August is an exciting month for ArtWorks for Freedom! Our team is expanding and we are thrilled to welcome the organization's first full-time executive director, Michele Clark!
Since our genesis in 2011, ArtWorks has created tremendous momentum with our arts-based awareness campaigns, and we have developed amazing partnerships with anti-trafficking activists all over the world. However, there is so much more that we can do and our impact has only touched the surface. As an experienced human rights champion, Michele Clark joins us to build upon our foundation and steer us into the future.
As our organization continues to grow, I hope you will become inspired to find new ways of working to help end trafficking. It's a tremendous task, but there's room for everyone in this fight.
Getting to Know Our New Executive Director, Michele Clark
An internationally recognized human rights expert, Michele Clark has worked to combat human trafficking as a researcher, educator and policy advocate. To introduce Michele to the ArtWorks community, we’ve asked her to share how she became passionate about this issue and how she views addressing human trafficking from a variety of perspectives.
How did you become so intimately involved in anti-trafficking work?
I first encountered human trafficking in 1998 when I was teaching at the University of Haifa. I met a young woman who had been trafficked from Ukraine. She told me her story and as terrible as it was, I didn’t know what I could do to help her. This experience deeply troubled me, so I set out to learn everything that I could about what was happening to so many young women just like her around the world.
I moved back to Washington, DC just as the Trafficking Victims Protections Act of 2000 was being passed; many of my friends and former colleagues had been involved in the passage of that legislation. I knew that research and analysis were going to be important and that's a lot of what I could bring to the table. The first job I had in this area was at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies where the first university-based think tank on human trafficking, the Protection Project, was being established. I became co-director of the institute, where I worked for 4 years. I was then invited to be the first director of the anti-trafficking office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, based in Vienna, Austria. There, we helped 56 member states to implement anti-trafficking policies and programs. When I came back to the United States, I started to teach at the Elliott School of International Affairs of the George Washington University, developing courses on human trafficking and women’s human rights.
What are the different ways people can get involved in combatting human trafficking and how do those multiple areas work together?
There's a formal framework for addressing trafficking, often called the “4 Ps”: The first is Prevention, which involves public education and awareness. And of course, this is where ArtWorks for Freedom plays such a vital role. The second, Prosecution, focuses on law enforcement and criminal justice. The third, Protection, addresses the needs of trafficked persons after they leave a trafficking situation including medical care, counseling, shelter and employment. The final is Participation, which recognizes the need for representatives from all sectors of our society, including the business community, academia, the media and informed citizens.
In a holistic anti-trafficking approach, all of these areas work together because trafficking is not a static one-time event; it’s a complicated, lengthy process involving hundreds of people across time and often distance, so we need to intervene at multiple levels. All of these steps are relevant and necessary at a different stage in the trafficking process.
ArtWorks for Freedom focuses specifically on raising awareness; why is that important?
ArtWorks for Freedom's mission is to raise awareness about the reality of human trafficking in such a way that the public, people like you and me, can grasp the meaning and extent of this crime as well as their place in becoming part of the solution. The arts have a power to communicate what policy statements don’t. Symbols act as a catalyst—they get people to ask questions, come together and help to dissolve a lot of barriers around particular issues. The arts can also do a great deal to engage people in understanding that a problem exists, and then help them ask the kinds of questions that lead to engagement.
What are you looking forward to in your role as executive director of ArtWorks for Freedom?
I'm looking forward to working with the organization’s founder Kay Chernush as well as the board members and many supporters to help expand the reach of the organization, and to develop a culture of genuine and sustained engagement in order to eliminate human trafficking in our communities.
Stay tuned for more insights from Michele in future newsletters!
"Why I give to ArtWorks for Freedom"
In a new donor spotlight section, we're giving a shout out to the donors who make our work possible!
Anonymous Donor, St. Michaels, MD
It’s important for me to live in a world where we treat others with respect and have a compassionate view of things we don’t understand. As an artist myself, I know how powerful artistic expression can be to enhance the healing process as well as to give the viewer a different perspective. When I learned of ArtWorks for Freedom, it just made sense to give my support to this cause because it fits all of my criteria for philanthropic giving and speaks to my beliefs about what art can do for social change.
Join our community of concerned citizens and help ArtWorks for Freedom raise worldwide consciousness of human trafficking. DONATE TODAY
News & Events
KAY CHERNUSH AT THE ASSISI INSTITUTE
On August 14, Kay Chernush presents a keynote talk entitled, “Perspective and the Transforming Moment” at the Assisi Institute conference on “The Stories that Shape a Life: Creativity, Stories and Transformation.” The conference will explore the intersection of art, archetypes and activism in times of trauma. Check out more about the conference and the Assisi Institute’s work!
NEW WEBSITE COMING SOON!
We're putting on the finishing touches of our brand new website! Get ready for a new artwork section with a beautiful layout to see the breadth of our contributing artists’ works. And we look forward to interacting with you on our blog section where we will share stories about anti-trafficking work to inspire your own action. Can't wait to show you what we've been working on!
VOLUNTEER BLOGGERS WANTED!
Are you a writer or digital content creator looking for a way to help end human trafficking? We’re looking for volunteer bloggers to share local stories of anti-trafficking work. This is a great opportunity for students, freelancers and blogging enthusiasts! Email our blog editor Courtney McSwain for more details.