Where Women Empower Change
empowher lunch + learn
WOMEN EMPOWERING CHANGE: LEARNING THROUGH THE LENS OF A SEX TRAFFICKING SURVIVOR
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
In-person — The Vue, 95 Liberty St., Columbus OH 43215
Online — Zoom
11:30 AM-1 PM EST
Join us for EmpowHER where women empower change by learning the truth behind sex trafficking and its impact on victims locally. The luncheon will feature a live candid conversation with local survivor leader, advocate, and professional speaker, Vanessa Perkins.
For many years, Vanessa was trapped within the dark world of sex trafficking in Columbus, Ohio. Through programs like CATCH Court specialized docket and Freedom a la Cart, she was able to focus on her own healing and recovery and begin her journey of personal freedom and economic independence. Her impressive career has developed full circle — from Freedom a la Cart’s job training, to the Columbus City Attorney’s office, then to Bailiff for Judge Paul Herbert and CATCH Court, and now back to Freedom a la Cart to manage our growing workforce development program for survivors.
Vanessa has educated thousands of people on the subject of sex trafficking and trauma, presenting at conferences such as the End Violence Against Women International conference, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals national conference, and the International Human Trafficking & Social Justice Conference.
You’ll learn tangible ways YOU can fight trafficking through your own sphere of influence. Guests will leave informed, inspired, and united! Funds will support Freedom a la Cart’s workforce development program and wraparound services for local women who have experienced sex trafficking or exploitation.
Guests will have the option to attend in person with an opportunity for audience participation (lunch included) or virtually (speaker portion only).
Please remember to take current CDC guidelines into consideration when attending this in-person event. The CDC promotes personal prevention practices including but not limited to vaccination, wearing a mask, proper handwashing, and environmental prevention practices (such as cleaning and disinfection) to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Learn more here for additional information.
Workforce Development Manager, Freedom a la Cart
For many years, Vanessa experienced repeated interactions with the criminal justice system while she was trapped within the dark world of sex trafficking in Columbus, Ohio. Following her last arrest in 2009, Vanessa opted into CATCH Court, a specialized docket for survivors of sexual exploitation and trafficking, where she was able to focus on her own healing and recovery and begin her journey of personal freedom and economic independence.
In 2011, Vanessa re-entered the workforce through a nonprofit social enterprise called Freedom a la Cart, where she was able to develop practical skills that would equip her to begin her career. In 2013, she was hired by the Columbus City Attorney’s Office and began working as a colleague with the prosecutors who had previously argued to send her to jail. In 2018, Vanessa re-engaged with CATCH Court as Bailiff to the Honorable Judge Paul Herbert who presided over the restorative justice docket; and in 2021, she returned full circle to Freedom a la Cart to serve in her current role as manager of its growing workforce development program for survivors.
Vanessa has educated thousands of people on the subject of sex trafficking and trauma, presenting at conferences such as the End Violence Against Women International conference, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals national conference, the International Human Trafficking & Social Justice Conference, and most recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
Today, Vanessa continues her work as a survivor leader, educator, speaker, and advocate in the movement to eradicate human trafficking with a passion to bring hope and healing to survivors.
sophia fifner, emcee
First-generation American and Columbus, OH resident, Sophia Fifner is an advocate, mother, #metoo survivor, pageant queen, philanthropist, and social changemaker.
Sophia has spent over 15 years advancing her career in philanthropy. She has worked with multiple social justice and gender equity nonprofits, helping them leverage intersectionality- and equity-driven lens to further their missions. At present, she works as Director of Communications and Executive Director of the NiSource Charitable Foundation.
As one of the founding members of the nonpartisan Ohio Matriots Political Action Committee, Sophia brings women leaders together from both sides of the aisle to engage in important conversations—whether regarding economic equity, access to education, or the health and safety of their surrounding communities. She is passionate about increasing female representation in public office and working to narrow the gap between female political power and buying power.
Since 2014, Sophia has volunteered as a Speakers Bureau Volunteer for RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) and continues to volunteer her time and share her story in support of other victims of sexual violence. She also serves on the Survivor Advisory Council of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence and the Board of Directors of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio.
Meet Our Sponsors