FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: July 20, 2017
OCDA CHIEF OF STAFF RECEIVES HEROES & LIVING LEGENDS GALA AWARD FROM CEO DEIDRE PUJOLS AND OPEN GATE INTERNATIONAL
SANTA ANA, Calif. – Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) was recognized by CEO Deidre Pujols and Open Gate International for her outstanding service and leadership as a pioneer in anti-human trafficking advocacy. The award was presented at Open Gate International’s Heroes and Living Legends Gala at Duke Hotel, Newport Beach on Monday, July 17, 2017. The event raised more than $750,000 and was sponsored by the Dr. Henry T. Nicholas III Foundation. Dr. Nicholas is the co-founder and former CEO of what is now known as Broadcom Limited and is an award-winning philanthropist who has significantly improved educational opportunities through his work with the Nicholas Academic Center and many other charitable endeavors involving youth, technology, medical research, and national defense. (htnfoundation.org) He is the force behind Marsy’s Law and has led the efforts to change state constitutions in California, Illinois, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. (Marsyslaw.us)
Open Gate International is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to represent the Oppressed, the Powerless, the Endangered, and the Neglected (OPEN) by offering them Global Alternative Training and Employment (GATE). Open Gate identifies vocational needs around the world and equips vulnerable populations with life skills for long-term economic stability. The charity empowers students by mentoring and training them with economic independence so that they can live sustainable and successful lives. (opengateinternational.org)
In 2013, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas tasked Schroeder to devise a plan to help combat the problems of modern day slavery occurring in our backyard. During his announcement of the new Human Exploitation and Trafficking (HEAT) Unit, District Attorney Rackauckas stated that the OCDA will utilize “a tactical plan called PERP – Prosecution, Education, Resources, and Publicity.” Since its inception, the OCDA HEAT Unit has obtained over 220 felony convictions, 210 prison sentences (including six life sentences) and currently has an active caseload of over 115 cases.
Over the years, Schroeder has worked diligently to better the community through programs such as OC GRIP as well as co-supervising the HEAT Unit, a program that targets predators who traffic and sexually exploit women. Schroeder currently serves as the OCDA’s representative for the Human Trafficking Committee to the California District Attorney’s Association.
OCDA Tony Rackauckas stated, “Susan’s leadership made OCDA’s HEAT Unit the best in the country. We need public-private partnerships to restore victims, not just prosecute the bad guys.”
At the awards gala, Schroeder commented, “I am humbled to accept on behalf of District Attorney Rackauckas, who had the vision to shift the paradigm of prosecution to effect significant change and also the OCDA’s HEAT Unit and the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, who are innovating policing and prosecution models.”
CEO and Founder Pujols remarked, “Susan is more than deserving of an award for her efforts for being a pioneering ambassador of justice and righteousness for those who are trapped in modern day slavery and vulnerable populations! She is a hero to many!”
In addition to her dedication to anti-human trafficking advocacy, Schroeder serves as senior advisor and strategist to Marsy’s Law for All, a law which ensures equal constitutional rights for victims of crime throughout the U.S. She also volunteers her time with Nicholas Academic Centers, an after-school tutoring and mentoring program that provides high school students with a safe and nurturing place to seek academic services, emotional support, mentoring and social services. (naccenters.org) Schroeder has been a prosecutor for 22 years.