LifeWay Network Names 2020 Freedom Award Honorees

LifeWay Network is proud to announce our 2020 Freedom Award Honorees:

Sr. Joan Dawber, Founder and Former Executive Director of LifeWay Network
Dr. Anita Lightburn, Professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service and Director of The Beck Institute on Religion and Poverty
Nicky Hilton, The Hilton Foundation
Sarah Tintle, Parish Coordinator, St. Ignatius Loyola Church

These four women have pioneered work in the anti-trafficking movement, and each played a vital role in designing and implementing the Welcoming and Inspiring New Growth as Sisters (WINGS) Restorative Community Mentorship Program. Their enthusiastic participation on the WINGS Planning Team and Advisory Committee enabled our vision to become a reality. They have earned our sincere gratitude for their heartfelt commitment to the LifeWay Network mission.

-Marion Kendall, Executive Director


Sister Joan Dawber, SC

Founder and Former Executive Director, LifeWay Network

About Sr. Joan Dawber:
Sister Joan Dawber was born in Manchester, England. After moving to the United States, she graduated from St. John’s University, Queens, NY with a BA in Human Services and an MA in Theology. She also holds a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University, Chicago, IL. A member of the Sisters of Charity Halifax for thirty-eight years, she resides in New York City.

Sr. Joan worked in the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, NY as a Pastoral Associate for twenty years. During this period she ministered in several Roman Catholic parishes  providing services to parishioners and leadership to the surrounding community, especially attentive to poor and immigrant populations in these areas.

In 2006, she began to work full time in an initiative to confront trafficking in persons. In March 2007 she incorporated LifeWay Network, Inc. as a Not-for-Profit Corporation collaborating to combat human trafficking. Sr. Joan recently retired from her position as Executive Director where she worked in cooperation with others to create safe homes for victims of human trafficking in the New York area and to educate the general public on the issues of human trafficking. She is the former co-chair of the New York Coalition of Religious Congregations – Stop Trafficking in Persons (NY-CRC-STOP), which had a membership of 30 religious congregations. She serves on the Board of the US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT) and on the Sisters of Charity Global Concerns Resource Team with a specific focus on Human Trafficking. In October of 2020 Joan was elected to the Leadership Team of her religious congregation – Sisters of Charity Halifax. As a Congregational Councillor, she will serve in this role for a six-year term (2020-2026) working with and serving her sisters as they commit themselves to working with those who are poor and who live on the margins of society.

In her own words:
I founded LifeWay in 2007. But I wasn’t alone in doing so. There were many women religious and congregations at that time who made LifeWay a reality. Our intention was to provide safe housing and accompany women survivors of trafficking, to offer the public an understanding of what human trafficking was, and how we can bring the community together to do something about it. The safe houses were opened to make sure the women survivors had a place that was safe. They worked with their case managers in order to have the skills and resources they needed. Reclaiming their lives couldn’t happen unless they had a safe place to heal.

In 2016 we began to realize we needed to do something for the alumnae of our Safe Housing Program, to provide support after they left our community, and to follow up with them. We were considering mentorship as a possible solution to this need. At this time, we were introduced to Nicky Hilton. I invited her to come to the office and we talked about what might be helpful. Nicky identified very clearly that mentorship was an idea worth pursuing. Then we started to move on the idea. We gathered a group, an Advisory Committee, to start talking about what a mentorship program would look like. We felt it was so important that this Advisory Committee be survivor-informed in addition to having staff and external partners; we partnered with survivor consultants who were also alumnae of our Safe Housing Program and received remuneration for their council. Nicky Hilton was an integral part of developing WINGS on this committee, and she connected us with Wendy Strauss from the Arise Foundation.The experience of designing and putting together this program had great rewards as we listened and talked with one another. We learned so much listening to the survivor consultants.

As we looked at the structure, we learned about a Restorative Community mentorship program in Bronxville, referred by a former frontline staff person. We went to observe and understand the program model, created by the Beck Institute at Fordham University. We shared this information with the Advisory Committee and consequently invited Dr. Lightburn to talk with us about the model. We found that we had shared language and goals; it was meant to be a partnership. After working together for over a year, the Restorative Community Mentorship program called WINGS, Welcoming and Inspiring New Growth as Sisters, was born. We knew we needed a parish community so we went to Father Yesolonia at St. Ignatius Loyola Church due to our long-term friendship hosting our annual event there. He asked the congregation to be the host parish for this program. We were lucky to have Sarah Tintle and Natalie Fiedler volunteer as the parish coordinators. We then hired a coordinator and an expert facilitator. With Nicky’s dedication and enthusiasm for this program, it was made possible through a generous grant through the Hilton Foundation. We built a community with the parishioners, the new and existing staff, and the greater LifeWay community together.

For me, the most meaningful involvement has been the evolution leading up to and creating WINGS, which is an extension of the Safe Housing Program. The women are always my focus. Everything is done for them.

The whole mission of LifeWay Network kept evolving and growing and it evolved into this mentorship. It brought so many people together from so many places to work with the survivors in a place of mutual support, strength, and encouragement. I found it a high point of this evolution of LifeWay Network.

Everybody involved from the beginning was essential. It developed from everyone who was involved with it – donors, partners, staff, volunteers, mentors, and the women survivors.

I am so inspired when I see the growth in the women and how much they have achieved after participating in this program. The women from this program have begun their own nonprofit organization, achieved their Masters degree, become mothers, and started their own businesses.

I am most moved by Community. We grow by doing things in community. We need one another in order to heal and grow no matter whether you are a survivor of human trafficking or not.

Maintaining my connection with LifeWay is so important to me. As a volunteer, I value spending time with the women in the safe house—being with the staff working in the safe house and working alongside the women, playing, conversing, and cooking. My responsibilities are just to be present. It is lovely.


Dr. Anita Lightburn

Professor, Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service; Director of the Beck Institute for Religion and Poverty

About Dr. Lightburn
A graduate of Columbia University with a MSS, MEd. and EdD, Dr. Lightburn is a Professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, where she teaches in the MSW and PhD programs. She is also the Director of the Beck Institute for Religion and Poverty.

Since 2004, Dr. Lightburn has been a key leader in the work of the Beck Institute, continuing the work that began under the leadership of Bertram M. Beck. Her work with the faith community has focused on furthering recognition of the important role the faith community has in meeting the needs of the most marginalized men and women. This has been through the understanding and development of new ways to use restorative justice as a foundation for living faith in action. Mentoring Doctoral candidates and Social Work Master’s students has been a very important part of this work and a joy for Dr. Lightburn.
Dr. Lightburn brings over 40 years of teaching clinical practice and broad experience in education, program evaluation and intervention research. Her scholarly publications focus on community-based clinical practice and studies of innovative mental health service programs. Previously, she was Dean of the Smith College School of Social Work and a Professor at Columbia University School of Social Work.

In her own words:
Thanks so much to the Lifeway’s leadership and team for your collective support for the WINGS Program. It was a most rewarding collaboration taking forward the vision of Sister Joan and the WINGS Advisory Committee.

The first WINGS Graduation was such a special virtual celebration, inspiring in sharing personal experiences for the women and mentors, illustrating what was possible even in the most challenging situation. We have so valued the investment made by Lifeway, mentors and hosts from St Ignatius Loyola and the community, Fordham Interns, and all of the Beck Institute Team. Our development of the restorative community programs for survivors of human trafficking has begun an important new chapter in the Beck Insitute’s work. We look forward to our continued collaboration with Lifeway Network to build on the lessons learned in this very first Wings Program to develop a community for brave women survivors as they continue to heal and learn.


Nicky Hilton Rothschild

The Hilton Foundation

About Nicky Hilton
Nicky Hilton is an American businesswoman and fashion designer. She resides in New York City with her husband and 2 daughters. She has released her own handbag, apparel, footwear and jewelry collections. Her charitable efforts include The Hilton Foundation, Lifeway Network, Animal Haven and more.

In her own words:
Over the last decade I have learned so much about the human trafficking epidemic that is sweeping our nation. Millions of men, women and children suffer from this ghastly crime. I felt a moral obligation to do something.

I was particularly interested in helping launch the mentorship program. I know when we come together we are stronger. Everyone needs support sometimes. As Hellen Keller so wisely said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

I spent such a wonderful day at one of the Lifeway safe houses. We sat around in the living room and told stories about where we came from, talked about our jobs and hobbies, we laughed, some tears were shed. I was just so impressed with the women. They didn’t let what happened to them define them. Their bravery, their strength, determination and resilience were impressive. After enduring so much trauma they were still so full of hope, smiles and excitement. They were all so excited for their future and I found that so inspiring.


Sarah Tintle

Parish Coordinator, St. Ignatius Loyola Church

About Sarah Tintle:
Sarah graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in Child Development, and from Duke University with a Doctor of Physical Therapy. She has worked as a pediatric Physical Therapist for the past 12 years and has experience with children from a variety of neurodevelopmental backgrounds. Sarah is committed to helping all people achieve their full potential. She is a member of International Justice Mission’s NY volunteer chapter, a Family Coach with Safe Families for Children NY, and a guest presenter for Down Syndrome Achievement centers in NYC and Lagos, Nigeria. In her role as parish coordinator, she was instrumental in the launch of the WINGS Restorative Community Mentorship program along with LifeWay Network, Fordham University, and St Ignatius Loyola Church. She also is a mom, and enjoys spending time with her three crazy children!

In her own words:
I was first introduced to the crime of human trafficking when my husband worked as a legal intern for International Justice Mission in 2005. Since then, I have sought out opportunities to advocate, educate, and fundraise for organizations working to support survivors and raise community, national, and international attention to this problem. LifeWay Network, under the leadership of Sr Joan, and now Marion Kendall, has been a leader in this space in New York. Therefore, when my priest approached me and my colleague, Natalie Fiedler, about potentially being the church liaisons for the program, I knew I could not say no. My favorite part about the WINGS program was preparing and serving the meals. I had an opportunity to meet volunteers from all walks of life, who gave their time and resources on Tuesday evenings for women they had never met. I also had the opportunity to get to know the women receiving the meals. These women are the real heroes of the program, and having the opportunity to serve them was a true privilege. Lastly, from my leadership position I was able to develop relationships with other amazing co-workers in the anti-trafficking movement. These connections led to an opportunity for me to moderate a panel with speakers from four different anti-trafficking organizations, where we were able to show the depth and breadth of the problem of human trafficking; from the fishing boats of Thailand, to the brothels of India, to the streets of New York City. I feel humbled and honored to have been a part of this program and am so grateful for all of the work being done to protect these vulnerable, yet strong and courageous, women.