, a professor at UGA’s School of Social Work and founder of the African Programming and Research Initiative to End Slavery (APRIES), who specializes in trafficking research and focuses on designing evidence-based interventions to inform programs and policies that improve the wellbeing and increase economic empowerment for survivors.

“What I love about Empower Her Network is its focus on helping survivors gain their independence. There are many programs that provide short-term assistance, but few have a mission like that of EHN. Preventing re-exploitation through a reliable, present, and supportive network is imperative to cementing long-term stability in the lives of EHN members.It is truly an honor to work alongside them!”

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Judi Hill

Akron NAACP President

Judi Hill is a dedicated community leader who retired from the Akron Public Schools system in 2008 after thirty years of service. Since then, Judi has advocated for children as a court appointed Guardian ad Litem, served as the chair of the planning committee for College for Kids, and been on the board of Leadership Akron, Towpath Credit Union, Christ Child Society of Akron, and the Advisory Board of the American Cancer Society. She is in her second term as president of the Akron Branch of the NAACP after serving as Vice President for over 10 years. Mrs. Judi Hill has received numerous awards for her engagement: Project GRAD Akron Community Service Award, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Child Advocate Award, University of Akron’s College of Education Alumni Award, The Helen E. Arnold Humanitarian Award, The Akron Urban League Volunteer of the Year Award, and The YWCA Hidden Heroine Award.

Cristian Eduardo

Lead Human Trafficking Consultant and Survivor with Shobana Powell Consulting

Cristian Eduardo is an advocate, speaker and educator for anti-trafficking initiatives, immigrant and LGBTQ+ rights. He is a survivor of international and domestic sex and labor trafficking, a Mexican immigrant, HIV+, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and someone who speaks openly about the mental health challenges he has faced that frequently result from trauma.Although these are parts of him, he is whole, who cannot be defined. Cristian Eduardo is also a student, who is science and engineering oriented.

Cristian Eduardo’s inspiration for his social justice work is to give insight that victims always remain human beings.

Cristian Eduardo is a Lead Human Trafficking Consultant and Survivor with Shobana Powell Consulting, shaping national human trafficking trainings and policies. He also serves as a Survivor Consultant for ECPAT-USA, Center for Court Innovation, and USCRI. He is the Co-Founder of United Immigrants of New York (UIONY), a coalition of immigration advocates providing accessible education and resources to Spanish-speaking immigrants in New York. Cristian Eduardo is on the Steering Committees for New Yorkers for the Equality Model and Louisiana for the Equality Model and has been instrumental in the development of Equality Model training and legislation across the US.


Maheen Kaleem

Activist for Human Rights Focusing on Gender Based Violence. Deputy Director at Grantmakers for Girls of Color

As a Pakistani Muslim woman, a survivor of gender-based violence, and the child of immigrants and social justice servants, I am committed to building a world rooted in love, justice, and collective liberation. My greatest teachers have been girls behind bars and those impacted by gender-based and state violence. All of my work is led by the belief that by centering the liberation and leadership of girls and women of color, we will all see freedom. I have expertise in supporting movements that address the intersections of racial and gender justice, particularly juvenile justice, sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, and gender-based violence impacting women and girls of color. Empower Her Network’s work to interrupt cycles of violence and give survivors the tools and support to achieve their long-term goals are exactly the kinds of solutions we need to truly end exploitation.