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Spotlight: Survivor Leadership in Colorado

Colorado Human Trafficking Council member Jill Brogdon and Colorado Action Plan Manager with the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking (LCHT) Mary Durant participated in a Q&A interview about survivor leadership in Colorado. Both Jill and Mary are a part of a group called Colorado Community Leaders. Hosted by LCHT, the group brings together survivor leadership to influence and improve the anti-trafficking field. What follows are some excerpts from that interview.

1) How did the survivor leadership group get started?
Durant: The group started informally at first. We would discuss some of the challenges we each had personally and professionally in the anti-trafficking field. All too often, it felt like we would be asked to share our trafficking experience with others, but our relationship to an audience—and the anti-trafficking field at large—didn’t go further than that. Our unique talents and skills weren't being tapped by the anti-trafficking movement.
Brogdon: I agree with Mary—I came to the survivor leadership group a little later and joined because I wanted help with some of the challenges I faced in the field. The survivor leadership group was a way for me to receive some mentorship and guidance on how to be an effective professional in the anti-trafficking movement.
2) What is the goal of the survivor leadership group?
Durant: By late 2018 or early 2019 our group hopes to have a draft of a leadership development curriculum, to help other survivors looking to join the movement. We also want the survivor leadership group to review data and interviews from LCHT’s Colorado Project 2.0 to provide recommendations to the state based on the experiences of those involved with Colorado Community Leaders.
Brogdon: Generally, we want the leadership group to be a referral source for other survivors and professionals in the field. In addition to helping one another, we want to improve the outreach and training other professionals in the field create and receive.
Durant: For instance, we want our group to provide sector-specific recommendations based on both their professional knowledge and experience as a survivor. For instance, the group has been working on the development of a training curriculum for healthcare professionals as one of our members is a medical professional.
3) What value does survivor leadership bring to the anti-trafficking field?
Brogdon: We recognize that the strength we build for ourselves and other survivors is unique, it can’t be found elsewhere in the anti-trafficking field. Each of us has lived experience to share, something that is enhanced by our individual expertise and the conversations we have with one another. Survivor leadership provides other people involved in the anti-trafficking movement insights and perspective they wouldn’t otherwise receive without our voice.  
Durant: Without the survivor perspective, policies and procedures that impact the field sometimes aren’t as effective as they could be. Without the richness inherent to the perspective of survivors, there are inevitably gaps or blind spots that emerge when survivors aren't included in decisions. Survivor input helps to ensure that the various spaces in the anti-trafficking movement are trauma-informed; this is critical so that the processes, procedures, and individuals combatting this crime can do so successfully.
4) What impact do you hope this group—and survivor leadership more generally—has on the anti-trafficking movement in Colorado?
Durant: We hope our group can help ensure that there is survivor inclusion in all of the work that takes place in Colorado’s anti-trafficking field. As a part of this shift, we want to change the lens of what survivors are to the field. We want to move away from survivors being seen only as storytellers and instead as catalysts for change. We also want to improve the long-term care and support all survivors receive. One of the ways our group is doing this is by holding a space for survivor leadership and mentorship.
Brogdon: That’s right. For me, long term care is key. It has been decades since my trafficking experience and my response to the trauma has changed significantly over time. I have lived with my trauma and done remarkably well all things considered. That is a critical message I want to share. I want others to know that there is a support network emerging that provides mentorship, education, and training that can help survivors be successful long-term. That there are relatively few of us working in the field right now speaks to how complex an individual’s trafficking experience can be, not to mention some of the obstacles in the field that can be barriers to involvement. We hope that our survivor leadership group, as a small part of a growing survivor leadership movement nationally, can provide space to support and encourage others to come forward and join our cause.

In the News

Image of an internet router.
The U.S. Senate recently passed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) in a 97-2 vote. Despite the passage of the bill, it continues to court controversy as it heads to President Trump's desk for signature. Bill supporters believe that it is an essential update of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) that will help hold websites like accountable. Opponents of the bill fear it may cause unwarranted censorship of the internet and further criminalize sex workers who rely on the internet.
Image of newspapers
The Atlantic recently published the stories of three trafficking survivors—Nena Ruiz, Judith Daluz, and Natalicia Tracy—who chronicled their trafficking experience for a project called, "The Unfree." All three women came to the United States from other countries (the Philippines and Brazil) on various United State's worker visas for domestic work. All three women advocate for the rights of survivors. Ms. Tracy helped pass The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in Massachusetts in 2014. 

Job Announcement

The Division of Criminal Justice seeks a part-time Human Trafficking Training Coordinator to plancoordinate, and facilitate human trafficking training programs across Colorado, especially outside the Denver-Metropolitan area.

The individual hired will be responsible for training delivery of the Colorado Human Trafficking Council's curricula, management of training facilitators, and evaluation of training programs.  

For more information, including how to apply, visit the State of Colorado’s official job posting. Applications must be received by 5:00 PM on April 4, 2018.

Special Events

The University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies will host a panel discussion with Acting Dean Dr. Pardis Mahdavi and Martina Vandenberg titled, The Law & Human Trafficking. Ms. Vandenberg is the Founder and President of The Human Trafficking Legal Center in Washington, D.C. This event takes place tonight, April 3rd from 5 pm to 7 pm in SIE 1020 at the Josef Korbel School. Please RSVP at

The North Eastern Colorado Coalition Against Trafficking has partnered with Truckers Against Trafficking to host their semi-truck trailer exhibit on human trafficking at Aims Community College in Greeley from 9 am to 4 pm by the College Center Thursday, April 5th. A short presentation will take place from 5:00 pm to 5:30 pm by the Cornerstone room. For more information, contact

National Crime Victims' Rights Week is April 8th through April 14th. On Monday, April 9th, from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, Division of Criminal Justice, and many other organizations will observe National Crime Victims' Rights Week at the Rose Andom Center. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit COVA's Facebook page

Regional Anti-Trafficking Collaboration Meetings

April 9th, 4:00 – 5:00 PM: Western Slope Against Trafficking. WSAT meetings are not open to the public. For more information, please contact Tom Acker

April 10th,  10:30 – 11:30 AM: Alliance to Combat Human Trafficking (ACHT) Pueblo. ACHT meetings are not open to the public. For more information, please contact

April 10th,  5:30 – 7:00 PM: Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado. This meeting is held at the First United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs (map). For more information, please contact Roger Patrizio.
April 12th, 3:00 – 5:00 PM: North Eastern Colorado Coalition Against Trafficking. Meetings are held in Greeley, CO but are not open to the public. For more information, please contact Diana Laws.

April 18th, 3:00 – 5:00 PM: Jefferson County Human Trafficking Subcommittee Meeting. Meetings are held at the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office. Meetings are open to the public. For more information, please contact Amy Sciangula.

CHTC and FRAC Meeting Dates

Upcoming FRAC Meeting

April 19th from 2:00 3:30 PM:  Front Range Anti-trafficking Coalition (FRAC) meetings are open to the public. The location of the next FRAC meeting is the Community Room at the DPD District II Station. For more information about the next FRAC meeting, please contact Catherine Bowman.

Upcoming Council Meeting

April 27th from 9:00 AM  1:00 PM. The meeting will begin at 9 AM. Colorado Human Trafficking Council (CHTC) meetings are always open to the public and held at the Jefferson County Human Services Building (map). For more information about the CHTC please visit the CHTC Homepage.
The content of this newsletter is not an endorsement nor does it reflect the opinions, views, or affiliations of the Colorado Department of Public Safety, Division of Criminal Justice, the Colorado Human Trafficking Council, or the Front-Range Anti-trafficking Coalition. The content of this newsletter is intended for informational purposes only. 

Copyright © 2018 Colorado Department of Public Safety, Division of Criminal Justice, Office for Victims Programs, All rights reserved.

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