Sriyani's Story

Sriyani Tidball was born and lived in Sri Lanka for most of her formative years. Completing advanced degrees in architecture and journalism, from the University of Sri Lanka and the University of Nebraska, her education includes skills in communication on multiple platforms. She was on the faculty in the College of Journalism at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL), for 10 years, teaching students, working on her research projects and providing service on campus and to the Nebraska community. At UNL she used her skills and experience which included 17 years as a communication expert and strategist in the field of advertising and public relations for an international agency, doing qualitative research on her life’s passion - human trafficking. She loved teaching and mentoring students.

Sriyani has been involved in championing the fight against human trafficking in the USA and in Sri Lanka. She was on the Governor’s Taskforce for Human Trafficking in Nebraska and have testified before the legislature on successful bills against sex-trafficking. As a founding member of the UNL Annual International Human Trafficking Research Conference, since 2009 that attracted scholars and community members from across the nation and even the world, she now oversees the Human Trafficking Initiative at UNL. In Sri Lanka she has been involved with counter trafficking work, mobilizing key players and working in the area of prevention and awareness.

Sriyani is passionate about her volunteer work which includes working with survivors of trafficking, drug addicts, orphans and refugees, developing business proposals for women in poverty through micro-loans and community mobilization. She has had first-hand experience helping victims and survivors of human trafficking specially victims of child prostitution and women involved with unsafe migration.

As a co-founder and volunteer for the past 40 years at the NGO, Community Concern Sri Lanka, she works with marginalized adults and children. She has done extensive social work, organized many international and local conferences, events, exhibitions, seminars and workshops, and helped start the human trafficking initiative with her peers at UNL. She has empowered UNL students to develop their passion, and commitment to social justice, through activism. She sees the role of mass media, social media and interpersonal communication as a form of advocacy in social justice and policy development.

As a recipient of international and national grants including a Fulbright in 2015 to study the plight of domestic workers from Sri Lanka who are working abroad, she collected data from more than 200 women and presented my findings at a number of different venues. Her book, The Breadwinner shares these stories.

Every year, Sriyani and her husband try to spend many months back in Sri Lanka volunteering and doing research. In 2018 she collected in-depth stories from women returnees who had worked in the Middle East as housemaids, and included the stories in her book, The Breadwinner. She has authored many magazine articles, journal articles, edited books and magazines that have been published in Sri Lanka and in the USA. She is bi-lingual, cross cultural, family oriented and community minded and believes it does take a village, but also takes a small group of committed people to change the world.

On the personal side of her life, she loves family life, travel, art, music and cooking. Her husband, photographer Tom Tidball and Sriyani spend half their life in the USA and the other half in Sri Lanka and make sure they explore other countries in between. They are blessed with four children and five grandchildren, and together they all love to volunteer and serve those in need.