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Commencement Speaker

Graduate Commencement Speaker for May 6, 2019:

Kay Buck 

CEO & Executive Director, Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST)

2019 Graduate Commencement Speaker

Fueled by her passion for justice, Kay has over 25 years of experience leading anti-trafficking initiatives in the United States and abroad. Joining the Los Angeles-based Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) in 2003, Kay leads one of the longest-running anti-trafficking organizations in the United States, serving thousands of human trafficking survivors and their families with comprehensive care to rebuild their lives.  Kay is responsible for opening the first shelter for trafficked women in the country and leading a team of compassionate, culturally-diverse staff who provide comprehensive care to nearly 1000 victims and families annually, including emergency response, housing, case management, and legal services. In 2004, Kay created CAST’s one-of-a-kind survivor leadership program, which empowers and trains survivors across the country that are ready to use their voices to inform public policy and social change, resulting in better laws to combat human trafficking, a White House Strategic Action Plan, and a National Survivor Network. Under Kay’s leadership, CAST was the first organization to receive the Presidential Award to Combat Slavery and Trafficking in 2014 for their innovative programs serving survivors, when Secretary John Kerry said, “No one reaches survivors of human trafficking like CAST.” CAST’s reach is global, serving survivors who are trafficked to the U.S. from over 60 countries around the world.

Kay is an innovator and collaborator. Prior to CAST, Kay served California’s rape crisis and sexual assault prevention centers as the Director of the Rape Prevention Resource Center at California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, where she collaborated in the development of the first national College Campus Sexual Assault program. She also started the first CA Sexual Assault Response (SART) Team in the country with San Diego Police Department, and was responsible for the publication of the first California SART Manual. Understanding the link between local and global challenges, Kay spent more than 5 years working in Asia leading up to the United Nations Conference on Women in 1995, when human trafficking became a global spotlight for countries around the world. What she learned from this extraordinary experience can be found in her tireless advocacy for trafficking survivors today.

Kay has a wealth of non-profit management, coalition-building, and private public partnership experience. She holds a Bachelor’s degree, and is a Senior Fellow at Marshall School of Business, Social Innovation Lab, University of Southern California.  Kay is a founding Board member of End Violence Against Women, Inc., a current Board member of QueensCare Charitable Foundation, and a Steering Committee member for the Victims of Crime Act at the California Governor’s Office. Kay was recognized by the California Women’s Foundation as a Change Maker alongside Hillary Rodham Clinton, and named the #1 Los Angeles Visionary by C-Suite Quarterly in 2017, and the 2018 Ellis Island award.

As a visionary leader, Kay has a deep commitment to diverse partnerships to build innovative social change. She believes that through partnerships and leadership, this generation of human trafficking survivors will be our last.  #CastYourVoice #ItEndsWithUs 


Undergraduate Commencement Speaker for May 6, 2019:

Abby Maxman

President & CEO, Oxfam America

2019 Undergrad Commencement Speaker

“My career has led me to work in some of the most challenging parts of the world, seeing first-hand the impact of poverty, injustice, war and disasters and I’ve always been impressed by Oxfam’s commitment to facing tough challenges with high impact solutions. Today, the fight against global poverty and injustice is more relevant than ever; I am honored to lead the Oxfam team through this next chapter.”

Abby Maxman joined Oxfam America as president and CEO in 2017. With more than 30 years of experience in international humanitarian relief and development, she brings a strategic focus on addressing the policies and systems that perpetuate global poverty. Maxman has particular experience in gender and power in social change; humanitarian preparedness and response; and organizational development, behavior and culture. Throughout her career she has also focused on prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse within the aid sector, and currently plays an important role within the Oxfam Confederation and among US-based NGOs to improve safeguarding practices. 

Prior to joining Oxfam, Maxman served as Deputy Secretary General of CARE International in Geneva, providing leadership across the CARE confederation. She previously served as Vice President of International Programs and Operations for CAREUSA, and in other country and regional leadership roles in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East.

Before CARE, Maxman had assignments with the U.S. Peace Corps, German Agency for Technical Cooperation, UN World Food Programme, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She has a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Colorado College and a Masters of International Administration from The School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont.