The Embrace Dignity Board’s main task is to govern and oversee the operations of the organisation by acting as fiduciaries. In other words, the board is legally, financially, and morally responsible for the organisation. Embrace Dignity’s Executive Director, Deputy Executive Director, Executive Director Designate and Chief Operations Officer form part of the Board as well.
The following individuals are currently serving as Embrace Dignity’s Board members:
Linda Nodada holds a legal degree as well as a Master of Business Leadership qualification from the University of South Africa. She has extensive exposure in the field of Real Estate and Property Asset Management within the public sector environment. Her career spans over a period of over 25 years, with 10 of those years spent at senior and executive levels of management. Her management exposure has equipped her with various competencies and broadened her skill sets in strategic management, financial management, leadership, lateral thinking as well as people management. In her executive leadership role, she has been responsible for business management oversight, which entails all aspects relating to strategy and implementation.
Marthe Muller studied Philosophy and Political Philosophy at Stellenbosch University, completing an Honours degree in Philosophy at the same institution before leaving South Africa in 1984 to spend four years in New York. She has also completed two years of coursework for a Masters in Women’s History at Sarah Lawrence College. Between 1988 and 2000 she spent 12 years living and working in Colombia, where she worked in documentary filmmaking and wrote, directed and produced an audio-visual course entitled English My Way.
Following her return to South Africa in 2000, her major contribution has been in the role of scribe and historian of the efforts of South African women to become the agents of their own development. In this capacity, she has travelled to Chile, Tunisia, and Brazil to study successful poverty eradication and women empowerment strategies, and to South Sudan, where she participated in a conference on women’s political participation in South Sudan with women from various political parties in South Africa. She has gathered and disseminated reports on dialogues attended by more than 16 000 women over 17 years, many of those years in a volunteer capacity, and has participated with others in creating cabinet briefs, policy briefs and discussion documents that led to the creation of a Women’s Ministry, the elaboration of an integrated poverty strategy (with the policy unit in the Presidency in 2006 and 2007) and advocacy around the establishment of a planning commission. She has also participated in a psycho-social family-based poverty eradication pilot that recruits, trains and employs young men and women as social auxiliary or family development workers, overseen by qualified social workers. All of this has allowed her to understand what obstacles lie in the way of personal and societal healing, family resilience, reduction in domestic violence and poverty eradication at individual and family level. Her passions are self-mastery, family development and governance for the growth of souls.
Dr Marcel van der Watt
Dr Marcel van der Watt is a senior lecturer at the University of South Africa; a Research Director for the Global Resource Epicenter against Human Trafficking; and a Case Manager for the National Freedom Network (NFN). He is an ex-member of the South African Police Service where he worked as hostage negotiator and investigator attached to the Hawks’ Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation and the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit. It was in his role as police official during 2002 when he first came across the trafficking of women and girls in the sex trade. Van der Watt gained international recognition for his work in human trafficking and received numerous awards for the investigation of crime, including an unreserved endorsement from E. Benjamin Skinner at the Harvard CARR Centre for Human Rights Policy, and a position in the YPIA Top 35 under 35 Africans for 2014. He provides expert court testimony on issues related to control methods, modus operandi and sentencing considerations in human trafficking cases, assistance in on-going investigations and intelligence-gathering activities, and participates on provincial and national human trafficking task teams. He serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Modern Slavery, and has published and presented his work on local and international platforms.
Despina Learmonth first delved into research regarding women and sex in South Africa during her Honours degree year in 1998. Because she wanted to produce a scholarly work that would make a meaningful contribution to society, Learmonth went one step further and entered her work into a research competition on “Why do women have sex?”. Her Honours research involved 120 student participants, with the findings obtained from those participants sparking her lifelong interest in understanding transactional sex and women and sex.
A few years after graduating, Learmonth went overseas, where she taught foreplay classes to earn extra money and qualified as a psychologist. On her return to South Africa, she was employed as a lecturer at the University of Cape Town, where she met Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge and Jeremy Routledge in 2010. She worked with Embrace Dignity for many years before becoming a Board member. Her main contribution to Embrace Dignity has been through research work and helping to support some of the survivors of the system of prostitution during their attempts to exit or to adapt to new ventures and work situations. She has presented many qualitative research pieces at conferences around the world, published articles, and has done radio interviews. She recently collaborated on a university textbook chapter focusing on aspects of the South African sex trade. She hopes to curate and host a podcast piece for Health24 on the South African sex trade as soon as the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions will allow.
Pamela Ntombifuthi Jabulile Ndaba
Pamela Ntombifuthi Jabulile Ndaba has a degree in psychology from Rhodes University. She is a dynamic executive in the fields of internal communications, marketing, finance and other management disciplines and has gained experience across government, the non-profit sector, and private enterprise. As a compelling communicator, she’s able to efficiently and effectively target relevant groups with appropriate information, and build productive relationships with all stakeholders, facilitating transformation and collaboration, especially within teams and senior management/board level. She thrives under pressure, seeing every challenge as an opportunity for growth. A strategist, with an eye for operational detail, she is fully conversant with the complexities and diversity of the South African corporate and regulatory environment and deeply committed to the upliftment of impoverished communities.
Shada Francis is globally recognised for her work as an international trainer and founder of an international NGO, Pathways of Hope. Francis possesses multiple international accreditations which speak to the array of her professional roles. These include working as a Transformational and Empowerment Coach, educator, mentor, public speaker, and philanthropist.
Francis is an internationally registered Neurolinguistics Practitioner and Cognitive Behavior Therapist. She has worked in countries such as China, Hong Kong, Nepal, India, Prague and the United Kingdom over the past 14 years, leading employees from 20 countries while working at top educational and training institutions, including LG Electronics (China) and YWIES Educational Foundation in Hong Kong.
Her philanthropic work includes empowering women and children in India, Cambodia, China and Nepal through education and life skills training. She has an unquenchable passion to empower others and her depth of empathy is rooted in the multiple adversities which she has had to overcome in her own life. These include an abusive marriage and subsequent divorce; being held up at gunpoint; experiencing several burglaries; as well as losing her business and identity and hitting rock bottom. She chose to triumphantly rise and redefine her life, at an age when most people are settling into their golden years. Francis believes that BELIEF is key to becoming the greatest version of yourself and uses her journey as an example to inspire others to do the same.