How did you become involved in the fight against human trafficking, and why have you dedicated your time toward building support for Greenlight Operation?
Several years ago, I was participating in Leadership Harrisburg, which focuses on understanding and tackling issues facing Harrisburg. One experience in particular struck me. While touring a free healthcare clinic, someone asked our host to name the most common problem facing Harrisburg. It wasn’t what you’d expect or what we frequently hear about—drugs or crime or homelessness—but human trafficking. That really stuck with me. The idea that innocent individuals can be taken or coerced into slavery, that lives can be destroyed and these victims don’t know how to get out.
Shortly after, I volunteered with the A21 Walk for Freedom. While raising funds for the event, I noticed that everyone I reached out to was interested in how they could help their own communities. I shared this with Jordan, just as she was talking about starting Greenlight Operation, and I’ve been involved ever since.
Can you tell us about yourself—where you came from and what types of jobs or fundraising experiences you’ve had?
I grew up in the northeastern Pennsylvania region. I went to college at Susquehanna University for Corporate Communications and got my MBA from Lebanon Valley College. I focused initially on marketing and advertising and interned for a lifestyle magazine for a time, but realized that was no way to make a living.
I moved to the Harrisburg area and began working in college recruiting, where I really enjoyed working with people. After briefly working with a start-up company, I went to Penn State College of Medicine to assist their technology transfer group. The office I worked for faculty entrepreneurs transfer their technology from the university to the marketplace, taking them through the patenting process and helping individuals start companies. I now work for Catamaran, continuing my work equipping entrepreneurs launch their ideas.I specialize in problem-solving and identifying the resources to solve those problem. So, conceptualizing how do we talk about and frame a problem, then developing the steps to tackle the problem with a clear solution in mind. I have worked with several other nonprofits and raised funds for events. Yet my entire career has focused on helping entrepreneurs and individuals thrive. I tell their story, which builds interest from investors.
Similarly, with Greenlight Operation we’re doing a lot of awareness initiatives so people can understand the problem and help be the solution with us.
Often, we want to jump to a solution without understanding the problem. In terms of Greenlight Operation, we can identify the problem is lack of a restoration home for trafficked individuals, but also lack of a cohesive, regionally-focused anti-trafficking group. We can now develop the solution: equipping our communities to help these survivors, and acquiring the resources to do so. With a clear solution and the generosity of concerned community members, we can put resources directly where the need is.
Can you explain your vision for Greenlight Operation’s fundraising goals?
It’s about first selling the idea, because human trafficking is a subject matter not many people understand. We’re telling the story, highlighting the problem, and then showing that we as an organization and broader network can help.
Our vision is to open a restoration home in Central Pennsylvania, which will require $500,000 to cover the first year operating budget to get up and running. We want to provide quality curriculum and training and rehabilitation to not only save trafficking survivors, but to help them renew and turn their lives around. This is a long-term solution.
To get there, we need to build awareness by working with other organizations, in particular with industries that are affected by trafficking. For example, connecting with the transportation companies so they can know it’s an issue their drivers may experience, or doctor’s officers and healthcare industries directly impacted by trafficking, and offer to work with them. This is what we’re currently doing—identifying those industries that are already impacted, building relationships, offering the trainings, and asking them to partner with us.
Why should individuals or organizations support Greenlight Operation?
So many reasons! People should support this movement because we’re all brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and are all connected to someone who is or could be a victim. Trafficking knows no geographic or demographic status. This is scary, because it can really impact anyone. It’s a huge, criminal industry on par with the drug industry, and the mental health crises makes young individuals so vulnerable.
If we want to tackle these issues, it takes more than a handful of individuals. We need many folks to break down this criminal enterprise and heal our communities. We need to build a network that understands and can stop this, because the trafficking industry has tremendous resources.
People can help by visiting our website to donate—whether $5 or $500, both are so impactful—or by volunteering or attending or requesting a training. If anyone wants to reach out, I would love to meet with them and connect them with the movement to end human trafficking.