The Center for Family Justice(CFJ) will present its 23rd annual Speaking of Women event as a virtual fundraiser this September, featuring Rachel Lloyd, a globally-recognized expert on the subject of sexual exploitation and trafficking.

Presented by People’s United Bank, this annual fundraising luncheon will take place virtually on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at noon and feature a live conversation with Lloyd, author of the acclaimed memoir Girls Like Us. Lloyd, who is herself a survivor, is known for her pioneering leadership as the founder of Girls Education & Mentoring Services (GEMS), a New York City-based nonprofit which provides support and mentorship to girls and young women who have been victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking.

The conversation with Lloyd will be moderated by Anna Zap, co-host of the Anna & Raven on Star 99.9, Today’s Best Mix. Zap will also serve as Speaking of Women’s emcee.

Kathryn Maiolo of Monroe, the CFJ Board chair, will also participate in the event as a Speaking of Women’s 2020 Survivor speaker. Maiolo will discuss her experiences as a survivor of abuse and trauma during her childhood and teens as well as CFJ’s work supporting other survivors.

Proceeds will benefit CFJ, which each year provides crisis and supportive services to more than 4,500 adults and children impacted by domestic and sexual violence and child abuse living in the communities of Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Stratford, Monroe and Trumbull.

“We’re honored to have Rachel Lloyd with us as our 23rd Speaking of Women keynote, because her work and passion for supporting survivors so closely aligns with our mission of offering victims safety, empowerment and hope,” said Debra A. Greenwood, president and CEO of the Center for Family Justice. “Rachel is an inspiring and moving speaker whose work with young survivors has transformed countless lives. Having her be part of a conversation about the importance of this work we do is sure to inspire anyone who cares about ending domestic and sexual violence and creating safer communities for all.”

Greenwood noted Lloyd’s keynote will shed light on the challenges faced by girls and women impacted by trafficking, an often misunderstood form of sexual exploitation that has local impact. “We see the devastation of trafficking in the lives of more and more victims we serve,” noted Greenwood. “Many people do not realize this traumatic form of abuse is happening so close to home and we believe Rachel will help draw attention to this increasingly disturbing phenomenon.”

Speaking of Women is CFJ’s most important annual fundraiser, helping to raise monies critical to its work with victims and survivors of abuse, a press release said. Its services include the operation of 24-hour crisis hotlines; a 15-bed safe house for survivors of domestic violence as well as comprehensive supportive services for those seeking to rebuild their lives after trauma. These services include safety planning, support groups and self-sufficiency programs.

CFJ also operates Camp HOPE America-Bridgeport, a summer camp and year-long mentoring program for youth ages 7-17 impacted by the trauma of domestic or sexual violence.

Co-chairs of Speaking of Women 2020 are Patti Masarek of Milford and CFJ Board member Sarah Cwikla of Easton.

Tickets are being sold online at CenterforFamilyJustice.org and are also available by calling Lisa Labella 203-334-6154, ext. 121.