National Advisory Committee on the Sex Trafficking of Children and Youth in the U.S.
The National Advisory Committee on the Sex Trafficking of Children and Youth in the U.S. advises the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services on the nation’s response to trafficking. The Committee is comprised of representative members who provide the points of view or perspectives of their outside interests or group stakeholders. The members are not considered special government employees.
The director of the ACF Office on Trafficking in Persons, Katherine Chon, is the Committee's Designated Federal Officer.
Rebecca Bender is a nationally recognized and awarded expert on domestic sex trafficking. After escaping nearly six years of both labor and sex trafficking, she emerged as a Survivor Leader, providing consulting, training and speaking with some of the largest anti-trafficking groups and government agencies in the country, including FBI, Homeland Security, and former president Jimmy Carter. After writing her first book, Roadmap to Redemption, she founded the Rebecca Bender Initiative (RBI), a non-profit that provides training and consulting to first responders and investigators across America. Under RBI, Rebecca also created Elevate Academy: the largest and only online program for survivors of human trafficking seeking care outside of residential treatment. Rebecca is the recipient of multiple FBI and Congressional recognition awards, the 2015 Hero to our Generation Award, 2014 Female Overcomer Award, and the 2013 Unlikely Hero Award. She is the co-chair of Oregon’s DOJ Human Trafficking Advisory Council, as well as serves on the board of Exodus Cry. She was chosen as one of the top 22 Survivor Leaders being featured in a PSA titled, “More Than a Survivor” and is a member of the Survivor Leader Institute and the National Survivor Network, and is a co-founder of the Survivor Alliance. Her consulting services have assisted DA’s during trials as well as provide needed direction to the opening of seven “safe homes” around the world, including one in Iraq for Isis refugees.
Justice Bobbe J. Bridge, Ret.
Justice Bobbe J. Bridge (Ret.) is the Founding President/CEO of the Center for Children & Youth Justice, a nonprofit organization she established in 2006 to reform Washington State’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems. She served on the Washington State Supreme Court from 2000 to 2008 and on the King County Superior Court from 1990 to 2000, where she was Chief Juvenile Court Judge for three years. She continues to chair the Washington State Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care. Before joining the bench, Justice Bridge was the first female partner at the Seattle law firm of Garvey Schubert Barer. Throughout her long career, Justice Bridge has spoken and taught on issues pertaining to system involved youth, sex trafficking, domestic violence, and criminal justice. She holds a Bachelor of the Arts in Political Science from University of Washington, Master of the Arts and Candidate of Philosophy degrees from University of Michigan, also in Political Science, and a J.D. from the University of Washington Law School. She has been honored with numerous awards for her civic involvement, philanthropy and service to children and youth.
Marissa Castellanos received both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Social Work degrees from the University of Kentucky. Marissa currently works as Program Director of the Bakhita Empowerment Initiative, a program to combat human trafficking through Catholic Charities of Louisville, where she has worked for the last nine years, previously as the Project Manager and Program Manager, as she helped start the program and develop a statewide anti-trafficking coalition. Marissa provides trainings on human trafficking throughout Kentucky, assists in developing and maintaining local task forces, provides technical assistance to agencies in protocol development and policy, and works directly with identified victims of human trafficking throughout the Commonwealth. Marissa has provided case management or advocacy services to more than 100 survivors of either sex or labor trafficking. She works closely with social service providers, health care workers, law enforcement, and others to ensure that human trafficking is being identified in Kentucky communities and that survivors are provided with the resources they need to rebuild their lives. Marissa has previously worked with community action agencies in Central Kentucky, primarily serving foreign national workers and their families through Migrant Head Start and other community service programs. Marissa has taught as an adjunct instructor for criminal justice and social work classes at St. Catharine College. Marissa currently co-chairs the Louisville Metro Human Trafficking Task Force, and is a member of the Southeast Regional Human Trafficking Advisory Group, an initiative of the Administration for Children and Families Region 4 Office.
Kimberly S.G. Chang, MD, MPH
Kimberly S.G. Chang, MD, MPH, is a Family Physician at Asian Health Services (AHS) in Oakland, California. In 2015, Dr. Chang completed the Commonwealth Fund Minority Health Policy Fellowship at Harvard, examining the role of federally qualified health centers in addressing human trafficking. Previously, Dr. Chang was Clinic Director at AHS’ Frank Kiang Medical Center, and provided care for many commercially sexually exploited children. She co-founded HEAL Trafficking, trained thousands of front-line multidisciplinary professionals on the human trafficking healthcare intersection, and provided invited expert testimony to the US Helsinki Commission on "Best Practices in Rescuing Trafficking Victims". In addition to serving as Vice Chair of the National Association of Community Health Center’s Committee on Service Integration for Behavioral Health and HIV, she has been nationally recognized with a Physician Advocacy Merit Award from the Institute on Medicine as a Profession. Dr. Chang received her BA from Columbia University, her MD from the University of Hawaii, specialized in family medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and earned her MPH from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she was awarded the Dr. Fang-Ching Sun Memorial Award for demonstrated commitment to promoting the health of vulnerable people.
Captain Pi Downsbrough
Captain Pi Downsbrough is a 26-year veteran with the Massachusetts State Police. She is currently the Commander of the High Risk Victim, a state-wide unit focusing on investigations of human trafficking with an emphasis on the commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth. She has dedicated most of her career to investigating victim based crimes such as homicides, child abuse, and most recently (13 years) human trafficking. Captain Downsbrough has served on the Governor’s Commission on Sexual and Domestic Violence under three separate administrations and currently sits on the sub-committee regarding child sex trafficking. In addition, she was a primary author and coordinator for the creation of the “Law Enforcement Guidelines for Adult Sexual Assault Investigations” and facilitated the revision of the “Domestic Violence Guidelines for Law Enforcement.” Captain Downsbrough served on the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force, a policy driven think-tank created to make recommendations on the implementation of the Massachusetts Human Trafficking statute. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Children’s Alliance for over five years. Her additional accomplishments included running the Massachusetts Missing Children’s Clearinghouse, where she created a public facing web-site designed to provide the public and professionals information about action steps when dealing with missing children. Captain Downsbrough is a primary instructor for the local and state police academies, and provides trainings regarding human trafficking to other professionals and conducts local community forums.
Governor Mark Dayton
Mark Dayton is Minnesota's 40th Governor. He signed Minnesota's Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children law in July 2011, which provides victim-centered protections for child trafficking victims and increases penalties for buyers. He has supported funding for comprehensive Safe Harbor services for victims. Governor Dayton also has elevated awareness on human trafficking through proclamations for Human Trafficking Prevention Week during the month of January. Minnesota has a statewide Human Trafficking Task Force comprised of leading anti-trafficking experts, law enforcement with anti-trafficking units, and state agencies. During his time as Governor, Minnesota has added more than 295,500 new jobs, earning CNBC's ranking as America's Top State for Business. Thanks to budgets Governor Dayton has signed into law, and the state's improving economy, Minnesota has turned a $6 billion deficit into repeated budget surpluses. He has kept his promise to increase funding for K-12 education every year he is Governor: no excuses, no exceptions. And thanks to Governor Dayton's leadership, all children (totaling more than 55,000 students) now have access to free, all-day Kindergarten.
Governor Doug Ducey
Governor Doug Ducey is the 23rd governor of the state of Arizona. He was elected on November 4, 2014 and sworn into office on January 5, 2015 – inheriting a $1 billion budget deficit. With a mission to make Arizona the best state in the country to live, work, do business and get an education, Governor Ducey and state leaders got to work. Today, Arizona’s budget is balanced. Business is thriving. And public schools continue to improve. The governor remains committed to what he has identified as his top priorities: growing the economy, creating and supporting 21st-century jobs, promoting educational excellence, protecting our communities and restoring fiscal responsibility – all without raising taxes on hardworking Arizonans. A strong Arizona is an Arizona that ensures “Opportunity For All.” Governor Ducey has pledged to work every day to make that vision a reality. Governor Doug Ducey was born in Toledo, Ohio. He moved to Arizona to attend Arizona State University’s business school, where he earned his bachelor of science in finance in 1986. Governor Ducey and his wife, Angela, live in Paradise Valley with their three sons, Jack, Joe, and Sam.
Jordan Greenbaum, MD
Jordan Greenbaum, MD is a child abuse physician who received her degree from Yale School of Medicine. She is the medical director of the Global Health and Well-being Initiative with the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and the medical director of the Institute on Healthcare and Human Trafficking at the Stephanie Blank Center for Safe and Healthy Children at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. She co-chairs the Human Trafficking committee for the Ray Helfer Society, and the Education/Training committee for HEAL Trafficking, an organization of medical professionals working on human trafficking issues. Dr. Greenbaum has served on national committees and workgroups regarding human trafficking and has testified for Congressional committees. She co-authored a clinical report and a policy statement regarding child trafficking for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Greenbaum provides trainings on child trafficking and exploitation and other aspects of child maltreatment for medical and nonmedical professionals. She trains locally, nationally and internationally, working with child-serving professionals to prevent, identify and intervene in cases of suspected abuse and sex trafficking. Her research focuses on developing and validating a screening tool to identify suspected child sex trafficking in the healthcare setting.
Stacey Katz, Psy.D.
Stacey Katz, Psy.D. has worked with youth in the child welfare system for over 25 years as a direct service provider, organizational leader, and advocate. As CEO of WestCoast Children's Clinic, Katz leads the development of clinical practice, research, and policy to improve the well-being of children with histories of trauma, including commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC). Recognized as an expert in delivering CSEC-informed services grounded in research, WestCoast developed the first validated screening tool for child commercial sexual exploitation, now widely adopted in six states. In 2016, WestCoast played a central role in passing state legislation to end the practice of arresting child sex trafficking victims in California. In 2018, WestCoast will publish a clinical treatment guide for mental health professionals working with exploited youth. Katz serves on the California Child Welfare Council’s Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Action Team.
Judge Robert Lung
In addition to presiding over a diversified District Court docket in Colorado, Judge Lung provides presentations nationally and internationally on issues such as human trafficking, childhood trauma, and resiliency to an exceptionally diverse audience base including law enforcement, social workers, healthcare professionals, military personnel, faith-based organizations, judiciaries, and others. Judge Lung serves as the Judicial Representative to the Colorado Human Trafficking Council. He also serves as a consultant of the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), a subdivision of the U.S. Department of Justice and as a consultant of the HHS National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center. Judge Lung received a triple major B.A. from Regis University and his J.D. from the University of Dayton. He is also currently working on his first book, a biography of trafficking, trauma, resiliency, faith and above all else, hope.
Christine Raino, Esq.
Christine Raino joined Shared Hope International in 2011 as part of a new domestic policy initiative, and helped draft the legal analysis of the 50 states and District of Columbia that laid the foundation for the annual Protected Innocence Challenge Report Cards. Currently, as Senior Director of Public Policy, Ms. Raino leads state and federal legislative advocacy efforts to advance protections and services for juvenile sex trafficking victims. She also authors and leads research initiatives on emerging topics related to juvenile sex trafficking. To ensure that policy efforts advanced by Shared Hope’s Center for Justice & Advocacy are shaped and informed by survivors and on-the-ground implementation, Ms. Raino convenes the JuST (Juvenile Sex Trafficking) Response Council, a group of over 30 experts from the areas of policy development, survivor leadership, federal and state child serving agencies and service provision, to examine the nuanced and complex challenges that advocates encounter when working to connect exploited youth to qualified and appropriate services. Ms. Raino is a licensed attorney and obtained her J.D. from American University. Prior to obtaining her law degree, she worked with refugees, asylees and victims of trafficking through federal and state resettlement programs at the International Institute of Boston.
Judge John J. Romero, Jr.
John J. Romero, Jr. serves in the Second Judicial District Court in the Children’s Court Division. The docket includes delinquency, child welfare, and adoptions. Judge Romero is actively involved in his community’s family violence prevention efforts and was recognized with the 2007 Spirit Advocacy Award. He presides over the Program for the Empowerment of Girls (PEG), an intensive multi-agency juvenile probation program for girls who have some type of violence and trauma in their history. Judge Romero is Co-Chair Emeritus of New Mexico’s Children’s Court Improvement Commission. He remains involved with the Tribal-State Judicial Consortium. He was the first judge in the country to be recognized as a Certified Child Welfare Law Specialist by the ABA-accredited National Association of Counsel for Children. In 2014, Judge Romero received the Alice King Public Service Award. He serves on the Board of Directors of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and will serve as President of the 81 year old judges’ organization beginning July, 2018.
For over 30 years, Kathy Sauve has dedicated her life to walking alongside youth experiencing life changes. Her passion is a result of her own life where she found herself adopted by a non-Native family, feeling lost, seeking an identity, and exhibiting risky behavior. She wanted to be able to help other youth and help them discover their potential. In the Ojibwe way of life, the next 7 generations are considered when making decisions and this teaching guided her to help young people not to become sex trafficking victims, to respect those who have, and provide the best possible support to them as they heal. It has also guided her in making decisions on program development and implementation. She is an active member and driver of services for sex trafficked youth in her community.
Staca Shehan joined the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) in 1999 and is the Executive Director of the Case Analysis Division. NCMEC serves as a national clearinghouse for reports relating to child sex trafficking and assists families, law enforcement, prosecutors, first responders, and victim specialists in the identification, location, and recovery of child sex trafficking victims. In 2011 Ms. Shehan spearheaded the creation of a dedicated Child Sex Trafficking Team at NCMEC to respond to the increased need for technical assistance and analysis in cases involving child sex trafficking. This team of analysts provides support to the law enforcement agencies who are working to identify and recover children victimized through sex trafficking and successfully prosecute those individuals involved in trafficking children. Ms. Shehan has also written several articles on behalf of NCMEC regarding child sex trafficking and child missing from care. Such publications were featured in the ‘United States Attorneys' USA Bulletin, Vol. 65, No. 6’ and by the OJP Diagnostic Center. Ms. Shehan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from La Salle University with a minor in Criminal Justice.
Carol Smolenski is Executive Director and one of the founders of ECPAT-USA, a children’s rights organization that has worked for the protection of children from commercial sexual exploitation since 1991. She is a long time nationally recognized expert on the issue of commercial sexual exploitation of children. At ECPAT-USA she has developed project against the trafficking of children in New York City, Mexico, Belize and Brazil. She has been named a subject matter expert on sexual exploitation of children for the Dept. of Health and Human Services Family and Youth Services Bureau and the Runaway and Homeless Training and Technical Assistant Center. She was named a member of the National Advisory Committee on the Sex Trafficking of Children and Youth in the United States. She has presented testimony in venues ranging from the New York City Council to the United States Congress to the United Nations. She is frequently quoted in media reports about child trafficking. She has a Master's degree in Urban Planning from Hunter College and a Master of Philosophy from Columbia University.
David Strauss serves as the president of the North Dakota chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America (PCAND), a not-for-profit corporation with a budget of about $3 million. Programs include community education, family support, and the federal Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visitation program. PCAND is also a co-founder of a Force to End hUman Sexual Exploitation (FUSE), the state’s anti-trafficking coalition. FUSE focuses on the root causes of human exploitation and sex trafficking, collaborating with a diverse group of partners from across the state. Strauss formerly served as a director for Youthworks, a North Dakota-based not-for-profit corporation with a $2.5 million budget that operates about 50 programs for at-risk youth. Programs include direct service and intensive case management for young survivors of human trafficking, street out-reach, after-school activities, family counseling, crisis intervention, youth shelters, anger management, and a food pantry. Strauss is a retired federal executive who served in senior management positions in the federal government for nearly 30 years.
Glen (JR) Ujifusa, Jr.
Glen (JR) Ujifusa has been working on human trafficking crimes and issues for the last 10 years and is also a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the district of Oregon focusing on federal human trafficking crimes. He is the Senior deputy and supervisor of the Multnomah County District Attorney's Drug unit and Human Trafficking Team which oversees the Prostitution Coordination Team, the Sex Buyers Accountability and Diversion Program, First Offender Program, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Law Enforcement group, National Sex Trafficking Law Enforcement List Serve, and is the primary prosecutor for all felony prostitution and human trafficking cases within Multnomah County. Since 2009, JR has drafted multiple bills and testified regularly in the Oregon State Legislature regarding human trafficking laws aimed at protecting victims and holding offenders accountable. JR has trained, presented and has been a guest speaker at numerous national and regional human trafficking conferences and trainings. He has been a Deputy District Attorney since 2005 and has also prosecuted capital murder crimes, violent crimes, sexual assaults, domestic violence crimes, gang related crimes, drug crimes and homicides.
Yasmin Vafa is co-founder and Executive Director of Rights4Girls, a human rights organization working to end sex trafficking and gender-based violence against young women and girls in the U.S. As an attorney and advocate, Yasmin’s work focuses on the intersections of race, gender, violence, and the law. She educates the public and policymakers on these issues and how they affect the lives of marginalized women and children. Yasmin leads the successful No Such Thing campaign to eliminate the concept of 'child prostitute’ in both language and law, has successfully advocated for passage of several anti-trafficking laws at the federal level, and has testified before Congressional and international human rights bodies on issues impacting vulnerable women and girls. Yasmin is a founding co-chair of World Without Exploitation, a national coalition working to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation, sits on the U.S. Department of Justice Advisory Committee for the National Girls’ Initiative, and is an adjunct judicial educator for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
John Vanek is a consultant and speaker working with law enforcement agencies, non-governmental and community-based organizations, academic institutions and private sector companies. John served 25 years with the San Jose Police Department, retiring in the rank of Lieutenant. He holds a Master of Arts in Leadership and is an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate School of International Policy & Management at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. John is the author of The Essential Abolitionist: What you need to know about human trafficking & modern slavery (2016). John’s knowledge on task force leadership and operations have been utilized by the United States Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, the Office of the United States Attorneys, California’s Office of the Attorney General, California POST, the California District Attorneys Association, Police One, the Freedom Network Training Institute, and other governmental and private organizations. Since 2009 John has consulted for the Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center. His work includes training presentations at national and regional conferences, offering technical assistance to Human Trafficking Task Forces, and as a contributing author for the U.S. Department of Justice's Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force Strategy and Operations e-Guide.
Erin Williamson, LCSW, MPA
Ms. Williamson has over 15 years of direct service, program management, and applied research experience in the field of victim services, with particular expertise in human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. Ms. Williamson currently serves as the Survivor Care Program Director for Love146, an international anti-trafficking organization, where she is responsible for the development, implementation, and operation of Love146’s Survivor Care Program. Prior to joining Love146, Ms. Williamson worked at ICF International where she managed and conducted federally funded evaluations, research, needs assessments, and evaluability assessments in the areas of human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, child welfare, and systems of care. Prior to that, Ms. Williamson worked for Polaris Project and provided direct services to victims of child sexual exploitation in the United States, Mexico and Kenya. In 2015, Ms. Williamson’s work was recognized by Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families, which awarded her the Human Anti-Trafficking Response Team Community Award.