2023 AJLI Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award recipient Julia Meyers
The Junior League of Birmingham, AL
Julia Meyers joined the Junior League of Birmingham, AL, in 2008 and has become an accomplished leader with a fire of inspiration. She has inspired the Junior League of Birmingham and people throughout the state of Alabama. Julia once said, “Once you find your calling, know your purpose, and never give up.” Like Mary Harriman, Julia has relentless drive, passion, and enthusiasm to advocate and protect the most vulnerable.
In her early League years at the Junior League of Atlanta, she began by rolling up her sleeves and volunteering in the community. She worked alongside other Junior League of Atlanta members to serve people experiencing homelessness and abused women and children. Then when her beloved brother Paul, a public defender for human trafficking victims, passed away, Julia began the Paul Meyers Foundation, where she continued to serve the community through his legacy of defending victims of human trafficking. Continuing his commitment to serving those in need kept her going.
She brought her fire and passion to Birmingham, where Julia’s propensity for leadership really took off. She brought the idea of an anti-human trafficking committee to the Junior League of Birmingham, but at the time, people were apprehensive as it was such an uncomfortable topic. Julia’s conviction was undeniable. It was clear that she would not take no for an answer. Her committee was approved. It started as a small committee of three volunteers. From there, she grew the program by leaps and bounds.
She connected with END IT Alabama to start proclamations with local mayors. The mayors agreed to sign awareness proclamations, leading to Birmingham-area municipalities declaring their cities as Trafficking Free Zones. This was a pivotal moment for the committee.
From there, Julia and her committee began providing training to businesses and local agencies while simultaneously tirelessly raising awareness about Human Trafficking. Julia had a vision that the Junior League of Birmingham could make a meaningful impact due to its size and influence. The Interstate Corridor, which is the “sex trafficking superhighway,” passes directly through Birmingham. Julia leveraged the Junior League of Birmingham’s non-profit leader and non-partisan coalition-builder role to affect transformational change through advocacy and public policy.
In 2016, Julia pitched the idea of an anti-human trafficking task force to the Junior League of Birmingham’s Executive Board. Julia chaired the committee for four years, developing it from a small task force to a forceful project making statewide waves. Julia’s support, passion, and leadership influenced the passage of Alabama HB 261 in 2019, requiring all applicants to take a human trafficking awareness class to obtain a commercial driver’s license.
Her persistence as a leader was admired, and people were taking notice. In 2019 due to the impact of her committee, 34 area mayors have since signed awareness proclamations, leading to seven municipalities declaring themselves Trafficking Free Zones in 2020. Julia and her Team worked with the Alabama Department of Transportation to install signage in all truck and rest stops and the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport that help victims self-identify and get help.
As a result of Julia’s efforts, the Junior League of Birmingham’s anti-human trafficking committee has posted more than 2,500 of these signs, in English and Spanish across Alabama. The committee also led anti-human trafficking training for the workers and volunteers of The World Games 2022, hosted in Birmingham, Alabama. Throughout the span of The World Games, law enforcement agencies made several arrests and rescued human trafficking victims in Birmingham.
The anti-human trafficking programs in Birmingham evolve and grow as traffickers change their methods. Thanks to Julia’s vision and powerful influence, the international and illegal enterprise of human trafficking is being forced to change how it operates as communities around Birmingham are being led to end it.
Today, Julia employs rescued victims in her business, Over the Moon, to help encourage them as they get their lives back. Julia continues to inspire generations of Junior League Members with her advocacy work. She has a clear purpose and never gives up. Everything that she does is connected back to helping people.