Meet Our Speakers: “Half the Sky….” Sunday, September 30

Meg Ryan hugs Somana at the Somaly Mam shelter in Phonm Pehn, Cambodia Credit: Nicholas Kristof

The Sunday, September 30 screening of HALF THE SKY: TURNING OPPRESSION INTO OPPORTUNITY FOR WOMEN WORLDWIDE will include a preview of the episode featuring actor Meg Ryan with Nicholas Kristof in Cambodia. Ryan and Kristof meet Somaly Mam, herself sold into slavery as a young girl, but who is now a world-renowned leader in the anti-trafficking struggle. Mam runs a center to rehabilitate and educate girls rescued from brothels.

Following the film there will be a Q&A with Tiffany Williams, LGSW. Tiffany is advocacy director for Break The Chain Campaign (BTCC) at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. The Institute for Policy Studies started BTCC in 1997 after an expose in the Washington City Paper by IPS Fellow Martha Honey (entitled “Capital Slaves“), which chronicled the lives of women living in virtual slavery while working as domestic servants for officials in Washington international agencies. The BTCC project is a leader in the Freedom Network – a national network of anti-trafficking organizations, which greatly contributed to the creation of current legislation protecting the rights of victims of human trafficking, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and its reauthorization in 2008. Tiffany works on research and writing that highlights the connection between worker rights and human trafficking, and is currently providing strategic campaign assistance to membership organizations like the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Freedom Network.

Christina Arnold is founder and CEO of Prevent Human Trafficking (PHT), a Washington, D.C., based non-profit organization working to build a bridge between South East Asia and the United States to prevent human trafficking. PHT empowers individuals, organizations and governments to tackle the root causes of human trafficking through direct support and technical assistance. PHT uses its expertise and networks to promote best practice and inspire sustainable solutions in the movement to prevent human trafficking.

Ann Jordan is director of the Program on Trafficking and Forced Labor at the Washington College of Law, Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law, at American University. Ms. Jordan is an international human rights attorney who specializes in issues of human trafficking, forced labor and women’s rights. For ten years, she was the Director of the Initiative against Trafficking in Persons at Global Rights and spent eight years in Hong Kong and China teaching women’s rights, human rights, criminal law and torts and advocating for and writing about women’s rights in China and Hong Kong. She actively participated with an international coalition of NGOs in the development of the UN Trafficking Protocol and with a U.S. NGO coalition in the development of the U.S. Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act.

Jeanne L. Allert founded The Samaritan Women in 2007 and today serves as Executive Director. The faith-based organization is based in Catonsville, MD. Their mission is to promote Health, Healing, and Hope in some of the most desperate and dark situations. The Samaritan Women is dedicated to four ministry efforts: operating a transitional residence program for women recovvering from trauma and traffficking that emphasizes life-rebuilding and reconciliation; offering a vocational program in culinary arts with an innovative “from seed to table” curriculum; managing a large urban farm that grows produce to support our vocational and therapeutic program; and leading a state-wide social justice initiative against human trafficking. Jeanne also directs the Maryland Rescue and Restore Coalition, a gathering of committed organizations and individuals who are affecting change in the areas of awareness, prevention, intervention and care. A survivor of sex trafficking from The Samaritan Women community will join Jeanne for the September 30th discussion.

Melissa Yao is public engagement specialist for The Samaritan Women. Melissa works to increase awareness and deepen community engagement on issues around human trafficking. Prior to joining the Maryland Coalition Melissa worked in the Faith-based and Community Outreach Office at the United States Agency for International Development. She has also work with Dr. Ron Sider with Evangelicals for Social Action doing policy work on the multi-generational injustice of the Federal Governments rising debt. Additionally, Melissa has worked with Bread for the World where she was involved in church engagement and advocacy on issues impacting poor and hungry people both domestically and abroad.

Before our preview screening and guest session, Craig Herb of DC Room to Read (featured in the “Education” episode of “Half the Sky….”) will give opening remarks and share information about the program and the work they do in DC. The “Education” episode was previewed at our Community Cinema screening at the Washington DCJCC September 2nd.

Special thanks to the Institute for Policy Studies (community partner), Stephanie Briggs who leads Community Cinema at Community College of Baltimore County (producing partner), and The Samaritan Women.

Episode preview: “Trafficking” featuring Meg Ryan with Nicholas Kristof
Sunday, September 30 at 5 PM
Busboys and Poets (14th & V Streets, NW)
This event is FULL, based on RSVPs we’ve received via the Eventbrite link. “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” has been a monumental launch for the new season of Community Cinema. We will have a wait list at the door and seat on a space available basis close to 5 PM. Persons with reservations are highly advised to arrive no later than 15 minutes prior to the event. We cannot guarantee seating after 5 PM.

Education Is….

Gabrielle Union and local student Duyen Le ride bikes in Thu Thua, Vietnam Credit: Jenni Morello

At the Washington DCJCC, presenters and attendees shared the meaning of “education” in their lives and their personal commitments to their communities for an impromptu video PSA exercise (recorded by Nathaniel Bryant to be posted at a later date), following a preview of the “Education” episode featuring Gabrielle Union from “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” The activity was taken from the upcoming ITVS Classroom curriculum for “Half the Sky…” available in October. Be sure to check out other Women and Girls Lead ITVS Classroom collections currently online.

Special thanks to Sally Schwartz, founder and executive director of the DC Center for Global Education and Leadership (community partner), and our presenters (below) for their dedication to global education. Read their stories. Describe what “education is” in your life in 4 words or less :)

DCPS high school students Dayna Hayman (McKinley Technology), and Stephanie Guzman (School Without Walls) on what “Education is…” following a preview of the “Education” episode of “Half the Sky” at the Washington DCJCC. Dayna and Stephanie taught English to children of migrant workers at the Dandelion School in China as part of the APSA (Americans Promoting Study Abroad) study abroad program. After the experience, these students are committed to supporting the Dandelion School. Visit their webpage –

Elizabeth Davis teaches at the Phelps Architecture, Engineering and Construction HS and heads the Cisco Networking Academy in Washington, DC. Prior to Phelps she taught at the Sousa Middle School, one of the schools in the landmark 1954 Brown v Board of Education Supreme Court decision. When local officials placed Sousa on the list for closure and demolition, Ms. Davis and students went into action to save the school. They testified before the local city council and even the U.S. Congress telling Sousa’s story to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA). The school was saved and received funds to turn it into a 21st century learning institution. The hallway in the new Sousa Middle School is a museum created by the students about the history of Sousa.

Sally Schwartz is founder and executive director of the DC Center for Global Education and Leadership. CGEL promotes high-quality, systemic global education in DCPS to ensure that all students, regardless of income or social background, are prepared for responsible global citizenship in the 21st century. Prior to launching CGEL, Sally Schwartz served as Director of International Programs for DC Public Schools from 1999-2008. In this capacity, she worked closely with partner organizations, including embassies, international organizations, NGOs, and US government agencies, to bring global education and international opportunities to K-12 schools, educators, and students. Among her accomplishments, she organized a US Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad to West Africa; developed the Ralph Bunche Scholars Summer Institute for DCPS high school students; and organized student participation in numerous international exchanges. Sally is a third generation Washingtonian, a DCPS graduate, and was a social studies teacher on the original faculty of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. At Ellington, she helped develop its arts-integrated, multicultural academic curriculum, and organized her first student exchange to the Caribbean.

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We're coordinating a national engagement activity to show the women and girls featured in Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide that their participation has inspired others to take action. Encourage your supporters to ‘Make a Commitment’ and share it with the world. To participate:

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About WAGL

Women and Girls Lead is an innovative public media initiative designed to focus, educate, and connect women, girls, and their allies across the globe to address the challenges of the 21st century.
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