The founders of a social venture and a nonprofit find new paths for victims of the sex trade.
Shannon Keith | Jeff Keith
S.K.: Founder, CEO, Sudara, an apparel company that provides jobs to former brothel workers in India
Born and raised; Riverside, Calif.
J.K.: Founder, CEO, the Guardian Group, a nonprofit that combats sex trafficking in the U.S.
Born, San Ramon, Calif.
How we met
Tecate, Mexico | 1998/1999
J.K.: “We both went down to Mexico as part of a church group. It took about a year for me to persuade Shannon that I’m a decent guy.”
Newport Beach, Calif. | 2000
S.K.: “It was super special, with our favorite family and friends. They say the only other time that happens is at your funeral, and you don’t get to enjoy that.”
J.K.: “It was our first kiss. And it was the worst kiss because she has a big smile.”
Why we love our jobs
S.K.: “Acknowledging my place of privilege.The fact that I get to use my gifts and talents on behalf of women who have been victimized and oppressed is so compelling.”
J.K.: “Finding solutions that disrupt the abuse of children in the U.S. — that will keep you going all night and all day. Having veterans use their gifts to train and assist law enforcement.”
S.K.: “We are in the larger space of social justice work. We deal with many of the same challenges as leaders of our organizations.”
S.K.: “We have a lot of laughter. A sense of humor is super important, because we work on really hard issues. We see some of the most atrocious injustices human beings inflict on one another.”
Clancey, 7; Jackson, 11; Siena, 11
S.K.: “We live in such a fear-driven world; we want the kids to experience the world without fear.”
S.K.: “We would like Sudara to be a household name in five years. We would like to be the next iteration of social enterprise. As we know, charity doesn’t change the world, but jobs and self-sustaining income are a game changer.”
J.K.: “We want the Guardian Seal [showing hotels are trained to look out for sex traffickers] to be very familiar to the common people. We worked on 100 cases last year, and we want the number to go up to 1,000 cases. Most people don’t think sex trafficking happens here, but 80%- to 90% of the cases are our own girls in the U.S.”
J.K.:. “We’re teaching them to be adventurous. We invest in memories: We went to Sayulita, Mexico, and taught them to surf. We’re going to Thailand in about a month to see other cultures and enjoy good food.”
S.K.: “As a mother, I want to be that example, to show that everyone is truly created equal and what are our responsibilities as global citizens to make sure that happens.”
J.K: “Every year I take a hike with my son. The first was Green Lakes when he was four. That was 4 miles. We add a mile every year. Next year we’ll do 12 miles.”
A version of this article appears in the March 2018 issue of Oregon Business magazine.