How do you spark change in the world with your business or projects? Dr. Izabel Olson empowers survivors of sex trafficking to live meaningful and purposeful lives.
Having grown up with a father who was a political prisoner in Brazil, Dr. Izabel Olson felt compelled to connect with the Cook County Jail when she moved to Chicago, and began teaching yoga to female inmates. To her surprise, she found that 70% of the women she encountered had been trafficked. Moved by her experience with women in the Cook County jail, Dr. Olson started volunteering at shelters for trafficked women.
Seeing a gap in existing services for trafficking survivors led her to action. Using her research experience and knowledge of Learning Sciences gleaned from a six-year doctoral program at Northwestern University, Dr. Olson carefully conducted months of literature-based and ethnographic research to create an innovative, holistic, and trauma-informed curriculum.
That is the basis of the organization she founded, The Salt and Light Coalition, a grassroots movement mobilizing individuals and organizations to empower survivors of trafficking to live meaningful and purposeful lives.
- I read a study once that said between work, family, exercise and friends–you had to choose three, because no way can you manage them all. Well, guess what. Dr. Izabel Olson defies that!
- 70% of women in prison have been trafficked. When Izabel Olson volunteered to teach yoga at Cook County jail, she was moved by the lack of services to help women thrive after basic needs are met. The Salt and Light Coalition helps women reconnect with their bodies through yoga and provides jobs skills training, education and more.
- Human trafficking is not a think of the past or something that happens in other countries. More than 23,000 women are trafficked in Chicago annually.
- Having grown up with a father in prison and being in an abusive marriage early on, Izabel fit the “profile” of someone who has been trafficked. But she wasn’t. Se searched deep to understand the safety nets that saved her, to try to create that for the thrivers served by SALC.
- How you can help: visit saltandlightcoalition.com to donate, volunteer, and very importantly, provide internships for the women as they graduate from the program.
- Izabel’s spark is her strong belief in her faith which drives her purpose.
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More about Dr. Izabel Olson
Dr. Izabel Olson, founder and CEO of Salt and Light Coalition, a grassroots organization breaking the cycle of human trafficking through mind-body restoration and workforce development. Dr. Olson is dedicated to the empowerment of women, especially survivors of human trafficking as they reframe their traumatic experiences and find success in the workplace and throughout society.
Prior to establishing Salt and Light Coalition, Dr. Olson was a researcher at Northwestern University, where she earned her Ph.D. in the Learning Sciences. Throughout her academic career, Olson has also earned an MA in the Learning Sciences, an MEd in International Education, a BA in Pedagogy, and a BA in Linguistics.
Dr. Olson’s passion for holistic self-care combined with her robust academic training in cognitive science gives her the unique ability to positively impact women’s lives in a multifaceted way. This well-rounded approach spearheads her mission in the Salt and Light Coalition, where thoroughly researched curriculum empowers women to find restoration, healing, and develop a growth mindset so they will have the tools they need to thrive.
In 2017, Dr. Olson was awarded the Illinois Secretary of State’s Latina Humanitarian Achievement Award. Today, Dr. Olson continues to shine her Brazilian fire to transform the lives of female trafficking survivors in Chicago and beyond.
(From Dr. Olson’s bio in Streetwise 2020 Honorees for the 20 Most Inspiring Chicagoans https://www.streetwise.org/support/20-most-inspiring-chicagoans/2020-honorees/dr-izabel-olson/)