Mission Center: The Episcopal Church: Advocacy

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Becca Stevens recognized as White House 'Champion of Change'

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Becca Stevens, author, Episcopal priest and social entrepreneur, has been named by the White House's Office of Public Engagement as one of 15 "Champions of Change" for her pioneering work with Magdalene/Thistle Farms, a residential community and social enterprise she founded to serve women who have survived prostitution, addiction and abuse.

Stevens, Episcopal chaplain at Vanderbilt University, and 14 others will be honored with the award during an Oct. 20 reception at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C.

The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Barack Obama's Winning the Future initiative.

"From fighting AIDS to suicide prevention, the initiative highlights Americans who are influencing others, who have taken leadership in driving societal shifts and are making an impact in their communities and beyond," according to a White House press release.

"I believe this recognition is in honor of Magdalene's witness for the past 15 years to the truth that love is the most powerful force for change in the world," says Stevens, author of eight books. "I want to help change this culture that still buys and sells women and holds on to the notion that prostitution is a victimless crime. All of us at Magdalene stand in solidarity with women who are recovering from violence, prostitution and addiction and life on the streets."

The Magdalene program is unique for serving women for two years at no cost to residents. It maintains no staff in its residential homes, takes no government funding and has a 72 percent success rate of women leading healthy, sober lives two and a half years after entering the program, the press release said.

To date, Stevens has raised more than $13 million for the organizations she supports, receiving awards from the Frist Foundation and the Academy of Women of Achievement.

Stevens was named "Nashvillian of the Year" and "Tennessean of the Year" by the Nashville Scene and The Tennessean respectively. In 2010, she became the youngest and first female recipient of Sewanee: the University of the South's "Distinguished Alumnus" award.

Stevens lives in Nashville with her husband, Grammy-winning songwriter Marcus Hummon, and their three sons.

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