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Since she fled South Sudan as a refugee 18 years ago, Mari Malek, aka DJ Stiletto, has become a successful model and DJ in New York City. She is also the founder of “Stand For Education,” a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering girls and providing access to education for underprivileged children. When Malek first escaped South Sudan with her mother and two younger sisters, they spent four years in Egypt where they applied for asylum and were granted refugee status. Mari and her family then moved to Newark, New Jersey before they found their relatives and relocated to San Diego, California. One day on a walk to school, Malek was approached by a modeling scout, and in 2006, she moved to New York to pursue a career in the field. She now uses her status as a platform to bring light to an often-ignored plight, and helps to inspire and introduce opportunities to South Sudanese women and children whose lives have been torn apart by the violence and inhumanity of war.
Bryn Mooser is a humanitarian, filmmaker, and the co-founder of RYOT media—an immersive media company that connects every story to action with a specialty in virtual reality. Bryn began his career in the Peace Corps in West Africa and then spent years working in Haiti, helping the organization “Artists for Peace and Justice.” He was named one of Esquire Magazine’s “Americans of the Year” for the work he did in Haiti. He was also named a “Hollywood Maverick” by Details Magazine for his documentary work in crisis and disaster zones. Bryn has directed or produced over a dozen award-winning documentaries, including 2015’s “Body Team 12” about the Ebola crisis, which won “Best Documentary Short” at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and was Oscar-nominated for “Best Documentary Short” at the 2016 Academy Awards.
Caitlin Crosby is an actress, singer, and entrepreneur. While growing up in Hollywood, she worked in the entertainment industry, which inspired her to launch the campaign “LoveYourFlawz” to support those dealing with body image issues. This coincided with the release of her debut album “Flawz” in 2009 through Blackledge/Atlantic Records.
While on tour, Caitlin continued down the path of altruism and started “The Giving Keys,” which employs those transitioning out of homelessness to make jewelry out of repurposed keys. Each key is engraved with a message like FEARLESS, HOPE, STRENGTH or COURAGE. When the wearer of the key encounters another person who needs this message of strength, they are encouraged to give it away and share their “pay it forward” story.
Over the last three years, “The Giving Keys” has employed 28 people who have struggled with homelessness, helped 22 move into permanent housing, and collected thousands of “pay it forward” stories. Today, they have over 50 employees and their products are sold at Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Fred Segal, Kitson and nearly 2,000 other retail stores around the world.
Nasir Sobhani is a barber and world citizen. He was born and raised in Japan, lived in Canada during his teens (where he also attended college), volunteered in Vanuatu for a year, and now calls Melbourne his home. After battling a drug addiction and finding sobriety through rehab and reconnecting to his spirituality, Nasir became a barber and used it as the impetus to turn his life around. Though relatively new to the barber game, and despite a six-day workweek, Nasir uses his barber skills to give back to the local homeless community. Affectionately known to his clients and online supporters as “The Streets Barber,” Nasir skateboards around the city giving free cuts to homeless people and others that are also less fortunate. His service, inspired by his struggles with addiction and the tenets of his Baha’i Faith, includes spending time talking with his clients on the street, with the hope of inspiring them to a fresh start.
Shaun Ross is an American fashion model, actor, dancer, and activist. Best known for being the first male model with Albinism, Shaun’s talent has been recognized by the fashion industry, shining in campaigns, runways, and music videos since being discovered in 2009. Recently named one of Models.com’s “Social Media Stars of 2015,” Shaun uses his celebrity and his social media channels to challenge beauty standards and to empower fans to love themselves. In 2012, Shaun developed the movement known as “In My Skin I Win.” Through this crowdsourced social media campaign, Shaun is raising awareness about Albinism, bullying, and the importance of self-confidence.