In February 2011, CNN’s Amber Lyon aired a special on sex trafficking, “Selling the Girl Next Door” that attacked Village Voice Media-owned company, Backpage.com. At the end of the broadcast, Lyon’s sources are singled out for “special thanks.” We recently found out that Lyon is even closer to these groups than you could tell from that list. On May 4, 2011, FAIR Fund held a fundraiser in Washington’s City Tavern Club. The event’s emcee was CNN report Amber Lyon, and she didn’t seem at all uncomfortable helping a source raise money. We know because we sent a reporter to watch and videotape her performance. Below are video clips and her transcribed remarks, mentioned in this week’s issue.
Hello everyone, and thank you all for coming tonight to Pearls of Purpose. And my name is Amber Lyon, and I’m an investigative and documentary reporter with CNN. This is just an amazing gala and an amazing way to really celebrate the empowerment of young girls all around the world. And last year, I was fortunate enough to be able to work alongside FAIRFund for a year-long investigation on child sex trafficking. And my producer told me:
“You have to meet this girl, Andrea Powell. She’s just incredible. She’s the kind of girl who really hits the streets to [[protect]] these child sex trafficking victims. She’ll stand outside windows of pimps’ houses and yell for them to release the girls and so when I first met her and saw her to be this petite little blonde, it was just amazing. I didn’t realize that she was quite as tough as she was, and Andrea took us out to [[UNCLEAR]] K Street and really opened my producers’ eyes and my eyes to the reality of domestic child sex trafficking. She was the first person we interviewed when we started on this journey and, and really helped us with the story, and we continue to use her as a source in all things sex trafficking. So, they’re doing great work, and it’s an honor to be here tonight hosting this. I’m definitely proud to be supporting FAIRFund as well. Uh, this evening FAIRFund is premiering a short documentary generously created by Justin Gutwein of ShineOn storytelling. And let’s take a look at that.
Really lets you know the scope of this problem. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates somewhere around, anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 American children are being trafficked. And, in addition to helping these children, we also have a group of them upstairs. If you guys were able to check out the jewelry, the DC JewelGirls. They’re doing an amazing job handcrafting, hand making, those pieces. Let’s give them a round of applause. And I’m truly excited tonight to be speaking alongside Biljana, who’s a young woman who’s flown all the way from Serbia to speak about her story and share her story with us. And she’s over there. If you could please stand, Biljana? An incredible young woman, and I can’t wait for you guys to hear her story. I’d also like to introduce Michelle Fenty, who will say a few words about the DC JewelGirls and the amazing work they’ve been doing making this unique jewelry. A little bit about Michelle. She’s an attorney-at-law. She’s a mother. And she’s the wife of former DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. She received a JD from Howard University School of Law, an LLM from Georgetown Law Center in international and comparative law. Currently, Ms. Fenty works at the Inter-American Development Bank as a private-sector adviser to the manager of the Caribbean country development. Prior to working at the IDB, Ms. Fenty was OF-Counsel at the law firm Perkins Coie specializing in global technology transactions.
Her passion and commitment to the betterment of children has led her to serve as a board member for Fight For Children and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. In addition, Ms. Fenty is President of the Advisory Council for the Capital Breast Care Center. Born and raised in London, England, Ms. Fenty lives in the District neighborhood of Crestwood neighborhood with her husband and their eight year-old twin boys, Matthew and Andrew, and their daughter Aerin. Please welcome, everyone, Michelle Fenty.
FENTY: Thank you, Amber, for that wonderful introduction. I’m not as tall as you [adjusting mic] I’m obviously very very happy to be here today to celebrate the empowerment of girls in FAIRFund’s programs. In particular, I am delighted to have met the young women in FairFund’s DC…
Was responsible for all this tonight and for saving and helping countless young women, absolutely changing their lives, Andrea Powell, executive director of FAIRFund. Andrea has really been a tremendous source for us, especially in our story on Craigslist and child sex trafficking on Craigslist that ended up shutting down the adult services section on the site. And [[APPLAUSE]] she famously, or infamously coined the phrase “Craigslist is the Wal-Mart of child sex trafficking” that we used over and over. And [[LAUGHS]] I don’t know if Wal-mart was too happy about that or Craigslist, but anyway, it really was a quick way to put things into perspective. Andrea Powell co-founded FAIRFund in 2003 and currently serves as executive director. For the past eight years, Andrea has led FAIRFund’s efforts to prevent trafficking of young people, especially girls in the United States, and at FAIRFund’s local programs in Serbia, Montenegro, Russia and Uganda. In her current position, Andrea oversees all operational, programmatic, and developmental aspects of FAIRFund. Andrea currently serves as FAIRFund’s chief liaison to the DC anti-trafficking taskforce, and has trained hundreds of audiences in the U.S. and abroad, including federal and local law enforcement, service providers, state and federal policymakers and teachers, on how to identify and assist child sex trafficking victims and children who are forced into labor trafficking. In 2009, Andrea served as co-investigator to a Department of Justice-funded study on commercial sexual exploitation of children in the U.S. Her efforts to stop the trafficking of youth have been featured in media outlets including CNN, the BBC, the Washington Post, The Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal and Voice of America. Please, everyone, join me in giving another round of applause for Andrea Powell.
Thank you so much, Biljana, for sharing your story with us. We know, as someone who’s worked with a lot of victims, it’s not easy for them to come out and speak about that. And it’s amazing to see her take that transition from being a victim to a survivor. I’d also like to once again thank the DC JewelGirls and make sure, if you haven’t already, go upstairs, take a look at some of the pieces of jewelry. It’s, I’m a sentimental person, and I always like to give people gifts that mean something and, how powerful is that, to be able to hand someone a necklace that was able to transition someone from a victim to a survivor, and to be able to wear something that you know really changed someone’s life. I’d also like to thank all of you guys for coming tonight and hanging out at this event, as well as the amazing volunteers who made everything possible. I would like to take a moment, too, to recognize the incredible work of Kate Marie Grinold. [[APPLAUSE ]] She is amazing, she’s extremely organized and, you know, she’s making this thing flow, so uh, great work there. And she joined FAIRFund in 2009 as a volunteer and then now has switched to become the director of development. She gained the trust of the DC JewelGirls, and this summer joined FAIRFund in her promotion of director of development, and she just continues to be a tremendous asset to this organization. Finally, I would definitely like to thank Michelle Fenty for coming tonight and sharing her story with everyone, and sharing all the tremendous work that the DC JewelGirls are doing. And she continues to be an inspiration to all of us women out there. And I’d like to let everyone know that the silent auction is going to end tonight at 9 p.m., so if you want to head upstairs, make sure you check out all the JewelGirls’ supplies as well. For those of you enjoying the drinks tonight, the bar closes at 9:30, so make sure to get up there before then, and please make sure to go and check on your silent auction items as you’re getting your final drink. At 10 p.m. make sure to head over to L2 Lounge nearby, the after party for this event will be held there as well. And even though everyone has to exit the City Tavern Club by 10 p.m., you are all invited out too, and if you have a valet, make sure you realize that that closes at 10 p.m. as well. Also, we’d like to thank the amazing musical entertainment we had tonight — Trio Caliente — [[YOU GUYS ARE GREAT]]so enjoy the drinks, enjoy the jewelry, and enjoy the music and thank you all for coming. And let’s give Andrea Powell another round of applause. She’s an amazing woman.