Looking back while moving forward

From LCHT: We're excited to embark on its seventh summer Leadership Development Program with ten fantastic individuals! This summer, participants will be working on several exciting projects, including data collection and analysis for the Colorado Project, event planning for fundraising and organizational events, public relations for the Colorado Project, among others. As we look ahead to what is sure to be an amazing summer, we also take time to reflect as former intern Dawn Carmin shares what the Leadership Development Program meant to her.

Dawn Carmin
US Agency for International Development
Former Intern, Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking

My time at LCHT has been such an asset to me personally and professionally. It's rare to find an organization that provides as much thoughtful consideration, space for discussion, and guidance in leadership development for individuals engaged in complex issues like human trafficking.

Working with LCHT helped prepare me for international development work in post-conflict East Timor and in my work with the US Agency for International Development (USAID)

-- positions that require an ability to analyze complex situations, be emotionally intelligent and responsive, and to explore creative activities that focus assistance in ways that will make the most sense and impact.

Through LCHT's intensive technical trainings on the issue of human trafficking, weekly thematic intern meetings and research projects, I was able to foster an understanding of the complexities of human trafficking and ways in which the anti-human trafficking movement is trying to address them. I have called on my technical skills as an FSO in contributing to the Agency's new Combating -Trafficking in Persons (C-TIP) strategy and curriculum for the employee orientation on the issue. I've also been able to support the USAID mission to Ukraine and the Government of Ukraine in its anti-trafficking programming which is carried out by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

In addition to fostering a solid technical capacity, my time with LCHT's Leadership Development Program provided me with responsibility and leadership opportunities. I was given the chance to educate community groups, professionals and students about human trafficking. I was given the opportunity to lead discussions on social and economic barriers that leave individuals at risk as well as ways that people can help support the C-TIP movement. I also helped interview new interns and got to participate in some management activities of the program from which I learned so much.

Of all the leadership opportunities at LCHT, my favorite was being a mentor to a high school student engaged in a trafficking awareness project for her peer group. In this role, I was called on to support her C-TIP education, but also to help her realize her project and to be a role model for her classmates.

As an intern, graduate research assistant and participant in the Leadership Program Development I found mentors, teachers and friends who have continued to help me grow and who have created an environment where individuals feel empowered to
make meaningful changes to social, economic and cultural barriers that place individuals at risk for trafficking.

I still consider myself a part of the LCHT community and appreciate being able to call upon my former colleagues at LCHT.

The ways in which Amanda, AJ and the LCHT team lead the organization reflects an extremely deep dedication to finding creative and sustainable solutions to difficult development and human rights challenges, as well as fostering leadership in individuals poised to affect change in the world.


Community-Based Research

Erryn Tappy
CNA Research Intern
Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking

Call it our summer of surveys. As interns at LCHT, my colleague Mindy and I have been tasked with launching a Community Needs Assessment (CNA) in Boulder.

The ambitious research project is designed to facilitate the enhanced coordination and provision of services to victims of human trafficking in the state of Colorado. To date, LCHT has surveyed more than 160 first responders who have contact with victims – an integral part of the CNA process. LCHT has carried out CNAs in Denver, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Englewood and Cheyenne, WY. Before extending the CNA to Boulder, Mindy and I had to first edit the 14-page survey LCHT distributes to first responders. We spent months scrutinizing every word and every sentence in the document. Sounds tedious, right? For us, it was exactly what we wanted as interns: an opportunity to grow as community-based researchers.

I was drawn to this internship, specifically the CNA project, because it combines two topics I am really passionate about: science and social justice. As an undergraduate, I took a class focused on human trafficking, which is what originally motivated me to become involved in the anti-human trafficking movement; however, my understanding of research in the field has been deeply enhanced through my work at LCHT.

Mindy and I both came into the CNA project with our own values and expectations about community-based research. Thankfully, they closely match the values of LCHT. We believe community-based research should go beyond making observations from the outside looking in, and instead should support the community in identifying and voicing their own needs. We believe research should be non-exploitative. We try to be mindful of the impact that each step of the research process may have on a community. And we’re committed to sustainability. To us, that means we don’t own information gathered in a CNA, the community does.

When creation and ownership is shared, a project can gain life beyond laboratories, libraries and agencies.

In extending the CNA project to Boulder, we’ve learned a lot, building upon the beliefs we had at the outset of the project. We’ve gained a new level of appreciation for the complexity of the research process, and the necessity to be mindful of details. Yes, dissecting every sentence in a survey is time-consuming, but researchers need to be critical of every detail to obtain success. This became clear to us while editing the survey used to gather data for the CNA project. Without a strong foundation, research undoubtedly suffers.

One of the most rewarding aspects of the project is seeing how eager people are to learn more about the issue of human trafficking and what they can do about it. It’s also inspiring to recognize the potential that local communities have to combat human trafficking. Additionally, we witnessed first-hand the advantages of being connected to the community throughout the research process. As a recent graduate of CU Boulder, my sense of belonging to that community has been so helpful in establishing connections there. I didn’t have to start from scratch. It was great to know what resources were available to me, and to feel comfortable in reaching out to those resources. I feel fortunate to be able to bridge the roles of both a Boulder community member and a researcher.

We are optimistic that others can form similar bridges between their communities and the anti-human trafficking movement.

For more information, check out this link on our site. If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, please include them in the comments section below or e-mail us at