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 in the YWCA’s “For Every Woman Campaign”

In October 2011, Shamere was asked to speak about the DC Stop Modern Day Slavery Walk after a panel on domestic violence put on by the YWCA. The organizer of the panel was so impressed by Shamere’s   five minute presentation about sex trafficking that she asked her take part in the YWCA 2012 “For Every Woman Campaign.”

Here is the organizers own words when asked why Shamere was chosen to be a part of the campaign:

I was blown away by your passion, energy and overall presentation during the panel. I know that you are fully committed to empowering women (one of the YWCA’s missions), specifically through your awareness & prevention work in the areas of modern day slavery/sex crimes against young women.”

Watch Shamere in Campaign Video 1 and Campaign Video 2

The YWCA is the oldest and largest multicultural women’s organization in the world.  Across the globe, there are more than 25 million members in 106 countries, including 2.6 members and participants in 300 local associations in the United States.

The YWCA’s mission is to eliminate racism and empower women. They provide a safe place for women and girls, build strong women leaders, and advocate for women’s rights and civil rights in Congress.  For more information click here.

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Watch Shamere McKenzie and Stacey Lewis dramatic presentation at the 2011 DC Stop Modern Day Slavery Walk

On October 22, 2011, Shamere McKenzie was one of the survivor speakers for the DC Stop Modern Slavery Walk.  Not only did she bring a different kind of presentation she brought along her friend Stacey Lewis who is also a survivor.  The two presentation titled “Our children are victims not criminal”.  Watch Shamere and Stacey present here

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Shamere McKenzie travels with DOJ, OJJDP, Amber Alert and other survivors to Salt Lake City, Utah

The Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and Amber Alert held a Human Trafficking Symposium in Salt Lake City, Utah. Survivors from all over the country were present to include Shamere McKenzie.

Law enforcement officers, prosecutors and leaders from various nonprofit organizations from across the country and beyond, including Mexico and Montreal, attended in an attempt to learn more about what they can do for victims and to prevent human trafficking in their communities...Read more 

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Shamere McKenzie Speaks at Anne Arundel Community College

An Anne Arundel Community College event educated the public about human trafficking during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week April 22-28.

Shamere McKenzie was invited to speak… more about the event

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Survivors share stories of modern slavery in Washington

by Tanya Hutchins, from the Examiner, October 18, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Saturday’s Stop Modern Slavery Walk on the National Mall aims to give a voice to the voiceless.  Shamere McKenzie knows what it is like not to have a voice and plans to use hers this weekend.  She is a survivor of human trafficking, which includes forced labor and the commercial sex industry.  “I was looking for money to go back to school and I met a man who said he would help me and that’s how I got into the life.”

McKenzie said she realized something was wrong the first night. “He put me to work. I felt like I was violated and he actually choked me to the point of unconsciousness,” she said.  “When I woke up, he turned into Prince Charming.”

She said he apologized and said he didn’t mean to put his hands on her.  He also told her that she wouldn’t have to work as a sex slave any longer.  That proved untrue for the next year and seven months.

Continue reading on Survivors share stories of modern slavery in Washington – Washington DC Volunteerism |



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Join the DC Stop Modern Day Slavery Walk


IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN!!!!!  Yes, you guessed right. It’s time to sign up for the DC Stop Modern Day Slavery Walk.

Join me  and walk for freedom!!!!!

Sign up today and join us for the DC Stop Modern Slavery Walk: Constitution Gardens/National Mall on Saturday, October 22, 2011.The event will include a 5K walk, anti-trafficking resource fair, luminary speakers, and incredible musical performances.

To register please visit:  and join team Courtney’s House or team Shared Hope International. When you register the proceeds will go to Courtney’s House or Shared Hope. Please register by August 30 as the registration fee will increase thereafter.

Please let me know if you are interested in being a sponsor.  For more details on the advantages of being a sponsor please visit:http://walk.stopmodernslavery.organd click our sponsors on the left hand side of the page.

Contact me should you have any questions.

Kindest Regards,
Shamere McKenzie

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Shamere’s Speech Inspires State Representative

Prosecutors to help those at risk of being exploited into criminal activities

By Beth Warren

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

When a college athlete was injured and in danger of losing her scholarship, she decided to strip to make extra money — launching a devastating chain of events.

Shamere McKenzie, a native of Jamaica, was forced into prostitution in New York by a violent pimp. She was eventually rescued by police — and prosecuted.

What happened to her is all too common in the United States, including Tennessee, police say.

Law enforcement officials are trying to crack down on the pimps and their customers while recognizing women like McKenzie as victims instead of prostitutes.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was awarded a federal grant this month that will be used over the next two years to educate social workers, police and prosecutors across the state, TBI Asst. Special Agent-in-Charge Margie Quin said.

According to a 2011 TBI study, an estimated 1,200 Tennessee minors are at risk for sexual exploitation. The study also revealed that the majority of police officers surveyed said they need more training on the topic.

“Once we get out and train folks how to identify victims, are we going to realize we have an even bigger problem than we think?” Quin asked.

She said she expects to see a rise in cases once police know what to look for. Shelby County had more than 100 cases last year involving minors.

Quin cited the example of law enforcement officers being trained on how to spot methamphetamine labs, resulting in the state rising to the top in the nation for meth arrests.

“Five years ago, it didn’t look like that big of a problem,” she said of meth. “Now, we’re No. 1 in the the nation.”

The TBI supervisor said the state training on sex trafficking also will work to adjust attitudes that teens and women choose prostitution when often they are forced into the trade.

McKenzie, a convicted felon and now a nationally recognized victim advocate, said training is needed nationwide.

She spoke last week in Chicago to a group of police officers, prosecutors, social workers and attorneys general from across the nation.

She told how she was beaten, raped and threatened by a gun-wielding pimp who forced her into prostitution and into driving other victims across the country.

When she tried to resist, he would press a gun in her mouth or to her head. Once, he pulled the trigger, but the gun didn’t go off, she said.

She was ultimately convicted of violating the Mann Act, which involves willingly crossing state lines for prostitution.

“The key is ‘willingly,'” she said. “Am I to interpret the law to mean that I should have chosen death? Think about it.”

Her speech was part of a battle cry to rally attorneys general to fight this growing crime trend.

“I’m excited to know that people want to make a difference,” she said. “While being trafficked, I never thought anyone cared.”

State Rep. Jim Coley, R-Bartlett, said he wants to sponsor a bill expunging the criminal records of victims like McKenzie, who said her felony record left her unemployed for more than a year. Though he’s proud of Tennessee’s anti-trafficking laws, he said, more work needs to be done.

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Shamere’s Freedom Awards Appearance

Last year, Shamere was a featured presenter at the 2011 Free the Slaves Freedom Awards.  See a blog post about that at the Free the Slaves blog.

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