Lisa Williams

LISA WILLIAMS is a thought leader, influencer, entrepreneur and author with more than 20 years of philanthropic service. A sought-after orator, trainer, listener, and conversationalist, Ms. Williams has been called upon to share her message on national and international platforms—from the White House and the United Nations to Guam, Italy, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Her keynote addresses and podcast conversations cover issues of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children; self-care for women; successful entrepreneurship for women veterans, non-veteran and non-profit women leaders; building collaborative communities; and the healing power of conscious living.

Before becoming a renowned advocate for women and girls, Ms. Williams served her country as a commissioned officer in the United States Armed Forces. She had the distinction of serving in both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army. After completing her military service with honor, Ms. Williams decided to focus her efforts on humanitarian work to serve U.S. women and girls who were victims of sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, and intimate partner violence.  Lisa founded Circle of Friends: Celebrating Life, Inc., in 1999, and dedicated the next 20 years of her time, energy, and resources to educating, equipping, and empowering girls and women to live their best lives, free of violence. Through Circle of Friends, Ms. Williams developed intentional partnerships with community stakeholders, institutions, and service-minded individuals, in her work to dismantle the social disparities that render women and girls more susceptible to physical, mental and spiritual abuse.

Under the auspices of Circle of Friends, Lisa established Living Water for Women, Living Water for Girls, and the Living Water Learning Resource Center.  Each program was opened as a beacon of hope and a continuum of care for child and women victims. Ms. Williams developed what the Federal Bureau of Investigation called “one of the most comprehensive, rehabilitative programs for child victims of sex trafficking in the country,” and over the years, helped to spare and reclaim the lives of more than 244 children, including 14 boys, and 705 young adult women. 

Lisa and her work have been featured in numerous top publications, including: O Magazine, Essence, Ebony, Glamour, Black Enterprise, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Cosmopolitan, and Seventeen.  Her film and television credits include the award-winning CNN Special Report: Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking, CNN International News, CNN Freedom Project, BBC Brazil, and C-SPAN.  She has also been featured on a variety of local television and radio broadcasts.

Ms. Williams has been honored by numerous organizations, including CNN, Ford Motor Company, Porsche USA, YWCA, Glamour, and L’Oréal Paris, the largest beauty brand in the world. Her list of honors includes:  

  • 2010 L'Oréal Paris Women of Worth Honoree,

  • inaugural 2015 L'Oréal Paris Impact Award,

  • inaugural 2018 Glamour Women of The Year - The Hero Among Us Award,

  • 2015 YWCA Woman of Achievement Award,

  • 2011 Points of Light Award Honoree, and

  • nominee in 2014 and 2015 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and in 2016 by both the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State for the U.S. Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Lisa’s best-selling book, Beautiful Layers: Stories from Those Who Survived the Life of Prostitution & Child Sexual Exploitation, is a tribute to victims whose lives were silenced by “the Life;” to survivors who walk among us unnamed, unheard, unseen, and unhealed; and to those fighting for the right to keep company with their own humanity--to move beyond survival, to a place of transformational living, impactful giving, and legacy building. 

Her upcoming work, Uncomfortable Truth, is a collection of authentic lived experiences of females of color who have been sexually exploited. Uncomfortable Truth underscores the profound health impact of sex trafficking victimization and the disparities that exist in the care of sexual exploitation victims of color. Readers will be challenged to pursue additional research to assist in the prevention of this modern day enslavement of Black, Brown and Indigenous girls in America.

Ms. Williams travels the world as a keynote speaker for The Centre for H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Excel) and hosts the podcast Front Porch Conversations.   Her most recent international podcast interview was at the 2019 African Summit on Female Genital Mutilation and Child Marriages, held in Dakar, Senegal.

Ms. Williams earned a Bachelor of Science from Campbell University, a Masters of Arts from Bowie State University and attended a doctoral program at Virginia Technical College.

For more information about Lisa C. Williams and her work, visit www.lisacwilliams.com.