As part of the University of Pikeville Convocation series, the university will welcome Becca Stevens of Thistle Farms in Nashville as a speaker on Tuesday, Sept. 11 starting at 11 a.m. at Booth Auditorium.
Stevens is an author, speaker, priest, social entrepreneur, founder and president of Thistle Farms, where survivors of human trafficking, prostitution and addiction can heal through a holistic residential program, gain their education and employment through social enterprise with the production and sale of home products.
According to Stevens’ biography, after experiencing the death of her father and subsequent child abuse when she was five years old, Stevens longed to open a sanctuary for survivors offering a loving community. Through her work as an Episcopal priest and cooperating with Vanderbilt University, in 1997 five women who had experienced trafficking, violence and addiction were welcomed to the Magdalene program, which provided counseling, job and financial skills training to the women so that they may live productive lives free of criminal activity. The Magdalene program requires that its participants find work after six months in recovery and many find this employment with Thistle Farms, started in 2001.
Twenty years later, the organization continues to welcome women with free residences that provide housing, medical care, therapy and education for two years. Residents and graduates earn income through one of four social enterprises. The Global Market of Thistle Farms helps employ more than 1,800 women worldwide, and the national network has more than 40 sister communities.
Stevens has been featured in the New York Times, on ABC World News and NPR, was named a 2016 CNN Hero and a White House “Champion of Change.” She was featured in the PBS documentary “A Path Appears,” named 2016 Humanitarian of the Year by the Small Business Council of America and inducted into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame.
Stevens attended the University of the South and Vanderbilt Divinity School. She has been conferred two honorary doctorates. Her newest book, Love Heals, was published by Harper Collins in September of 2017.
Becca currently lives in Nashville with her husband, Grammy-winning songwriter Marcus Hummon, and their three sons.
“We hope that the convocation series helps to create a common intellectual interest — a common ground that extends beyond a course of study” said University of Pikeville Chaplain Rob Musick. “It is through this common experience where healthy debate and conversation can take place.”
Musick said he is looking for suggestions for topics and who would be a good speaker for the convocation series.
For questions or more information on the UPike convocation series, contact Rob Musick at, (606) 218-5762, or email, RobertMusick@upike.edu.