Human Trafficking Academy: An Amazing, Productive and Fulfilling Week!

Dr. Roza Pati, Dr. Hillary Chester, Prof. Alexandra Levy, Matthew Grady, Esq., and Ana Isabel Vallejo, Esq.

Ninety-eight participants from all over the U.S. and the world took part in the one-week intensive training on human trafficking law, policy and implementation, offered in class and online. Under the direction of Professor Roza Pati and taught by some of the very best experts in the field, the Human Trafficking Academy brought together judges, prosecutors, victim’s attorneys, immigration lawyers, law enforcement officials, child advocates, service and health care providers, clergy, academics and students to explore, through fifteen tailor-made courses, the vast problem of human trafficking and modern slavery.

Hailing from all over the Sunshine State, but also from as far as Michigan, Washington D.C., Italy, Romania and Kenya in the East of the African continent, the participants, representing the public and private sector and civil society, engaged in a fruitful dialogue and exchange of experience and expertise with the renowned speakers and amongst themselves.

St. Thomas University School of Law, well-known as the pioneer and the academic center of anti-trafficking work in South Florida, welcomed the Academy participants with its customary hospitality. Rev. Monsignor Franklyn Casale, Law School Dean Alfredo Garcia, Former Dean Douglas Ray, and Associate Dean Cece Dykas joined the Academy participants at various sessions and during lunches.

The feedback received by the participants has been overwhelmingly positive.
“It warms my heart to read the gracious comments, prayers, good wishes, the thoughtful contributions, the constructive suggestions as well as the extraordinary encouragement we have received from the participants. Their commitment gives us hope for the eradication of modern slavery in our lifetime, and it inspires us to advance our outreach in the community, and to work tirelessly for an order of human dignity, social justice that reduces vulnerability, and the lofty ideals of freedom and peace,” stated Dr. Roza Pati, Director of the Human Trafficking Academy.

Let us share a few comments from our participants.

Thank you for an amazing, productive and fulfilling week. I’ve been working exclusively in the field of anti-trafficking providing direct services to survivors for almost two years and despite the fact that I was well aware of some of the topics and terms the speakers brought forth, I can tell you the academy was one of the most comprehensive and effective trainings I’ve attended. I am thankful for your dedication, efforts and hospitality (as a vegetarian and eight-month pregnant participant, I appreciated very much the special accommodations…) and hopefully the Academy can continue to train the community to once and for all eradicate modern day slavery and aid the survivors properly.” 

Florencia Dominguez, Caseworker 
International Rescue Committee

Dr. Roza Pati: I thank St . Thomas school of law and by extension you for giving me this great opportunity to attend the 2014 human trafficking academy. Thank you also for the well sourced lecturers, they have been all wonderful. The academy has been a big eye opener to me as a person and by extension, to Catholic justice and peace commission and the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops. The latest annual report by the US State department of HT states that Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi are among the nation's  that remain both sources and destination countries for men, women and children subjected to forced labor and sexual trafficking. I honestly take this as a challenge and do state on my part that CJPC is immediately taking this up as a matter of emergency to fully create community awareness on this sad subject. Attempts will also be made to work with CJPC offices both in Uganda and Tanzania on prevention and protection of human trafficking. I look forward to even closer and continued partnership between CJPC Kenya and St. Thomas school of law on this important topic. God bless the works of your hands!

Beatrice Odera, 
Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Kenya

Dr. Pati Addresses Human Trafficking Academy Participants

I am a Yale Law graduate and have been practicing civil litigation for 24 years.  I have also served as an Attorney Ad Litem in a case involving sexual abuse.  The prosecutors, as well as Alexandra Levy, did an exceptional job.  I was also very impressed with the current information regarding the adolescent mind and best practices interviewing techniques.  Thank you for your excellent Academy.

Jennifer Coberly
Attorney, Ford & Harrison LLP

I am a Ph.D. student at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy. My research project focuses on agribusiness sustainability: legality and work protection, corporate social responsibility and critical consumption, with a peculiar attention to the prevention of exploitation and discrimination of migrants people and this is the reason why I decided to attend the online course at the Human Trafficking Academy. It was my first time and I am really thankful to the Academy because everybody has been truly kind and careful about the online issues. The summer school has greatly fostered my scientific interest by the interesting lectures and the practical examples. Next time I’ll definitely attend the course on campus in order to have the chance to interact with professors, leading experts and practitioners, breathing the nourishing air of the Academy.

Paola Cavanna
Ph. D. Candidate, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy

Dear Professor Pati: Salus et pax. I pray you are well. Many thanks again for the opportunity to attend the Academy. What a blessing! I was energized: at mass on Sunday I spoke about human trafficking during my homily. I did so in the context of preaching on the gift and the responsibility that human freedom is and the reality that this gift is "taken away" with modern day slavery - human trafficking. I plan to talk more about this topic in future sermons.” 

Fr. Scott Francis Binet

I thought the training was wonderful. There were many new aspects to Human Trafficking that I learned about, and it was extremely helpful to have information on the new laws and restitution.  Another great aspect of the program was the multitude of perspectives: SAO, US Attorney, local attorneys, etc. Also, the staff needs to be commended for assisting everyone with such patience and kindness.

Tina Morgan, CPM, PMP
Circuit 9 Community Development Administrator, Orange and Osceola Counties

St. Thomas Law Dean, Alfredo Garcia, delivers welcoming address to HTA participants

While the problem of human trafficking is daunting, I am surprised and encouraged by how much is being accomplished to help victims and prosecute traffickers.  Thank you to the Academy, all of the excellent speakers, and my fellow participants who added so much to the discussions!

Carol Castleberry, Attorney 
Tampa, Florida

I was one of the online students. I want to first of all to really thank you for this learning opportunity. I've been in the U.S. for 5 years now and HT in the US is kind of new to me. This academy was an excellent opportunity to finally have some really knowledgeable people teaching about HT. If you have a basic or even no knowledge about HT you will definitely learn a lot at the end of the week. If you already work in the field, you will for sure learn even more due to the diversity of speakers and courses this academy offered. This academy is an essential tool for your education. After this week I'm certainly more prepared to pursuit and start a career in the HT field. I highly recommend this academy and if any other HT courses were offered I would not hesitate in participate. Thank you so much for such an excellent week of learning.

Isabel Gomes, RN

I was impressed by the diverse topics, speakers and subject areas that made up the Academy…. Overall, great job! Thank you for putting on this Academy.

Natalie Lamela, Esq., Child’s Best Interest Attorney
Florida Guardian ad Litem Program

Dear Roza: thank you for the wonderful Academy that you and the staff at St. Thomas put together for the community. I cannot begin to tell you how much I learned! I also made some great contact with people from all backgrounds and field of profession which adds to what we as a community are attempting to do to help victims of sex trafficking. Again, thank you for making a difference in this world! May the Lord continue to give you great favor with him and others!

Betty Lara
Glory House of Miami

Dear Dr. Pati: I wanted to express my most sincere gratitude for organizing such a wonderful conference on Human Trafficking.  The presenters were very well informed and relayed the information in "plain speak" making it easier to navigate through the maze of legal language and rules that I am not accustomed to as a clinician. I will be passing along the "good news" of what you and your very wonderful team are doing to help all of the survivors and those pending survivors that I know your good work will be reaching. It is very inspiring to know that you and all the wonderful professionals that I met this week are "on-board" in eradicating human trafficking. Please keep me informed of any upcoming training as I would be most eager to participate and I will be encouraging my colleagues to do the same. Could I please ask you to thank your support staff including, but not limited to your cafeteria personnel, volunteers, presenters and your gracious School of Law, Dean Garcia and the long list of distinguished professors that provided for such a memorable and informative experience? Dr. Pati...  May God always keep you and all those you work with in safe keeping."

Felix O. Padron
Clinical Director, FACES

Amazing!!  I really enjoyed my experience as a  participant on-line. As a trainer, I am thirsty for knowledge and to get an opportunity to hear about human trafficking across different disciplines was awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed S. Peppy Bennett. Thanks to you and your team! Great job!!

Tia Stover
Development Specialist
Partnership for Strong Families

Engaged participation.

The Human Trafficking Academy, in my opinion, was a complete success; the speakers were immensely prepared and had a great disposition to explain. Another essential component of the Academy, in my opinion, were the attendees, the questions and information offered by the individuals of the audience made the Academy even more interesting and productive. Thank you so very much again for the opportunity to attend and learn about Human Trafficking.

Rebecca C. Tabares
Juris Doctor Candidate, 2016
St. Thomas University, School Of Law       

I would like to take this opportunity to commend you and your staff for putting together such an informative and educating conference.  All the speakers did an exceptional job.  I particularly enjoyed Maria Jose Fletcher and Brenda Mezick.  Their material was very interesting and well presented.  I will definitely recommend all my colleagues to attend.

Violet Felipe-Diaz, MSM
Miami-Dade County
Community Action and Human Services
Victim Advocate, Lead Worker


The Human Trafficking Academy 2014 was a wonderful learning experience. I learned a lot in terms of theoretical concepts to understand the dynamics of human trafficking. Application of these concepts to particular situations regarding different approaches and institutions; federal and states laws; validating and interpreting evidence in human trafficking, issues of remediation of the victim’ dignity, compensation and consideration of the emotional factors. I got a chance to meet the top leaders of the nation in the field and really interested participants came all over the country. The atmosphere was so instructional during the lunch with special guest with special speech about human trafficking. It was amazing to listening each of them sharing their expertise, leadership and authority in the field. I am grateful have been exposed at very relevant conversation, experience and their knowledge. I thank specially Professor Roza Pati for her kindness and special attention to each participant at different levels moments of the session from the inscription to the lunch room guiding us to be comfortable. She goes above and beyond to help the participant. The staff management was excellent very collaborative and respectful. This is the place to be because of the atmosphere created. ..Thank you to the School of Law and Saint Thomas administration affairs for this promotion. I have been very proud to be a participant.” 

Jean Jude Piquant
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

"Human trafficking is the hot topic of the 21st century.  The intensive weeklong workshop shined a beacon of light on this dark issue that's occurring daily in our communities. Every presentation was phenomenal. The speakers shared their passion, knowledge and commitment, equipping us with valuable resources to help eradicate what Pope Francis calls an "intolerable crime against human dignity. This course is a must for all interested in making a difference and being a voice for the victims.  One of the highlights of the academy is interacting and sharing information with those on the front lines in the war against human trafficking. We all agree that Human Trafficking can no longer be ignored or tolerated. It must end. Through creative collaboration, we can win this battle."

Judy Echavez
STU Alumna

Dear Dr. Pati: It has been an honor and privilege to meet you and all the well knowledge speakers in this HTA training. I can say that it has broadened my view to look further into the investigations that I do on a daily basis which many times deals with migrants in the Homestead area as well as runaways in some cases. The partnership between all departments is crucial which has given me the knowledge on who to contact when the need arises in my investigations. I wish to thank you and all your colleagues for a wonderful experience.

Theresa Luquis-Hernandez
Senior Child Protective Investigator
Miami-Dade South

Associate Dean, Cece Dykas, addresses participants

I loved the majority of the speakers. I loved Barbara, Ana, Florrie. I also loved the SAO attorneys. I love examples and I am very visual. I love the idea of this training. I have learned tremendously.

Nadege Dareus
Child Protective Investigator
Department of Children and Families

Congratulations on a great session.  I found the human trafficking academy to be extremely valuable as a service provider.  I will come away with in-depth knowledge of human trafficking.  Unfortunately, most of the trainings out there deal only with sex trafficking or CSEC.  To attend a training that encompasses the legal aspects of trafficking, immigration law and labor trafficking will allow me to be a much stronger advocate and provider.  A recommendation for future classes would be the inclusion of underserved victims - males, transgender and gay victims.

Nathan Earl
CEO, Ark of Freedom

First and foremost, I want to thank St. Thomas University for bringing such a prestigious group of not only educators but also students/professionals together for such an important topic.  The Academy was very informative and a networking experience for professionals who are passionate about making a difference in the world of Human Trafficking.  I look forward to attending the Human Trafficking Academy in the future.

Jennifer Ludgood
Senior Child Protective Investigator
Protective Investigations/Family Safety
Department of Children & Families

Professor Pati: I can't even describe the joy I've received from taking this course. Though I am just a crisis counseling student, I've met so many wonderful contacts here that I never would have met otherwise. They treat me as an equal which is very uplifting and quite frankly, more motivating to continue the fight against this heinous crime of selling human beings. I've gotten some excellent guidance in opening a safe house and different internships that I need very soon to graduate. We are all in this fight together and we know we all need each other from different facets and walks of life. You have done an incredible job of setting up highly-skilled training professionals that normally, would not be in the same room at a lengthy time to discuss major issues. That being said, the only thing I would like to see from a psychology student's standpoint is more training on the victim's needs as well as the perpetrators' mentalities which I believe would benefit prosecutors and law enforcement alike. It's a long process but we are on the right track. You have done so much for trafficking victims, more I'm sure than they will ever know. It was great meeting you. Thank you for a great start to my future world changing!” 

Katherine Johnson 
Crisis Counseling Student

I would like thank all of the Human Trafficking Academy participants, most importantly the instructors. It is beyond refreshing that in this day in age, professionals not only care about this dire topic but take time out of their hectic schedules to address it. The value of this Academy is immeasurable. What I have taken from this Academy will stick with me forever.  I would recommend this Academy not only for those whose profession collides with the evils of human trafficking, but for those who care for human beings in general.

Cameron Ross
St. Thomas Law Student