Nest student forum: dallas

Students and Policymakers Discuss Solutions for Ending Sexual Assault, Exploitation, and Trafficking of Children in Texas

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Event Details

Southern Methodist University
Harold Clark Simmons Hall
6401 Airline Rd
Dallas, TX 75205

December 7, 2016

See FAQ Below for parking info

Event starts promptly at 6pm.
Students, please check in with Nishima by 5:30pm.
Expert panelists, please check in with Nishima by 5:40pm


Student panelists to be announced soon.


Wendy Davis


Bill Bernstein

FBI Special Agent

Deborah Michaels

Dallas County Judge

Hon. Amber Givens-Davis

Texas State Rep, House District 101

Rep. Chris Turner

Associate Professor, Journalism, SMU

Prof. Camille Kraeplin

Former Texas State District Judge

Hon. Lena Levario

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Wendy Davis // Moderator

In June of 2013, Wendy Davis stood for 13 hours on the floor of the Texas State Senate in a pair of pink sneakers, conducting a filibuster to prevent passage of a bill that would have devastating effects on women and families. Around the world, more than 200,000 citizens tuned in online to witness this historic event, with thousands making a pilgrimage to the Texas Capitol from throughout the state to stand with Wendy in a moment that would galvanize women throughout the country.

That particular day provided an opportunity for Wendy to introduce the nation to women with diverse experiences and backgrounds, whose stories told of a shared struggle. These stories provided the fuel to keep Wendy speaking, but they also did something more. These stories ignited the passion of the thousands watching that day. And it was their chorus of voices that carried Wendy’s filibuster successfully past the midnight deadline and ultimately, on to validation by the Supreme Court of the United States.

But Wendy has been taking on tough fights her entire life. She began working after school at 14 to help support her single mother and three siblings. By 19, Wendy was a single mother herself, working two jobs to make ends meet. Through a brochure from a co-worker, Wendy learned of a paralegal program at Tarrant County Community College that she hoped could be the ticket to creating a better life for her young daughter. After two years, Wendy transferred to Texas Christian University and with the help of academic scholarships and student loans, not only became the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree, but graduated first in her class and was accepted to Harvard Law School.

Wendy brought a new vision to making Fort Worth a first-class city, working to turn the city into one of the top-ranked places in America to work, live and do business. On the City Council, Davis was recognized for her work with the business community to recruit a number of major businesses to bring jobs to the city.

Elected to the Texas Senate in 2008, Senator Davis’s priorities were creating more good paying jobs for Texans and investing more in schools so children are better prepared for the future. She authored the law to ensure more DNA testing of rape kits, addressing the backlog of 20,000 untested kits, which led police to find and jail rapists. She led the effort to expand job opportunities for our returning servicemen and women.

Furthermore, she continues to lead the effort to crack down on predatory payday lending companies that charge unlimited rates in fees and interest rates on Texans and military families. In 2011, Senator Davis led her first filibuster against $5 billion in cuts to public education that have led to overcrowded classrooms, teacher layoffs and closed schools.

The opportunities provided for Wendy when young – quality public education, a strong community college system, college loan and grant programs for deserving students – are what made the difference in her life.

Wendy's filibuster and her continued role in fighting for women’s gender equality has created an army of strong, engaged, and passionate women from diverse backgrounds who now look to her for direction and guidance. Deeds Not Words is leveraging this following of more than a million women. Our organization will grow and engage this audience into a cohesive group of voters and consumers that can be inspired to advance opportunities for all women.

Bill Bernstein, MS, LPC // Speaker

Bill Bernstein is Deputy Director of Mosaic Family Services, an agency serving those who have suffered human rights abuses such as human trafficking and domestic violence. He founded the Multicultural Family Violence Intervention program at the agency in 1997 and the Services for Trafficked Persons program in 2001, and has served as Chair of the Metroplex Refugee Network and the North Texas Immigration Coalition. He started the legal services program and the counseling program at Mosaic.

Bill directs the program at Mosaic that has served survivors of human trafficking since 2001. Mosaic has worked with over 500 trafficked persons: male and female, labor and sex, adults and minors, foreign born and domestic. The agency provides case management, legal services, counseling and housing. Bill is a founding member of the North Texas Anti-Trafficking Team, consisting of federal and local law enforcement, prosecutors and social service providers.

Bill served as co-chair of the Freedom Network USA for seven years.

Deborah Michaels

Deborah Michaels is a Supervisory Special Agent and 30 year veteran with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Specializing in online exploitation and enticement of children, Agent Michaels excises justice on those who prey upon the innocent. She also lectures and educates others on how to protect our youth. Agent Michaels has worked in the Dallas Field Office for 10 years. She currently leads a team of Special Agents conducting investigations in the areas of Violent Crimes Against Children, Child Abductions and Human Trafficking.

Honorable Amber Givens-Davis

Hon. Givens-Davis is a dedicated public servant. She is currently the Presiding Judge, 282nd Judicial District Court, Texas, Dallas County. Amber received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Tuskegee University. She earned a Juris Doctor Degree from the Syracuse University College of Law, where she was on the Dean’s List and member of the Moot Court Honor Society.

Amber is licensed to practice law in multiple states. She is a well-rounded attorney and has handled a wide variety of felony cases including: domestic violence, child abuse, juvenile, drug offenses, white-collar crime, and animal cruelty. Amber is an experienced trial attorney having tried cases from DWI to murder.

Her commitment to public service extends beyond the courtroom as she mentors at the East Dallas Boys and Girls Club and serves on the Advisory Board of the Oak Cliff Boys and Girls Club. After graduating from Tuskegee University, Amber served in the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps where she managed and implemented programs for an inner city school district.

Representative Chris Turner

State Representative Chris Turner serves the people of District 101, a rapidly growing and diverse area of Tarrant County, which includes major portions of Arlington and Grand Prairie.

During his three terms in office, Chris has focused much of his attention and efforts on expanding educational opportunity for all, increasing access to affordable health care, improving the economic well-being of all Texans, and broadening civic participation.

Chris serves on the House Committee on Higher Education, the House Committee on Ways & Means and the House Committee on General Investigating & Ethics. In November 2015, Chris was the only member from Tarrant County named to the House Select Committee on Mental Health.

A lifelong Texan and Dallas native, Chris is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and Skyline High School. Chris and his wife, Lisa, reside in Grand Prairie.

Professor Camille Kraeplin

Camille Kraeplin earned a doctorate in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin after nearly a decade spent as a newspaper and magazine editor. A member of SMU’s Journalism faculty, she also directs the Fashion Media program. Dr. Kraeplin has specialized in examining media portrayals of women and minority groups. She has published articles and presented papers on such topics as the portrayal of young women in fashion magazines and our society’s obsession with the mediated “thin ideal.” She is currently working on a book about how convergence has changed the fashion media landscape.

Hon. Lena Levario

Judge Lena Levario became the first Latina judge in the history of Dallas County, Texas when then Governor Ann Richards appointed her to fill a vacancy in the 204th Judicial District Court in 1993.

She began her practice of law in 1986, which included representing children charged with prostitution in Juvenile courts and representing children who were victims of sexual exploitation in Child Protective Services cases.

From 2007 through 2014, she presided over a criminal district court; hearing cases of trafficking, compelling prostitution and other sexual exploitation cases. During this term, she also ran a specialty court; meeting weekly with women on probation who had a long history of prostitution, drug addiction and mental illness; most of who were exploited as children. The court provided these women with their own trauma counselor, drug rehabilitation, mental health services and healthy relationships education.

Currently, Judge Levario serves as a visiting judge and mediator.



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Frequently Asked Questions

What time should I arrive? 

  • Student speakers/panelists should arrive by 5:30pm and check in with Nishima. Expert panelists should arrive by 5:40pm and check in with Nishima. The event will start promptly at 6pm.

Where should I park? 

  • Please use the U lot located directly east of Harold Clark Simmons Hall. There is also an Airline Parking Garage to the north of the building. As participants, you will receive a pdf parking pass to print and place on your vehicle. If you do not receive this by Nov. 30th, please email

Is this event open to the public? 

  • This event is open to the public. 

How do my friends and family RSVP for the event? 

More questions? Email!

Run of Show

Draft - check back for more details
• Welcome
• Introductions
• Student Presentation of Issues
• Spoken Word Performance/Video Assets (TBC)
• Moderated Panel Discussion
• Audience Q&A
• Call to Action