Human Trafficking Blog

Meet Today’s Emerging Leaders in Human Rights

Human trafficking is one of the most important human rights issues of our time. It’s the culmination of other human rights abuses, including gender-based violence, labor rights, immigration, social justice, and much more. And the need is increasing significantly: last year, the volume of calls and texts to Colorado’s 24/7 Human Trafficking Hotline saw a 32% jump from individuals across the state.

Because of the complexity and vastness of this issue, it’s going to take strong leadership at every level and across disciplines — from people like you — to end it. That’s why we started our Leadership Development Program in the early days of LCHT’s existence to prepare human rights leaders with the knowledge, skills, real-world experience, and opportunities they need to contribute to the anti-trafficking movement and advance their careers. To date, we’ve worked with more than 175 passionate interns (of all ages and stages of career) who have gone on to make a difference in the movement to end human trafficking in Colorado and around the globe.

One of the most fulfilling parts of our work is hearing from our interns about how they want to change the world — and watching them do it. We’re excited to share some of their stories, perspectives, and experiences with you. We hope they inspire you on your own journey to create positive social change!

On why we owe it to survivors…

“Time and place are such a significant factor in the cards we’re dealt. Whether it’s the support we receive from loved ones, the resources we have around substance issues, and the company we keep, it could easily be any of us in another life. With that in mind, we owe it to survivors to put in the work to ensure they get the resources they need when they’re empowered to leave their trafficker. [Human trafficking] happens here in Denver, and there are resources for witnesses to submit tips as well as resources to help survivors more directly. I’m still involved with the Hotline and Textline when my work schedule will allow it!”

Devin Pitts-Rogers, 2021 Intern

On learning the impact of human trafficking…

“My time with the Leadership Development Program taught me so many things that I think about to this day. For example, I was surprised to learn that survivors of human trafficking are often criminalized instead of seen as people who experienced a crime. After the internship with LCHT, I began my Master’s degree in International Relations with a focus on International Development. The program, and my work with Kara helped me better understand the kind of impactful work I can contribute to in these fields.  I’m passionate about the movement to end human trafficking because I know how pervasive the issue is, and how destructive it is not only to survivors but also to entire communities. Trafficking is a symptom of systemic failures, not something that happens at random.”

— Julia Owen, 2020 Intern


On intersecting issues…

“My time in the Leadership Development Program was incredibly informative to my chosen career path, really spurring me to continue to work on human rights-related issues, namely immigrant rights and advocacy, including fighting for access to justice for immigrants who have been impacted by human trafficking.”

— Ryan Torres, 2021 Intern

On seeing the problem clearly…

“Human trafficking is hidden in plain sight in our communities. It signifies the disparities that exist between people living with privilege versus those who are navigating broken systems. If we care about our communities, we can’t ignore the fact that our community members are being exploited every single day.  I will be completing a year-long internship with the Center for Housing and Homelessness Research at the University of Denver starting in the Fall of 2022 and hope to complete my social work degree in the summer of 2023. My interest in housing insecurity is a way of acknowledging the root causes and vulnerabilities that lead to exploitation in our communities. LCHT, just like my optometrist, has fine-tuned my ability to see social problems in 1080p rather than 480p — and I am looking forward to using these new lenses for future growth.”

— Natcha Srimaneerungroj, 2022 Intern 

On taking daily action…

“The world cannot begin to be equitable until every person is free from every type of slavery. Human trafficking impacts everyone, but especially our most vulnerable populations. It is our responsibility to protect and empower those most vulnerable to exploitation. If I could teach everyone in my community one thing about human trafficking, I would want them to know that they can help fight it by being conscious of how they spend their money to ensure the goods and services they pay for are also going to paying fair wages to the laborers creating and/or farming their products.”

— Reilly Allen, 2022 Intern  


On turning passion into a profession…

“I realized my passion for anti-human trafficking efforts, for human rights, and for research. And following my internship, that’s what I got to do. I worked at the U.S. Department of State on human rights issues, and I now work for a non-profit in New York, where I focus on human trafficking corruption and authoritarianism.”

— Kristen Anna, 2018 Intern 

On how to combat human trafficking…

“I have simply always been passionate about protecting human rights, and could not imagine myself in any other field. Considering human trafficking is (in my opinion) one of the worst violations of human rights, I believe that this issue requires highly motivated and passionate people dedicated to combat it. After my internship at LCHT I pursued a Master’s in International Crimes, Conflict and Criminology in Amsterdam, an interdisciplinary program which combines international law, politics, and criminology. One of the electives I chose was on transnational organized crime, which included human trafficking, during which I primarily studied its relation to irregular migration in Libya and Myanmar. LCHT inspired me to expand my knowledge of human trafficking to the international level and further explore its relationship to irregular migration in the hopes of developing more effective policies to combat this issue!”

— Emilie Desaulles, 2021 Intern 

Interns in our Leadership Development Program join one of three 9-12 week sessions offered throughout the year. Sessions are part-time and flexible around other commitments including work, school, and family. If you want to gain experience and find support as you become a leader in anti-trafficking and human rights work, this program is for you. Learn more and submit a pre-application form today (and feel free to share this link with anyone you think may be a good fit).

Leadership in the anti-trafficking movement takes many forms. Interested in getting involved in another way? Find your place in the fight to eliminate exploitation.