Keynote: Elizabeth Smart
The conference kicks off Tuesday morning with a Keynote Address by Elizabeth Smart.
The abduction of Elizabeth Smart was one of the most followed child abduction cases of our time. Elizabeth was abducted on June 5, 2002, and her captors controlled her by threatening to kill her and her family if she tried to escape. Fortunately, the police safely returned Elizabeth back to her family on March 12, 2003, after being held a prisoner for 9 grueling months.
Through this traumatic experience, Elizabeth has become an advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs, and National legislation. Elizabeth triumphantly testified before her captor and the world about the very private nightmare she suffered during her abduction, which led to conviction.
The Founder of the “Elizabeth Smart Foundation”, Elizabeth has also helped promote The National AMBER Alert, The Adam Walsh Child Protection & Safety Act and other safety legislation to help prevent abductions.
Elizabeth has chronicled her experiences in the New York Times best-selling book, “My Story.” In addition, she and other abduction survivors worked with the Department of Justice to create a survivors guide, entitled, “You’re Not Alone: The Journey From Abduction to Empowerment.” This guide is meant to encourage children who have gone through similar experiences not to give up but to know that there is hope for a rewarding life.
Elizabeth has recently released a new powerful and inspiring book about what it takes to overcome trauma, find the strength to move on, and reclaim one’s life. “Where There’s Hope” is the result of Elizabeth’s mission: It is both an up-close-and-personal glimpse into her healing process and a heartfelt how-to guide for readers to make peace with the past and embrace the future.
Elizabeth’s abduction and recovery continue to motivate parents, law enforcement and leaders worldwide to focus on children’s safety. She emphasizes vigilance by “everyday” people and the belief that hope always exists to find every missing child.
Smart attended Brigham Young University, studying music as a harp performance major. She married her husband Matthew in 2012, and they now have two beautiful children. Elizabeth’s example is a daily demonstration that there really is life after tragedy.