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UMD SAFE Center Launches Economic Empowerment Initiative led by Mari Snyder

Source: University of Maryland School of Public Health | June 20, 2019 

The University of Maryland SAFE (Support, Advocacy, Freedom and Empowerment) Center for Human Trafficking Survivors has hired Mari L. Snyder, a former executive at Marriott International, Inc., as the Center’s new Director of Economic Empowerment. Ms. Snyder served as Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for ten of her seventeen-year-career with Marriott International, Inc.

Ms. Snyder will lead the development of the SAFE Center’s economic empowerment initiative, including a portfolio of programs and partnerships that will help trafficking survivors rebuild their lives and achieve independence. The SAFE Center recognizes that creating paths to economic independence is central to its holistic approach to supporting survivors.

“With Mari’s leadership, the SAFE Center will develop a strategic portfolio of economic empowerment services and partnerships enabling both survivors and employers to reach their goals,” said Ambassador Susan Esserman, founder and director of the SAFE Center. “Economic empowerment programming has been a critical aspect of my vision for the Center since its founding in 2016, and Mari’s experience in workforce development programs and anti-trafficking efforts within the corporate sector will provide the support we need to launch this essential program.”

Ms. Snyder will draw on her global corporate experience in human rights and trafficking as well as workforce development programs that focused on both vulnerable young adult populations and the employers who saw their untapped potential. She values being a connector, as she experienced in her role as corporate liaison between Marriott and the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities, a 501©3, and its signature Bridges from School to Work program operating in 12 U.S. cities. Internationally, Ms. Snyder and her team worked with a number of partners – nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), industry associations, and governments – on career readiness programs that provided education, real-world skills, practical experience, and mentoring for young adults from Brazil to Rwanda, from Jordan to Haiti.

“I have seen many people absolutely transformed when given the opportunity to contribute their skills and earn a good living – and not just the new employee, but the manager and team who hired them,” Ms. Snyder said. “My mission is to be a path maker for the women and men who turn to the SAFE Center to find an empowering job – and the better life, health and well-being that come with it. I’m just thrilled to join the SAFE Center team and the University of Maryland in this work.”

“We welcome Mari to the UMD School of Public Health family,” said SPH Dean Boris Lushniak. “The SAFE Center’s economic empowerment initiative will help survivors to reestablish themselves in more ways than one – living wage jobs and the social connections that come from work are critical to personal and community health.”


If you are interested in considering how you or your organization can provide opportunities for jobs or apprenticeships to human trafficking survivors, please contact Mari Snyder at safecenter@umd.edu or through LinkedIn where she has blogged on human trafficking and career readiness programs.