Social Services

New Friends New Life announce 2023 ProtectHER awardees

New Friends New Life (NFNL) announced the 2023 ProtectHER Award Recipients. Created in 2013, and announced in conjunction with NFNL’s annual luncheon, the NFNL ProtectHER awards celebrate individuals, corporations, and other entities who exhibit exceptional support of women and children locally, nationally, or internationally. Past recipients include American Airlines, The Dallas Morning News, Methodist Health System, and Santander Consumer USA Foundation, Inc.

Founded in Dallas, Texas, in 1998, New Friends New Life (NFNL) restores and empowers trafficked and sexually exploited teen girls, women and their children, and drives awareness of the issue and its prevalence. The agency’s vision is to create a community where women and girls can soar above the limits of their past and achieve their dreams. In 2022, NFNL served 357 members (clients). NFNL also educates the community and works to eradicate the epidemic of sex trafficking through advocacy, legislative reform and strategic partnerships that address systemic causes. In 2018, NFNL opened a drop-in Youth Resource Center (YRC) in partnership with the Office of the Governor to serve trafficked and high-risk teen girls. Since its opening, since serving 546 girls. In 2015, NFNL organized its Men’s Advocacy Group to engage men in the fight against sex trafficking and exploitation.

This year’s recipients are The Meadows Foundation, a New Friends New Life mission-defining partner which has provided transformative grant support to help remove barriers trafficking survivors face, and Yulise Reaves Waters, Esq., chief innovations officer, Lone Star Justice Alliance (LSJA),whose legislative and community advocacy work with LSJA educates the community about the mass incarceration crisis and its impact on marginalized populations.

The award recipients will be honored on Friday, September 29, at the New Friends New Life Annual Luncheon. Kerry Washington, an Emmy-winning, and SAG- nominated actor, producer, director and lifelong advocate and activist, will headline the luncheon, a celebration of the nonprofit’s Silver Jubilee. Luncheon co-chairs are Tracey Nash-Huntley and David S. Huntley and Elizabeth Carlock Phillips and Kevin Phillips. Honorary co-chairs represent several of the founding and early board members of NFNL: Nancy Ann and Ray L. Hunt; Gail and Dr. Gerald Turner; and Pat and Pete Schenkel.

ProtectHER Award recipient The Meadows Foundation recently launched a collaboration with NFNL as well as Bonton Farms to give survivors of trafficking and exploitation a chance at rebuilding their lives through work experience and income. The organizations broke ground on the Liberty Street Garden, which will sell organic fruits, vegetables and herbs to farmers markets, local restaurants, and the community in the Wilson Historic District, the foundation’s nonprofit neighborhood. Members enrolled in NFNL’s Women’s Program will be hired for at least 90 days to work in the garden with opportunity for promotion and growth. The first full year of the garden’s operating costs will be paid for with a grant given from The Meadows Foundation, which has distributed more than $1.36 billion to 3,700 organizations across Texas since 1948.

“This incredible partnership gives trafficking survivors a tangible opportunity to soar above the limits of their past and achieve their dreams,” shared Bianca Davis, CEO, New Friends New Life. “Limited education, a criminal record and a sporadic or non-existent work history are major roadblocks to a woman’s ability to leave the sex trade and become financially stable. Through Liberty Street Garden, we can now offer a bridge to economic empowerment.” 

In addition to this new endeavor, The Meadows Foundation has been a valued supporter of NFNL over the years, also providing a home to New Friends New Life, one of its nonprofit tenants in the Wilson Historic District, which also houses the new Liberty Street Garden.

“It is for these efforts, and for your support of many other nonprofits in our community, that we celebrate The Meadows Foundation during its 75th anniversary year,” added Davis.

“Being the recipient of this award is an incredible honor for the foundation,” said Peter M. Miller, president and CEO of The Meadows Foundation. “When we began the Liberty Street Garden project, we knew how important it was to create a safe space for survivors to work and grow. Partnering with NFNL gave us the ability to collaborate with our tenants in a capacity that we have not before. Bringing this project forward brought a new perspective to the district and allowed us to impact our community in an unexpected way.”

ProtectHER Award recipient Yulise Reaves Waters, Esq., is the Chief Innovations Officer of Lone Star Justice Alliance (LSJA). As an executive team member, Waters co-leads LSJA’s strategy, operations, programming, and development. Previously, Waters was an assistant city attorney and lead community courts prosecutor for the City of Dallas where she used court innovation strategies to address unmet needs that caused people to become justice-involved, including women who had been trafficked and sexually exploited. She also co-founded the Second Chance Community Improvement Program (SCCIP) in 2014 which became the first-ever felony community court in Dallas County and what is believed to be the first-ever young adult specialty court in the State of Texas. Under her leadership, SCCIP was awarded the 2018 National Association of Drug Court Professionals’ Equity and Inclusion Award for “excellence and leadership in demonstrating and promoting cultural proficiency in treatment court services.”

Yulise holds B.A. degrees in English, Spanish, and a B.B.A. specializing in Organizational Behavior and Business Policy (each magna cum laude), and a Juris Doctorate, all from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. She is a graduate of the 2019-2020 inaugural Dallas Truth, Racial Healing, & Transformation Racial Equity Now Cohort and the recipient of numerous honors including Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law’s Distinguished Alumni Emerging Leader Award and being named among D Magazine’s 78 Women Who Make Dallas Great.

“At New Friends New Life, we understand the intersection between sex trafficking and the legal justice system, and the subsequent barriers that survivors face,” said Davis. “Yulise’s work reinforces that everyone deserves a second chance. Women who have been subjected to the horrors of sex trafficking face a myriad of extenuating circumstances that leave them trapped in this illegal industry. It is not unusual for them to find themselves in prison whether from drug charges or other issues; however, they are the victims. We need constant evaluation and courageous change within our justice system, and we are impressed with Yulise’s ongoing passion and hard work to make a difference in the lives of survivors.”

“I am deeply honored to receive this award acknowledging my efforts and the efforts of my colleagues at the Lone Star Justice Alliance,” said Yulise Reaves Waters. “Each day we work to serve clients ensnarled in the criminal legal system whose lives have been devalued, whose victimizations have been compounded and dismissed, whose futures seem uncertain, and whose resilience is unparalleled. Together with organizations like NFNL, we have the communal power to reimagine justice and to create pathways for survivors and others to reach their full potential despite the challenges of their pasts.” publishes every week.
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Barbara Clark Galupi