Minh Dang, Director

Minh Dang is currently a PhD student in the School of Politics and International Relations, at the University of Nottingham. She is studying the wellbeing of survivors of slavery and human trafficking. Minh is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area region of California and a proud two-time UC Berkeley alum. Minh earned her B.A. in Sociology and Masters in Social Welfare, with an emphasis on Community Mental Health. From 2005 to 2011, she worked at UC Berkeley as an AmeriCorps Program Coordinator for the Public Service Center. She has served on the Board of YEAH!, The Morris Center for Healing from Child Abuse, and AnnieCannons, an organization training survivors of human trafficking to become web developers. Recently, she was a Team Manager at Linde Group, an IT consulting firm in Emeryville. Minh is an avid backpacker, poet, and runner. She is a fan of farmers’ markets, loves to sing, and controls the center of the soccer pitch. You will rarely find her without a journal or post-it notes, and she hopes to one day launch a stationery line called Minhspiration.

Rebecca Bender, Director

Rebecca Bender is a nationally recognized and awarded expert on the issue of domestic, pimp controlled 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 trainings 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 sits as on the Advisory Committee for the US Dept. of Health and Human services, is a member of the Oregon Cease Task Force and is co-chair of Oregon’s DOJ Human Trafficking Advisory Council, as well as serves on the board of Exodus Cry. Her consulting services have assisted DA’s during trials as well as provided needed direction to the opening of seven “safe homes” around the world, including one in Iraq for Isis refugees.
Rebecca is currently finishing her master’s at Bethel University and in her free time, you can find her with her husband and their four beautiful daughters, enjoying their home in the Pacific Northwest.

Holly Smith, Director

Holly is the Director of the Human Trafficking Response Program at Dignity Health, the fifth largest health system in the nation and the largest hospital provider in California. She joined Dignity Health in 2015, and oversees efforts to recognize and respond to trafficked persons in the healthcare setting. In 2014, Holly published an academic book titled Walking Prey: How America’s Youth are Vulnerable to Sex Slavery. Holly has a B.A. in Biology from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and before Dignity Health, she worked as a Senior Microscopist for an environmental microbiology lab. She is a current blogger for the Huffington Post, is a nationally renowned speaker and trainer, and often advises law enforcement officials, legislators, social service providers, human trafficking task forces, and journalists. Holly is also a survivor of child sex trafficking and an activist against all forms of human trafficking and exploitation. She has testified before Congress and consulted for numerous organizations, including the U.S. Office for Victims of Crime, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and the AMBER Alert program.

Fainess Lipenga
Fainess Lipenga has been an active member of the National Survivor Network since 2013. As a survivor of labor trafficking, she uses her voice and experience to educate the community and raise awareness. Her mission is to prevent other survivors from being re-victimized and to give them hope and courage to heal, become leaders, and achieve their dreams. Lipenga has testified before the U.S. Congress regarding the challenges survivors face and presented to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. She has provided training for pro bono lawyers, law students, physicians, law enforcement officials, and federal prosecutors. She has spoken at national conferences and developed expert training materials. Lipenga believes survivor voices and leadership are essential to advocacy on human trafficking. She is a certified nursing assistant and continues to pursue her goal of becoming a registered nurse.


Valentine Nkoyo

Valentine Nkoyo is an inspirational speaker, human rights activist and a campaigner against social injustices especially Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), forced marriage and other forms of modern slavery. She is the Director of the Mojatu Foundation charity headquartered in Nottingham, United Kingdom involved in awareness raising of modern slavery amongst other issues. She is experienced in lobbying and under her leadership, she influenced Nottingham City to officially declare Zero Tolerance for FGM- the first ever city in the UK to do so. She is currently working closely with the Kenya Anti-FGM Board to develop a national strategic plan on tackling forced marriage and FGM in Kenya. Valentine has spoken in many conferences including at United Nations, Women Federation for World Peace International and at the Houses of Commons in the United Kingdom. She has done extensive work in international development including working with the UK government sponsored scheme International Citizen Service. In recognition of her work, she has won multiple awards including Global Peace Ambassador by the Global Women’s Peace Network, The Nottingham Sheriff’s Award, Regional International Student of the year by the British Council and UK Young Woman of the Year by the Women Federation for World Peace. Valentine has a diploma in Creative Writing & Film Making, degree in Business Management, Masters in Business Administration and embarking on a PhD at the University of Nottingham focusing on forced marriage as form of modern slavery.


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