BYU hosting human trafficking summit

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Danica Baird stands with three activists in their community who fight against human trafficking. Pictured from left to right: Lynette Widdison, Angela Kelly, Danica Baird, and Nita Belles. (Danica Baird)

The BYU Anti-Human Trafficking club is hosting its second annual Summit Against Human Trafficking event on Saturday, Feb. 11, in conjunction with the Kennedy Center and the Ballard Center.

The Summit will be a combination of keynote speakers and breakout sessions by many national and state representatives as well as other experts on human trafficking.

BYU history professor Matthew Mason is the advisor to the Anti-Human Trafficking Club and has worked with students to plan the event. “This event will bring an impressive variety of people working against human trafficking to BYU at one time,” he said.

The purpose of the Summit, according to Mason, is to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking and to give people concrete opportunities to help the fight against it. The Summit event is also trying to help people understand the reality of different forms that human trafficking can take, specifically labor and sex trafficking.

The two keynote speakers at the event will be Laura Lederer and Lillian Martino Bradley.

Lederer is the president of the Global Centurion Foundation and currently serves as the human trafficking Subject Matter Expert for the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Bradley is the founder of the non-profit organization “Fahodie for Friends,” which focuses on fighting against human trafficking and exploitation. She is also studying intercultural peace-building at BYU-Hawaii.

Additional speakers will include employees from the Utah Attorney General’s Office, professors from several universities, human trafficking survivors and other experts.

This event puts BYU on the map for anti-human trafficking efforts, according to Ben Forsgren, who leads the Special Projects committee for the club. “We are trying to lead the anti-human trafficking movement. In a lot of ways, BYU is establishing itself as a lead,” he said. 

Danica Baird, the summit’s lead planner, said she agrees with Forsgren about the importance of the event for BYU’s notoriety.

This year the summit will host 10 speakers at the event, an increase from last year’s four speakers. This is due to the continued credibility that the BYU Anti-Human Trafficking Club has been receiving over the past couple of years, according to Baird. Baird serves as the networking and community outreach director for the club.

Baird got involved with the club just over two years ago when she returned from her LDS mission in Italy. The Anti-Human Trafficking club was hosting a few small events throughout the year at the time. The attorney general wanted to see BYU become more involved with the issue, so the club organized the first Summit Against Human Trafficking.

The BYU club was also asked to be part of a subcommittee for the Trafficking in Persons Task Force. This has allowed the Summit to be recognized outside of BYU.

The summit event is funded completely by the members of the club. The BYU Student Association gives clubs the opportunity to fund-raise by cleaning the Lavell Edwards Stadium after games. Every Saturday home game, the Anti-Human Trafficking club members would clean to raise money for this event.

“None of the funding is coming from outside sources or outside organizations. It’s all through students working really hard, cleaning the stadium in all sorts of weather and terrible conditions,” Baird said.

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