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Elizabeth Smart Named San Diego Women’s Week Keynote Speaker

SAN DIEGO — Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped in Utah as a teenager in 2002 and spent much of her captivity in Lakeside, will be the keynote speaker of next year's San Diego Women's Week, organizers announced Friday.

The 26-year-old Smart will talk about how her faith helped her survive, how she found the strength to confront her captors at trial, and the secret to rebuilding her life, according to the San Diego North Chamber of Commerce, which conducts San Diego Women's Week.

San Diego Women's Week will be held March 17-21 at Harrah's Rincon Events Center in Valley Center. It includes numerous events designed to empower and inspire women.

Other scheduled speakers include Tanya Brown, sister of murder victim Nicole Brown Simpson, and former U.S. diplomat Patricia McArdle.

Smart was kidnapped at the age of 14, was held by a drifter and his wife for nine months before being freed by police near Sandy, Utah, in a case that received national attention.

Smart has created a foundation to help prevent crimes against children, is a frequent public speaker and recently wrote a memoir about her ordeal.

Brian David Mitchell was convicted of kidnapping and transporting a minor across state lines for sex, and sentenced to life in prison in 2011.

Criminal proceedings against him were held up for years after he was declared mentally unfit to stand trial.

Mitchell's wife, Wanda Barzee, previously pleaded guilty to kidnapping and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

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