Play: World Premiere of Project Dawn by Karen Hartman

Clinical Title: Working with Female Survivors of Commercial Sexual Exploitation

Pre-show Presenter: Lesha Sanders, MSS
PSCSW Moderator: Leslie Hempling, MSS, LCSW.

Date: Sunday, June 25, 2017
Please contact Kathy at PSCSW ( if you have any accessibility needs (e.g., wheelchair seating, visual, hearing, mobility concerns).
Time: 1:00-4:30 pm |3CEs
Registration starts at 12:40 pm. We highly recommend you arrive at that time.
(PSCSW is authorized to provide CE Credits to participants who attend the program in its entirety. Time will be strictly enforced.)

Location: Steinbright Stage, People’s Light, 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA 19355
Link to Directions:

Cost: $36 (Includes pre-show presentation, ticket to performance and post-show Q&A; 3 CEs).
Registration Deadline: May 30, 2017 (Space is limited. We recommend early registration.)
No refunds available once registration is submitted. (Please check calendars carefully.)
Guest Registration: If you wish to register a guest who does not want/need a CE Certificate, please register them by calling People’s Light Box Office only at 610.644.3500 using code: COMMUNITY25 for $25 tickets. If you would like to be seated with your guest, please provide the box office your name/tell them you are with the PA Society of Clinical Social Work and your guest’s name to ensure that you are seated together. The deadline to reserve these tickets with the PSCSW group is May 30, 2017.

Program Description:
Participants will attend the world premiere production of Project Dawn by Karen Hartman at People’s Light in Malvern, PA. This special CE event features a pre-show presentation and discussion for CE participants and includes a post-show Q&A with the actors and other audience members. This CE program explores social work’s person-in-environment perspective as it pertains to the challenges often faced by women who have experienced trauma, arrests, oppression and other social and systemic responses to prostitution and sex work. Through attendance at People’s Light’s world premiere of Project Dawn, participants will explore problem-solving court programs, such as Philadelphia’s Project Dawn Court—a court that was launched to help address the underlying issues that often lead women to be involved in sex trafficking or prostitution. Pre- and post-show discussions will examine the nuances of court programs that incorporate social services and treatment. We will discuss issues that can arise when social work values that honor the autonomy and dignity of the client are combined with court-related social services and treatment. The program will also explore systemic social problems related to lack of economic opportunity, education and other opportunities for historically disadvantaged populations.


  1. Participants will be introduced to Philadelphia’s Project Dawn Court, an alternative court that provides an alternative to prison for women who have experienced criminal arrests for prostitution. Participants will explicate the role of social workers, judges, public defenders, prosecutors and court workers in relation to women who have repeatedly been arrested for prostitution.
  2. Participants will identify and discuss the role that trauma, sexual abuse, substance abuse and lack of economic and educational opportunities play in issues related to prostitution and sex trafficking.
  3. Participants will discuss the nature of the therapeutic alliance when individual psychotherapy and other social services are incorporated within a court program.

Event Time Breakdown:
1:00-1:40 pm – Pre-show Presentation and discussion with Lesha Sanders, MSS, Court Coordinator for Project Dawn.
2:00-4:00 pm – Attendance at performance of Project Dawn in the Steinbright Stage. (Note: Performance run time is approximately two hours. Run time may shift slightly as performance date gets closer.)
4:00-4:20 pm – Post show Q&A with actors and audience.
4:20 pm – Check-out and submission of CE evaluations in Steinbright lobby.

About the Presenter:
Lesha Sanders, MSS, Court Coordinator, First Judicial District of Philadelphia
Lesha has been in the mental health and substance use field for more than 10 years. She holds a Master’s Degree from Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, and a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology and sociology from Albright College. Lesha began her career working as a teaching assistant for adolescents with behavioral and/or intellectual disabilities. Later she provided services to adolescent and young adults in a stabilization unit. From 2004-2011 Lesha operated in many roles: case manager, clinical evaluator, case management supervisor, therapist, and as the Forensic Services-Director of Specialty Courts. Her love of direct care led her to re-engage in direct service provision at Livengrin Foundation in Bensalem and later Langhorne PA where she provided adult outpatient therapy services to those struggling with substance use and co-occurring diagnoses. Lesha is currently the Court Coordinator for Philadelphia’s Project Dawn Court, Veterans Court, and Domestic Violence Diversion Court. She also provides social services for other programs on an as needed basis. She was part of the committee that developed Philadelphia’s first “Johns School” and continues to be involved with the oversight of the SER program. As a social worker and trained instructor of mental health first aid and trauma informed care her role often includes coordination of courtroom operations, provider relations, and direct care linkages for participants, documentation management, and program development.

About the Moderator:
Leslie Hempling, MSS, LCSW
Leslie previously served on the board of PSCSW and coordinated the New Professional Development committee. In 2015 and 2016, she served as a judge for the PSCSW Awards for Clinical Excellence. Leslie currently directs Student Disability Services and Learning Resources at Swarthmore College and previously worked in Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Pennsylvania. She earned her M.S.S. at the Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research and holds a B.A. in History from Oberlin College. Prior to entering the social work field, she worked professionally in theatre, coordinating and managing education and outreach programs. She coordinated education programs and served as the Director of the Theatre School at People’s Light from 1996-2004.

Production Description from People’s Light:
Project Dawn by Karen Hartman - World Premiere , New Play Frontiers Program
Philadelphia is home to a revolutionary court designed by a passionate and shockingly funny group of women. Every day these lawyers, judges, parole officers, and staff work to transform the lives of women repeatedly convicted for prostitution. In this daring and vital new play in which seven actresses portray multiple participants and members of the court, Karen Hartman probes the thin lines between freedom and slavery, activism and obsession for women on both sides of the law. Inspired by Hartman’s extensive first–hand research inside Project Dawn Court, this play is the first world premiere from our nationally renowned New Play Frontiers Residency & Commission program at People’s Light (NPF).
To learn more, visit

About People’s Light and The New Play Frontiers Program:
Founded in 1974, People’s Light serves as one of Pennsylvania’s largest professional nonprofit theatres, known for its resident company of artists, eclectic mix of productions, and innovative work with young people. In its 8-9 play season, People’s Light presents stories drawn from ancient times through tomorrow that have direct relevance to area communities and their concerns. In support of this range, the Theatre produces classics and contemporary plays, and commission and produce new work: of its 418 productions, over a third (164) have been world or regional premieres.

New Play Frontiers (NPF) is a long-term initiative to develop and produce new plays that explore American identity through stories of deep meaning to specific populations in Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia and Bucks Counties in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Karen Hartman’s Project Dawn is the first New Play Frontiers play that the Theatre will fully produce. Through the NPF immersion and residency process, playwright Hartman became fascinated with two area organizations – Dawn’s Place (a safe house) and Project Dawn Court in Philadelphia – and has written a play inspired by the Court. This problem-solving court focuses on the underlying issues that lead women to be involved in sex trafficking or prostitution. With the assistance of social workers, addiction programs, safe houses, and other support systems, the judge, attorneys and probation officers of the Court work with the women to improve their lives in order to avoid incarceration and other penalties. People’s Light Artistic Director & CEO Abigail Adams will direct. The production will run June 7-July 9, 2017.

Continuing Education Credits:
FOR PENNSYLVANIA SOCIAL WORKERS, MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPISTS, AND PROFESSIONAL COUNSELORS: This program is approved for credits for professional workshops sponsored by the Pennsylvania Society for Clinical Social Work, a state affiliate of the Clinical Social Work Association listed in Section 47.36 of Title 49, Chapter 47 of the PA Code, State Board of Social Work Examiners. This program is also approved for credits for professional workshops for marriage & family therapists (Section 48.36) and professional counselors (Section 49.36).
FOR NEW JERSEY SOCIAL WORKERS: This program is approved for credits. Programs or courses approved by boards that license social work practice in other states are a valid source of continuing education credit (N.J.A.C. 13:44G-6.4(c)10).

PSCSW Members: Please login to register. 

  • June 25, 2017
    1:00 pm - 4:30 pm