Events

Meet The Recipients Of This Year's Freedom Awards - Kelly Fang and Ria Gaur

Held by ECPAT-USA, the Freedom Awards bring together a highly selective group of 200 luminaries in the corporate, philanthropic, government, and media communities in support of ECPAT-USA’s vital work to ensure no child is bought or sold. The highlight of the evening is the recognition of the world’s most remarkable individuals for their contributions in ending child trafficking.

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Kelly Fang

Brooklyn Tech High School

Next Gen Award

It was a Facebook post from the previous secretary of the Youth Against Child Trafficking program at her high school that Kelly Fang first realized that sex trafficking was an issue not only in other countries, but in her community as well. Then a freshman at Brooklyn Tech, Kelly decided to sit in on a few meetings of the club to learn more about the issue. After those first few meetings, Kelly became a dedicated member of the group and help host fundraisers throughout the year, hold assemblies, screened documentaries and hold card making sessions to empower survivors of trafficking.

Now the president of the Brooklyn Tech Y-ACT group, Kelly says she’s learned a lot about the exploitation, the causes, the legislation and the hardships from many points of views. She sees how larger issues such as gender equality and consumerism help perpetuate the cycle of exploitation and says she has become more conscious of how her everyday decisions affect others.  

“I hope that my peers understand that they have the power to make change happen and that it is not too early to start caring,” Kelly said. “Just showing up to club meetings on Monday, really means a lot to the cause, even if it may feel like not much is being done. Listening to stories and uncovering the complexities of the problem is important. Awareness is a crucial foundation for action. We have the power to decide the future and we have the means to do so now.”

Kelly hopes that the work of the Y-ACT group at Brooklyn Tech encourages other students to get involved with issues like trafficking that impact their community so directly.

“Working on such a heavy issue has definitely amplified my voice in my school community and encouraged me to develop my courage,” Kelly said. “I've realized my ability to make change, and understand that my actions leave an impression on those around me. For years, I've looked up to leaders who have inspired others but now I want to be that person who can move others to take action.”

Ria Gaur

Stuyvesant High School

Next Gen Award

When Stuyvesant High School student Ria Gaur first learned about trafficking through a documentary about the issue in India, she figured that if she was interested in this issue, there were probably other students at her school who would want to work with her in raising awareness about trafficking. After researching more about the issue and looking into volunteering with anti-trafficking non-profits, Ria started Stuyvesant Against Trafficking at her school at the end of her sophomore year.

For the past two years, the group has worked to raise money for trafficking survivors through Purpose Jewelry, put up posters at their school, and organized guest speakers from organizations who work on trafficking, including ECPAT-USA, to address their school. When the group wanted to expand their efforts beyond their own high school, they created Silent No Longer (silent-nolonger.org) where they invited students from other schools to join their efforts to fight trafficking and post monthly blog posts about the issue.

Keeping the club up and running and organizing awareness events at her school have not been without their difficulties. But, even in the beginning, when only four or five people of the 3500 people at her school would show up to Stuyvesant Against Trafficking meetings, Ria said she didn’t doubt the group’s ability to make a difference.

“Just cause we’re students doesn’t mean we have less of a say or less of an impact on the issue,” she said. “I think it is really important for youth to be united against an issue like this. It affects our community. I think it’s really important for us to acknowledge it.”

Although Ria will graduate this year from Stuyvesant and start at NYU in the fall, she plans to continue raising awareness of trafficking and other social justice issues in whatever way she can.

“Because it’s not happening right in front of us, trafficking can be considered a myth,” Ria said. “But I think it’s important to have an open mind and be ready to learn about these types of things and the things that other people endure - not just in other countries but your own country as well - and be willing to help in whatever way you see fit.”



Meet The Recipients Of This Year's Freedom Awards - Jett Jeffery and Glenn Logan

Held by ECPAT-USA, the Freedom Awards bring together a highly selective group of 200 luminaries in the corporate, philanthropic, government, and media communities in support of ECPAT-USA’s vital work to ensure no child is bought or sold. The highlight of the evening is the recognition of the world’s most remarkable individuals for their contributions in ending child trafficking.

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Jett Jeffery and Glenn Logan

Delta Flight Products

Rescue Award

Delta employees Jett Jeffery and Glen Logan were sitting in an Orlando-area McDonald’s on a Saturday afternoon in August enjoying their lunch when two girls walked in the restaurant who looked completely out of place.

Around 15 or 16 years old, the girls were dressed inappropriately for the area. The man with them looked much older, and the girls were timid around him. When he finished eating his lunch, he stepped outside, and the girls started chatting with each other. When he returned, they stopped talking immediately.

“It just didn’t fit,” Logan says of the experience in a Delta awareness campaign video.

When the man started snapping his fingers at the girls and urging them to get ready to go quickly, Jeffery and Logan looked at each other and Logan remembers them asking each other at the same time, “Are we seeing what we’re seeing?”

The two decided they couldn’t just walk away from what they had just seen. Jeffery went outside to get the plates, make, and model of the car, and reported the incident to local law enforcement. Later that day, they received a call back from the sheriff's department that the vehicle had come back as stolen.  

The two credit the anti-trafficking training they received from Delta as the reason either of them had noticed anything unusual about the situation at all. Jeffery said, to him, what he was seeing at that McDonald’s lined up almost exactly with the indicators of potential instances of trafficking that he had been taught to look for training.

“It is vital for Delta to take a leadership role in combating human trafficking,” Jeffery said. “By working together and educating employees and customers, we can shed light on the epidemic. Every company can make a statement to traffickers that their actions will not be tolerated.

Both Jeffery and Logan hope that their experience is one that causes those who hear it to think about their role in ending trafficking and take that extra minute to be aware of their surroundings.

“Trafficking can take place anywhere, at any time,” Jeffery said. “If you think you are witnessing human trafficking, please report it! It is better to report the incident than let it go and know you could have saved someone’s life.”

Meet The Recipients Of This Year's Freedom Awards - Anthony Spagnuolo

Held by ECPAT-USA, the Freedom Awards bring together a highly selective group of 200 luminaries in the corporate, philanthropic, government, and media communities in support of ECPAT-USA’s vital work to ensure no child is bought or sold. The highlight of the evening is the recognition of the world’s most remarkable individuals for their contributions in ending child trafficking.

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Anthony Spagnuolo

Hilton Area Director of Safety and Security

Defender Award

As the Hilton Area Director of Safety and Security, Anthony Spagnuolo oversees more than 20 different hotel properties across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. He and his team of 38 safety and security professionals are charged with keeping thousands of guests and associates safe every single day, and Spagnuolo has organized countless trainings for staff on security issues - including how to identify and best respond to instances of suspected trafficking.

Spagnuolo first became aware of human trafficking as an issue that could affect guests and team members during a special training session held in anticipation of New Jersey and New York hosting the Super Bowl in 2014. That program, he said, really opened his eyes to the topic, and he is proud of how Hilton embraced the issue and has worked to fight trafficking across all its properties.

Since then, Spagnuolo has ensured that anti-trafficking information has been incorporated into team member trainings and tailored each training to the specific department, so that each associate is receiving the most relevant information about how to identify instances of trafficking for his or her department. Additionally, when New York, Connecticut and New Jersey issued new regulations for postings and trainings at hotels, Spagnuolo spearheaded Hilton’s compliance efforts and led trainings at five properties and organized trainings at 15 more. Spagnuolo’s efforts mean that signage about human trafficking now appears in all of the Hilton properties that he oversees.

Spagnuolo said he has seen team members acting on the knowledge they gained during these trainings to keep guests and fellow associates safe through recognizing a situation as suspicious and reporting it to it to him or one of his team members.

“We really need to rely on all our team members to be our eyes and ears,” he said.

Whether the reports result in police action or a definitive conclusion that an incident was a case of trafficking, Spagnuolo says are the wrong things on which to focus. To him, an individual being aware enough to make the initial report is an accomplishment.

“People coming up to you and reporting situations, those are our success stories,” Spagnuolo said. “We may not find out exactly what happened, but we did our part.”


Meet The Recipients Of This Year's Freedom Awards - Arne M. Sorenson

Held by ECPAT-USA, the Freedom Awards bring together a highly selective group of 200 luminaries in the corporate, philanthropic, government, and media communities in support of ECPAT-USA’s vital work to ensure no child is bought or sold. The highlight of the evening is the recognition of the world’s most remarkable individuals for their contributions in ending child trafficking.

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Arne M. Sorenson

President and CEO, Marriott International

Visionary Award

“We are immensely proud to support ECPAT-USA and to take a stand against human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. Trained on the signs of human trafficking and empowered to say something if they see something, Marriott associates are passionate about making a difference in this fight. Child sexual exploitation is a horrifying daily tragedy that no one can afford to ignore — and the hospitality and tourism industry has a unique opportunity to do something about it.”


Arne M. Sorenson is President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International, Inc. Mr. Sorenson presides over one of the world’s largest hospitality companies and some of the most iconic brands in travel.

Mr. Sorenson led the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide in 2016, resulting in a dramatic expansion of Marriott’s ability to provide unparalleled guest experiences around the world. The company now has more than 7,000 properties across 130 countries and territories and 30 brands. The merger also created the travel industry’s largest customer-loyalty program, with nearly 125 million members. An outspoken corporate leader, he has advocated for environmental sustainability, a more open, safe and inclusive workplace, a welcoming culture around the world and a future in which international travel is revolutionized with a global digital identification system.

Mr. Sorenson joined Marriott in 1996 and held a number of positions before serving as President and Chief Operating Officer. He was elected to Marriott’s Board of Directors in 2011. He became Chief Executive Officer in 2012, making history as the first person to hold the post without the Marriott family name.

With a keen interest in international trade, immigration and innovation, Mr. Sorenson is active on multiple boards. He joined the Microsoft board of directors in November 2017. He is also a member of the Business Roundtable. He serves on the board of trustees for The Brookings Institution, the board of directors for Warrior-Scholar Project and as a member of the Luther College Board of Regents.

Mr. Sorenson is a graduate of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and the University of Minnesota Law School. Before joining Marriott, he was a partner with the law firm Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C.

Meet The Recipients Of This Year's Freedom Awards - Carol Smolenski

Held by ECPAT-USA, the Freedom Awards bring together a highly selective group of 200 luminaries in the corporate, philanthropic, government, and media communities in support of ECPAT-USA’s vital work to ensure no child is bought or sold. The highlight of the evening is the recognition of the world’s most remarkable individuals for their contributions in ending child trafficking.

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Carol Smolenski

Retiring Executive Director of ECPAT-USA

Freedom Award

For over 25 years, Carol Smolenski has served as the executive director of ECPAT-USA. Under her leadership, the organization has grown from the ground up and has become the top policy organization in the United States seeking to end the commercial, sexual exploitation of children.

In the early 1990s, Smolenski was working in the field of child rights when she was invited to attend a presentation about the sexual exploitation of kids in Asia. Activists there had identified large numbers of children being bought and sold for sex in Asia - often by individuals from other countries. The presentation was targeted specifically at those countries from which the demand for the sex trade was originating, and it was there that Smolenski first saw how children were being marketed for exploitation. She left the presentation knowing that she had to do something.

A small team of people started developing the organization that would become ECPAT-USA. They raised money and hired their first staff member and little by little, started growing the organization. The first step for ECPAT-USA was overcoming the lack of awareness around the issue, including the lack of understanding that sex trafficking isn’t an issue that affects only kids in foreign countries. Initially, no one wanted to talk about child trafficking, especially those in the systems and industries that were unknowingly facilitating exploitation.

“We kept going despite how difficult it was in the 1990s,” Smolenski said. “No one was was talking about sex trafficking, but once you heard about it, you couldn’t just walk away. At least, I couldn’t just walk away.”

Eventually, public perception of the issue started to shift. Through the work of ECPAT-USA and other activists, legislators, law enforcement and the general public started to understand that kids who were arrested as participants in the sex trade should be seen as victims instead of perpetrators. In 2004, Carlson signed the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, and the travel and tourism industry began to come on board as allies in the fight to end trafficking. Programs were developed to empower students to become advocates against exploitation in their communities.

“I do want people to understand that if you keep at it, it gets better,” Smolenski says. “Because I do have this long perspective and I have seen a tremendous amount of change, it gives me faith. It gives me confidence to tell people that if you keep working at it, things will improve.”

After working on the issue since 1991, Smolenski will retire later this year. After a lifetime working for child rights organizations, she expects that she will continue in some capacity, but she also hopes to travel and spend time with her friends and family.

ECPAT-USA Launches New Report At AHLA Safety Summit

ECPAT-USA was excited to participate in the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s annual Safety Summit in Washington, D.C. this week as part of the organization’s continuing efforts to make fighting human trafficking a top priority. Along with Polaris, ECPAT-USA spoke about the issue, the importance of training, and concrete steps the travel industry can take to protect children from exploitation.

Additionally, ECPAT-USA debuted their new “Unpacking Human Trafficking” report at the Summit. Financially supported by the American Hotel and Lodging Association Educational Foundation, the report is a survey of human trafficking signage and training laws across all 50 states. The publication is meant to help clarify laws and facilitate compliance for lodging facilities as an increasing number of states have passed laws requiring lodging facilities to combat human trafficking.

To learn more about how your company can partner with ECPAT-USA, click here.

ECPAT-USA Celebrates The Power of Girls In Annual CSW Panel

Alongside this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), ECPAT-USA presented a panel showcasing how girls can be empowered to become leaders and advocates against trafficking in their communities. Featuring Survivor Advocate Barbara Amaya and Youth leaders Kelly Fang and Ria Gaur, the event discussed what makes girls susceptible to traffickers and how we can combat these tactics by encouraging young girls to be confident and bold, to stand up for themselves and for those around them, and to participate in making sure that women are girls can live in a world free from the threat of sexual violence.

“Trafficking isn’t just a women’s problem,” Ria said, noting the importance of including boys in conversations about recognizing and preventing trafficking.

Through ECPAT-USA's Y-ACT Youth Program, students are empowered to be the foremost advocates in their communities through education. Click here to learn more about the program.

Photos by Carla Licavoli Photography

American Airlines, Carlson Wagonlit Travel and Viacom Co-Sponsor Day of the Girl Fundraiser for ECPAT-USA

AMERICAN AIRLINES, CARLSON WAGONLIT TRAVEL AND VIACOM CO-SPONSOR DAY OF THE GIRL FUNDRAISER FOR ECPAT-USA

ABC’s Juju Chang to M.C.

For tickets and information, visit ECPAT-USA’s  Day of the Girl  event site.

For tickets and information, visit ECPAT-USA’s Day of the Girl event site.

New York City (October 3, 2018) — American Airlines, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, and Viacom are co-sponsoring a fundraising event to support ECPAT-USA, the country’s leader in fighting child sex trafficking on October 10, the evening before the U.N’s International Day of the Girl. ECPAT-USA will gather advocates, change makers, and special guests to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, in particular trafficking and exploitation, while promoting girls' empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights. ABC-TVs Juju Chang of ABC News Nightline Co-Anchor will be the master of ceremonies for the event.

“Children across the United States continue to be bought, sold, and used for sex. While ECPAT-USA works to protect all children from commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, this event underscores the urgency of our work today in ending violence against girls and the barriers that keep them from reaching their full potential,” said Carol Smolenski, ECPAT-USA Executive Director.

“American Airlines and our 130,000 team members around the globe are committed to supporting the fight against human trafficking and child exploitation,” said Alison Taylor, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Distribution. “We have a unique role to play in this effort. Every day, we transport more than half a million passengers. With the training program in place for our team members, we are in the fight against this terrible practice. We conduct our business in a manner that protects human rights and the rights of children within our sphere of influence.”

“Our parent company, Carlson Companies, and CWT, have a long history of commitment to the cause that dates back to 1999,” said Brian Mogler, senior vice president, global supplier management, at Carlson Wagonlit Travel. “At CWT, we’ve established an anti-human trafficking task force composed of colleagues from all regions and functions and have trained employees so they can better understand and recognize the issue. We’ve sent over half a million travel alerts on electronic tickets issued in the US to destinations where child sex tourism is prevalent. We know that more work needs to be done. With our partners at ECPAT and other organizations already in the battlefield, we are committed to the long term fight to end human trafficking and any and all forms of child exploitation and abuse.”

“We are proud to host this event in support of ECPAT-USA and its leadership in the fight to eradicate the commercial exploitation of young women and children,” said Lori Nicholson, Head of Global Business Services, Viacom.  “Sex trafficking has absolutely no place in our society.” 

“ECPAT-USA has been working closely with our partners in the travel industry to educate their employees, who are best placed to identify and stop sex trafficking. We are grateful that American Airlines, Carlson Wagonlit Travel and Viacom are now supporting us by sponsoring this event and helping us continue and expand our work,” Smolenski said.

The gala event will be held October 10 at 6 pm at Viacom, 1515 Broadway, New York. More information about the event and sponsorship opportunities can be found at ECPAT-USA’s event site.

The ECPAT-USA event is being held in advance of the official UN holiday, International Day of the Girl on October 11.

 

ABOUT ECPAT-USA

More than twenty-five years ago, ECPAT-USA became the first U.S.-based nonprofit to work on the issue of commercial sexual exploitation of children. ECPAT-USA started with sex tourism, helping to get legislation passed that ensured that Americans who traveled abroad to buy sex with minors could be prosecuted in the US for sexually exploiting children in other countries. 

As the leading policy organization in the United States seeking to end the commercial, sexual exploitation of children, ECPAT-USA focuses on awareness, advocacy, policy, and legislation. ECPAT-USA is a member of ECPAT International, a network of organizations in more than 93 countries with one common mission: to eliminate the sexual exploitation of children around the world. For more information, visit ecpatusa.org.

 

About Juju Chang

Juju Chang is an Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of ABC News’ “Nightline.” She also reports regularly for “Good Morning America” and “20/20.” Chang was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement award at the 2017 Front Page Awards for her in-depth personal narratives and investigative reporting set against the backdrop of pressing national and international news. She has also reported extensively on human trafficking in the US and around the world, including child sex trafficking in America.  View Juju Chang's full biography.

 

About American Airlines Group

American Airlines and American Eagle offer an average of nearly 6,700 flights per day to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries. American has hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. American is a founding member of the oneworld® alliance, whose members serve nearly 1,000 destinations with 14,250 daily flights to 150 countries. Shares of American Airlines Group Inc. trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol AAL. In 2015, its stock joined the S&P 500 index. Connect with American on Twitter @AmericanAir and at Facebook.com/AmericanAirlines.

 

About Carlson Wagonlit Travel 

Companies and governments rely on us to keep their people connected. We provide their travelers with a consumer-grade travel experience, combining innovative technology with our vast experience. Every day, we look after enough travelers to fill more than 260 Boeing 787s and 100,000 hotel rooms - and handle 105 events. We operate in around 150 countries, and in 2017 posted a total transaction volume of more than US$ 23 billion.

Please follow us on Twitter @CarlsonWagonlit and Linkedin.


About Viacom

Viacom is home to premier global media brands that create compelling entertainment content - including television programs, motion pictures, short-form content, games, consumer products, podcasts, live events and social media experiences - for audiences in 183 countries. Viacom's media networks, including Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., MTV, BET, Comedy Central, Paramount Network, VH1, TV Land, CMT, Logo, Channel 5 (UK), Telefe (Argentina), Colors (India) and Paramount Channel, reach approximately 4.3 billion cumulative television subscribers worldwide. Paramount Pictures is a major global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment. Paramount Television develops, finances and produces original programming for television and digital platforms.

For more information about Viacom and its businesses, visit www.viacom.com. Keep up with Viacom news by following Viacom's blog at blog.viacom.com and Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/viacom.

Announcement: Day of the Girl Celebration!

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ECPAT-USA is proud to announce its upcoming fall fundraising event in recognition and support of the global movement to better girls’ lives and empower them to reach their full potential.

By championing their rights and protecting them from harm, we can support girls' opportunities to realize their goals, and in doing so create a better and more equitable world. 

Join us in shining a spotlight on girls' rights this October 10!

 

 

Presented by American Airlines, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, and Viacom

 

ECPAT-USA's Carol Smolenski Joins Nasdaq for World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

Executive Director Carol Smolenski joined Nasdaq's Global Head of Sustainability, Evan Harvey, in conversation on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. The day of awareness and action, created by the United Nations in 2013, serves to highlight the problem of human trafficking while calling for a coordinated and consistent effort to end the scourge in all its forms. 

The Nasdaq Live conversation touched on child trafficking prevention, the UN's Agenda for Sustainable Development, corporate social responsibility, and more. Click below to view the full conversation.