East Bay

Justin Dillon Stevens is an extraordinary global, civic and humanitarian leader whose distinguished contributions have enriched California State University, East Bay, the broader East Bay region, California, the nation and the world.

An East Bay native, Mr. Stevens graduated from CSU East Bay (née Hayward) in 1992 with a degree in psychology and a desire to play music. While pursuing his dream as a musician, he became aware of the power of storytelling and engagement. After a newspaper article about human trafficking caught his attention, Mr. Stevens considered how to use music to bring awareness to the issue. In 2008, he released the documentary “Call + Response,” which shared stories about the invisible aspects of the global slave trade. Interviews with notable guests, such as former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, were interspersed with musical performances and footage documenting the horrors of modern-day slavery.

Building on the success of the film, Mr. Stevens became more committed to transforming awareness into action. He created the Slavery Footprint website, allowing individuals to see how the modern slave trade connects to goods and manufacturing in our everyday lives. Created in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and to inform consumers, Slavery Footprint helped track how purchases of certain goods perpetuated human trafficking. On the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in 2012, President Barack Obama praised the work of the Slavery Footprint website, which has seen more than 30 million visits.

Mr. Stevens then began to explore how to effect change on an even larger scale. After conversations with industry leaders, he created a software company, Made in a Free World, that allows businesses to determine the likelihood that slavery practices exist in their supply chain. From the production of coffee to cell phones, Made in a Free World offers companies an opportunity to examine where improvements can be made before the product lands on the factory floor.

Most recently, Mr. Stevens authored “A Selfish Plan to Change the World,” outlining his approach to altruism and sustaining change. He believes in the ability of individuals to harness their energies and passions to effect change — qualities California State University, East Bay supports in students as well. Mr. Stevens truly exemplifies the CSU East Bay ideals: living a life of meaning and purpose and building a better future for all.

In recognition of his global, civic and humanitarian accomplishments, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, East Bay are proud to confer upon Justin Dillon Stevens the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.