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Sojourner Center Announces New Program to Combat Human Trafficking

January 26, 2016

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Jan. 26, 2016 – The SAFE (Safeguarding Adolescents from Exploitation) Action Project, a program to help identify victims of child sex trafficking established and incubated by the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute, is now part of Sojourner Center, one of the largest domestic violence shelters in the U.S., the two organizations today announced.

Since its creation in 2013, The SAFE Action Project has grown significantly and the O’Connor Institute determined that to expand more fully, a service provider to develop the project to its full potential was now in order. The O’Connor Institute selected the Phoenix-based Sojourner Center, which has served women and children affected by domestic violence since 1977, to sustain and grow the project and provide services to individuals who have been exploited.

Savannah Sanders, who led the program with the O’Connor Institute, will now become Human Trafficking Services Manager at Sojourner Center, according to Dr. Robert Knechtel, Chief Operating Officer at Sojourner Center.

“The SAFE Action Project was initially established as a hospitality industry program to train employees on the warning signs of child sex trafficking,” Sanders said. “Sojourner Center will expand the training project to include crucial aspects of labor and adult trafficking, as well as develop trainings for other areas of the tourism industry.”

“As one of the leading domestic violence shelters in the Southwest, we’ve been working with trafficking victims for 38 years,” Dr. Knechtel said. “Often, human trafficking involves issues of domestic violence and vice versa. There are many overlapping issues between the two populations. For Sojourner Center, this move enhances the services we already provide to people in need of shelter, safety and a fresh start.”

“The Sandra Day O’Connor Institute is pleased to have collaborated with Sojourner Center to find a fitting place for the SAFE Action Project to expand and achieve the next level,” noted Sarah Suggs, President and CEO of the O’Connor Institute. “This important project will truly benefit from the array of services provided by Sojourner Center.”

The addition of the SAFE Action Project supports Sojourner Center’s Strategic Plan toward achieving its vision of ending the cycle of violence. Sojourner Center is leading research and new services that expand the traditional scope of a domestic violence shelter, such as screening domestic violence victims for traumatic brain injury and providing an on-site pet shelter for participants’ pet companions. Through education, prevention efforts, thought leadership, advocacy and research, Sojourner Center is leading the field to bridge gaps in services and create a world free from domestic violence.

About Sojourner Center
Sojourner Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is one of the largest, longest running domestic violence shelters in the United States. Sojourner Center’s mission is to provide a continuum of multicultural services to individuals and families impacted by domestic violence in Arizona, while collaborating with the global community on education, research, and advocacy to end domestic violence. Sojourner Center serves nearly 9,000 women and children a year through its shelter, transitional housing and community outreach programs, child development center, healthcare clinic, and lay legal advocacy programs. Through its services to victims and survivors, education and prevention efforts aimed at youth and the community, advocacy, research and leadership, Sojourner Center leads the way to a world free from domestic violence. www.sojournercenter.org

About Sandra Day O’Connor Institute
The Sandra Day O’Connor Institute continues the legacy and lifetime work of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to advance civil discussion and civic action. The O’Connor Institute works to build consensus, form collaborations and help craft solutions to vital public issues in an environment of mutual respect and shared purpose for a better state and nation. For more information, visit www.OConnorInstitute.org

Media Contacts:

Teri Hauser
Sojourner Center

Heather Schader
Sandra Day O’Connor Institute