The Zonta Club of Mid-Maryland, District 3, partnered with the Prince George’s County Human Trafficking Task Force, the Maryland Commission for Women, and the Prince George’s Commission for Women to host a symposium on human trafficking, Moving from Awareness to Action.
Hosted at the Laurel Library on 21 April, the audience was welcomed by Zonta Club of Mid-Maryland’s President Linda Andrews, followed by greetings from Karen R. Toles, Prince George’s County Council – District 7.
Giovanna Hernandez-Williams, an anti-trafficking activist, moderated the morning panel discussion focusing on what human trafficking is, how pervasive human trafficking is, what the gateways to trafficking are and how human trafficking can be recognized.
Panelists were Dr. Wendy Stickle of the Montgomery County Human Trafficking Task Force, Det. Tony Hill of Prince George’s County Police Department, Elisabeth Martinez, a clinical social worker at the UMD SAFE Center and Ashley Harrell, director of programs at FAIR Girls.
The main speaker, Shamere McKenzie, anti-trafficking program director for the Salvation Army Central Maryland, was introduced by Dr. Marylou Yam from the Maryland Commission for Women.
Club members said McKenzie’s talk was dynamic and compelling.
The afternoon panel discussion was titled “Critical Collaboration: A Multi-Disciplinary Response to Human Trafficking,” and was moderated by D. Michael Lyles, Esq., executive director of Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission. Panelists were Steven Hess, law enforcement coordinator at the U.S. Department of Justice, Dr. Glenda F. Hodges, CEO of Still I Rise, Inc., Elisabet Martinez from the UMD SAFE Center for Trafficking Survivors and Dr. Catherine Hill, director of the Women’s Caucus in the Maryland General Assembly.
Attendees heard pointed presentations and engaged in vigorous panel discussions. The symposium was highly informative, providing information to people on how to recognize the signs of victims, to learn the efforts that are underway to combat human trafficking and understand what efforts are still needed.
Erma Barron, the first vice president of the Zonta Club of Mid-Maryland and chair of the event committee, gave the closing remarks with a call to everyone to join in to help move to the next step in combatting human trafficking.