The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Human Trafficking Team

The conference team includes people from universities and community groups.

Presenters, in descending alphabetical order:

Kevin Bales
Kevin Bales
Research Director, The Rights Lab, Nottingham University, Sheffield, UK

Kevin Bales, Companion in the Order of St. Michael and St. George, (CMG ) (Politics and International Relations) is Professor of Contemporary Slavery and the author of many books on the topic. He was awarded a CMG in the New Year Honors for “services to the antislavery movement” and the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for “research applied in combating modern forms of slavery.” His work on modern slavery was named one of the top "100 World-Changing Discoveries" by the Association of British Universities, and in 2018 he was the winner of the ESRC International Impact Prize. He is on the Board of Directors for Freedom Fund and is a member of the Global Slavery Index Expert Working Group. He is currently working on a new book about slavery and conflict as part of the Rights Lab's Law and Policy Program.

Heriselda Begaj-Viotti
Heriselda Begaj-Viotti
Impact Campaigns Producer

Heriselda Begaj-Viotti oversees impact campaigns at Participant, the leading media company dedicated to entertainment that inspires audiences to engage in positive social action. At Participant, Heriselda works across sectors with non-profits, multinational companies, government agencies, foundations and others to raise awareness and mobilize viewership around film and episodic content. In addition to the campaign for The Price of Free, she recently led the campaign for the Academy Award-winning film American Factory, a documentary produced by Participant and the first project out of Higher Ground, President and Mrs. Obama’s production company, to ignite a conversation around a more equitable future of work. Her previous campaign work includes Alfonso Cuarón’s acclaimed Oscar-winning film Roma, which helped create conditions to accelerate change for domestic workers in Mexico and in the U.S., and Ai Weiwei’s Human Flow, which built awareness around the global refugee crisis. Heriselda holds a B.A. in Political Science and an M.I.A. in Economic Development, both from Columbia University.

Ronnie Green
Dr. Ronnie D. Green
Chancellor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Dr. Ronnie D. Green is Chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska’s flagship, Land-Grant and Big Ten institution, where he oversees an enrollment of over 25,000 students and 6,000 faculty and staff.

He received BS and MS degrees in animal science from Virginia Tech and Colorado State University, respectively. His doctoral program was completed jointly at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the USDA-ARS U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in animal breeding and genetics.

Green has served on the animal science faculties of Texas Tech University and Colorado State University, and as the national program leader for animal production research for the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and executive secretary of the White House’s interagency working group on animal genomics within the National Science and Technology Council. Prior to returning to NU, Green served as a global executive for Pfizer Animal Health’s animal genomics business.

Dr. Green has authored 130 refereed publications and abstracts, nine book chapters and 56 invited symposia papers, and has delivered invited presentations in 43 U.S. states and 21 countries around the world.

Ronnie and his wife Jane, a double UNL alumna, are the proud parents of four children – Justin, Nate, Kelli and Regan Green – all UNL graduates, and one granddaughter, Charlotte.

Debra Anne Haaland
Debra Anne Haaland
First Native US Congresswoman

Congresswoman Haaland grew up in a military family; her father was a 30-year combat Marine who was awarded the Silver Star Medal for saving six lives during Vietnam, and her mother is a Navy veteran who was a federal employee for 25 years in Indian education.

As a single mother, she volunteered at her daughter's pre-school in order to afford an early childhood education. She struggled to put herself through college, earning degrees from the University of New Mexico and UNM Law School.

She is a 35th generation New Mexican who is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, and also has Jemez Pueblo heritage. After running for New Mexico Lieutenant Governor in 2014, Haaland became the first Native American woman to be elected to lead a State Party. She used her experience reaching out to communities who are often forgotten during the electoral process during the two Obama presidential campaigns. During her time as State Party Chair, she traveled to Standing Rock to stand side-by-side with the community to protect tribal sovereignty and advocate vital natural resources.

Starting in 2016, Haaland has served as an Honorary Commander of Kirtland Air Force Base which gives her a better understanding of its missions and effects on New Mexico’s economy.

After a lifetime of organizing communities to stand up for New Mexico families, Congresswoman Deb Haaland was elected as one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress. She serves in leadership roles as the 116th Congress Freshman Class Representative to the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, House Democratic Region VI Whip (Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona) and Deputy Whip for the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Dr. Courtney Hillebrecht
Dr. Courtney Hillebrecht
Samuel Clark Waugh Distinguished Professor of International Relations at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Dr. Courtney Hillebrecht is the Samuel Clark Waugh Distinguished Professor of International Relations at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Dr. Hillebrecht is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, the Director of the Forsythe Family Program on Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs and the Faculty Coordinator of the William H. Thompson Scholars Learning Community at UNL. Dr. Hillebrecht researches and teaches in the areas of human rights, international law and international relations. She is the author of Domestic Politics and International Human Rights Tribunals: The Problem of Compliance (Cambridge University Press) and many other articles, book chapters and related publications.

Fiona de Hoog Cius
Fiona de Hoog Cius
Researcher in Modern Slavery and Human Rights

Fiona de Hoog Cius is a researcher in Sheffield Hallam University's Helena Kennedy Centre in the Department of Law and Criminology where she conducts research in human rights, gender and modern slavery. In 2017, she completed a Ph.D. at the University of Hull’s Wilberforce Institute on the topic of child slavery in Haiti, establishing the links between the exploitation of children, gender-based violence and female complicity in child trafficking. Her research was highly praised in the field of modern slavery research and was referred to as a ‘stellar thesis of its time’ by her external examiner.

Before and during her doctoral studies, Fiona also worked as a researcher on the Walk Free Global Slavery Index, as research assistant to Prof. Kevin Bales (leading modern slavery expert) and as a risk assessment coordinator on the Wilberforce Institute’s slavery in businesses Risk Assessment and Training Service. These experiences, which followed her M.A. in Modern Slavery Studies, have given her a global, in-depth understanding of modern slavery which she has been able to complement with an expertise on Gender through her further studies and professional research.

Fiona's work is interdisciplinary and her research interests and specializations include: modern slavery and trafficking; child slavery; gender and development; post-colonial race and gender discourse; trans-Atlantic colonial histories; feminist methodologies; and cultural anthropology and ethnography.

Dr. Bethany Jackson
Dr. Bethany Jackson
Rights Lab Research Fellow in Antislavery Social-Ecological Systems Modelling

Dr. Bethany Jackson (Geography) works as part of the Rights Lab's Ecosystems and the Environment Program to map environmental change resulting from slavery. This includes collecting data on the factors and processes that create a nexus of environmental degradation and slavery activity. The work conceptualizes the role of environmental policies in the relationship between the environment and slavery. Its focus on the ecological dimensions of human vulnerability to enslavement explores how communities can become more resilient to ecological threats. She recently completed a PhD with the University of Nottingham School of Geography and the Rights Lab that analyzed the Asian brick kiln industry using remotely sensed imagery. Her research background combines a geospatial practice that has primarily been used for environmental studies, and demonstrates how a wide variety of methods and techniques can also be used to understand the problem of modern slavery.

Helen McCabe
Helen McCabe
Rights Lab Assistant Professor in Political Theory

Dr. Helen McCabe (Politics and International Relations) leads the Rights Lab's work on forced marriage, as part of its Law and Policy Program. Her research background includes the history of feminism and 'ideal' marriage, and she is working on a conceptual analysis and definition of forced marriage as a form of slavery today: the meaning, experience, prevalence, causes, consequences of forced and servile marriage, and how to end it. This includes work on lack of consent and the exercise of powers associated with property rights, work to map the existing legislation on forced and servile marriage globally, and an analysis of the definitions currently in use in international statues and domestic legislation.

In January 2020 she became an AHRC Early Careers Researcher Leadership Fellow with a project about forced marriage and modern slavery.

Glen Miles
Glen Miles
Researcher, Author, Speaker

Glenn Miles, PhD, Senior Researcher, is a child health nurse with 25 years of experience focused on child abuse and exploitation in SE Asia. He has pioneered and led several NGOs and anti-trafficking and anti-child abuse projects in Cambodia. He has also facilitated a series of research projects; listening to survivors of sexual exploitation both prostituted men, women, boys, girls and transgender including males who are sex buyers. His subject matter expertise includes; research, advocacy, training and evaluation of programs. He has been one of the key academic advisors to the Butterfly Longitudinal Research Project, evaluating child ant-trafficking victims and survivors in Cambodia since its inception. He is currently involved in oversight of a multi-site research study looking at vulnerability and resilience factors with sexually exploited young men and transgender individuals in Cambodia, India, Thailand and the Philippines

Glenn has also developed prevention toolkits and Much of his research and training materials can be found on his website

Dr. Katarina Schwarz
Katarina Schwarz
Researcher and Specialist in Antislavery Law and Policy

Dr. Schwarz is the Associate Director in the Law and Policy Program and Assistant Professor of Antislavery Law and Policy at the Rights Lab. Her research interrogates the law and policy frameworks that operate at the global, regional, and domestic level to determine the elements of effective anti-slavery governance and map trends, successes, and failures in this area. To support evidence-based action in anti-slavery governance, Schwarz is currently developing and analyzing the world’s first comprehensive database of the domestic legislation and international obligations of all 193 UN Member States with regard to slavery and related forms of exploitation.

In 2018, Schwarz was recognized as a Grand Dignitaire de la Cour Royale de Porto Novo of the Republic of Benin for her work on reparations, and in 2019 was the recipient of the Nottingham Institute for Policy and Engagement's Policy Impact Rising Star Award for her work on modern slavery law and policy. She sits on the Executive Committee, and is a member, of the Antislavery Early Research Association - an interdisciplinary, global network of early career and postgraduate researchers studying slavery and human trafficking.

She holds a PhD from the University of Nottingham (considering the case for reparations for transatlantic enslavement in international law), as well as LLB and BA degrees from the University of Otago.

Juliana Semione
Juliana Semione
Communities & Society Research Associate, PhD Candidate, The Rights Lab

Juliana Semione leads the Rights Lab's work on survivor support as part of its Communities and Society Programme. Her experience as both a researcher and a survivor support practitioner allows her to understand the complexities of both worlds–and the opportunities for them to complement one another. Her doctoral research utilizes Q methodology to answer the question, “What is freedom from modern slavery?”

Juliana is also the programme development lead on behalf of the Salvation Army’s Anti-Trafficking & Modern Slavery Unit in the UK. She has developed a programme in collaboration with the Salvation Army that provides community-based support to survivors.

In spring 2020 Juliana was selected as a policy researcher with the Partnership for Conflict, Crime & Security Research to undertake a research project with the Office of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. The overarching purpose of this report, titled, “Preparing for Impact,” was to build a figurative bridge between researchers on one side and stakeholders on the other in order to produce better research and to make better use of research in the survivor support field.

Originally from California, Juliana is a member of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force. Juliana holds degrees from Biola University and King's College London.

Ben Skinner
Ben Skinner
Founder and President of Transparentem

Ben Skinner is the Founder and President of Transparentem, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization whose mission is to advance the well-being of workers and communities by exposing hard truths to those with the power to transform industries.

Previously, Ben was a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism of Brandeis University. He also held a fellowship at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, served as Special Assistant to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and worked as a Research Associate for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. His 50+ chapters, monographs, and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Bloomberg Businessweek, Time, Newsweek, Travel + Leisure, Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, and others.

In 2008, Ben was named one of National Geographic’s “Adventurers of the Year.” His first book, A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery (Free Press; 2008), was awarded the 2009 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction, a citation from the Overseas Press Club in its book category for 2008, and was a finalist for The Ryszard Kapuscinski International Award for literary reportage in 2011. The World Economic Forum recognized him as a Young Global Leader in 2011. Ben graduated from Wesleyan University.

Jessica Sparks
Dr. Jessica Sparks
Dr Jess Sparks, Rights Lab Associate Director, Ecosystems and the Environment Program and Assistant Professor of Antislavery Ecosystems

Dr. Jessica Sparks (Geography) leads the Rights Lab's Ecosystems and the Environment Program. This program demonstrates the tight connection between ending slavery and reducing environmental destruction, and works to calculate the environmental gains of ending slavery. She has been involved in multiple international conservation projects including projects in Nepal, China, and Uganda. Her own research includes a focus on the links between overfishing, forced labor, and slavery.

Helen Sworn
Helen Sworn
Founder and international director of Chab Dai Coalition in Cambodia

Helen Sworn moved to Cambodia in 1999 with the purpose of helping address the rising issue of human trafficking and exploitation. She began by working directly with trafficked children and assisting in the development and implementation of aftercare homes and reintegration programs for street children. Helen also worked on prevention programs among street children in Phnom Penh, carried out various program research projects in the field and served in organizational development and field support roles for other international and local NGOs. This period influenced Helen’s vision and passion for anti-trafficking work as well as enlightening her future innovative response to the issue.

In 2010, after passing Chab Dai Coalition Cambodia’s leadership onto the National Cambodian Director, Helen began serving as the International Director. Since this transition, she has been responsible for the international strategic planning and fundraising for Chab Dai as well as playing a key role in mentoring and coaching national directors. She is an active advocate at various international conferences and events and facilitates communication, strategic action and collaboration with UN agencies and other organizations in South East Asia and beyond.

Moving back to the UK in 2018, Helen is now working to develop and establish Chab Dai’s international branch. After being asked to join three major initiatives and networks that are working across the UK and Europe, Helen saw an international future for the Cambodian based organization. Shifting her focus from national collaboration to international, Helen is bringing Chab Dai’s latest project, The Global Learning Community (GLC) to countries across the world.

Sriyani Tidball
Sriyani Tidball
Author, Activist and Advocate for peace, justice and human rights

Practitioner in Residence at University of Nebraska Lincoln’s Human Rights Program Her leadership and service as a social activist and abolitionist of slavery has not gone unnoticed. Tidball is a published researcher, an author, a college professor in the USA and founder of two non-profits. She received a Fulbright Award in 2015 for which she collected data for her latest book, The Breadwinner, the untold stories of slavery of over 200 impoverished Sri Lankan women working as housemaids in the Middle East. She received the Church Women United Inc. United Nations Office, Human Rights Award in 2011 and the Martin Luther King Award for Nebraska in 2010. Working with over 3000 children and 1000 adults in Sri Lanka, Sriyani treasures being a volunteer at Community Concern making a positive difference in the lives of the marginalized through empowerment, education and interventions. Her recent book, The Breadwinner, shares stories of slavery of Sri Lankan housemaids. Sriyani and her family continue this work in Sri Lanka and are committed to standing for justice for the voiceless.

Ajai Vir Singh
Ajai Vir Singh
Author of ‘Garments Without Guilt’, Founder of the Responsible Fashion Movement

Ajai Vir Singh fathered Sri Lanka’s fashion development movement and revived the fashion design industry of Sri Lanka. The Founder and President of Colombo Fashion Week, he has impacted every aspect of Sri Lanka’s fashion design industry for nearly two decades.

In 2006, when he was developing the global brand communication project for Sri Lanka Apparel, Ajai coined the phrase ‘Garments Without Guilt’ . In 2009, this global marketing campaign won him a Global Effie in New York. This remains the only Asian entry to win a Global Effie.

In 2015, he started the Fashion Design Council of Sri Lanka, a body that gives voice to the industry’s effort to be ethical and international. In 2017, Ajai founded the Responsible Fashion Movement. Today, it is the most relevant platform to address and build awareness about the issues facing the global fashion industry and its supply chain. The first Responsible Fashion Summit in 2017 gave prominence to the effort to create a responsible dialogue in fashion design.

Ajai is a pioneer of “green” fashion and launched Pigeon Island, a beachwear brand with marine conservation and fabrics made from plastic as the key brand story. Its primary purpose is to make people conscious to impact the environment positively.