Gulf Coast Kid’s House, The NISSI Project host anti-human trafficking conference

Special to Gannett

PENSACOLA — Gulf Coast Kid’s House and The NISSI Project recently

announced the inaugural Anti-Human Trafficking Conference to improve the multi-disciplinary development in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. The virtual conference was held on Dec. 17.

The conference, funded by a grant from the National Children’s Alliance and sponsored by the law firm Levin Papantonio Rafferty, was a day-long virtual event that featured sessions focused on training for law enforcement and first responders; updates on local and national trends in trafficking; adversities facing children; and a Q&A panel discussion with trafficking survivors

The event kicked off with a keynote speech from the president of The NISSI Project, Sara Lefevers, followed by the first session “Training from a Federal Perspective,” led by Michael Billet, a senior manager of policy research at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s important that the community learn and understand the signs and trends of human traffickers,” said GCKH’s executive director Stacey Kostevicki. “With the proper training, together, we can make a difference for our children and community.”

The second session of the day, “Adverse Childhood Experiences,” was hosted by Hollie Jeffery, an advocate for abused and neglected children and the founder of Ace Institute, an organization committed to helps survivors of child abuse.

“It is crucial that we help survivors transition to an aftercare program like that offered by The NISSI Project by meeting their immediate needs, providing them with verified solutions, and empowering them to take their first step towards freedom,” Lefevers said. “This training will be the first of many trainings that result from the launch of the Esca-Rosa Multi-Disciplinary Response Team – a survivor-centric, community-based program.”

The third session, “Trends in Human Trafficking," was focused on helping law enforcement and first responders recognize the signs of trafficking. The session reviewed a case study and provided training led by renowned trafficking instructor Cpl. Alan Wilkett, a retired law officer from the Pasco County Sherriff’s Office, and legal insight from Dani Pinter, senior legal counsel for NCOSE and its Law Center.

Following the morning sessions, attorneys from the law firm Levin Papantonio Rafferty’s trafficking team hosted a “Lunch & Learn” break to provide updates on trafficking cases being litigated, as well as trends and issues in trafficking.

“We are committed to hold the tech and hospitality companies that are complicit in allowing trafficking to take place on their platforms and properties accountable for their roles,” said Levin Papantonio Rafferty attorney and member of the firm’s trafficking team Kim Adams. “We will not stop fighting for survivors of trafficking until we end this endemic.”

The day concluded with a Q&A panel discussion with trafficking survivors and was moderated by Kelsey Hill, founder of Beyond Beauty by NISSI, a trafficking program for the salon and spa industry, and Fashioned for More, an annual fundraiser that shares stories of survivors who have found restoration and embraced their true calling in life. On the panel were Rachel Timothy, whose story begins as a 9 year old; Alicia Tappan, a survivor leader and program director for The Secret Place; and Tiffany Parker, a motivational speaker and educator covering the topic of human trafficking.