Tuesday, March 8, 2016

New Friends New Life announces the 2016 ProtectHer Honorees for 13th Annual WINGS Luncheon

New Friends New Life (NFNL), a nonprofit that restores and empowers formerly trafficked teen girls and sexually exploited women and children, has announced its 2016 ProtectHer Award recipients. U.S. Senator John Cornyn and U.S. Representative Ted Poe; The 2015 Texas Legislative Session; and Advocate Libby Spears, Playground Curriculum will be honored at the April 14 New Friends New Life WINGS Luncheon, 11:30 a.m., at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, for their visionary guidance and leadership in protecting the rights of women and girls. The luncheon, featuring Amal Clooney as headliner, is chaired by The Honorable Jeanne Phillips and Honorary Co-Chairs Laura Bush, Ruth Altshuler, Caren Prothro and Annette Simmons. Tickets for the 13th Annual WINGS luncheon available from $200; sponsorships also available. For more information, visit www.newfriendsnewlife.org or call (214)965-0935.

 “New Friends New Life is thrilled to honor these national, state, and local partners in our advocacy and prevention efforts to eradicate human trafficking,” said Katie Pedigo, chief executive officer, New Friends New Life. “We are grateful for their dedication to this crime that is happening in our country, in our state, and in our backyard. By working together, we will continue to safeguard the rights of women and girls who are at-risk or have already suffered the degradation and trauma of human trafficking.”

The 2016 national ProtectHer honorees, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas and U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, served as sponsors of a bill – The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, signed into law on May 29, 2015, to improve law enforcement’s ability to target traffickers and buyers and protect and expand the rights of trafficking victims. The act, which increases criminal fines on convicted traffickers and child predators, will create about $60 million in federal grants that state and local governments can use for more shelter space, specialized court programs and law enforcement programs targeting human trafficking.

“The law changes the focus of criminal prosecution from the sex workers to those who traffic or buy trafficked labor or sex,” Rep. Poe said. “With the passing of the act, law enforcement has more power to seize traffickers’ assets and use the money for victim restitution.” The 2016 state ProtectHer honoree is The 2015 Texas Legislative Session, accepted by Rep. Tan Parker – District 63 and Rep. Morgan Meyer – District 108. With Texas ranking second in the U.S. for calls to the human trafficking hotline, New Friends New Life testified on behalf of the women and girls of Texas, and the results were positive. Policy makers listened and passed 20 bills to help Texas move towards a “no tolerance zone” for traffickers and exploiters.

“The accomplishments of the 2015 Texas Legislative Session will serve to protect our citizens and our children from the horrors of human trafficking,” said Rep. Meyer. “As a father, it is an honor to continue to advocate for education and legislation that supports and protects the victims of these crimes in the overall fight against human trafficking.” The 2016 local ProtectHer honoree, Playground Curriculum’s Libby Spears, impacts the lives of young girls by educating them and empowering them with the language, skills and resources they need to protect themselves and their peers from sexual exploitation and trafficking. Spears directed “PLAYGROUND: The Child Sex Trade in America,” a documentary film produced by George Clooney, Steven Soderbergh and Abigail Disney that investigates the underground epidemic of child sexual exploitation and trafficking in North America. Through the NEST Foundation, Spears launched an educational curriculum to take directly into communities across America. New Friends New Life was honored to serve as the curriculum’s facilitators in Dallas area schools.

The national, state and local ProtectHer Awards will be presented at the April 14 New Friends New Life 13th Annual WINGS Luncheon by the New Friends New Life’s Men’s Advocacy Group Board, formed in 2015, to mobilize men to take action against sex trafficking and exploitation by raising public awareness, legal advocacy, and corporate engagement. “These awards recognize people truly impacting change to improve the lives of trafficked and exploited women and girls who need our voice,” said Chris Kleinert, CEO and President of Hunt Consolidated Investments and Chair of New Friends New Life’s Men's Advocacy Group Board. “It is our hope these awards inspire and motivate other people to stand up and join us in this important fight.” “All of our ProtectHer Award recipients are playing a key role in helping us move Texas closer to a no-tolerance zone for those who prey upon our children,” Pedigo added. “Our women and girls are not for sale.”

Tickets for the 13th Annual WINGS luncheon available from $200; sponsorships also available. For more information, visit www.newfriendsnewlife.org or call (214)965-0935.

photo: Chief David Brown, Caren Prothro (Honorary WINGS Luncheon Co-chair), U.S. Rep. Ted Poe (National ProtectHer Award Recipient), Katie Pedigo (exec. director, NFNL), Nancy Ann Hunt (board chair, NFNL), Libby Spears (Local ProtectHer Award Recipient for Playground Youth Curriculum), Jeanne Johnson Phillips (WINGS Luncheon Chair), Rep. Tan Parker, Rep. Morgan Meyer (both accepting the state ProtectHer Award on behalf of the entire 2015 legislative session.