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Technology to Deter Buyers and Reach Victims – Webinar September 21

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Please join CEASE Network for their upcoming webinar, featuring Robert Beiser, Executive Director of Seattle Against Slavery and CEASE Seattle Core Team member. During the session, Robert will showcase Chat Bot and Victim Reachout, two cutting-edge tools developed in collaboration with Microsoft volunteers. Chat Bot and Victim Reachout were built to deter potential buyers of illegal commercial sex and support service provider outreach to victims of prostitution. Chat Bot provides law enforcement with the ability to place bots in decoy ads which interact with—and send deterrence messages to—thousands of potential and current sex buyers. Victim Reachout allows service providers to connect potential trafficking victims to essential exit and recovery services in their area.

We hope you can attend to learn more about how the integration of these pioneering digital tools will help accelerate the work of disrupting and deterring sex buyers and provide a critical mechanism to reach victims of sex trafficking, in real time.

This webinar is open to the general public.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

3:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET

Log-in information will be sent to
your email upon registration completion

Register Here

About the Speaker
Robert Beiser is the Executive Director of Seattle Against Slavery (SAS) and CEASE Seattle Core Team member. After several years at Microsoft, he left the tech world to work in the nonprofit sector as a social justice advocate. His role with SAS began in 2010 as the volunteer Public Awareness Campaigns Manager. Robert holds a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from UW and travels the country speaking on technology and human trafficking.

Remembering John Zvara

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With heavy hearts, we pass along news that John Zvara, a friend, Boston leading light, and co-founder of three schools in the city–Park Street Kids, Park Street School, and Boston Trinity Academy–died peacefully surrounded by family on Tuesday, August 29, 2017. A memorial service will be held at 1 PM on Saturday, September 23rd at Park Street Church.

Until just a few months before he passed, John was passionately and actively involved with Park Street Church and these three schools. Recognizing this, in lieu of flowers, John’s family requests donations be made to these organizations. Gifts may be made by clicking the links below and specifying “In memory of John Zvara”.




Our prayers and blessings go out to the whole Zvara family and gratitude to our Creator for this fine human being who touched so many and always had a twinkle in his eye and a vision brewing in his heart. We will miss you John! Read More

Join Opportunity International for 2017 National Summit in Chicago October 27-29

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Join more than 200 entrepreneurs, business executives, philanthropists, corporate/nonprofit leaders, and local, national & international dignitaries in Chicago October 27-29. Learn more about Opportunity International’s high-impact investments in education around the world. Read More

Leadership Transformations Celebrates 14 Years – Benefit Concert with Fernando Ortega on October 21

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Fernando Ortega is a gifted musician, singer, and songwriter. His approach to music breaks the boundaries of the Contemporary Christian genre, to include elements of folk, classical, Celtic, Latin American, world, and rustic hymnody. Also evident in Fernando’s music are thematic elements of world–weariness, uncertainty, doubt, and mystery, each of which has been forged in the crucible of his experience as a sojourner of the Christian faith, acknowledging in a uniquely musical way the difficult tension Christians face on this side of eternity as they live in the space between despair and hope. Click below for a few audio samples of Fernando’s songs. Read More

Partnering to Take Rape Crisis Counseling To Global Scale

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We are pleased this month to hear from Elie Calhoun, Co-director of Code Innovation, about the launch of a new app that responds to the global epidemic of sexual violence by teaching users how to “do” rape crisis advocacy in any health center to help get survivors the emergency medical care they need. Elie is an inspired global changemaker with whom we have the good fortune of partnering to not only scale impact but also to use technology to amplify the work of social change. Follow her at @eliecalhoun.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and the deadly floods in Sierra Leone and South Asia, our minds are drawn to disasters and the suffering of displaced people. UNICEF child protection experts say that in emergencies, the first planes on the ground don’t belong to humanitarians but rather human traffickers, there to steal people before anyone registers they’re missing.

While trafficking often seems far away, sexual assault isn’t: we all know a survivor, or like me, we are one ourselves. The statistics are harrowing. We know that one in three or four women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, depending on her background1. For the LGBTQIA population, the numbers can be as high as one in two and for men, the number is still as high as one in six.

According to UNICEF, “the displacement and separation of families and communities place women and girls at increased risk of violence and abuse2.” The emotional, mental and physical health consequences of sexual assault remain with a survivor for life and affect their relationships, work and life opportunities. We all know this, even if it is rarely spoken about.

But trauma can be treatable and the natural post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression that often occur after sexual assault or intimate partner violence can be treated: the sooner the better. We know that having a trained advocate present during the critical hours that a survivor navigates the emergency health care system dramatically increases the likelihood of their full recovery, as well as their willingness to navigate the criminal justice system3.

While logically, there is no shame in being the victim of a crime, our social, health and justice systems often treat survivors as criminals. Even in rich countries, when rape survivors seek medical care and legal justice they are often traumatized a second time by their encounter with an uncaring and uncooperative system. In countries or contexts where rape is likely not to be treated as a crime, survivors face a second ordeal in their attempt to seek care and justice.

Rape Crisis Counseling gives someone the knowledge to support survivors in their community. This information is simple but currently not accessible. I had to train for 40 hours to become a certified New York State Rape Crisis Counselor after passing a drug test and psychological screening and promising to volunteer monthly for two years.

It is my committed belief that this information needs to be available to everyone, so I am partnering with a global coalition, including the DC Rape Crisis Center, the oldest in the United States. Together, we’re creating a free and open source digital platform that shares Rape Crisis Counseling methods with whoever needs it, wherever they are.

My company, Code Innovation, takes high-impact solutions to poverty and inequity and uses exponential technologies to take them to global scale. There is a pattern to finding something amazing and making it into a digital platform, and we’ve been working on this for almost a decade in the international development space. In fact, our best practices and lessons learned contributed to UNICEF’s Innovation Principles which then became the Digital Principles. As early signatories, we pledged to create solutions that are free and open source because we believe that solutions like these need to be in as many hands, as quickly as possible.

I decided we needed to scale rape crisis counseling by making a digital platform when I read my friend Jina Moore’s article, “An Aid Worker Was Raped in South Sudan and the UN Did Nothing About It”. I asked a few hundred women’s rights activists on a global listserv if they thought a platform with this content would be a good idea and got strong support in reply.

Now, thanks to the Imago Dei Fund and the partnership of the first rape crisis center in the United States, the DRRCC, we are at work finalizing the training primer content of the first version of our platform. At Code, we are leading over a dozen global women’s health and human rights organizations in a co-creation process for the content, which was itself open sourced from the DCRCC, the Pittsburgh Action Against Rape coalition and the US Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime. We have translations of the app and platform lined up for Arabic and Farsi, and we hope to expand to many other languages in 2018 with the support of future partners.

From my side, I’m committed to creating a multilingual platform that guides survivors and their advocates in how to get life-saving medical care in a system that currently discriminates against them. When we publish our first version on the app stores later this year, we’ll get feedback from volunteers and women’s rights organizations. Our vision is that networks of volunteers and organizations take this training and empower us all to respond more adequately and appropriately to survivors in our community.

With your support and the app in-hand, we can change how the health system responds to gender-based violence. We can support survivors as they navigate the road to recovery and justice. Thank you for caring about this issue and for reading my story.

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A Bow to Boston: A Model of Preemptive Peace

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“Today, Boston stood for peace and love, not bigotry and hate. We should work to bring people together, not apart.” Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, said on Twitter that he “couldn’t be more proud of” the city. “Peaceful, moral, resistant,” he tweeted. “That is our city and commonwealth.”

“We probably had 40,000 people out here, standing tall against hatred and bigotry in our city, and that’s a good feeling,” the Police Commissioner William B. Evans said, adding that though there were a few unconstructive rioters who showed up who wanted the hate groups to come for a fight “99.9 percent of the people were here for the right reason and that’s to fight bigotry and hate.”

At the risk of seeming parochial, indulge me in this bow to my city for how it preemptively stared down, out-prepared, and ultimately detoured from stepping foot in our city the highly orchestrated plans of a network of neo-Nazi/white-supremacist groups which paraded through and wreaked havoc on Charlottesville, just over a week ago.

Every city has its tribalism around sports teams and other icons which give it a sense of shared identity. The Red Sox may have lost to the Yankees on Saturday but in my book our city had already “won” an incredible victory earlier that day.

In philanthropy there is much talk about how to “scale” and replicate effective models of social change. While we wish we could stick with winning baseball games, the way Boston handled the threat of a neo-Nazi, white supremacist parade descending on our city toting guns, clubs, torches, and hate in their hearts is a model of preemptive peace for any next stops on their nationwide “tour.”  And maybe some lessons that can apply to other areas of life as well when we need to rise to our highest and best human selves to wisely and delicately protect something dear while safeguarding against an unknown threat…

I wasn’t able to attend the counter-protest in Boston as I was gathering kids from summer camp. Wow, a lot happened in just the one week they were gone that sounded like a scene from a bad movie as I was recounting it to them. When we got home we watched the non-drama unfold in Boston on the news. Yes there were a few ugly exchanges of counter-protesters with the police which they handled efficiently with the same no-drama approach they used with the protesters. Those “Blue Lives” went to great lengths to honor the precious ideal of freedom we hold dear as Americans that honors the right to hold different views while skillfully and bravely modeling for the world how to respond when this right crosses the line of fomenting violence—whatever “side” one is on.

This aerial photo says it all: To white supremacists and all hate-inflaming, violence-provoking ideologies, we will not allow you a foothold in our city or in our minds and hearts…

From the moment I saw that Boston was the next expected “stop” on the national “tour” of the groups that showed up at Charlottesville, I felt a mixed set of feelings that ranged from utter disgust and shock, wanting to run the other way and not give them the narcissistic, oppositional stage they seek, and a sense of maternal protectiveness toward the city that has been my home for almost 25 years. Up until just the day before the rally, there was still little information about what groups would be there to protest and what the counter-protest would entail. So many people were unsure of how and what to do to engage in a constructive way to stand for peace while still processing the parade of menacing hate that began in Charlottesville just a week before with an eerie parade of mostly young men carrying torches and wearing Nazi garb and ended with a car driving into a crowd of counter-protesters killing one and injuring dozens.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, the day of the “free speech” rally in Boston, I felt a pit in my stomach and found myself praying for our city and for all of the incredible people and partners of the Imago Dei Fund who I knew would be there—getting teary even writing this—bravely standing as people of peace in this highly polarized moment that we are living through where things that so many of us thought we had left in the dustbin of history are flaring up and are eerily creeping into the mainstream.

A lot has happened from Charlottesville to Boston and still there are other cities where the same web of creepy “alt right”/white supremacist/white nationalist groups are rallying their troops under the smokescreen of “free speech” or historical preservation to descend on a city carrying torches and spewing racist venom. It will be interesting to watch how each city will respond. Some will say that Boston over-reacted. Maybe we did. Who knows how much money we spent to prepare for Saturday to create an environment that made it unattractive for the same groups that descended on Charlottesville to step foot in our city and use us as a stage to attempt to mainstream their extremism. Who knows what would have happened if we had not prepared as we had. While it was not clear before the rally whether there was a direct connection between the organizers of the “free speech” event in Boston and the white-nationalist “Unite the Right” rally that took place in Charlottesville, Boston listened to its instincts and kicked into gear to preempt hate and terror from wreaking havoc as they have done so skillfully every marathon since the 2014 Boston Marathon terror attack.

Thanks to the leadership and skills of our mayor and police commissioner and so many civil society groups, as the police commissioner described, 99.9% of those in attendance came with peaceful intentions and no injuries or deaths happened. The city honored the First Amendment rights of both the protesters—who dwindled down to a mere fifty or so—and the counter-protesters Read More

“Ego says: Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel peace. Spirit says: Find your peace, and then everything will fall into place.”
Marianne Williamson