Lisa Williams is an international heroine in her innovative efforts to counter child sex trafficking.
It was not enough for Ms. Williams to find her own freedom from a life of trauma and sexual exploitation. She answered the call to go back and free countless others like herself. It has been said as it pertains to child sex trafficking, Ms. Williams is a latter-day Harriet Tubman.
Ms. Williams founded Circle of Friends; Celebrating Life, Inc. in 1999 to educate, equip and empower women to live their best life, free of violence, as they served other women and girls. From those beginnings, in 2005 Living Water for Women was founded; in 2007 Living Water for Girls and the Living Water Learning Resource Center – each program opened opened, as a beacon of hope. Over the years, Ms. Williams helped to spare the lives of over 181 girls, 13 boys and countless young women.
Williams knew the war she was fighting required more than simply raising funds and addressing surface issues. She used every resource she had to build programs that would address systemic issues and ultimately change lives. Through these intensive programs, Lisa developed what the Federal Bureau of Investigation calls “one of the most comprehensive, rehabilitative programs for child victims of sex trafficking in the country.”
A sought-after speaker, Ms. Williams has been called on to share her message on a national and international platform. Among those highlights: in 2013 Williams spoke at the United Nations 57th Commission on the Status of Women on the topic: The Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls. Invited back March 13, 2015, Lisa spoke at the United Nations 59th Commission on the Status of Women on the topic: Unfinished Business from the Beijing Platform for Action. Lisa had the distinct honor to speak at the White House on the topic: Eradicating Modern Day Slavery.
In 2015, the award-winning 2015 CNN Special Report, Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking featured Circle of Friends and the Living Water for Girls program. Through this documentary, Lisa and the young ladies from the Living Water for Girls and the Learning Resource Center programs spoke to people across the world about the perils of America’s domestic human trafficking epidemic and their hope for a better tomorrow.
On January 11, 2015, Williams established and galvanized the I AM Rachel movement; a collaborative of lawmakers, colleges, survivor voices, houses of worship, community leaders, volunteers and Rachel herself to fight for the passage of Safe Harbor to become law.
On May 5, 2015, Lisa witnessed Georgia Governor Nathan Deal sign the historic Safe Harbor legislation into law and placed Constitutional Amendment 2- Senate Resolution 7 (the Rachel’s Law Act) on the November 8, 2016, ballot, so that the citizens of Georgia would have an opportunity to cast their vote for or against providing services and care for child victims of domestic minor sex trafficking and exploitation. The act is named for Rachel, a survivor and graduate of Living Water Learning Resource Center. Lisa mentored and equipped Rachel as she stepped onto the world stage to become a powerful, authentic voice against the violation of human trafficking.
On November 8, 2106, the citizens of Georgia, overwhelmingly voted YES (84%) to pass Constitutional Amendment 2, and on January 1, 2017, the Rachel Law Act, became law.
Today, Lisa’s focus has evolved from the rescuing and restoration of victims of child sex trafficking to the prevention and hopeful elimination of this atrocious form of human victimization. Ms. Williams understands the need to offer survivors educational access and opportunities, allowing survivors to have a successful tomorrow and to educate, empower and equip them to make a positive difference in their lives and in the lives of others.
Lisa Williams honorably served our country as a former United States Commissioned Military Officer (Petroleum Surveillance Engineer), she is an Auburn Seminary Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle Fellow-Graduate, a proud member of the 2014 class of Leadership Atlanta; and Ms. Williams is the author of the best-selling book, Beautiful Layers: Stories from Those Who Survived the Life of Prostitution & Child Sexual Exploitation.
Lisa is wife to her best friend of 29 years and mother of biological and adopted children. She thanks God continuously for “this good life,” as she works to pursue a better quality of life for those who call our nation home.
A few past honors and awards include: In 2014, the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, on behalf President Obama; In 2015, the first-ever L’Oréal Paris Impact Award, presented by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; In 2015, the YWCA Woman of Achievement Award; The Porsche Driving Force Award; The Ford Motor Company Ford Freedom Unsung Award; a L’Oréal Paris – 2010 Woman of Worth Honoree; Two (2) Proclamations from the City of Atlanta; and a Proclamation from the City of Charleston, SC.