Rachel Thomas, M. Ed

A graduate of UCLA and a personal survivor of human trafficking, Rachel has extensive experience teaching, training, curriculum writing, public speaking and mentoring. As director of Sowers Education Group since 2012, 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 is the lead author of the nation's most widely used sex trafficking intervention curriculum Ending The Game (Journal Of Women and Criminal Justice, 2021) as well as The Cool Aunt Series. Rachel has received numerous honors for her anti-trafficking work and was appointed to the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. www.RachelCThomas.com

Angie Conn

Angie is an educator, leader, advocate, yogi and thriver with many years of experience in anti-trafficking. Through SheWhoDares, LLC., Angie empower other survivors to dare to step out and overcome their own trauma. She serves on the West Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force, and consults with the WV SHIELD Task Force. She was awarded the ‘Special Courage Award’ by the United States Attorney Southern District of West Virginia for being a champion for victims and survivors of human trafficking in her home state and nation. An adventurer at heart, in her downtime you can find her exploring coffee shops, backpacking, relaxing in her hammock, or enjoying aerial arts like Lyra & Silks.

Nilda Otero

*Spanish Fluent*

Nilda began her career in child welfare in 2013 and holds a Bachelor's Degree in Behavioral Health Community Science with a Concentration in Children’s Mental Health and Criminology. As a Certified Welfare Child Case Manager (Florida) with certifications in Mental Health First Aid and Crisis Prevention, Nilda is a trusted resource for children and families in need. She sits on several Advisory Boards for various anti-trafficking organizations, including the Survivor Advisory Committee .

Teyanna Michels

Teyanna is a survivor of human trafficking, a mother, wife, mentor, equestrian and prayer warrior. She became a Certified Trauma-Informed Youth Mentor because she lacked positive influences to look up to in her childhood. Teyanna's goal is to be a positive and relatable influence for youth. She wants to give back, spread love, and create peace and knowledge for future generations. Her happy place is anywhere outdoors-- especially in a forest or at the ocean. She LOVES riding horses and goes to the barn when she needs to balance or restore her peace. Music is also a happy place for Teyanna and she can vibe out to almost anything if it has a good beat and the lyrics are right.

Russell G. Wilson

As a CSEC (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of a Child) survivor and former foster child, Russell has a unique and insightful perspective on the issues that male trafficking victims and survivors face in their daily lives. It is his willingness to authentically talk about his past and his ability to overcome it that makes Russell a powerful voice and force. Russell holds two degrees from Berkeley in Anthropology and South and South East Asian Studies. As a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, Russell completed a research project in Cambodia exploring resiliency factors for male survivors of commercial sexual exploitation. His years living in India and learning from Buddhist teachers have given him inner peace and a sense of joy and power to transcend the past and thrive in the present.

Karen Balumbu-Bennett, LCSW, PMH-C

Admin Consultant, Team Support

Karen is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who provides psychotherapy to various people in diverse settings such as, community mental health, psychiatric emergency response teams, threat assessment teams, victim of crime agencies, and schools. She believes that through active self-discovery and ultimately developing habits that encourage and support self-love, healing and inner peace can be achieved. Her motto is, “balance over everything”, which is a reminder that when aspects of life are in the correct proportion, overall wellness is more achievable.

Kayla Stern

Youth Ambassador

Kayla is a college student and member of the National Honors Society. She has been a professional model since the age of 9 and has walked in New York, London, and Milan Fashion Week. Her family has spent years working with various organizations that help raise awareness about Human Trafficking. Kayla continues in this mission by working with her inspiration Rachel Thomas and teaching the Cool Aunt Series to high school students. She also uses her social media platform to promote online safety as traffickers are using social media to recruit young teens.