Meet our speakers

Amelia Rubenstein

Amelia Rubenstein

Director • Prevention of Adolescent Risks Initiative, University of Maryland School of Social Work

Amelia Rubenstein, MSW, LCSW-C is the Director of the Prevention of Adolescent Risks Initiative (PARI) at the University of Maryland School of Social Work where she leads programs to improve the health and safety of Maryland youth. As a clinical social worker, researcher, and nonprofit leader, Ms. Rubenstein has worked with survivors of violence and trauma for over a decade. She is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

Ms. Rubenstein is a passionate advocate for youth impacted by human trafficking, sexual assault, child maltreatment, and other forms of interpersonal and institutional trauma. She is committed to helping child-serving agencies do better in helping young people grow and thrive. Ms. Rubenstein is a highly sought-after trainer and expert witness, having testified in numerous criminal and civil cases. Ms. Rubenstein began her career as a foster care social worker and went on to found the Anti-Trafficking Program at TurnAround, Inc. in Baltimore. Ms. Rubenstein received her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Skidmore College and a Master of Social Work degree from Columbia University in 2010. Ms. Rubenstein received the Outstanding Contribution to the Fight against Human Trafficking award from the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2015 as well as formal citations from Senator Barbara Mikulski, Baltimore Mayor Pugh, and Governor Hogan for her work with survivors of sexual violence.

Heather Amador

Heather Amador

Director of Victim Services Policy and Programs • Governor's Office of Crime Prevention and Policy

Heather Amador joined the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention and Policy in January of 2019. Heather spent over 21 years at the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office. She joined the State’s Attorney’s Office in October of 1997 as a Case Manager in the Victim Witness Assistance Center. Over the years, she became the lead Victim Specialist for the Juvenile Unit, Automobile Fatalities, Animal Cruelty and Human Trafficking cases. In July of 2011, Heather was promoted to the Director of Victim Services, where she supervised a staff of 16 victim specialists, while also managing a caseload on the Homicide, Child Abuse and Sex Crimes units. Heather’s many years on the Juvenile and Child Abuse units has provided her with the knowledge and expertise to handle cases involving the youngest victims and provide support to the parents of these children. Heather served as the chairperson for the Anne Arundel County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and Anne Arundel County Witness Security Program, and as a member of the Anne Arundel County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. She is still an active member of the Anne Arundel County Sexual Assault Response Team, and the Maryland Association of Victim Service Professionals. Heather also served as the administrator of the Victims’ Fund, an emergency fund to aid crime victims who cannot cover the cost of urgent financial needs related to their victimization. On April 3, 2013, Heather received a Governor’s Citation for her service to crime victims in Anne Arundel County and for her continuing efforts to change the experiences of victims across the state of Maryland.

LaShanta Harris

LaShanta Harris

Assistant United States Attorney • Office of the United States Attorney

LaShanta Harris is an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Maryland where she also serves as the Human Trafficking Coordinator and the Chair of the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force. Prior to her work at the Department of Justice, Ms. Harris spent several years as an Assistant State’s Attorney at the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office. She also spent five years as a Trial Attorney at the United States Department of Labor and two years as a Trial Attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission. LaShanta started her legal career by serving as a federal judicial law clerk in the District Court in the Northern District of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. In her community development endeavors, Ms. Harris has helped to organize the Women Moving Forward Conference: A Collaborative Re-entry Program for Women at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup, Maryland. Also, within the last five years, Ms. Harris has served on the Board of Directors of Bishop McNamara High School, the Prince George’s County Bar Association, and the Penn Club of DC. Ms. Harris is native of Prince George’s County, Maryland and a proud graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Howard University School of Law.

Kristina Rose

Kristina Rose

Director • Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice

Kristina Rose is the Director of the Office for Victims of Crime at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), where she oversees programs and services that support crime victims and survivors. Ms. Rose was appointed to this position by President Joe Biden and sworn in on July 12, 2021. At OVC, she oversees nearly $9 billion in grant funding to provide vital compensation and assistance to persons impacted by crime. OVC also invests in new and innovative approaches to improving the criminal justice and community response to crime victimization and raises awareness of crime victim rights. Ms. Rose has spent nearly 20 years at DOJ serving in numerous roles including as Deputy Director at OVC, as Acting Director and Deputy Director for the National Institute of Justice, and as Chief of Staff for the Office on Violence Against Women. She holds an M.S. in criminal justice from Northeastern University and a B.A. in sociology from George Mason University.

Melissa Snow

Melissa Snow

Executive Director, Child Sex Trafficking Programs • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)

Melissa Snow is the Executive Director of Child Sex Trafficking Programs at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). She has worked in the anti-trafficking field for over 20 years developing and providing trauma-informed and survivor-informed direct services. Her work has also included advocating for stronger policies and laws to protect children and hold offenders accountable. Prior to working at NCMEC, Melissa served as the Child Victim Program Coordinator for the FBI. In that capacity she provided guidance and technical assistance to special agents and victim specialists on providing trauma-informed response in crimes against children cases. Additionally, Melissa developed and directed the Anti-Trafficking Program at TurnAround, Inc, a community-based program for survivors of sex trafficking in Baltimore Maryland. She has authored several resources on child sex trafficking including INTERVENE: Identifying and Responding to Child Sex Trafficking, a risk assessment tool and intervention resource. Melissa has served on several state and local task forces including operating as the former Co-Chair of the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, Victim Services Committee.

Candace Parrot

Candace Parrot

Founder, Freshwaters • Co-Chair, Public Awareness Committee, Maryland Human Trafficking Taskforce

Join Candace Burke-Parrott and Freshwaters on a journey of empowerment. As the founder of Freshwaters, Candace is dedicated to providing proactive, strengths-based approaches to support at-risk youth, trauma survivors, and anyone seeking renewal.

With a mission centered on empowering individuals and organizations, Candace’s passion lies in unlocking the potential within each person she encounters. Through Freshwaters, she offers life coaching for individuals of all ages, entrepreneur classes, life skills training, and financial literacy education, equipping them for success in both the workplace and the wider world.

In addition to her work with Freshwaters, Candace is the driving force behind CSP Consulting, Inc., a respected Human Resource Consulting firm. For over 32 years, CSP Consulting has delivered corporate recruiting services, Diversity and Inclusion training, and comprehensive HR consulting. Notably, Candace goes above and beyond, leveraging her expertise to place trauma survivors in meaningful employment opportunities, fostering collaboration with corporations to create pathways to employment for survivors.

Active engagement is at the heart of Candace’s advocacy. As a co-chair of the Public Awareness Committee within the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force (MDHTTF), she spearheads initiatives to raise community awareness of human trafficking. Through training sessions, speaking events, workshops, and panels, Candace and her team educate audiences across public and private spheres, locally and globally.
Candace also serves as the senior director of Program Design and Implementation at Araminta, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending child sex trafficking in Maryland. There, she has assembled a formidable team, uniting their efforts to combat this heinous crime and protect vulnerable children.

At the First Baptist Church in Glenarden, Candace leads the Turning Point Ministry, providing a supportive environment for youth and adults to overcome life-controlling challenges such as substance abuse and addiction.

Candace’s commitment to advocacy extends beyond Freshwaters, the church, and Araminta, encompassing roles such as Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for foster care youth, advocate for victims of sexual assault through the Victim Assistance Sexual Assault Program, and former President of the Maryland Association of Victim Service Providers (MAVSP).

Trained in the UK and driven by a steadfast dedication to empowerment, Candace Burke-Parrott continues to uplift individuals, survivors, and at-risk youth, shaping a brighter future for all. Connect with Candace and Freshwaters to embark on a transformative journey of growth and empowerment.

Wemi Peters

Wemi Peters

Assistant Attorney General • District of Columbia Office of Attorney General

AAG Wemi Peters is an Assistant Attorney General (AAG) with the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia in the domestic violence and special victim’s section. She handles juvenile prosecutions of sex offenses, domestic violence, and any offense against vulnerable victims. She also represents the Office of the Attorney General in juvenile cases in HOPE Court – a specialty court designed to offer alternatives to juveniles charged with crimes who are at risk of being sexually exploited. Prior to her role at the Office of the Attorney General, AAG Peters worked as a family law and domestic violence attorney at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia where she represented survivors of domestic violence in protective order and custody cases against their abusers.

Keely Magyar

Keely Magyar

Assistant Attorney General • Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia

Keely Magyar, who has practiced child welfare law for twenty-four years, is an Assistant Attorney General at the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia. Keely represents the child welfare agency in HOPE Court, a treatment court for sexually exploited youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems in Washington, DC. She has previously handled cases in Family Treatment Court, a program for families involved in the child welfare system due to parental substance abuse. Keely understands the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach to the prosecution and treatment of child abuse, and she has a wealth of experience working collaboratively with diverse teams of professionals, including social workers, medical experts, law enforcement, and mental health providers.

Dalton Collins

Dalton Collins

Assistant Attorney General • Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia

Dalton Collins is an Assistant Attorney General (AAG) with the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia. He is assigned to the Family Services Division in the Child Protection Section, where he litigates child abuse and neglect matters on behalf of the District’s Child and Family Services Agency. In this role, Mr. Collins specializes in cases involving youth who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation or who are at high risk of victimization. Mr. Collins also serves on the District of Columbia Human Trafficking Task Force as co-chair of the Outreach and Training Committee. Prior to joining OAG, Mr. Collins worked at multiple governmental and non-governmental organizations representing incarcerated women with severe and persistent mental illness, people experiencing homelessness in Baltimore City, children in the D.C. child welfare system, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Mr. Collins is admitted to the practice of law in the District of Columbia and Maryland.

Brittany Butler

Brittany Butler

Resource Specialist • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Brittany Butler is a Resource Specialist with the Child Sex Trafficking Recovery Services Team (RST) at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). RST is a team of regionally assigned Resource Specialists who support child welfare professionals when they report a child missing from care to NCMCE who is suspected or confirmed to be a victim of child sex trafficking. RST provides resources and troubleshooting around safety planning, youth engagement, trauma-informed recovery planning, and connection to specialized resources for child sex trafficking survivors.
Brittany has eight years of experience and an expertise in the topics of domestic violence, child abuse, and human trafficking. Brittany’s focus has always been on uniquely vulnerable populations, and she passionately advocates for those that she serves. Her educational background includes an undergraduate psychology degree from the University of Virginia, and a master’s degree in forensic psychology from Marymount University. Throughout her career, Brittany has served survivor populations in Northern Virginia, Atlanta, New York City, and Baltimore. Presently, in her role as Resource Specialist, Brittany has been able to broaden her impact by supporting child sex trafficking survivors and child welfare professionals across the Northeast (10 states and Washington, DC).

Liz Kimbel

Liz Kimbel

Virtual & Outreach Director • Restoring Ivy Collective

Liz Kimbel, Virtual & Outreach Director at The Restoring Ivy Collective, is dedicated to supporting and empowering survivors. Liz specializes in re-entry, as well as virtual community management. She utilizes yoga, social-emotional arts, and addiction and behavior recovery.  Liz’s background is in program development and facilitation, advocacy, public relations, and training.

Kaitlyn Zedalis

Kaitlyn Zedalis

Associate Director of Research, Learning, & Advocacy • Covenant House New Jersey

Kaitlyn Zedalis, MSW, LSW, LCADC, is the Associate Director of Research, Learning, & Advocacy for Covenant House Action and Research Tank (CHART) at Covenant House New Jersey, where she oversees agency initiatives related to research, program evaluation, data analysis, and advocacy.

Working for Covenant House New Jersey since 2017, Kaitlyn previously served as the Behavioral Health Specialist for the Atlantic City sites, addressing young people’s mental health and substance abuse needs, and conducting human trafficking assessments. Kaitlyn has worked in the social work field since 2011 in a variety of settings including a corrections facility, school-based counseling program, and addictions treatment centers. In 2023, Kaitlyn co-authored published research on domestic labor trafficking by forced criminality and completed a regional needs assessment on McKinney-Vento services in schools. Kaitlyn is a consultant for the National Human Trafficking Training & Technical Assistance Center (NHTTAC), and has assisted organizations across North America on the topics of human trafficking screening and assessment, trauma informed care, and best practices for serving youth experiencing homelessness and survivors of human trafficking.

Kaitlyn has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Stockton University, where she currently serves as an adjunct professor. She is a Licensed Social Worker and Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor in the State of New Jersey.

Amanda Rodriguez

Amanda Rodriguez

Executive Director • TurnAround Inc

Amanda K. Rodriguez, Esq. graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park in 2005 as the only candidate to receive the prestigious Arts/Law degree in her class. She received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2007. During her legal study, she was the first student attorney in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at the University of Baltimore.  Subsequently, she wrote numerous articles on the topic of the international implications of human trafficking on the United States’ economy, human trafficking, prosecution, investigation,  and domestic minor sex trafficking. Her articles have been published nationally and internationally. She was an Assistant State’s Attorney for Baltimore County where she oversaw all human trafficking investigations in the county. In 2014, Mrs. Rodriguez transitioned to the role of Manager of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Policy for the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention and was appointed a Special Assistant United States Attorney where she oversaw the state-wide implementation of policy and protocol related to human trafficking in Maryland.  She subsequently moved to leadership roles at local victim service agencies. She accepted her current position of Executive Director of TurnAround, Baltimore’s rape crisis center, and a comprehensive domestic violence and human trafficking service provider in December of 2019.  She is also currently the Co-Chair of the Legislative Subcommittee for the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force and the Chair of the Legislative Committee of the Board of Directors for the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence.  She has received numerous awards for her work on human trafficking in the state including the Breakthrough Award from the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, a special citation from Baltimore County, two citations from the State of Maryland,  a special recognition from the Baltimore U.S. Attorney’s Office for her successful prosecution of traffickers involved in child exploitation and her commitment to human trafficking survivors.  Additionally, she was recognized in 2014 as a Leading Woman by the Daily Record.

Dr. Elizabeth Bowman

Dr. Elizabeth Bowman

Assistant Professor • Gallaudet University

Beth Bowman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work at Gallaudet University. She is also a minor domestic sex trafficking survivor, anti-trafficking advocate, mother of three young adults, researcher, clinician, and speaker. In her clinical practice she. works with trafficking survivors using trauma-informed yoga group therapy and other expressive arts therapies. She is the founder of the Restoring Ivy Collective which provides support to survivors of trafficking.

Damien K. Marsh

Damien K. Marsh

Gallaudet University

Damien K. Marsh graduated from Gallaudet University with a B.S. in History and a Master’s in Social Work. He will enter into the PSY.D program at Gallaudet in Fall 2024. He grew up in Los Angeles and recently moved to Washington DC from Wyoming, Damien worked at a long-term residential treatment center for high-risk teenagers for 7 years, rising to senior residential care professional. He has a passion for supporting high-risk teenagers with human trafficking trauma and hopes to work someday as a school psychologist for high-risk teenagers in his hometown of LA California.

Bobbi-Angelica Morris

Bobbi-Angelica Morris

Gallaudet University

Bobbi-Angelica Morris is a 2022 graduate of the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Global Development Studies and minor in ASL, and a 2024 graduate of Gallaudet University with a Master’s of Social Work. As a non-binary abolitionist, Bobbi works as a  Prison Correspondent with HEARD, a nonprofit advocating for Deaf and disabled incarcerated peoples. Bobbi manages the garden project they started during their MSW internship with Covenant House Greater Washington, which now has an urban hydroponic farm the size of a shipping container and soon to be community garden. This project provides jobs and fresh produce to the local community and homeless population in DC. This project morphed into ASL Garden LLC (IG: @ouraslgarden) with the mission of creating community garden coalitions with integrated art and wellness programs, promoting disability justice for all. Bobbi is also a founder of Students for Justice in Palestine at Gallaudet University and is still an active organizer promoting political education for all disabled individuals. 

Ellie Park

Ellie Park

Grants Administrator • UM Capital Region Health Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Center

Ellie Lewis Park, MPH is the Grants Administrator for the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center at University of Maryland Capital Region Health. She has 7 years’ experience building community-based programs; leading training initiatives for professionals and community members; managing state, federal, and private grant projects; and conducting qualitative and quantitative data-driven evaluations to support community health. Throughout her career, she has contributed her professional expertise to numerous community non-profit, healthcare, and government agencies in support of special populations including survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking; people engaged in consensual sex work; minority small business owners; and military service members. She received her Master of Public Health in Behavioral and Community Health in 2023 from the University of Maryland, where she also received her Bachelor of Arts in 2017.

Monte Ephraim

Monte Ephraim

Director, LCSW-C, CCTP • MESE Training and Consulting LLC

Monte Ephraim is a dedicated professional with a passion for serving others in the realm of mental health and social welfare. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW-C) and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP), Monte brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her collaborations and training. Having cultivated her career across various facets of human services, Monte’s journey has taken her from Child Welfare to Geriatrics, providing her with a comprehensive understanding of the diverse needs within these populations. As co-founder of MESE Training and Consulting LLC, she has brought all that experience to the sessions, workshops, and advocacy work she undertakes. Monte’s expertise and training encompass a wide range of areas, including trauma, disabilities, leadership, and organizational culture. Her commitment to continuous learning and professional growth underscores her dedication to providing the highest quality of care in her work. With compassion and a steadfast commitment to advocacy, Monte Ephraim serves as a connection and a bridge for those navigating the complexities of mental health and social well-being. Through her work, she seeks to empower individuals and communities to thrive and lead fulfilling lives.

Shawn Elbert

Shawn Elbert

Trainer • MESE Training and Consulting LLC

Shawn Elbert is a seasoned professional in the field of human services, holding the title of Residential Certified Youth Care Practitioner (RCYCP) in addition but not limited to certifications in TCI, MANDT, Healing Centered Engagement. With an extensive career spanning over three decades, Shawn has dedicated himself to improving the lives of others through his work. With a wealth of experience exceeding 20 years as a trainer, Shawn is recognized for his expertise in training and educating others. He is a co-founder of MESE Training and Consulting. Shawn specializes in areas such as Trauma-Informed Crisis Intervention and Trauma-Informed Care, where his guidance and knowledge have made a profound impact. Throughout his career, Shawn has demonstrated a deep commitment to supporting and empowering individuals in need by assisting and training those that provide care. His passion for fostering positive change and his dedication to professional development have solidified his reputation as a leader in the field. In every endeavor, Shawn Elbert exemplifies compassion, expertise, and a relentless drive to make a difference in the lives of those he serves and works with.

 Registration for the 2024 Maryland Child Trafficking Conference is now open!

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