In 1998, with only a computer and $30, Ashoka Fellow, Reebok Human Rights Award-winner and leading child sex trafficking advocate Rachel Lloyd established Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) to support American girls and young women survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking.
Since its inception as a one-woman outreach program in 1998, GEMS has grown steadily, building its services and programs and garnering increased visibility and recognition under Lloyd's leadership. Now the nation's largest organization offering direct services to American victims of child sex trafficking, GEMS' empowers girls and young women, ages 12-24, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the sex industry and develop to their full potential.
Lloyd is a nationally recognized expert on the issue of child sex trafficking in the United States and played a key role in the successful passage of New York State's groundbreaking Safe Harbor Act for Sexually Exploited Youth, the first law in the country to end the prosecution of child victims of sex trafficking. Her trailblazing advocacy is the subject of the critically acclaimed documentary Very Young Girls (Showtime, 2007) and her memoir Girls Like Us (Harper Collins, 2011).
Lloyd's passion and achievements have made her a popular focus of national and international news coverage, with profiles and interviews on CNN Anderson Cooper 360, ABC News, NBC News, NPR, National Geographic Channel, Access Hollywood, and in the New York Times, New York Post, Washington Post, Variety, Essence Magazine, Glamour Magazine, New York Magazine, Village Voice, Marie Claire, and other leading outlets. Lloyd was named one of the "50 Women Who Change the World" by Ms Magazine, one of the "100 Women Who Shape New York" by the New York Daily News, "New Yorker of the Week" by NY1, and a "Notable New Yorker" by CBS TV.
An accomplished public speaker, Lloyd has spoken by invitation at the United Nations, New York University, Columbia University, Wheelock College, CUNY Honors College, Washburn University, the Brooklyn Museum, the Library of Congress and other top institutions; at film festivals including the Miami International Film Festival, Jackson Hole Film Festival, and True/False Film Festival; and at international and national conferences including the WMCA National Conference 2009, First International Summit of Sexually Exploited Youth in Victoria, BC, the International Young People's Participation Project in the Philippines, the National Children's Advocacy Center Conference, Project Safe Childhood Conference, the National Conference on Juvenile Justice, and many more.
In addition to being awarded a 2009 Ashoka Fellowship, Lloyd has been honored and recognized with a Reebok Human Rights Award, Child Advocacy Award-The Administration for Children's Services (ACS), the Community Service Award from the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, Frederick Douglass Award from the North Star Fund, Susan B. Anthony Award from the National Organization for Women, the Community Service Award from Soroptimist International NY, Prime Movers Fellowship, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Award, Change.org's Changemakers Network, Heroes for Youth Award-National Safe Place, and the Social Entrepreneurship Award from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.
Lloyd has a profoundly personal understanding of her work. A survivor of commercial sexual exploitation as a teen, Lloyd knows all too well the hidden, emotional scars such exploitation can leave on children and youth. "There have been experiences I would rather not have had and pain I wish I hadn't felt-but every experience, every tear, every hardship has equipped me for the work I do now," Lloyd says. "I get such deep satisfaction from knowing I'm fulfilling my purpose, that my life is counting for something. It puts all the past hurts into perspective."
Rachel received her Bachelors degree in Psychology from Marymount Manhattan College and her Masters in Applied Urban Anthropology from the City College of New York.
For more than 17 years, Maria Clara Harrington has been serving young survivors of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and sex trafficking through counseling, advocacy and outreach. At the Chance Program, she is in a role that enables her to combine her understanding and compassion for survivors, with her skills as an educator, to raise awareness and understanding of child sex trafficking. Additionally, Maria Clara continues to collaborate with other organizations in the development of a community-based approach to CSEC that holds the promise of healing and restoring the life of exploited youth.
Maria Clara started working directly with survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation in 2008 and has been in the trenches since then, from responding to the 24-hour crisis hotline, leading teams of volunteers and going out at night from 12am to 4am looking for missing children and others who were on the streets, to advocating for the youth and providing supportive services. She also went into at-risk schools working with girls through a 16-week prevention and empowerment program. She led the launch of the first drop in center for young female survivors of sex trafficking in Miami. For five years Maria Clara oversaw the day-to-day operations of the drop in center and lead a dedicated team of professionals working around the clock to provide support, mental health and enrichment services to child survivors of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.
Maria Clara has personally reached thousands of people in Florida and throughout the country, and untold hundreds of thousands more through media, with education and information about human trafficking. As a lead trainer, she has helped several other Florida communities launch a CSEC response, bringing together all the agencies involved in these complex cases.
Maria Clara holds a master’s degree in School Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.
Maria Clara was the recipient of Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi’s 2015 Distinguished Victim Services Award and the Global Initiative Consulting Network’s 2019 Outstanding Leadership Award.
Katina Hernandez earned a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology, she is currently pursuing her PhD. In Criminal Justice at Nova Southeastern University. Katina Hernandez is a Special Agent of the Department of Homeland Security / Homeland Security Investigations assigned to HSI Miami to the South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force and is also the Outreach Coordinator. Katina Hernandez attended the Criminal Investigator School and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement School at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, GA. Katina was also trained in the discipline of Immigration Violations and Human Trafficking which she has being working for the last six years.
Katina has been involved in successful investigations and prosecutions involving Human Smuggling and Human Trafficking in which one of the Human Trafficking cases resulted in a life sentence. During her tenure as a Special Agent, Katina had the opportunity to participate in task force groups that included components in different Federal and State Locals agencies. Katina was awarded as an Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer in the year of 2016.
Dr. Gihan Omar is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who has been in practice for 17 years. She completed her doctoral training at the Florida Institute for Technology, internship at the University of Houston and a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Yale University School of Medicine where she remained as an Associate Research Scientist before joining Citrus Health Network (CHN) in 2003. During her time at CHN, Dr. Omar has supervised and coordinated various program that provide services to children and adolescents with mental health problems including Juvenile Evaluation Treatment Services (JETS), a program that works with adolescents under intensive juvenile probation and Center for Adolescent Treatment Services, a residential treatment facility for adolescents with severe emotional and behavioral disorders and the Children's Crisis Response Team (CCRT) an intensive in-home Community Services Team that provides treatment to youth with severe emotional and behavioral difficulties as well as victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Dr. Omar is currently the Clinical Coordinator for the Foster Care and Citrus Helping Adolescents Negatively impacted by Commercial Exploitation) CHANCE. Dr. Omar also has been an adjunct faculty at Nova Southeastern University since 2007.
Since 2009, Barbara A. Martinez has served as the Chief of the Special Prosecutions Section at the United States Attorney’s Office in Miami. She supervises federal prosecutors who handle cases involving human trafficking, child exploitation, and violent crime involving death or serious bodily injury.
Ms. Martinez is also the Human Trafficking Coordinator and the Project Safe Childhood Coordinator for the Southern District of Florida. She currently serves on the Department of Justice’s Nationwide Investigations Advisory Committee, which is a working group in the area of child exploitation prosecutions. Ms. Martinez also teaches a human trafficking seminar at the University of Miami School of Law.
Some of her notable honors and awards include: 2018 Attorney General’s Award for the prosecution of a case involving sex trafficking of minors in Honduras; 2018 Dade County Bar Association’s Women of Distinction Government Award; 2016-2017 Harvard Law School Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow; 2015 Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) for the prosecution of a sex trafficking case involving more than 50 adult victims; 2013 Women in Federal Law Enforcement’s Top Prosecutor Award; DOJ’s 2011 Outstanding Overall Partnership Coalition Group Award for her work and contributions on cases involving domestic sex trafficking of minors; and the 2005 DOJ’s Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an AUSA for the prosecution of a production of child pornography and sex tourism case involving more than 100 victims.
Ms. Martinez earned her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and her B.A. in Criminal Justice from University of Texas at San Antonio. She joined DOJ in 1997 as a Trial Attorney through the Attorney General’s Honors Program. She worked for the Fraud Section in the Criminal Division from 1997 until 2000, when she joined the USAO.
Caridad Mas-Batchelor is the Task Force Coordinator for the South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force. In this role, she oversees the over 300 member task force funded by the Office for Victims of Crime and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. She works collaboratively with partners and key stakeholder in the community to ensure access to information and resources. Caridad also provides training and conducts outreach in order to increase awareness and identification of human trafficking survivors in the South Florida area. She has also served as a consultant for the Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime. Previously, she supervised the anti-trafficking caseworker and provided direct assistance to survivors for the Anti-Human Trafficking Program at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Miami. She has worked with vulnerable populations for over six years. Caridad holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Florida International University and a Master’s in Law in Intercultural Human Rights from St. Thomas University School of Law.
Ms. Regina Bernadin is the Deputy Director for U.S. Programs in Florida at the International Rescue Committee (IRC). She supervises the anti-trafficking programming in Miami and Tallahassee, as well two projects to assist unaccompanied migrant children in South Florida. She has held various roles at the IRC, and also previously served as the Statewide Human Trafficking Coordinator with the Florida Department of Children and Families. She is a consultant for the Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime, Training and Technical Assistance Center and the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center on human rights issues. Regina also conducts presentations and trainings nationally, in English and Spanish, on victim identification, service provision and collaboration. She has also overseen targeted outreach campaigns aimed at increasing the number of trafficking survivors identified in the community. Internationally, she has trained on the topic of conflict analysis and resolution and the implementation of anti-trafficking initiatives. Her interest in the development of human rights abroad has taken her to several countries, including Haiti, Colombia, Ecuador, Suriname and Tanzania. She holds a B.A. in International Studies and Criminology from the University of Miami and an M.A in International Administration and Certificate in Non-profit Management from that same institution. Regina, a published author, blogger, and active member of various advisory boards and committees, is a Ph.D candidate in Conflict Resolution Studies at Nova Southeastern University. She is the recipient of the 2016 Sarlo Distinguished Humanitarian Award and the 2016 Janita Lee Award for Victim Advocate Professional of the Year.
In his current position as Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Miami, Mr. Salisbury oversees the HSI criminal investigations portfolio and activities of special agents covering an area of responsibility from Ft. Pierce to Key West. These investigations cover narcotics trafficking, violent crime, commercial fraud, counter proliferations, money laundering, human smuggling and trafficking, as well as the HSI intelligence program in South Florida. Mr. Salisbury is a subject matter expert in narcotics trafficking, violent gang investigations, and trade-based money laundering.
During his over 20-year career in law enforcement, he has participated in numerous high-profile investigations involving various HSI investigative priorities, including Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) and high-level narcotics trafficking investigations as a case agent and supervisor. Prior to this assignment, Mr. Salisbury served as the Deputy Special Agent in Charge (DSAC) for HSI Miami. As the DSAC, Mr. Salisbury oversaw the entire HSI investigative portfolio in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, working closely with our state and local partners on investigations involving narcotics trafficking, violent gangs, and weapons smuggling. Before being promoted to DSAC, Mr. Salisbury served as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge for Ft. Lauderdale, which oversaw the day to day mission for HSI in Broward County.
After serving as a Deputy United States Marshal, Mr. Salisbury joined the former United States Customs Service SAC New York office in 2001, where he investigated narcotics trafficking at JFK Airport. While assigned to JFK, Mr. Salisbury initiated and led a multi-agency task force to investigate the activities of a high-profile Brooklyn based gang. This HSI led task force investigation resulted in the complete dismantlement of the gang, including over 40 arrests for murder in aid of racketeering, kidnapping, extortion, attempted murder of a government witness, and narcotics trafficking. This investigation charged and closed over 20 homicides committed by the organization.
After his assignment in New York, Mr. Salisbury also served in key leadership positions for HSI. He pursued trade-based money laundering investigations as the Section Chief for HSI’s Trade Transparency Unit, notably establishing foreign trade transparency investigation units to combat trade-based money laundering. Following his headquarters assignment, Mr. Salisbury supervised the activities of five HSI offices throughout the Republic of Mexico as the Deputy Attaché in Mexico City. This overseas assignment covered the entire HSI investigative mission, including special interest alien smuggling and high value target apprehensions. Upon returning to the United States, Mr. Salisbury was selected as the Resident Agent in Charge for HSI St. Louis, where he oversaw the day to day investigative operations for 86 counties located in Missouri and Illinois, with an emphasis on violent crime, money laundering, narcotics trafficking and child exploitation investigations. Mr. Salisbury received an undergraduate degree from Missouri Western University in St. Joseph, MO.