Recap: CAST’s 16th Annual From Slavery to Freedom Gala brought together over 400 people from diverse walks of life to celebrate freedom at the Skirball Cultural Center. The evening was filled with standing ovations and energizing commitments to end modern-slavery. Together, we raised over $500,000 to help survivors of human trafficking rebuild their lives!

The gala had grand moments such as a powerful speech by Hafsat Abiola, the Nigerian activist behind the movement to free the 270+ kidnapped school girls (#BringBackOurGirls). The gala also had intensely personal moments, as when Mayor Eric Garcetti and First Lady Amy Wakeland recounted their long history with CAST and accepted the 2014 Changemakers Award with tears in their eyes.

Our theme, “Women Helping Women, Innovation and Impact,” was underscored by Entrepreneurial Impact Honoree Jane Wurwand, founder of Dermalogica and FITE (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship). Jane shared her vision for the economic empowerment of women around the world, noting that the beauty industry is the leader in women-owned businesses. When women experience financial security, they are far less likely to fall prey to human traffickers.

Christophe de Pous, President of Gucci North America, accepted the 2014 Innovation Award on behalf of CHIME FOR CHANGE, founded by Gucci. CHIME’s innovative way of leveraging celebrity voices, social media and crowdfunding has raised tremendous awareness and funds for girls’ and women’s rights. CAST became a special beneficiary of CHIME’s work when co-founder Beyonce Knowles-Carter presented us with a surprise gift of $125,000 after the gala. Join Beyonce and give to CAST’s crowdfunded project with CHIME FOR CHANGE.

One of many highlights of the evening occurred when trafficking survivor Nena Ruiz accepted the 2014 Courage Award for her advocacy on the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

At the gala, we joined together to show the world that we are motivated and committed to ending modern slavery. It was an extremely special time and gathering of great minds and creative ideas.