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Interprofessional Conference on Human Trafficking Awareness Hosted by University's Coalition Against Slavery

Ferris State UniversityThe realities of human trafficking in Michigan will be presented to a variety of professionals, community members, along with Ferris State University students, faculty and staff, on Tuesday, April 10 and Wednesday, April 11.

The university’s Coalition Against Slavery cites a reported 305 cases of human trafficking recorded in Michigan, in 2017, which was the sixth-highest total in the U.S. This two-day conference has the support of the Ferris Diversity and Inclusion Office, the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning, and the Office of the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. Coalition co-chair Karyn Kiio, an adjunct instructor in Sport Entertainment Hospitality Management, said she is pleased by the coalition’s growth from its beginnings, as an ad hoc committee.

“The goal was to be able to organize this important event. So, we have called upon the university’s colleges, with representation from our Grand Rapids and Traverse City campuses, along with the main campus in Big Rapids,” Kiio said. “We also have support from the professionals in the Big Rapids community and a student representative to the coalition.”

The conference begins with a free viewing of the documentary “I Am Jane Doe,” which will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 10 in the University Center Ballroom. There will be a discussion after the film.

There is a charge of $15 for students and $30 for all others to participate in conference activities on Wednesday, April 11. Check-in begins at 10 a.m. in the University Center, with an 12 p.m. keynote address from Becky McDonald, the president and founder of Women at Risk, International, which is based in Wyoming, Michigan. A luncheon will be served to registered conference participants prior to McDonald’s presentation, which will be followed by a number of early afternoon breakout sessions. A tour of Ferris’ Museum of Sexist Objects will also be available to participants, as part of the conference.

This is the second annual Interprofessional Conference on Human Trafficking Awareness, which Kiio said will host approximately 200 professionals from around the state of Michigan.

“Those with careers in social work, criminal justice and health care are required to participate in continuing education so they are able to assess and detect potential warning signs of human trafficking activities,” Kiio said. “Our conference is a unique opportunity for them to meet this objective and acquire the training they need to respond appropriately and effectively to this significant societal issue.”

Anyone who needs special accommodations to attend the conference should contact Kiio at (231) 591-2382 or by email at least 72 hours in advance.

PHOTO CAPTION: Women at Risk, International Founder and President Rebecca (Becky) McDonald is the keynote speaker at the second annual Interprofessional Conference on Human Trafficking Awareness, organized by Ferris State University's Coalition Against Slavery. A free film presentation will be offered on Tuesday, April 10, with the conference to be held on Wednesday, April 11, with all events taking place in the University Center building.