Admiration List: Ani DiFranco

I have been a fan of Ani DiFranco‘s life story since 1992. I was working in radio as a copy writer and part-time (weekend) DJ when I stumbled across a magazine/catalog of up-and-coming artists. It consisted of artist photographs, a brief categorical description of music style (e.g.: folk, R&B, rock, etc.) and a short biography. The magazine targeted station employees in charge of selecting music, with the objective of enticing the decision maker to listen to a sample and consider adding the featured musicians to the playlist. It probably came with a CD or cassette tape (cassettes were still regularly used back then), but I only saw the magazine.

The magazine is important because the biography is what attracted me to this artist. She not only writes and performs her own music, she also runs her own recording studio and is known for refusing to take potentially lucrative contracts that go against her political/ethical beliefs. In short, she defied the music industry’s standard operating procedures – and won!

I did not get the opportunity to hear her music until about 8 years later. 

Frankly, while I admire her skills as a lyricist and include a few of her songs in my private list of top-50-favorites, it was never the music that earned my admiration – it’s her actions as a small business owner, an activist and a person.

I would welcome the opportunity to hear her play live in concert but I would LOVE to hear her talk about her journey as a small business owner and an activist.

Ani DiFranco’s music on Amazon.com

Admiration List: Regina Calcaterra

Amazon.com

Regina Calcaterra went from surviving an abusive mother and the foster care system to a career in law and politics. Her life is detailed in the memoir Etched In Sand, which I highly recommend reading.

This woman is a tough survivor who has made the best out of the absolute worst. She is also an excellent example of the fierce loyalty children have toward siblings – and just how positive that bond can be.

Ms. Calcaterra also regularly acts as the keynote speaker at various events and I would love to have the opportunity to attend one of these speeches.

Admiration List: Ginny Baumann

Ginny Baumann is a world-renowned expert in freeing people from slavery.

Ginny was previously Associate Director of Programs at Free the Slaves (FTS), where she developed FTS’ country programs alongside community-based anti-slavery NGOs, especially in India, Nepal, Brazil and Ghana. Before that, she worked for Christian Aid, Shelter, and Quaker Social Action establishing, managing and evaluating programs of community-based development, housing, employment, conflict resolution and human rights. She has also taught courses on peace building and on models of international development at University of Surrey, Roehampton, and University of Mississippi.

Biography at Freedom Fund

Worthy of respect and admiration, Ms. Baumann is definitely someone I would like to meet someday.

Admiration List: Zoe Trodd

Video

Professor Zoe Trodd has a long list of achievements that are worthy of admiration, including:

But the reason I would love to hear Professor Trodd give a lecture, or simply meet her in person, is because of the work she does in the area of contemporary Slave Narratives.

The following video shows Professor Todd explaining the reality of modern slavery. Please take a moment to watch:

Admiration List: Bryan Stevenson

Amazon.com

Bryan Stevenson is known for defending people on death row. He specializes in helping people who have nowhere else to go. He built the Equal Justice Initiative and has earned international respect for the work he does. All of this more than earns my admiration.

However, the reason I would like to either meet him or attend one of his speeches is because of the following quote:

My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice.

I heard him say this during his TED talk and found it in his book. The first time I heard it, my reaction was this: “FINALLY! Someone came right out and SAID that!”

This is definitely someone I would like to meet.

Admiration List: Asia Graves

A person whose life story I admire. This is a woman who I would like to meet someday:

Asia Graves, a victim of child exploitation, she escaped sexual slavery and has worked as an education coordinator for FAIR Girls. Her biography is posted to antislavery.ac.uk.

When I left my life of exploitation I had so many questions. I was angry more than anything. People all over the world look at the United States as one of the greatest nations on earth. The United States is supposed to be a civilized country. Slavery has been outlawed here for over a century. But has slavery really been outlawed? That’s a question that I ask myself daily. If it was, how could a high school honors student like me be allowed to be sold and raped daily to hundreds of men? It was not as if I and other victims were in hiding. We were completely visible. Why didn’t anyone try to “rescue” us? As American citizens were we not important enough.

A Survivor’s Tale on Human Trafficking, Huffington Post, Asia Graves, 1/17/2013

One recent afternoon, her low hazel eyes pierced through a busy Washington street and focused on a young woman’s face she recognized from Backpage.com. She paused.

Graves sees trafficking when no one else can.

“My main priority is making sure no child has to go through what I went through,” she said. “If I can save one girl from not going into it or one girl who has already been in from going back, then I’m already doing more than enough.”

Sex trafficking in the USA hits close to home, USA TODAY, Yamiche Alcindor, 9/27/2012

But in some ways, Graves believes, being out in public is her best protection. “If you hide in the shadows, people are going to find the need to mess with you,” she said.

“They say, ‘You don’t look like a victim,’ ’’ Graves said. “Sometimes, what you’ve overcome makes you stronger.”

From victim to impassioned voice: Woman exploited as a teen fights sexual trafficking of children, Boston Globe, Jenifer B. McKim, 11/27/2012