Human Trafficking Blog

A Co-Founder Returns as Research Director: Welcome Back AJ!

Today I’m very excited to share that my fellow co-founder, Dr. Annjanette R. Alejano-Steele, has joined the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking as our new Research Director! You are likely already familiar with AJ’s long history of contributions to anti-trafficking, as well as our friendship as co-founders of LCHT, which spans more than sixteen years. She served as the Principal Investigator for LCHT’s foundational research initiative, the Colorado Project to Comprehensively End Human Trafficking. As the new Research Director, AJ will continue leading this long term study to measure changes in Colorado’s anti-trafficking activities over time – ultimately helping us understand how Colorado can “move the needle” to end human trafficking.

Since 2005, AJ has mixed her passion for human rights and social justice with her intellect and training in health psychology and gender studies to address human trafficking locally. She brings 25 years of academic experience serving in faculty and administrative roles with Metropolitan State University of Denver. She will continue to serve at MSU Denver as the Interim Associate Vice President of Graduate Studies, with a portion of her time dedicated to leading LCHT’s research endeavors.

“This nonprofit-academic partnership is exciting for its potential to support communities and improve our overall understanding of what it would take to end human trafficking in Colorado. Knowledge of human trafficking evolves when survivors, scholars, and practitioners learn with and from one another. I’m deeply humbled to be leading LCHT’s efforts to expand our Research and Action Program, with the backing of a University whose mission is to provide access to education for diverse communities.”

Dr. Annjanette R. Alejano-Steele

As part of this transition, AJ will also be stepping down from LCHT’s Board of Directors after 11 years of leadership and service. I am grateful for her contributions there, and thrilled that I will be able to continue to work closely with my co-founder, friend, and mentor. AJ is an inspiring champion for social change, who centers equity alongside trauma-informed, survivor-centered practices. In a historic season where the root causes of exploitation have been revealed through a global pandemic and social justice reckoning – she is exactly who we need in this new leadership role! 

So please join me in welcoming AJ (You can send her a quick message if you like!) as she embarks on this new journey. 

With gratitude and excitement, 

Amanda Finger
Executive Director

Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking’s co-founders Amanda Finger and Dr. AnnJanette R. Alejano-Steele, have been working together in anti-trafficking for more than 16 years.