You’ve met Brianna and Vera, now it’s time to introduce you to the third justice-seeker in our series with IJM. As a recap:
Darling partners with IJM to support their work combatting sex trafficking, specifically in the Dominican Republic; however, since IJM works all over the globe to bring dignity and freedom to the vulnerable, we wanted to highlight a few specific women who are working to make that possible.
For this series, IJM Media and Communications Intern Kelsey Brown interviewed three strong and inspiring women who are using their unique gifts and passions to fight modern day slavery with IJM.
Meet: Tayler Hobba, Events & Artist Partnerships
What is your role within IJM?
Tayler: I do events and artist partnerships. My day to day looks different depending on what we’re working on, but IJM does 30 events a year. We do everything from mass fundraising events, where we’re pushing our freedom partner program, to our major donor events, where we have 50 high-level donors in a room with [IJM CEO] Gary [Haugen].
The events team has five different people on it and my colleague, Troy, and I work together to create all the content of events. Everything that you see, feel and experience when you’re invited to an event – we’re behind that. I spend a lot of time doing creative project management, being the middle man between what we’re trying to bring to life with our creative team and the agencies or contractors we’re working with to bring everything to fruition.
Were you always drawn to work in human rights?
Tayler: I first heard about IJM in college. There was a college campus chapter where I went to school, and I did an internship with IJM while I was in college and learned a lot more when I got here. I knew it was all about human rights and social justice, but didn’t really get what IJM did until I was immersed in it for a semester. I ended up back here and have grown and learned a lot more about the issues I’ve been working with.
What does your day-to-day look like?
Tayler: We’re currently building up an artist partner program, figuring out how we can use mostly music artists’ platform and influence to leverage that on behalf of what IJM needs. Right now as an organization, we’re focused on getting freedom partners, so we’ve been thinking about how we can leverage artists’ platforms to help us get those. Artists will take IJM on the road with them and talk about IJM in the middle of their set, asking their audiences to become monthly donors.
I work with artists giving them a vision for what that could look like, as well as helping shape their talk in the middle [of a performance], and I do a lot to actually execute that. If there’s a tour where someone’s speaking about IJM, I’ll usually go to the first night and get the team ramped up.
We’ve done the Art Music Justice Tour, where we’ve put our own tour together, and I served as the tour manager. My time is spent on a bus, on the road and making events happen by bringing them to life. We also do a lot of partnerships. Last year, we did a tour with Jennie Allen from the IF:Gathering team, and I road managed and production managed that. The rest of my role is building up more of the event branding and messaging, as well as working with copyrighters, designers and videographers on all the different angles of how we bring what we’re doing to life.
How do you maintain hope and positivity in a field dealing with violence every day?
Tayler: One thing I’ve learned over the years is getting comfortable with giving yourself grace. If sadness washes over you, let it be there or take a break from stories when you need to not engage with them. It’s OK for things to feel sad or hard; that’s a normal part of the work of hearing these stories and immersing yourself in them so you can tell them well. Give yourself grace to step away and disengage when you need to.
What is the most challenging part of this work? The most rewarding?
Tayler: My job is to create experiences that put stories in front of audiences, so the most challenging but also most rewarding part is immersing myself in stories so we can tell them well and bring them to life. There are stories that are really hard and really good, and that makes living them and breathing them for a while really difficult to do, but also really rewarding when you get to tell the redemptive side of the story.
It’s inspiring and compelling work to be a part of, but that comes with a set of challenges, as well. You’re seeing the hardest and best things.
What do you wish the majority of people knew about international slavery and violence?
Tayler: Slavery still exists. The problem is bigger than ever, but we know more about how to solve the problem than ever, and we have a role we need them to play in joining us. Their power matters, their voices matter, their resources matter and their prayer matters.
Talk about a specific day or event at IJM you felt was particularly moving or significant.
Tayler: This past year, we had a number of major donor events. We had a survivor come over [from the field] to share from the stage her experience. She came for [IJM’s] global prayer gathering, so we had already worked with her on her “mini speech,” but when she came for the executive sessions, that string of events is normally something I wouldn’t travel to.
The team sent me out to be with Cassie, the survivor, and to play with her during the days with an aftercare worker present. We spent every day talking, drawing and playing together. Every night after she got off stage, we’d go back to a room by ourselves and debrief on the day with an aftercare worker and then we’d dance. For literally an hour, we’d hip-hop dance with her favorite Zumba videos. She loves hip-hop dance, and it was really fun to be with her and also really powerful. I’ve immersed myself in her story because we’ve included it in a lot of speeches, so I know a lot about her that’s really hard. It was so moving and compelling to see who she is now and the redemption of her story, and how vibrant she is and how much she believes and hopes for the future.
It was incredibly challenging to be with her, love her, hold her hand and dance with her while knowing the hard parts of her story. For me, that moment was, just wow. It felt like really being in the work and seeing the parts that are not only the best and most redemptive, but are the darkest and the hardest.
These are just three of the amazing employees at IJM. To learn more about IJM and ways YOU can get involved, visit www.ijm.org.
Feature Image via Madeline Heising