|Institution||Sun Gate Foundation|
Shamere McKenzie tells the inspiring story of a woman who survived a fate that is all too prevalent in the United States – sex trafficking. Turning her past adversities into an opportunity to liberate and protect others, Shamere has become an activist in the fight against human trafficking, bringing about social and political change in America and around the world. She was discovered as a speaker by world-renowned researcher, author and cofounder of Free the Slaves, Kevin Bales. Through the mentorship of Kevin, she has transitioned into an international speaker on sex trafficking, giving a voice to enslaved women and children, those who perish while enslaved, and survivors who suffer in silence, afraid to share their stories.
Shamere works tirelessly to raise awareness of human trafficking in America by speaking at various universities, conferences, community events and with government officials. She partners with organizations by empowering survivors and youth within their programs. Her story has been featured in several books including a college text book focused on social justice. In addition, her story has been featured on various television and radio programs, in magazines and newspapers and on several blogs.
Shamere has a strong passion for education and policy and is the Chief Executive Officer of the Sun Gate Foundation, an anti-trafficking organization that provides educational opportunities for survivors of human trafficking. It is her desire that the Sun Gate Foundation will empower survivors to pick up their broken pieces and go confidently after their educational dreams. She is also the former Anti-trafficking Program Director for the Salvation Army of Central Maryland where she wrote the program and oversaw the emergency shelter for adult survivors of human trafficking. In addition, she is the co-chair for the victim’s services committee of the Maryland Governor’s Human Trafficking Task Force.
In 2015 graduated from Loyola University Chicago with her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Additionally, she serves on the speaker’s bureau for the Fredrick Douglas Family Initiative and Survivors of Slavery organizations. She is a subject matter expert consultant with Fox Valley Technical College Amber Alert TTA; a member of the National Survivor Network and the Survivor Leadership Institute; and a mentor to survivors of sex trafficking.
She is formerly the Program Assistant for Shared Hope International, where she trained various professionals including law enforcement on how to identify and respond to victims of human trafficking, used her personal experience to inform policy initiatives and provided support to other programs in the organization. Her strong determination, passion for success and her faith in Jesus Christ helps her to keep her eyes on the prize. She believes that one day she will be a human trafficking attorney, advocating for victims of modern day enslavement in the justice system. Shamere does not consider herself a victim because she is no longer enslaved; she is not a survivor because she is more than surviving; but, she considers herself a liberator – one who has broken free from the chains of her past, determined to pave the way for others who have been enslaved.