about bonnie abaunza

Bonnie Abaunza has dedicated her life to humanitarian work, human rights, and social justice advocacy.

Through her own company, the Abaunza Group and GSD, the social impact agency she co-founded, she works closely with filmmakers, artists, production companies, distributors, and non-governmental organizations to develop and execute social impact campaigns for films and documentaries. Bonnie’s work has addressed myriad human rights and civil rights issues as she has brought hard-hitting campaigns and major celebrity engagement to issues as diverse as child slavery, campus sexual assault, human trafficking, genocide, racial and environmental justice, girls’ education, food safety and animal rights.

Her campaigns have moved the needle on critical issues including genocide awareness with the Hotel Rwanda campaign, conflict diamonds with Blood Diamond, corporate abuses with The Constant Gardener, arms trafficking and child soldiers with Lord of War, abuses by the food industry with Food, Inc., campus sexual assault with The Hunting Ground, online sex trafficking with I Am Jane Doe, the plight of refugees with Cries From Syria, girls’ education with The Breadwinner and rights of domestic workers with ROMA.

She also spearheaded the impact campaigns for Lost in America about homeless youth, Screened Out about social media and internet addiction, Birthright: A War Story, about women’s reproductive rights, Cracked Up, about childhood trauma, River of Gold, about illegal gold mining in the Peruvian Amazon, Waterschool, about global water sustainability and preservation, and The Promise, about the Armenian genocide.

Recently, Bonnie worked on the awards campaigns for Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy nominated films and documentaries including All Quiet on the Western Front, Pinocchio, The Elephant Whisperers, The Boy, the Mole, The Fox and the Horse, American Factory, Crip Camp, The Edge of Democracy, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Knock Down the HouseThe Great HackTwo Popes, Period: End of Sentence, The Life Ahead, and the limited series When They See Us.

Bonnie consulted on the last six awards campaign for legendary songwriter and 14 times Oscar nominee Diane Warren, including her song with Lady Gaga, Til it Happens to You, from the critically acclaimed documentary, The Hunting Ground. The song was nominated at the 2016 Academy Awards, where Lady Gaga performed. The music video has been viewed over 50 million times and has been embraced as the anthem for the movement to end sexual assault on college campuses.

Her current campaigns include Take The Lead, an initiative with STARZ network on diversity, equity and inclusion, With This Light, a documentary about Sister Maria Rosa Leggol, a Honduran nun who saved over 87,000 children, and Pelota de Trapo, an initiative with Pope Francis focusing on youth and sports. Bonnie was Executive Producer of the documentary Francesco, about Pope Francis. She brought the story of Sister Maria Rosa to His Holiness, who then authorized the canonization process to begin for Sister Maria Rosa.

In the past three years, she has worked closely with organizations and agencies on evacuations of Afghan women and girls and in providing humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian, Venezuelan, and Nicaraguan refugees.

As a consultant for the United Nations agency, the International Labour Organization, since 2014, she assists with outreach to the entertainment community. She launched the ILO’s artist engagement program, Artworks (http://www.iloartworks.org) and spearheaded their End Slavery Now, 50 for Freedom, and Red Card to Child Labour campaigns, ILO’s centenary in 2019 and the 2021 campaign for the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.

From 2009-2014, Bonnie led the Special Projects & Philanthropy division for Academy Award winning composer, Hans Zimmer. Her initiatives included raising humanitarian aid for Haiti, Pakistan, and Japan for International Medical Corps, and worked with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the National Democratic Institute to advocate for the disenfranchised Romani people in Europe. She launched a successful online advocacy effort with Senator Elizabeth Warren for passage of the Dodd-Frank Bill and the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Prior to joining Hans Zimmer’s company in 2009, Bonnie served as Vice President of Social Action and Advocacy at Participant Media, where she developed social action campaigns to promote the documentaries and feature films produced by Participant Media.

From 2001 to 2007 she served as Director of the Artists for Amnesty program for Amnesty International, raising Amnesty’s profile in the entertainment industry and the visibility of human rights campaigns with the public. She co-produced four film festivals, Academy Awards viewing parties to benefit Amnesty, produced quarterly entertainment industry salons and more than 50 feature and documentary screening events, fundraisers, and art exhibits. She worked on numerous high-profile campaigns including human trafficking and slavery, ending rape as a tool of war, rehabilitation of child soldiers, justice for the murdered women of Juarez, ending small arms trafficking, protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, and other global issues. Her Artists for Amnesty events were covered by the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, London Telegraph, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, TIME, People Magazine, US weekly, Variety, Billboard, Hollywood Reporter and international publications and news networks.

Bonnie has received commendations for her human rights work from the United States Congress and from the City of Los Angeles. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the organization, Unlikely Heroes, Women in Leadership Award from the City of West Hollywood, Global Champion Award from the International Medical Corps., KCET’s Local Hero/Hispanic Heritage Award, is the recipient of the 2019 Catholics in Media Social Justice Award, and was named Goodwill Ambassador to the Government of Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor) (appointed by current President of Timor-Leste and 1996 Nobel Peace Laureate, Jose Ramos-Horta). She is a Senior Non-Resident Fellow for Enough Project, Board member of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Chairperson of the Advisory Board of TheCommunity.com’s Human Rights Campaign, Board member for The Sentry, Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking, and The Pad Project and on the leadership committee for the NAACP (Compton branch).

 

Bonnie and her daughter are co-authoring a series of children’s books focusing on human rights.