Author Archives: Shamere McKenzie

About Shamere McKenzie

Shamere McKenzie was a college track star who was a little bit down on her luck, when she was approached by a trafficker and lured into the trap of sex slavery. Today, she tells audiences all over the US about her experience in the hopes that she can protect others from her fate. She is the CEO of the Sun Gate Foundation, and anti-trafficking organization that aims to provide educational opportunities for survivors of human trafficking. She is the former the Program Assistant for Shared Hope International, an organization whose mission is to prevent, rescue and restore women and children in crisis. In addition, she is a subject matter expert consultant with Fox Valley Technical College Amber Alert TTA; a member of Who is Stolen performance troupe; a mentor to survivors of sex trafficking; a member of the National Survivor Network, the Survivor Leadership Insitute and an international speaker on the issue of sex trafficking. To book Shamere as a speaker or to read more about her, go to Shamere's main page.

Shamere McKenzie visits the UK for conference

A major conference  launched a new global approach to combating modern slavery was hosted by the University of Hull on October 16, 2015. Anti-Slavery Usable Past brought together experts from around the world to the University of Hull’s Wilberforce Institute of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE) to discuss what lessons can be learned from history in tackling slavery today.

The day culminated in a public exhibition and film by anti-slavery activists Unchosen, followed by a panel discussion featuring Shamere McKenzie, a survivor of modern-day sex slavery in the USA. The conference and public event marked the launch of Anti-Slavery Usable Past – a five-year multi-disciplinary investigation funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Led by the University of Hull with partners from the University of Nottingham and Queen’s University Belfast.

The Event was covered by the Yorkshire Post, Hull Daily Mail, BCC Television and BCC radio.

Click here to read the article written by the Yorkshire Post which features Shamere McKenzie 

Click here to read the article written by the Hull Daily Mail which features Shamere McKenzie 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Shamere McKenzie Featured on Real Faith TV

Click here to watch Real Faith TV segment on human trafficking where they feature Shamere’s story.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Shamere McKenzie Graduates College with her B.S. in Criminal Justice & Criminology

50265827_88103_0142_LargeIt may have taken Shamere McKenzie 13 years to complete her degree but she did it.  On May 8, 2015, Shamere graduated with her B.S. in Criminal Justice & Criminology from Loyola University Chicago.  This milestone was covered by CBS Chicago.  Click here to see Shamere walk across the stage.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Social justice in action: Trafficking survivor on mission to help others

As part of commencement week, each year Loyola features graduates on their website highlighting the work they have done or is doing.  This year Shamere McKenzie was one of the featured graduates for Loyola University Chicago’s commencement week.  Read the story here

Criminal Justice major, Shamere McKenzie, with her mentor and Loyola associate professor of history, John Donoghue on Loyola's Lake Shore Campus, April 24, 2015. (photo by Natalie Battaglia)


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Shamere McKenzie Appointed CEO of Sun Gate Foundation

Holly's article 11-23-14 Meet Shamere McKenzie, the recently-appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Sun Gate Foundation, a national organization focused on providing support to survivors of human trafficking who wish to gain access to private, continuing, and/or higher education. Why is this mission important to Shamere? Because she herself was once a victim of sex trafficking, and as a young adult pursuing a college education, she has had to overcome many obstacles. “As a survivor, I know firsthand the stigma and difficulties faced by survivors of sex trafficking,” Shamere says, “And, as the recipient of the first Sun Gate Foundation scholarship, I am a walking example to other survivors that they too can pick up the broken pieces and live a life of their choosing.”  Click here to read the entire article written by Holly Smith.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Shamere McKenzie Speaks at California State University Chico



IMG_20140421_110428 (1)


On April 16, 2014, for the second year in a row, Shamere McKenzie spoke at California State University Chico as part of STOP (Stop Trafficking of Persons) Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Week. Over 190 students, faculty, and community members came to hear Shamere speak. Other speakers throughout the week included law enforcement offices, service providers and other survivors of human trafficking. Click here for a detail list of speakers.

Special thanks to Jeff Layne, Director of Distance Education for recording the event. Watch Shamere’s presentation here.

Amanda Hovik, from the school’s online newspaper – The Orion – covered the event.

“Shamere McKenzie knew that she didn’t want to die. Her body told her to run, so she headed to a stranger’s garage and found a man and his 2-year-old daughter inside. “What are you doing?” the man asked. “Why are you running around here?” ……continue reading article written by Amanda Hovik

About Amanda Hovik:

Originally from Southern California Amanda Hovik lives in Simi Valley with her family of five, her two brothers Bobby and Billy and her parents Bob and Ev. Growing up she struggled to find the confidence within herself and did not consider herself beautiful going through her awkward stages in junior high and high school. As she got older her focus shifted from her imperfections towards her studies in school. She began to attend regular tutoring sessions to help her maintain her GPA. The tutoring sessions became uncomfortable to attend and she was told by her male tutor to keep his inappropriate behavior a secret. She didn’t tell anyone until word got around that she was not the only person sexually harassed. With the help of her parents she realized that she needed to speak up. Since then she has become more confident within herself and has graduated with an associate’s degree in Behavioral/ Social Sciences. She transferred to Chico State last year and is majoring in Journalism. She currently lives in Chico and writes for the Orion, Chico State’s Student newspaper. One of the articles she wrote is Shamere McKenzie’s story about her experience as a human trafficking survivor and advocate for young women. Amanda is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Journalism and hopes to graduate within the next two years.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Shamere McKenzie helps train Oakland Airport workers on how to spot human traffickers

“The workers, from blue-uniformed Transportation Security Administration agents and baggage handlers to restaurant workers and gate agents, were taught how to recognize potential victims and their abusers, who take advantage of the fact that minors can fly without identification.”

Trainers and presenters includes: Shamere McKenzie, Nancy Rivard, President and Founder of Airline Ambassadors, Sandra Fiorini,  Betty Ann Boeving of the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag and Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley. Read more…

You can read more about the Oakland Airport training here.


Shamere McKenzie, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland


Shamere McKenzie, Sandra Fiorini and Nancy Rivard

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Shamere Presents at Howard University for the 3rd Time

On February 19th, Shamere presented at Howard University again, this time she was among other experts in the field. Those presenting included Nick Sensely, Stacy Lewis, Det. Bill Woolf, Deepa Patel, Christine Raino from Shared Hope International, and more.

Stacy Lewis opened the panel discussion with her motivating spoken word, “Ten Years and one Day.” Shamere closed the conference with a powerful speech.


Read the full article published in Howard Univerity’s School Paper-The Hilltop on page 4.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Shamere in the February Issue of the Dade County Bar Association’s Bulletin

Read Shamere’s story and how pro bono work in Dade County is helping Shamere gain control of her life again.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Shamere McKenzie’s story written by fellow survivor Rebecca Bender

Click here to read Shamere’s story written by fellow survivor  Rebecca Bender. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized