The community that makes up the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking is by far our most valuable asset. Our volunteers, interns, board members, and staff make up a force for good that believes the end of human trafficking is within our reach. We are delighted to announce that Kristina Wilburn, current LCHT board member, will be officially joining our team in 2023!
We first connected with Kristina in July 2020, when a close friend of hers saw what she could bring to LCHT and made the introduction. Kristina accepted a role on our board and saw it as an opportunity to continue being involved with human trafficking as a social justice issue. In the new year, Kristina will take on the new title of Associate Manager, Training and Education Program, where she will work alongside Kara Napolitano to expand the capacity of our program efforts. With more than 6,000 people trained in 2022 alone, we can’t wait to see how this number grows next year!
Kristina Wilburn: An ally for survivors
“Having Kristina as part of our training program will make a big difference in the impact we’re able to make this year,” shares Kara Napolitano, Research and Training Manager. “Her knowledge from being on the LCHT board, plus her experience working with survivors firsthand, is invaluable.”
In honor of Kristina’s transition, we interviewed her as part of our Because I Know campaign. This campaign celebrates the fact that with knowledge about the realities of human trafficking, every individual has the power to make a difference for our communities. Kristina shares, “Because I know about human trafficking, I will never assume I am able to empathize with individuals personally affected by this crime, but I will always take specific actions to be an ally for survivors.”
Join us in welcoming Kristina to her new role! Keep reading to learn about Kristina’s passion for the anti-trafficking movement.
What important parts of your life have shaped and influenced who you are today?
“I am a preacher’s kid who grew up in a household with specific values, some of which I’ve embraced more as an adult. I am blessed that I do not have personal experiences or stories of social injustice, but I am related to and in close friendships with individuals who have, which led me to obtaining Master of Social Work (MSW) and Juris Doctor (JD).”
When did you first become aware of human trafficking?
“The first time I heard the words ‘human trafficking’ was as a student at Clark Atlanta University, volunteering for various community projects. At the time, I knew it existed because it was discussed by other volunteers who worked more closely with the clients we were serving. I gained more knowledge as a member of the international moot court at the law school I attended, but it was not until I worked within the child welfare sector that I had an actual awareness.”
Anger as motivation to make a difference
How did you feel when you first understood the injustices of human trafficking?
“Anger and frustration were the leading emotions for a long time because working with survivors gave me a better understanding of human trafficking as a crime. I was angry on behalf of the survivors, especially close family members and friends, yet frustrated that I did not do more for them and that in some respects, the legal system failed them. Over the past few years, that anger became motivation to be purposeful with my actions to help those who are survivors of this crime.”
How has your knowledge grown over time, and what actions has that inspired you to take?
“I am definitely still learning, but my knowledge has grown by working with survivors from both a social work and legal arena. Specific actions include researching and providing resources and services, as well as assisting on defense teams by providing a client’s social history from a survivor perspective to mitigate consequences for criminal charges resulting from forced and coerced illegal actions.”
What are you most proud of when you think about your contributions to anti-trafficking?
“Outside of LCHT, [I’m most proud of] the small successes in helping survivors who I worked with as clients as a result of child protection or criminal issues. As a board member of LCHT, [I’m proud of] various actions to raise awareness, specifically as a member of the Hotline committee and fundraising chair.”
Kristina’s story is a powerful example of how knowledge, anger, and frustration about human trafficking can be transformed into meaningful action. This is how we will make progress towards ending this human rights crime for good.
3 Ways to Give Back this Holiday Season
Want to help expand our collective impact and provide important resources to support survivors? Here are the top 3 ways to make a difference in the anti-trafficking movement:
- DONATE. Your gift today will support anti-trafficking training, community-based research, Colorado’s 24/7 Human Trafficking Hotline, and the development of future human rights leaders. Any amount you can give fuels progress!
- GET TRAINED. Get yourself or your organization/community group trained to identify human trafficking and be there for survivors.
- GIVE TIME. Support survivors as a volunteer advocate for Colorado’s 24/7 Human Trafficking Hotline. Provide callers and texters with the resources they need.