On Saturday, August 18th, in partnership with Rotary District 6990, The John J. Brunetti Human Trafficking Academy hosted a day-long human trafficking workshop for several South Florida Rotary clubs members.
Rotary District Governor Drew Monaghan and Chair of the District’s Human Trafficking Initiative Ret. Chief Therese Homer shared their sentiments as to why Rotary has taken on this issue and their enthusiasm for what would be a day of wonderful knowledge building. Welcoming participants on behalf of Dr. Roza Pati, Director of the Academy, LL.M. student and attorney Ms. Liza Smoker noted inter alia that Rotaries are a tremendous force unleashed against human trafficking, which is a problem too big to be tackled by any one organization alone. And, she expressed the determination of the Human Trafficking Academy to further cooperate with Rotary.
Retired Special Agent Victor Williams gave a comprehensive introductory lecture informing the attendees about what human trafficking is and how to identify its victims. This was followed by an insightful look into trauma and how it affects those who have been trafficked, led by Dr. Rashaana Blenman, a psychologist working with Citrus Health Network. The Academy’s Graduate Fellow, Tessa Juste, and Research Assistant, Marina Rakopyan gave a presentation regarding some of the groups who are most vulnerable to being trafficked and how advocates should respond in light of these issues. Ms. Alicia Priovolos, Esq., Director of the Human Trafficking Unit at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office spoke about trafficking cases that have been investigated and litigated at the Miami SAO. Rotarians also had a working lunch where they learned about available community resources and services for victims and survivors of trafficking in South Florida.
The day closed with a focus on the next steps for Rotarians moving forward, led by Mr. Joe Schumacker, the Chair of Youth Services for Rotary District 6990, and with the distribution of certificates presented by the Academy for all of those who participated.
Overall, the Rotarians who attended the workshop gained a great deal of knowledge and a roadmap for future advocacy, both of which will be invaluable as the Rotary embarks on the project of joining the fight against human trafficking. The Academy remains committed to collaborating with local communities and organizations such as Rotary to eliminate trafficking in persons through education and public awareness.