CAST Receives Presidential Award

Secretary of State John Kerry presents CAST with Presidential Award at the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking

     Washington, D.C. – April 8, 2014 – Los Angeles-based Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) is the first non-profit organization to receive the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. Secretary of State John Kerry presented a framed, engraved medallion to CAST at the beginning of the annual meeting of the President’s Interagency Task force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking (PITF). CAST’s Executive Director Kay Buck, Board President Butch Schuman, Survivor Organizer Ima Matul and National Survivor Network Member Evelyn Chumbow received the Presidential Award on CAST’s behalf.

     Ambassador Luis CdeBaca read the commendation, which honored CAST for "its extraordinary efforts to provide comprehensive services to survivors of modern slavery, its bold leadership on behalf of and in partnership with survivors to advocate for robust anti-trafficking policies and laws, and its unwavering mission to empower survivors by building a community network and helping leaders thrive.

     The Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons is an important part of the Obama administration's commitment to fight against modern slavery. This year, the prestigious award is given to CAST, the United States’ largest legal and social service provider dedicated exclusively to survivors of human trafficking.

     An innovator in the anti-slavery movement for over 15 years, CAST helps survivors of human trafficking rebuild their lives and works towards ending human trafficking through strategic policy initiatives. Direct work with survivors gives CAST a unique perspective to advocate for effective anti-slavery policies at the state and federal levels. CAST’s survivor-centered approach to ending modern slavery underscores the theme of the PITF meeting, “Survivors at the Center.”

“Survivors have always been at the center of CAST’s mission. Our approach is grounded in the belief that survivors are key leaders in the fight against modern slavery - who better to inform our work than the people who are directly impacted. Survivors inspire us and teach us. This award signals that as a movement, we are willing to learn,” said CAST’s Executive Director Kay Buck.

     CAST’s signature survivor leadership programs, the Los Angeles-based Survivor Advisory Caucus and the National Survivor Network, are essential sources of community support and peer-to-peer mentorship. The leadership programs provide survivors with training in advocacy, workforce development and media relations. Caucus and Network members have successfully advocated for landmark state and federal legislation, including California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (SB 657, 2010), Human Trafficking: Public Posting Requirements (SB 1193, 2012), and Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA, 2013).

“This award is for all survivors,” said Survivor Organizer Ima Matul, who leads both the Survivor Advisory Caucus and the National Survivor Network. “It’s not easy to share about our experiences, but it’s worth it if it stops other people from experiencing similar injustices. Thank you to CAST for helping me find my voice and for prioritizing all survivor voices.”

     "Because Los Angeles is a known hub for human trafficking, it’s important that this city also provides leadership in the anti-slavery movement,” said Ms. Buck. “Thankfully, city and county leaders are showing a remarkable commitment to working together and finding innovative solutions to this growing problem. I’m so inspired by the survivors who have come through our doors and are adding their voices to this crucial conversation.”

“I can’t think of an organization more deserving of this tremendous honor,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “My wife Amy and I have been long-time personal supporters of CAST. Now, as Mayor, I’m proud to work with them to stop trafficking and help survivors. Together, we're working to make Los Angeles a slavery-free zone.”

     "We are grateful that President Obama, Secretary Kerry and this administration have made helping survivors of human trafficking and the elimination of such enslavement a national priority," said Butch Schuman, President of the Board of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking.

      "Our ambition is not only to help today's trafficking victims survive and then thrive, but to end modern slavery altogether. The President’s Interagency Task force represents one of the best efforts in the world today to accomplish those goals. Special thanks to Ambassador CdeBaca for his tireless commitment to end human trafficking, and to all who help forward the cause," said Mr. Schuman.

About CAST

For over 15 years, CAST, a Los Angeles-based organization with international and domestic programming, has championed a survivor-centered approach to combatting human trafficking. CAST provides trafficking survivors with a continuum of life-transforming services: a 24-hour emergency response system; legal and social services; and a world-renowned survivor leadership program. Through this intensive work in the trenches, CAST holds a unique perspective that has impacted state and federal policies, as well as catalyzed innovative partnerships which have transformed the trajectories of survivors’ lives.

CAST’s Los Angeles-based Survivor Advisory Caucus was launched in 2004 and is comprised of 37 former CAST clients representing over 10 different countries. The Caucus is a social network that uses their collective voice to impact systemic change. Building on the success of the Survivor Advisory Caucus, CAST founded the National Survivor Network in February 2011. The National Survivor Network includes over 100 members from 25 states and over 20 countries. The Network’s diverse membership makes it the only survivor group that represents a full spectrum of human trafficking experiences. Through the National Survivor Network, CAST continues its commitment to create a network of support that empowers survivors to become advocates, strong voices and thought-leaders in the anti -trafficking movement and in their own communities.

Learn more at www.castla.org or follow CAST on Twitter (@CASTLA) and Facebook.

Survivors Celebrate Freedom