Tanya Gould, a survivor of domestic sex trafficking, is the founder of Identifiable Me, a non-profit that helps move those who have been victimized by sexual violence towards self-discovery and their life’s purpose. Ms. Gould serves as a mentor, consultant, advisor, trainer, and keynote speaker on topics relating to her story. Years after being forced to drop out of college by her trafficker, she went back to college and earned her B.A.Sc. in Communications in 2015. Ms. Gould has been featured in over 20 interviews via television/articles. She currently serves on the following advisory boards: Commercial Sex Exploitation of Children (CSEC) of the Children’s Hospital of the Kings and Daughters, Beloved Haven, and Street Ransom. She is a member of the National Survivor Network and a consultant for DOJ’s Office for Victims of Crime, DHS’ Blue Campaign, and Global Centurion. She is also the Chair for the Museum of Fine Arts Commission in the city of Portsmouth, Virginia and serves as a co-chair for the Survivor Alliance. Ms. Gould loves being a part of her expanding family of three adult children, their loves, and two grandbabies.
Courtney Litvak was born in Texas in 1998. She attended Katy ISD where she excelled as a varsity athlete on the top-ranking swim team in the district. During her career as a competitive swimmer, she accumulated numerous accolades and recognition for her achievements. Before devoting herself to full-time advocacy, she was methodically lured into “The Life”, sex trafficking. After years of being off the grid, and under the control of networks of heinous exploiters, Courtney escaped and entered a recovery program for survivors. There, she underwent an intensive, faith-based program where she received the tools to fight and overcome her trauma. Her work includes public speaking, education, and trainings of professionals. Other ways she serves as a survivor leader are peer-to-peer interventions and supporting local, state and national leaders to improve policies and protect victims from being criminalized or re-traumatized. Courtney proactively meets with and advises leading champions on this issue in Washington, DC. These passionate leaders include Congressman Michael McCaul and Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump. In early 2020, Courtney was recognized, alongside other survivors, by President Donald Trump at the White House. Ms. Litvak has noted, “I want everyone impacted by human trafficking to know they deserve to have their voices heard. God is never blind to our tears. He is never deaf to our prayers. He will not remain silent to our grief. For my brokenness led me to my calling, I choose to live by faith and no longer by fear. My drive and passion are fueled in knowing that God will give me justice.”
Bella Hounakey has dedicated her professional life to encouraging and supporting victims as they navigate the recovery process. Since 2011, she has served as an advocate, organizer, and speaker on anti-trafficking programs and policies. She previously served on the Board of the Human Trafficking Coalition in Michigan. She has also counseled female victims of sex trafficking at a specialized residential Trauma Recovery Center. Since 2015, she has worked with and supported the most vulnerable trafficking victims in the foster care system. Throughout her career, Bella’s ambitions have remained steadfast: raise awareness, reduce risk of victimization, educate members of the judicial system and general public, and advocate for victim protection and treatment. Bella received a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Spanish; and a Master’s degree from Western Michigan University.
Brenda Myers-Powell’s advocacy began in 1997 fighting for victims of sex trafficking. As a community organizer, she assists in organizing, training, and empowering victims to speak with legislators to bring change for their communities. She has been featured in numerous print and broadcast media outlets. She has been the key researcher in several research projects related to violence and the exploitation of women. Brenda is an outstanding public speaker, dealing with topics relating to poverty, violence against women, and criminal justice reform. She has been bestowed with several honors including the Chicago Magazine’s honoree, Illinois Coalition for Victims of Sexual Assault award for community activism, the 2010 Chicago Foundation for Women Impact Award, and many other special honors. She is the co-founder and executive director of the Dream Catcher Foundation and has sat on the board of numerous organizations including Sophia’s Circle, CAASE and PART. She considers herself fortunate to have survived many challenges in her life but is now able to use those experiences to assist others in their personal journeys of empowerment and recovery.
Marlene Carson, SurThrivalist, Minister, Author, Publisher, Founder of Rahab’s Hideaway and CEO of The Switch Anti-Trafficking Network, is one of America’s foremost authorities on the subject of human trafficking. While many have a textbook knowledge of the perils faced by teenage girls who are forced into prostitution, Marlene knows from her own personal experience. At age 15, she became one of the tens of thousands of girls and young adult women who are exploited daily. She is a native of Columbus, Ohio, but her heart for injustice knows no boundaries. Marlene’s work has been a leader in changing legislation. Her work has been featured on Katie Couric, Oprah (website), and the CNN Freedom Project, as well as on international and national news. As a consultant, one of Marlene’s desires is to educate and empower organizations that have a passion to protect, a desire to provide, and ability to see victims as priceless. Marlene has received many awards and commendations including President Barack Obama’s Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award.
Andrea Hipwell currently serves as the Director of Women’s Residential Services at Wellspring Living in Atlanta, Ga. Andrea graduated from the Wellspring Living Women’s Residential Program in 2009. Andrea earned her bachelor’s degree in the area of criminology from Georgia Gwinnett College in 2016. She is passionate about survivor leadership as she is also a survivor and understands the dynamics of that life. She is well versed in the areas of trauma-informed care and strength-based leadership and care. She has been recognized for her incredible determination and motivation for change in the area of survivor leadership and her tenacity to support survivors as they begin a new life.
Suleman Masood is a subject matter expert on domestic labor trafficking and male victimization. Since 2013, his advocacy experience allowed him to work with state and federal government agencies and non-profit organizations. Mr. Masood’s expertise includes collaborating with victim service providers and task forces to advocate for ways to improve the quality of services for trafficking survivors. This work emphasizes the need to build partnerships with survivors and to ensure that strategies and implementation are created with a survivor-informed approach. Mr. Masood’s partnerships with law enforcement include serving as a program manager for the Alameda (California) County District Attorney’s office and working as a consultant for various prosecutors’ offices across the United States. In addition, Mr. Masood served on board positions for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, 3Strands Global Foundation, and the National Survivor Network. In 2017, Mr. Masood was selected to participate in the Human Trafficking Leadership Academy, a pilot leadership development fellowship under the HHS’ Office on Trafficking in Persons and its National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center. Mr. Masood’s cohort was tasked with creating a recommendations report and was credited with coining the phrase “survivor-informed,” which was adopted and published by HHS. Mr. Masood graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Criminology/Victimology from Fresno State University, and he is currently working to earn a J.D. He aspires to serve as a federal prosecutor and remain committed to serve vulnerable populations.
Rachel Thomas, a graduate of UCLA and a personal survivor of human trafficking, has extensive experience teaching, training, curriculum writing, public speaking and mentoring. As the founder of Sowers Education Group and lead author of Ending The Game: An Intervention Curriculum for Survivors of Sex Trafficking, Rachel has helped millions to become more aware of human trafficking and has helped hundreds of survivors break the bonds of attachment to traffickers and the lifestyle of commercial sexual exploitation. She and her work have been featured on numerous media outlets including New Day Morning Show on CNN, Inside with Chris Cuomo: Anyone’s Daughter on HLN, The T.D. Jakes Show, The New York Times Upfront Magazine and ABC’s Newsmakers.
Kwami Adoboe Herrera
Kwami Adoboe-Herrera is an anti-trafficking advocate and a speaker. As a survivor himself, he understands the unfortunate impact of human trafficking around us. His lived experience guided his career and interests to support policies that help support victims as they navigate life after experiencing trafficking. Kwami was featured in a documentary called Break the Chain. The film provides a detailed look at how trafficking goes unnoticed within our backyards. Break the Chain was developed to provide an accurate and educational entertainment resource that can be utilized in training and community awareness events throughout the United States. Kwami is currently a member of Not for Sale: One Step at a Time, an organization that brings awareness and hope to this hardly seen issue in communities across Ohio, America, and around the world.
Kwami’s goals are to raise awareness, reduce the risk of victimization, educate members of the government and the general public, and advocate for victim protection and wellness. Kwami received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Walsh University. His ultimate goal is to work for the Department of Justice as an FBI agent to rescue victims from their trafficker.
Kathy is a wife, mother, author, writer, and advocate who has overcome the dark world of sex trafficking. After many years of living in silence, Kathy decided to journal what happened to her as a way of dealing with the surreal experience. That journal became a book. That book became a stage play. Thus, she has mustered the strength to join the movement against human trafficking.
Partnering with several organizations, Kathy’s goal is to raise awareness, fight for those who are being trafficked, and mentor those who have overcome it. She is now using her voice to inspire others to join the fight against such a horrible atrocity. She has spoken to faith-based organizations, educators, students, medical professionals, law enforcement, and politicians. In 2018, Kathy was invited into the Oval Office to witness a bill she advocated for be signed into law.
During her time as a Program Director, Kathy developed a trauma-informed restorative care program for adult survivors of trafficking. She is now Co-Founder of Twelve 11 Partners, an organization committed to supporting survivors who are on their journey to thriving in their independence. Lured into trafficking while attending college, Kathy defeated her fear of returning to school and is currently pursuing her degree in social work as she continues to provide training and consulting services to various groups committed to the fight against human trafficking.
With more than 20 years of experience in the field of human trafficking, Jennisue Jessen knows the depths of trauma a body can endure. She was sold into the sex trade at age four by her grandfather, but God provided for her rescue and escape after a failed suicide attempt at age 17.
Jennisue and her husband, KJ founded Compass 31 in 2011 in response to the unfolding of redemption in their own lives. Compass 31, an international nongovernmental organization, provides a holistic model of restoration for survivors of exploitation. For eight years, Jennisue and KJ provided foster care to teenage mothers and babies that were exiting sexual exploitation. Their program includes safe housing, counseling, medical care, educational scholarships, familial support, and leadership development.
Using the latest developments in interpersonal neurobiology and trauma-informed care, Jennisue mentors, speaks, and teaches on a variety of platforms. Her passion is equipping survivors and their allies to understand the implications of trauma on the brain. In gaining mastery over their thoughts, their history, and their coping strategies, the survivors are then empowered to successfully move into lives of purpose and impact.
In 2012, Jennisue co-created Priceless Cube, an educational tool to prevent trafficking through education. Thus far, national leaders from more than 40 different countries have been equipped to use Priceless Cube to effectively combat human trafficking among high-risk populations in their countries. To date, tens of thousands of people around the globe have heard her high-impact message of prevention, restoration, and hope.