This News Release is outdated and posted here for archival purposes only.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

September 20, 2016

College to Host Human Trafficking Conference on Sept. 30

To raise awareness of human trafficking, an issue that has become increasingly prevalent in California, College of the Canyons will host the one-day conference “It Happens Right Here! Understanding Human Trafficking” from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30. Admission is free, but RSVPs are required (see link below).

The conference will be held at the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, Room 258, at the college’s Valencia campus. 

According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 682 cases of human trafficking have been reported in California this year. In May 2015, two Santa Clarita residents were arrested by the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force and convicted with sex trafficking charges. 

“It is difficult to come to terms with the idea that human trafficking is something that happens in our very own backyard,” said Patty Robinson, faculty director of civic engagement and community engagement initiatives at the college and one of the event’s organizers. “We hope this conference helps raise awareness about this important issue while also identifying opportunities for collaboration in the Santa Clarita Valley and surrounding areas.” 

Rachel Thomas, director of the Sowers Education Group, will be the conference’s keynote speaker. As an educator and survivor, Thomas will discuss cultural implications and mental health issues associated with human trafficking. She will also discuss her experiences as a survivor in order to shed light on the sex, cyber, and labor trafficking occurring in the U.S. 

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich and Rohida Khan, a victim assistance specialist at the Department of Homeland Security, will also share their insight and experiences at the conference. 

Other event speakers include: 

Sergeant Jeffrey Walker
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Jessica Romo
Prevention Education Manager, Strength United

Betsy Meenk
USA Regional Director, ZOE International

Carol Hart
President/Founder, ZOE International

Eric Ball
Children’s Services Administrator/Program Manager, Department of Children and Family Services

Amber Davies
LCSW, Director of Clinical Programs, Saving Innocence

Dr. Makesha Jones-Chambers
Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

Hanne Fellers
ZOE International

Becca Channel
Task Force Coordinator, Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force

Chris Lim
Director of Partnerships, Saving Innocence

Ray Bercini
Detective, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Joan Pera
Supervising Deputy Probation Officer, Los Angeles County Probation Department

“We are looking forward to learning more on the topic of human trafficking from our diverse panel of speakers, many of whom have dealt with this issue first hand,” said Larry Schallert, assistant director of the student health and wellness / mental health program at the college and one of the event’s organizers.