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2019 Women’s Leadership Luncheons - focus on human trafficking

The School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) have supported women’s education and enrichment since its founding in 1833. Recognizing the strength, compassion and wisdom women offer their workplaces, communities and families, SSND is committed to helping women make the most of their unique talents. You are cordially invited to attend this year’s Women’s Leadership Luncheons. The luncheons, held yearly, are free and bring women leaders and colleagues together to reflect on the integration of the spiritual and professional dimensions of life. In 2019, the luncheons focused on human trafficking: the causes, who is targeted and what is being done to eradicate it. Each luncheon featured a speaker who is knowledgeable about human trafficking and who works closely with those who have been affected by it. Attendees gained an understanding of SSND’s stance on human trafficking and what sisters are doing to eradicate the problem. Read more about the 2019 event.



“From the Mud, We Bloom: Finding Freedom from Exploitation”

Rachel Monaco-Wilcox, Founder & CEO, LOTUS Legal Clinic, Inc. Mount Mary University | Milwaukee, Wisconsin
March 7, 2019

Rachel Monaco-Wilcox
Founder & CEO, LOTUS Legal Clinic, Inc. 

Rachel Monaco-Wilcox is the founder and CEO of LOTUS, a legal clinic for victims of human trafficking and other forms of gender-based violence. She started LOTUS while chair of the Justice Department at Mount Mary University, where she currently teaches in the art therapy doctoral program. Rachel has a private practice in mediation for trusts and estates, elder law and special needs cases, and is a frequent speaker and trainer on victims’ rights, human trafficking, dispute resolution and system change. She received a Fulbright Scholarship to study Modern Greek poetry before a life in law consumed her. In 2015, she received the Thrive award for survivor advocacy from Aurora Health Care and was named as a member of Milwaukee Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 class.

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"The Hidden Crime of Human Trafficking:
How to Become a Leader in Your Community”

Anne Simmons-Benton</strong>Executive Director, Arizona State University International DevelopmentBrookhaven Country Club | Dallas, Texas
March 19, 2019

Anne Simmons-Benton
Executive Director, Arizona State University International Development

Anne Simmons-Benton is the executive director of Arizona State University’s (ASU) International Development office in Washington, D.C., and leads the strategy and business development for ASU’s international engagement. There, she is able to leverage and connect the knowledge from ASU experts in education, climate change, gender, supply chains, water and sustainability to help solve complex global problems.

Anne has been a licensed attorney since 1984, and holds a J.D. from the Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C., a Change Management Advance Practitioner Certificate from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and a bachelor of science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. Anne’s career includes international experience in commercial law, trade, banking, business development, competitiveness, investment, entrepreneurship and regional development with a consistent focus on gender throughout her experiences.

Prior to joining ASU, she was the project director of the $46 million USAID/Jordan Competitiveness Program, which focused on clean energy, information and communications technology (ICT) and medical services. Anne started the first Girls in Tech Chapter, which included gender for the first time in the Middle East and North Africa ICT Forum and advocated for an angel network to finance women’s enterprises.

Anne managed and led the trade portfolio for Booz Allen Hamilton’s Foreign Affairs Business. There, she conducted assessments of countries’ business environments and created the first diagnostic tool to assess the business-enabling environment for women with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funding. She conducted gender analyses in Rwanda, Vietnam, Jordan, West Bank and Uganda. In Vietnam, she demonstrated the link between economic growth and human trafficking. 

Anne has also worked for USAID as a senior trade advisor, the U.S. Department of Commerce as senior counsel and has served at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

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“Sex Trafficking: Now That I Know, What Can I Do?”

Kimberly A. Ritter, Director of Development, Exchange InitiativeRiver City Casino Event Center | St. Louis, Missouri
March 25, 2019

Kimberly A. Ritter
Director of Development, Exchange Initiative Senior Account Manager, Nix Conference & Meeting Management

Kimberly Ritter is a veteran in the hotel and meeting planning industry and is the senior account manager specializing in large event planning, at Nix Conference & Meeting Management. Kimberly’s main market segment is religious clientele. She also spearheads the company’s corporate social responsibility human trafficking initiative. Nix has been dedicated to combating child sex trafficking in hotel properties since 2008. Nix was recently awarded International recognition as a Top Member for The Code as one of thirteen U.S. companies from around the world who are true leaders of child protection in tourism. Aside from her work as a meeting planner, Ritter brings awareness to the issue of sex trafficking through speaking engagements, written articles and press interviews.

Ritter is also the director for development for Exchange Initiative, an organization formed by Nix Conference & Meeting Management in 2013 to educate, empower and engage individuals and organizations with resources to help put an end to sex trafficking. Exchange has developed a smartphone app called, TraffickCam, which invites travelers to capture hotel room images with their camera phone and upload those images to a database. The app will provide consistent protocol to improve the ability of investigators to match photos being searched online for missing children.

Awards received by Kimberly include the 2017 Ignatian Spirituality Award, the 2015 Spirit of St. Louis’s Women’s Fund Community Spirit Award, the 2014 Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus Allied Professional Award, the 2012 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award, the 2013 Missouri Athletic Club’s Woman of Distinction and the 2012 St. Louis Woman of Achievement for Human Welfare Award. In 2012, she was selected by Successful Meetings Magazine as one of the 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry.

Kimberly serves as an advisory board member for End Child Prostitution and Trafficking – USA (ECAPT–USA) and on the board of directors for Women of Achievement. She is also a member of the Religious Conference Management Association.

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“The Moon is Always Full:
Phases of Leadership in the Fight Against Human Trafficking”

Suzanne Koepplinger, Director, Catalyst Initiative at the Minneapolis FoundationUniversity of St. Thomas | St. Paul, Minnesota
March 29, 2019

Suzanne Koepplinger
Director, Catalyst Initiative at the Minneapolis Foundation

Suzanne Koepplinger is the director of the Catalyst Initiative at the Minneapolis Foundation, a community foundation that brings people, ideas and resources together to improve lives. Catalyst Initiative’s purpose is to honor and foster culturally authentic self-care practices to advance health and well-being. Previously, Suzanne served for 10 years as the executive director of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, where she led the first research, community response and program implementation in the country to address sex trafficking of American Indian women and girls. In that capacity, she has twice testified before Congress and is a certified trainer for the Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center and the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center. Suzanne holds a master’s degree in the Art of Leadership from Augsburg College in Minneapolis and is one of 15 national leaders chosen for the NoVo Foundation’s first Move to End Violence cohort. She has extensive international experience as a trainer and public speaker. Suzanne’s current community service includes board memberships with ArtSpace and Frank Theatre.

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Phone: 314-561-4100



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