When I was considering becoming chair of Amirah’s Board of Directors someone told me that the job only required starting board meetings on time! Not surprisingly, I have found that there’s more to the job than that . . .
I have served on Amirah’s board for almost six years—because I am so supportive of and grateful for its marvelous vision and work to provide whole-person care for women survivors of sex trafficking in a safe, secure home and community. During this time my appreciation for the challenges and complexity—and the rewards—of that work has only strengthened. The work is grueling—for all involved—and immensely gratifying. Truly transformative.
So, what does the chair of Amirah’s Board of Directors do? A typical day can include meeting with Executive Director Stephanie Clark to share and process developments with the residential program, fund and awareness raising, Board matters, etc. It’s one of my favorite parts of the “job”—both to learn more about all that’s involved and to have a small part in managing that.
I might also—as I did just this morning—talk by Face Time with local high school students who are working on a school project about human trafficking. Someone who heard me speak when receiving a grant given to Amirah from a local business had a connection with a teacher at that school. I love making and benefitting from connections.
As mentioned, I do speak to a variety of individuals and groups on behalf of Amirah. That’s another part of the job I love. Some people are still unaware that as many as 21 million people are enslaved through labor and sex trafficking in the world today. Even if they have that general awareness, they can still be surprised to learn that trafficking doesn’t just happen “over there,” in Nepal or the Dominican Republic or Ghana. It happens EVERYWHERE, cutting across all classes and locations. It is on the North Shore of Boston where I live and where Amirah is at work.
Then, of course, there is the work with the rest of the Board of Directors. We meet every other month. I set the agenda and chair the meetings—always chock full of matters to discuss and decide. I stay in touch with other members between meetings. Like other board members, I use social media to raise awareness of needs and opportunities to support Amirah in a variety of ways. We advertise job and volunteer openings, upcoming fundraisers, particular needs at the home, and more. It is part of my job—part of every Board member’s job—to make sure that my family and friends know about Amirah developments. Once a year there is a large fundraiser and celebration, and every Board member helps with that.
I also keep learning from the news and social media about what’s going on in the larger world of trafficking and the fight to stop it. Pretty much every day there are articles to read and new efforts and programs to learn about. As awareness about trafficking rises, so does the work of law enforcement, Homeland Security, the medical community and others to stop it and to help its survivors. And, so importantly, to prevent it.
Human trafficking is a monumental tragedy and black mark on the face of humanity. Its damage to individuals and communities is staggering. What a gift it has been to me to know and work with those who are wanting and working to undo the devaluing trauma of trafficking—both survivors and care givers--to transform and redeem those lives to be independent and productive in ways that help and satisfy them and benefit others.