Gridshock Documentary: Human Trafficking in Iowa
Jun 07, 2019 7:00 AM
Vanessa McNeal, Director of Gridshock Documentary
Gridshock Documentary: Human Trafficking in Iowa

BIO:  Vanessa McNeal, Director of Gridshock Documentary

Vanessa McNeal MSW, is an award winning documentary filmmaker, national speaker, and 2x TEDx speaker.  She speaks nationally on how to confront adversity with grace using her personal story as a vehicle to inspire and empower others.  She is known for her investment and wisdom in topics that are often difficult to talk about.  Her message has resonated with audiences around the world through the influential topics of overcoming adversity, sexual violence, social change, leadership and empowerment.

At an early age, Vanessa experienced child sexual abuse and neglict.  Due to the neglect, she wasn't taken to school regularly, so she was placed in a remedial class.  She spent time in foster care before she was raised by her grandparents.  At age 15, Vanessa was sexually assaulted at a college preparatory program and overcame the many faces of rape culture. Vanessa was the first in her family to graduate high school and went on to pursue her Bachelor's degree at Iowa State University.  She received her Master's degree in Social Work at the University of Northern Iowa.

In 2017, Vanessa founded her production company McNeal Media with the goal of creating social change through the art of storytelling.  She is the Director of the internationally recognized documentary, "The Voiceless".  The film features the stories of male survivors of sexual violence.  She won "Best Director" for the documentary at the Newark International Film Festival.  At Indiefest she received Woman Filmmaker Award of Recognition.  She is currently directing "Gridshock", a documentary that investigates the flourishing sex trafficking industry in Iowa.

Vanessa won the 2017 YWCA "Woman of Tomorrow" award.  She was also honored with the 2018 STATEment maker award in the entrepreneurial sprit category.  She has also been featured in numerous publications, articles, and news broadcasts.