This article was published as part of #GivingTuesday's #WomenWhoGive series, which celebrates women who give back in their communities.

 

At a young age, Gabrielle’s heart was drawn towards women in developing countries. Once she knew how to place that into action, she pursued avenues to engage in helping and empowering women in developing countries. Thompson believes that empowered women, empower women. Gabrielle holds a Masters of International Affairs, with a specialization in International Gender Development from Middle Tennessee State University. Her master’s thesis titled “Perceptions in Development: Costa Rican Policy Initiatives and Pathways to Socioeconomic Accessibility” is available to read here.  She has worked in gender policy development in Istanbul Turkey, and in Costa Rica for an INGO on grants for impoverished female entrepreneurs. 

Moreover, Thompson has traveled personally to give back to local and international communities. She has traveled to over 20 countries doing personal research on gender roles, policy and development. This has taken Thompson to volunteering at orphanages, spending time interviewing gender focused organizations, local women, and trying to fully understand the lives of women on a global scale.

Read the full interview below to learn more about how Gabrielle gives back.


Q1:  How do you give back? 

I am the Executive Director and CEO of a Free for Life International, an anti sex trafficking organization, as my primary way to give back to a cause that moves me towards action.

I serve on the board of Casa Milagro, a Costa Rican based non-profit fighting sex trafficking.

I am on the Grants Panel of Metro Nashville Arts Commission, supporting the arts community in Nashville.  I also fund educational initiatives for women/girls in Punjab, Pakistan through a friend I know in my international travels.


Q2:  What inspired you to start giving?

I have been given to, so I wanted to give.

 

Q3:  What does giving mean to you?  Why do you continue to give your time, talents, money, or more to your community?

I personally believe it is my mission in life to give back to those that are less fortunate. As a woman born in America – I have had the gift of being able to be educated, autonomous, independent and pursue my own dreams. Unfortunately, there are millions of women that do not even have the ability to make their own decisions, learn how to read, and are never allowed to dream. It is when I think of them, that I am motivated to dedicate my life to giving women the ability to have freedom, empowerment, and to finally dream.


Q4: What would you tell others (women and men) who are looking to start giving back?  Share a  piece of advice will help them get started.

Allow yourself to naturally be pulled towards a cause. If you are open to it, something will strike you and move your spirit. Do not push that away, instead engage yourself in that. Pursue the things that keep you up at night. Everyone can make a difference, even if it is unseen.

Volunteer, donate money, learn more about the cause, become an advocate.


Q5:  Please share a favorite moment or story from when you volunteered or donated to an organization.

This past time I was in Nepal (October 2016) my team and I were rebuilding/repainting an old shelter into a vocational training home for rehabilitated sex trafficking victims. This is a massive three story home that had been vacant for years. We worked on this home for various days from sun up to sun down. I have never in my life been more sweaty, covered in dirt, and done more physical labor in my life. However, all my heart felt was deep, deep joy. It brought me wholehearted delight to be investing my heart, mind and body into a home that will be bringing skills and joy to precious victims of sexual bondage.