Admiration List: Monica Lewinsky

Monica Lewinsky is someone most people would not include on an admiration list because of her connection to President Clinton and the scandal that brought the White House under investigation and significant political fire.

She was 22 when her affair with President Clinton was revealed and exploited by both the Republican party and the news media (read: ratings, revenue, non-stop-sensationalist ‘news’ stories about every possible sexually graphic detail…you get the idea).

I was also in my twenties at the time and, as details about the investigation hit the news media, all I could think about was how this women was a victim. She was seduced by the most powerful man in the world. He was her boss, a career politician and a well known serial-seducer. By all accounts, she was neither his first, nor his last, conquest. This was predatory manipulation of a naive young women and, possibly, harassment.

Unfortunately, the scandal occurred during the 1990s, which was also when the details of the Anita Hill vs Clarence Thomas trial were frequently challenged as ‘not really harassment’ by most of the adults I knew. That trial outlined a situation that could be defined as workplace rape, yet people continued to justify it. As for Monica Lewinsky – presenting her as a potential victim was incomprehensible.

Not surprisingly, Monica Lewinsky faced a level of public humiliation, shame and ostracism that is hard to comprehend. She was publicly cast as a home wrecker, a whore and a litany of other things; while Clinton was…you know….a powerful man. You can’t blame him, it was that woman.

Fast forward many years and Ms. Lewinsky has resurfaced as a strong, confident woman. She is an anti-bullying activist, putting her own experiences with public humiliation to good use as she works to prevent suicide and fight cyber-bullying, face-to-face bullying and mobbing.

I admire all people who have faced incredibly difficult experiences and, somehow, managed to reach the other side. I have great admiration for people who use those experiences to become stronger and more determined to help others who have also been through the proverbial fire. Monica Lewinsky has done that.

Ms. Lewinsky has been added to my admiration list because, frankly, she deserves it.

Admiration List: Rex Hohlbein

Rex Hohlbein started allowing homeless people use his office as a place to hang out during the day. This grew into a small and semi-official drop-in-center service where people could come to get out of the weather or pick up needed supplies.

That alone is admirable. Yet, what really stood out to me was the way this project got started because Rex took the time to get to know individuals. He didn’t just set up a charity, he started building relationships with poverty survivors and the network of donations grew out of those relationships. That is truly worthy of admiration.

 

 

Admiration List: Nacole

I have great admiration and respect for victims of horrendous crimes who find the strength and courage to speak about those crimes publicly. Nacole is one such brave soul who gave a TEDx talk about child sex trafficking – and what it’s like to be the mother of a child who has been lured away and sold.

This talk is brave, powerful and heart wrenching.

Admiration List: Kim Dempster

Kim Dempster worked with Freedom For All to lead the creation and organization of the Stop The Nightmare campaign, which focuses on raising awareness about human trafficking and modern slavery. The campaign included TV PSAs and a live performance of a present-day slave auction.

Here is her TED talk:

Admiration List: Kandice Sumner

This woman has some really good, and hard, things to say about education in the United States. A few quotes:

If you neglect a child long enough, you no longer have the right to be surprised when things don’t turn out well.”

“If we’re going to call public education ‘public education’ then it should be just that. Otherwise, we should call it what it really is: Poverty Insurance”

“Public education, keeping poor kids poor since 1954.”

 

Kandice Sumner:

Admiration List: Jesse Bach

Jesse Bach is a self-described freedom activist. He is the founder of the Imagine Foundation, which works to fight human trafficking and modern slavery worldwide. He is on my admiration list because of all of these things.

He is also on my admiration list because his speech uses both superhero analogies and the assurance that everyday people can make big changes in small ways…while wearing spandex (if they so choose). Of course, that spandex must be ethically made and traded but, otherwise, spandex is OK.

His TED talk is about the ways that everyday people can make a real difference in ending human trafficking. I encourage everyone to watch it.

Admiration List: Catalleya Storm

I have great respect for people who escape a horrible situation and then choose to fight the criminals that created that situation. It takes a lot of courage to stand and face people who have perpetrated unspeakably vile crimes. Simply facing these people in a court of law, under the protection of armed police officers, is extremely difficult. Continuing to fight after gaining freedom and establishing a life – that takes both courage and dedication.

Catalleya Storm survived human trafficking in Ohio, was freed through the help of law enforcement, and continues to speak out against human trafficking and sexual slavery. Her TED talk is focused on her own experience, the prevalence of these crimes in the United States and the very simple fact that combatting modern slavery and human trafficking of all kinds is everyone’s responsibility.

Catalleya is someone I would love to meet and/or hear speak. She is one of many people who I would add to my list of speakers at a slave-free city conference…if I were planning such a thing.

Admiration List: Kris Wade

Kris Wade is the founder and executive director of the Justice Project in Kansas City, which has the following description posted to their website:

The mission of the Justice Project, a peer-based nonprofit human rights organization, is to provide criminal justice and social systems advocacy and navigation for women in poverty who may be suffering from a multitude of challenges, including homelessness, discrimination, addiction, mental illness, domestic violence, prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation. Since 2007 the dedicated volunteers at the Justice Project have helped positively change the lives of more than one hundred women from the streets of Kansas City.

This is an amazingly difficult job anywhere in the world. In Kansas City, the challenges are exacerbated by the mistaken belief (all over the United States) that these kinds of things don’t happen in Kansas – or anywhere else in the Midwest or similarly agricultural-heavy regions of the United States).

Ms. Wade’s Ted talk clearly explains why and how these things happen all over the United States, even within the heartland.

I would welcome the opportunity to meet Ms. Wade and learn more about the work her non-profit performs. I also would like to hear her thoughts on the slave-free city project.

Admiration List: Lisa Kristine

Lisa Kristine is an international humanitarian photographer whose work is breathtakingly beautiful. One of her areas of focus is modern day slavery, which has led her to extremely dangerous places and situations, where she has photographed the slaves themselves. Her TED talks covers the reality of modern day slavery and her own experiences as a photographer investigating this horrendous crime:

 

I must admit to feeling both admiration and envy over Ms. Kristine’s career. Her work as a photographer documenting indigenous cultures is itself worthy of admiration. The fact that she takes the opportunity, and the risk, to document human rights violations and the manifestation of evil that is slavery is highly commendable. I would welcome the opportunity to meet Ms. Kristine or hear her speak in person.

Admiration List: Dr. Kate Transchel

Dr. Kate Transchel is a California Statue University history professor with many publications covering various aspects of Russian history. She is also a co-advisor to Stop Trafficking in Persons (STOP) which focuses on ending slavery in the United States.

Dr. Transchel gave a TED talk on the issue of slavery in the United States, which is something American citizens tend to believe does not exist. Actually, many people believe it cannot exist in the USA and any incidents uncovered by the police are some form of freakish anomaly. As Dr. Transchel’s talk illustrates, nothing could be further from the truth:

At the end of this speech, she provides a phone number and URL for the Polaris Project and the slavery hotline. Please visit this website and take not of the hotline because reporting slavery is everyone’s business and responsibility:

I would love to meet Dr. Transchel, discuss anti-slavery efforts and get her views on the Slave Free City project.