Haven ATL gathers with emerging leaders for uplifting summit
By: Brad Rowland
Each year, attendees gather for the GEMS Emerging Leaders Conference, a four-day annual event that brings survivor leaders from the United States and Canada together. The mission of the conference is to connect, build camaraderie and reinvigorate those in attendance through workshops and discussions centered on professional development, intersectionality in the anti-trafficking movement, survivor mentorship, strategies for direct services, fundraising, media training and more.
The 2018 edition took place in Oakland, California this spring and members of the team at Haven ATL were invited to participate and lead. Haven ATL, a Metro Atlanta-based initiative, is dedicated to serving women who have fallen victim to commercial sexual exploitation, through prevention, education, case management, and outreach.
Haven survivors attended as delegates for the third consecutive year. In addition, two members of Haven ATL’s leadership team, Melba Robinson and Keisha Head, presented workshops in leadership fashion.
Robinson, program director of Haven ATL, led a workshop entitled “Are you practicing self-care?” This centered on topics including nutrition, patience, mindfulness, fitness, sleep and awareness, with a message that delegates should invest in themselves on a daily basis.
Head, lead case manager, discussed “Navigating the Road to Personal and Professional Development,” and presented practical skills that can be integrated on the ground in the communities from which the attendees emerge. This was a unique opportunity, with a personal request from the founder of GEMS, Rachel Lloyd, to both attend and present to the assembled group.
“The conference assisted the women to see that they are more than survivors,” said Robinson. “And it allowed us to work in the trenches to eradicate this problem and empower those who have been blessed to survive.”
More than 120 people attended and were left with an uplifting and empowering message, with Robinson saying the gathering “left an everlasting imprint on the women” and noting the takeaway from the conference as “You are worthy, you are valuable, and you are loved.”