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Betsy Bramon &
Alexis Weiss


Anne Templeton
Zimmerman Fellows
Alexis Weiss
Alarmed and Outraged
Two words: "alarmed" and "outraged." That's how Alexis describes her feelings when she discovered that slavery still exists in America. She decided that something must be done. And here's what she did first: help put a child sex trafficker behind bars for 50 years.

Pretty good start.

Fresh out of college, Alexis joined the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division as a paralegal. She helped build a high-profile case against a sex slavery ring in Tennessee. It brought her face-to-face with the defendant, a man accused of forcing teenage girls into slavery. The experience made Alexis realize the value of law enforcement in ridding the world of slavery.

"The law can help save people and change people's lives," Alexis says. She helped compile an overwhelming case against the Tennessee trafficker; he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to serve half a century in prison.

Next, Alexis took her experience in building legal cases to the front lines of slavery in Africa, where she helped prosecutors in Ghana. Alexis interviewed sex slavery survivors and compiled evidence for a case against international traffickers. She helped police strengthen their efforts to combat child slavery.

Law enforcement isn't the only tool to stamp out slavery, and Alexis has worked with community groups and international organizations. Her ultimate goal is to assist the U.N. and individual governments to craft comprehensive anti-trafficking strategies.

Alexis hopes she will be part of the generation that ends slavery forever.

"I will continue to fight slavery until there are no more slaves in the world today," Alexis says. "When that number is zero, I can stop."

As a Zimmerman Fellow, Alexis will focus on advocating anti-slavery policies.
Betsy Bramon
Building Bridges to Freedom
Betsy has two words that capture how it feels to see slavery survivors retake control of their future: "beautiful" and "exciting." She's seen it first-hand in Cambodia, where she worked on innovative projects to help slavery survivors recover, return home and restart their lives. It has inspired her to make fighting slavery her calling.

"I want to be part of the vision that makes ending slavery possible," she says.


Betsy first encountered slavery in Amsterdam, where she was researching the extent of sex trafficking in the city's notorious red light district. By personally going from brothel to brothel, she discovered that police and non-profit groups weren't always able to reach the people who needed help the most.

She then moved to Cambodia, where she learned that many slavery survivors wind up dependent on shelters and social service programs. They're no longer enslaved, but they're not self sufficient. Her goal was to help build bridges that could help former slaves take that final step toward lifelong freedom. When it worked, the goal was to duplicate the project elsewhere.

These experiences have shaped Betsy's view of slavery worldwide.

Betsy sees slavery as a symptom, a "conglomeration" of other social and economic problems. "When everything else goes wrong in the world," she says, "you get slavery." But she feels at its core the solution is actually simple. It involves listening to people, being resourceful, fostering teamwork, and creating a sense of community.

"I really hope that people can begin to look each other in the eye again, people who've been trafficked and people who have trafficked, slaveholders, and remember we're all human," she says.

Betsy wants to pursue a doctorate focusing on slavery, economics and women.

As a Zimmerman Fellow, she will focus on anti-slavery research and international partnerships.

Click the image to view the Fellow slideshow.
More About Anne Templeton Zimmerman


Dr. Anne Templeton Zimmerman had strong faith in the dignity and sanctity of the human spirit. She used her medical training wherever it was needed: the jail in Casper, Wyoming or the bush in Africa. Anne was especially dedicated to bringing liberty to people suffering and dying because of their personal faith.

At personal risk, Anne helped free women and children from slavery in Sudan. Because of her efforts there are many more people and families living in freedom. The John Templeton Foundation chose to honor Anne's legacy by investing in future leaders of the anti-slavery movement. Anne was passionate about empowering youth to help others. She reveled in opening the door to lives of purpose and dignity, for both the 'giver' and the 'receiver.'

Anne's widower says Anne never saw a challenge she didn't like - and they weren't all in Africa. After all, she took on a husband and his six children in her late 30s. "That was a real challenge," says Gail Zimmerman. Gail says he hopes the Zimmerman Fellows see this coming year as challenge - a gift. Just like Anne did in her life.

About the Award
Fellowships are awarded to young adults (21 – 30) who have demonstrated consistent determination, creativity and results in the anti-slavery movement, and who are committed to developing their careers to help rid the world of slavery. The awardees may have shown their commitment against slavery in a variety of ways. For example, raising awareness in communities, advocating for improved policies, helping set up programs with people in slavery or former slaves, or making films about slavery.

Free the Slaves will nurture awardees as future anti-slavery leaders, build their capacity, and through their leadership, disseminate the vision and the skills required for effective anti-slavery work. Fellows will be undertaking substantive work while at Free the Slaves, including direct participation in our research, work with grassroots partners, slave-free trade initiatives and communications efforts. In addition, they will have the opportunity to learn practical non-profit management skills through the Nonprofit Management Executive Certification program at Georgetown University’s Center for Public and Non-profit Leadership.

It is our vision that further in their careers Fellows will hold decision-making positions in the most significant anti-slavery entities in the world and maintain a strong alumni network, based on their common high-quality training, transformational experiences and deep roots within the historical anti-slavery tradition that they inherited through the Fellowship program.

The Recipient Will Receive
• A one-year fellowship to work with Free the Slaves, with a salary of $35,000 plus benefits.
• A professional development package including accredited academic and non-profit management courses at The Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership at Georgetown University.
• The opportunity to travel overseas to learn about other anti-slavery efforts.
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The Freedom Awards are underwritten by the John Templeton Foundation.
 "The Freedom Awards combine the best of two world-changing forces that are central to Sir John Templeton’s positive vision for the future: the power of noble purpose to inspire lives of great significance, and the central importance of enhancing and expanding individual freedom.  In addition, the awards honor the memory of Sir John’s daughter Anne Templeton Zimmerman, who herself was a dedicated and courageous advocate for ending slavery and promoting religious freedom.”

-Kimon Sargeant, Ph.D., VP of Human Sciences, John Templeton Foundation

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