Virginia Takes The Lead

VA Takes The Lead Logo #2

On August 1, 2016 the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia formally began a quest to quickly become the undisputed national leader in the fight against human trafficking and in the care and support of trafficking survivors and their families (see link for WRIC TV8 coverage of August 1st event – http://wric.com/2016/08/01/virginia-takes-the-lead-aims-to-fight-human-trafficking/)  The name of this movement and initiative is Virginia Takes The Lead and its strategic objectives and current action plan are outlined below and were publicly presented for the first time on August 1st at Virginia Commonwealth University.  The introduction event at VCU also served as a pep rally to energize and inspire folks from the Richmond region and across Virginia who have been actively working to eliminate trafficking and care for its survivors.

Virginia Takes The Lead (VTTL) is a private-public initiative born out of a grassroots and organically developing collaboration led by citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia and partnering with government agencies, universities, non-profits, health organizations, businesses and the faith community.  VTTL organizers believe this is Kairos – Virginia’s right and opportune moment to provide the national leadership that is critically necessary to stop the scourge of human trafficking once and for all.  VTTL is based on the belief that with collective pride and purpose, the citizens and the many jurisdictions of the Commonwealth of Virginia can together address this serious public safety and public heath issue head on and provide a model of the power of collective impact to other states across the nation and countries around the world.

While the August 1st event formally announced VTTL strategies and plans, citizens and organizations across the Commonwealth have been very active for years laying the foundation for Virginia’s ascension in the fight against trafficking.  Very recently Virginia has stepped up its game with major action from both the citizens and from government.  On June 11th, a powerful all day summit was held at VCU coordinated by ImPACT – People Against Child Trafficking, a non-profit based in Midlothian.  This event was a first for Virginia and maybe the country as experts from US and Virginia government departments, including Homeland Security, Education, Health & Human Services and VA Criminal Justice Services spoke to and heard from local and national trafficking and victim support experts, including the compelling testimony of many survivors.  The ImPACT Trafficking Summit has already inspired new collaborations between individuals, organizations and agencies across the Commonwealth that will be an important support network for the VTTL strategic plan.

Building on the Virginia based energy created at the Summit, on July 20th the US Department of Homeland Security announced a new partnership between the DHS Blue Campaign – the unified voice for DHS’s efforts to combat human trafficking – and the Virginia Office of the Attorney General to raise awareness about human trafficking.  Through this partnership the Virginia OAG will provide Blue Campaign training and awareness materials throughout the Commonwealth to raise public consciousness of human trafficking.  The Virginia OAG will also host joint trainings across the Commonwealth for law enforcement, school administrators, Child Protective Services (CPS) employees and the general public.

VTTL organizers intend to capitalize on this growing momentum in Virginia by promoting a cohesive and collaborative effort amongst those working to combat trafficking.  VTTL organizers view the problem of trafficking like a picture puzzle.  On the front of the puzzle box is a beautiful picture of what Virginia will look like when human trafficking is eradicated, but it is obvious the box is missing a lot of pieces.  Therefore, the first VTTL goal is to put all the pieces we have on the table, which will define who is doing what and where.  This exercise identifies what we have to work with as well as what we need and where we need it.  Along with defining all of the important work currently ongoing across the Commonwealth, this exercise will also identify those that are already working on putting the puzzle together.

VTTL organizers also recognize that the Virginia puzzle is just a small part of the national puzzle, which is in turn a small part of the global puzzle that is human trafficking.  Trafficking is a moving target and for VTTL efforts to be successful in the Commonwealth, they must be coordinated with national and international organizations and initiatives.  Most importantly, VTTL organizers recognize that the fight against human trafficking is about collaboration, not competition.  VTTL is not about organizational ego or who gets the credit; it is about strategic collaboration and action to affect transformational change and requires everyone to be a part of the solution. “Taking the lead” is really about stirring up the powerful Virginia characteristics of pride and purpose and harnessing these attributes to propel the Commonwealth into a national and international leadership role.

Strategic Objectives + Action Plan

Virginia Takes The Lead (VTTL) Strategic Objectives

  • Create VTTL Partners – a Virginia oriented database of individuals, organizations and government agencies working in the fight against human trafficking and in support of the survivors – include names, contact info, on-line presence, programs and services (including what is in the pipeline), current collaborations > subdivide information gathered into 4 Virginia quadrants – Central VA, Northern VA, Tidewater VA + Southwest VA
    • Establish an information sharing network between the leaders in each quadrant
  • Create and maintain Virginia centric sector specific training modules (classroom + on-line) and information databases for different community subsets including:
    • Education – administrators, faculty, staff, campus safety & security professionals – K thru 12 and Higher Education
    • Law Enforcement (police, prosecutors, judges) – Federal, state, local, private
    • Social Services – Federal, state, local, non-profit, for-profit
    • Business – Retail, restaurants, convenience stores, construction
    • Health Care – Doctors, nurses, administrators, staff
    • Faith, Civic and Neighborhood organizations
  • Create and maintain basic metrics for the Commonwealth of Virginia in terms of learner knowledge, retention and application to job
  • Equip Virginia’s higher education institutions to be epicenters for change and incubators to increase public awareness about the problem of trafficking, how to recognize the signs, and expand ideas, energy and action to solve the problem
  • Engage Virginia’s higher education community to develop new research that measures the problem and the progress in the fight against trafficking and support of the survivors
  • Create and fund a connected network of treatment and shelter facilities for trafficking survivors and their families across the Commonwealth
  • Create an on-line portal of information & ideas to facilitate sharing between VTTL Partners
  • Highlight and benefit from the good work and experience of current leaders in Virginia in the fight against trafficking and support of the survivors, including:
    • Virginia Office of the Attorney General + DHS Blue Campaign
    • Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Initiative – NOVA HTI
    • Virginia Beach Justice Initiative – VBJI
    • Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance
    • Straight Street (Roanoke)
    • Central Virginia Justice Initiative (Fredericksburg)
    • Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney and Police Department
    • Bon Secours Virginia Health System
    • Richmond Justice Initiative “Prevention Project” / Gray Haven (Richmond)
    • The Arbor (Charlottesville) / Latisha’s House (Williamsburg)
    • Global Centurion Foundation (Arlington)
  • Develop a growing alliance of support within the Virginia General Assembly for Virginia Takes the Lead and invest and involve the GA to enact legislation and appropriate funding to facilitate the efforts of the VTTL Partners
  • Develop collaboration between local jurisdictions in the 4 Virginia quadrants to enact legislation and appropriate funding to facilitate the efforts of the VTTL Partners

Virginia Takes The Lead (VTTL) Action Plan

  • Identify the financial and intellectual resources (dollars and time investment) necessary to institutionalize Virginia-centric and sector-specific training modules and information databases – effort coordinated by Global Centurion, completed by 9/1/16
  • Identify the financial and intellectual resources (dollars and time investment) necessary to enhance the aforementioned training by developing basic metrics for the State in terms of learner knowledge, retention and application to job – effort coordinated by Global Centurion, completed by 9/1/16
  • Create & conduct a survey to define all of the VTTL Partners across the Commonwealth for the VA database – effort coordinated by Replenish Richmond, completed by 10/1/16
  • Develop a legislative “wish list” for the 2017 General Assembly session – by 12/1/16
  • Develop a local jurisdiction legislative “wish list” for each quadrant – by end of 2016
  • Create a relationship with VCU Brand Center to brand VTTL and develop the necessary on-line presence (website, social media) to be successful – start discussions fall 2016
  • Prepare Virginia’s higher education institutions (75+) to become epicenters of the movement and the initiative.  Each institution is asked to do the following:
    • Develop institutional protocols and training for staff / faculty and examine current campus operations and data collection
    • Facilitate the creation of a formal student group that will assist with implementing the VTTL programming on campus; first looking for a student group already working on these issues that will agree to accept the VTTL responsibilities – if there is not already a student group, it is asked that the new group be called “The Freedom Project @ ?” for branding / creating continuity
    • Work with each student group to produce a PSA using the Freedom Project @ VCU as an example – PSA produced by the end of 2016
    • Work with each student group to produce a VTTL information and awareness event on campus by the end of 2016
    • Work with the student group to spread the VTTL message to faculty, staff and alumni – develop an information dissemination plan by the end of 2016
    • Work with the student group to spread the VTTL message to the surrounding community – develop an information dissemination plan by the end of 2016
  • Develop an action plan to connect the student groups at all Virginia higher education campuses in common purpose – create Connection Action Plan by the end of 2016
    • Start in September 2016 to connect the eight major higher education institutions in the Richmond region to showcase connection opportunities > JS Reynolds / John Tyler / Randolph Macon / Richard Bland / U of R / VCU / VSU / VUU
  • Create a survey to define the areas of Virginia where treatment centers and shelter for trafficking survivors are non-existent or lacking in services; develop an action plan to bring all sectors of the Commonwealth up to the same levels of quality and service – ASAP
  • Promote Central VA, Northern VA, Tidewater VA + Southwest VA as epicenters of action and collaboration – develop a communication network between the leaders of the four quadrants – by November 1, 2016
  • Identify and map specific kinds of trafficking problems in Virginia (i.e. street gang sex trafficking, sex and labor trafficking in Virginia Beach and other tourist areas, etc.)

VTTL Leadership – to be expanded over the coming months

  • Global Centurion Foundation, led by Founder and President Laura Lederer
    • Global Centurion will manage data collection, development of training + metrics
    • Laura Lederer – (703) 919-6828 (cell) /  llederer@globalcenturion.org
  • Replenish Richmond LLC, led by Founder and Manager Rick Tatnall
    • Replenish Richmond will manage the strategic objectives and action plan items
    • Rick Tatnall – (804) 325-3674 (land line) /  rick@replenishrichmond.com