Welcome to LCHT! People may not know that you aren’t new to our organization – you took the human trafficking class we teach at MSU Denver last winter, you were part of our Leadership Development Program this summer, and you’ve recently facilitated seminars with our interns and trainings with partners! Tell us a little more about that journey and what drew you to this position.
Thank you, I’m so humbled to be a part of this team! As you’ve mentioned, I’ve been through quite the journey already with LCHT in 2020. Ever since the first sitting in the human trafficking course at MSU Denver in January, I felt very pulled to this organization. I started meeting with staff members, applying for an internship in the Leadership Development Program, and accepting any opportunity I could to continue working alongside the LCHT team. Once the Program Coordinator position opened, it felt like the perfect fit! With my professional experience as a program coordinator, tied in with the passion I have for this movement and the close relationship I had already formed with LCHT, the choice and acceptance of the position was easy.
Through my own lived experiences, my personal history of mentoring, as well as my professional experience as a mentorship program coordinator, I have found it to be incredibly important that we work to not only support those seeking out support, but to also support the people who want to be the support for others.
A big part of your new role at LCHT will be supporting emerging human rights leaders in the Leadership Development Program you participated in. We also know you’ve worked with another organization as a mentorship coordinator. Why is this kind of work with people important to you?
Through my own lived experiences, my personal history of mentoring, as well as my professional experience as a mentorship program coordinator, I have found it to be incredibly important that we work to not only support those seeking out support, but to also support the people who want to be the support for others. When it comes to human rights and mental health work, it’s easy to lose sight of how to best support leaders and professionals in these helping fields. I’ve done my fair share of volunteer work in these movements, and I’ve learned it’s easier to achieve sustainability when there is focus on the wellness and growth of those who are involved. My passion has always been to continue being that resource while helping others navigate how they can get involved and also feel taken care of along the way.
Another area you’ll be involved with is our 24/7 hotline. As you know, the hotline was recently selected to be featured in a statewide public awareness campaign – and we expect that to increase the number of people who access this service. How do you feel about that and what are you looking forward to the most in this program?
The increase in hotline callers due to exposure from the public awareness campaign is exactly why we’re here and what we’re ready for! Human trafficking is a crime that there is a lot of misinformation about in the media, which leads people to looking for certain signs, while missing the possible survivors right in front of them. The more people that we are able to educate through the public awareness campaign and support through our hotline, the more we are able to sink deeper into our mission to inform social change that eliminates exploitation.
Another area you’ve expressed passion around is the topic of trauma-informed care, and how it intersects with work on this issue. I wonder if you might share what that means to you and why it’s so significant to anti-trafficking and other parallel issues.
Trauma-informed and individualized care is the ability to truly listen and tailor the specific needs of each person. In a human-centered movement like anti-trafficking, it is incredibly important to be able to listen and respond to the specific needs of survivors and not just what we might think that they need. Since we know that there are many intersecting vulnerabilities such as race, sexuality, gender identity, and socioeconomic class, it is even more important that we do not put people in groups or boxes, rather let them tell us their own experiences and needs for support. As we hold our values at LCHT of lived experience, social justice, and integrity, it is crucial that we go about this work in the most trauma-informed and survivor-centered way.
We’re talking a lot right now about how we sustain our organizational dream of ending human trafficking in such a difficult year. There have been so many challenges for causes and work on social change. People are tired and often discouraged. How have you made your way through 2020, and what still gives you hope?
I have likely made it through 2020 as the majority of people have: messily. However, one of the major ways I’ve made it through this difficult year is through community care and self-care. I have both practiced and witnessed the people and the organizations that I work with showing empathy and understanding not only for others, but also for themselves. In order to maintain our fire for social change and our vision to end human trafficking, it is so important that we continue to check in with our own needs, energy, and sustainability.
One final thing that gives me hope is the way that people have still showed up and gotten involved despite it all. The fact that we were able to train 36 new volunteers at our Fall Hotline Advocate Training was nothing short of heartening. Being able to be a part of a collective where many people are want to give back now more than ever makes me feel an immense amount of gratitude to be a part of this team.