KEYNOTE SPEAKER, LAURA LING
International Journalist, Author & Former North Korean Prisoner
We are thrilled to have Laura Ling as the Keynote Speaker for our Teaming Up for Girls Luncheon. Laura's work has been featured on ABC's Nightline, NBC, PBS, and the WB. She is currently the host of E! Investigates, a
series of hour-long shows that tackle hard hitting stories. Laura has
worked as a correspondent covering issues such as teen suicide, drug use and bullying,
as well as global issues such as slave labor in the Amazon, Mexico's
drug war, Internet censorship in China, and women's rights in Turkey. As
a journalist, Laura has spent a large part of her career focusing on human rights issues and struggles for freedom and women. At
the Teaming Up for Girls Luncheon, Laura will share these experiences
in addition to her own terrifying experience as a prisoner in North
2009, Laura had been reporting on a story about the trafficking of North
Korean women when she was violently apprehended by North Korean
soldiers along the Chinese-North Korean border. Sentenced to twelve years in a labor prison, Laura endured months of captivity,
which ended with a dramatic and unexpected turn of events. Former
president Bill Clinton was instrumental in securing the release of Laura and her American colleague, Euna Lee, from captivity inside the
most isolated country in the world.
experience in North Korea, Laura has sought to shine a light on the
issue of trafficked women as well as bring greater attention to the
plight of imprisoned journalists.
Laura's remarkable story exemplifies how one individual's perseverance and courage can make a difference in the world.
HOPE AWARD RECIPIENT, JASON SCHECHTERLE
Burn Survivor & Inspirational Hero
We are honored to recognize Jason Schechterle as our 2013 HOPE Award recipient. HOPE Award recipients provide a Head start, Opportunity, Positive future and Education for children and are recognized for their outstanding efforts in making a difference in the lives of others. Jason truly embodies the spirit of this award.
In 2000, Jason achieved his longtime dream of working as a Phoenix police officer. However, 14 months intowhat he hoped would be a life-long career, his life took a tragic and unexpected turn when a taxi cab traveling over 100 miles per hour crashed into the rear of Jason’s patrol car. Jason's car burst into flames, trapping him inside with temperatures reaching over 1000 degrees. He suffered severe 4th degree burns to over 40% of his body, which drastically altered his appearance. He lay in a coma for over two months and never expected to live, much less walk, talk, regain his sight or function as he once had. Since then, he has undergone more than 50 surgeries just to have the ability to accomplish simple daily tasks often taken for granted.
Today, Jason describes himself as the "luckiest man alive" and travels the country sharing his story of life, rebirth, transformation and most of all, hope. An extraordinary example of turning tragedy into triumph, Jason is a hero to us all.