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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.

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Watch Stacy’s powerful address to her community where she was abducted!

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Shamere McKenzie Speaks at California State University Chico



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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.


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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

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Day 11: African-American History Month – Post-Slavery Employment

Yesterday, I met with a dear friend/ally/supporter/colleague/ revolutionary for lunch and he opened my eyes yet again to the possibilities of my life. I feel so grateful for him and for meeting him through my first “post-slavery employment.”

Recently, I’ve been re-reading a letter that I wrote to my colleagues when I left that employment situation (though I haven’t really left at all because the place and people mean so much to me!). I want to share a portion of that letter as it also honors a very important figure (to me) in African-American history, Frederick Douglass.

Here it is…

“Six years ago, I was in an unimaginable place in my life. I was at the crossroads of slavery and freedom and Cal Corps (now the Public Service Center) was nothing short of a refuge. Frederick Douglass in The Narrative of Frederick Douglass portrays my experience most accurately when he writes:

‘I found employment, the third day after my arrival…It was…hard work for me; but I went at it with a glad heart and a willing hand. I was now my own master. It was a happy moment, the rapture of which can be understood only by those who have been slaves. It was the first work, the reward of which was to be entirely my own. There was no Master Hugh standing ready, the moment I earned the money, to rob me of it. I worked that day with a pleasure I have never before experienced. I was at work for myself…It was to me the starting-point of a new existence.’

Cal Corps has undeniably been the starting point of a new existence for me. Like Frederick Douglass, I found my employment at Cal Corps just barely after my arrival into a free state. It was a happy moment because I was finally able to keep my rewards. Those rewards, both monetary and interpersonal, were keys to the chains of my slavery. Since then, the same rewards have allowed for my continued liberation.

Also like Frederick Douglass,

‘Here I found myself surrounded with the strongest proofs of wealth…Every man appeared to understand his work, and went at it with a sober, yet cheerful earnestness, which betokened the deep interest which he felt in what he was doing, as well as a sense of his own dignity as a man. To me this looked exceedingly strange.’

Cal Corps is a strange place. It is strange because few places like it exist. Rarely do I hear of work environments that are so communal, playful, respectful, nurturing, creative, and prolific. In these ways, Cal Corps is also very wealthy. We are rich in compassion and love, and in our deep interest in what we do. Each of you has shared with me your many assets. You have contributed to a world of abundance that I did not imagine I would find upon escaping slavery.”

Yesterday, I experienced more of that continued abundance. Thank you, dear friends…you know who you are.

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7 Layers Captive Special “One Night Only” Performance

Friday, January 10th @8pm in Washington, DC In honor of January’s National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Writer & Director Stacy Jewell Lewis presents a “One Night Only” special performance of 7 Layers Captive.

In this mesmerizing performance Stacy Jewell Lewis captivates the soul with her compelling true story of her abduction into the world of street prostitution in Washington, DC. From teen victim to her transformation into the notorious “bottom girl” female recruiter.

Using the power of her real life experience, moving spoken word and stunning visuals, Stacy illuminates the stage taking you on an emotional journey from tragedy to triumph.

7 layers

Get Tickets for $25 online at or, or pay $30 at the door.

Ebenezers Coffeehouse
201 F Street NE
Washington, DC 20011
(202) 558-6900

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WATCH TRAILER of 7 Layers Captive “The Play”

Stacy Jewell Lewis presents “7 Layers Captive” a play which depicts her real life story as a sex slave in America. Her riveting one woman performance has left audiences breathless as she captivates the soul through music, poetry and dynamic storytelling.

NOW SHOWING in Washington, DC. Visit to find show dates and locations.

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by | December 18, 2013 · 11:11 pm

Unlikely Heroes Gala

I was honored at the Unlikely Heroes 2nd Annual Gala on October 19th in Los Angeles. I was honored for the Hero Award along with other individuals who are active in the anti-human trafficking movement. Unlikely Heroes is an organization in Los Angeles. “Unlikely Heroes currently operates a restoration home for child survivors of sex slavery in the Philippines. Unlikely Heroes is also in the midst of pioneering additional rescue and restoration projects internationally. Their next home will open in Mexico,” as said on their website.  Holly Smith was asked by the organization to nominate someone who works in anti-trafficking working to make changes and an impact. I received a letter saying they wanted to honor me in the gala and it was such an honor. I want to dedicate this award to all the survivors of human trafficking. I know that everyone else deserves to be honored for the work that they do. It is not easy doing this work especially for a survivor because not everyone is comfortable in sharing his or her story to the public. That is why I think everyone who works for this movement should be honored for this award.

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Event at the White House

I attended an event at the White House on Monday, September 16th on human trafficking. I felt very honored when Ambassador Luis CdeBaca recognized me. It has been over ten years since I last saw him. I use to meet with him and other senators to share my story. He told me how proud he was that I am still voicing my story to the world. The Coordinator for the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships asked me before the event what my action tracks are to help contribute to the anti-trafficking movement. I told her mine would be to help survivors beyond the regular help that is being offered, to help prevent modern day slavery, and for all forms of human trafficking to be looked at as one issue and not as separate problems. It was very nice for Humanity United to put on the event, though I wish that there were more people at the event who were really passionate about this fight. I am going to stay focused on sharing my story and helping the survivors.

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White House Convening on Human Trafficking with Evelyn Chumbow

On Monday, September 16th, Evelyn Chumbow attended the “Taking Action to Eradicate Modern-Day Slavery” event at the White House. Chumbow, along with other civil society leaders met to discuss how organizations can become involved with ending human trafficking. Chumbow planned to serve as a action track leader for the break out group on empowering and supporting survivors. A recent report completed by the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships influenced the development for this event. The report can be viewed here:

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