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(33) Interview with Theresa Flores

"Because I was going to school and functioning, I thought that I was surviving.  "
It is an amazonian journey to eliminate human trafficking. According to the International Labour Organization, approximately 11.4 million women and girls are trafficked annually across the globe. Additionally, approximately 32 billion dollars is being profited through trafficking. In her tenth year, Theresa Flores, Founder of TraffickFree is exploring innovative ways to empower victims of human trafficking, hoping to speed up the process of redemption and healing. In a Lean In Ohio interview, Theresa reveals what led to sharing her personal story of survival in the recent years, after being a victim of trafficking so many years ago.

Tune in to listen to the interview>>
Listen to "Interview with Theresa Flores, Founder of TraffickFree" on Spreaker.

Lean In Ohio:  How did the desire to launch the organization TraffickFree come about?

Theresa Flores: I went to a conference 10 years ago and learned about human trafficking and had never known that that was what it was called and that it happened to me. And there I was, a professional woman, successful in my own right. I am also a social worker and have a master’s degree. I knew at that moment that we really needed to start raising awareness and educating people about human trafficking [while keeping in mind], that my own daughter was turning the age of when it had happened to me. I realized we did not have sufficient laws against it, and so that motivated me to start TraffickFree and try to change what was going on.

Lean In Ohio: The initiative S.O.A.P works to educate communities about trafficking and attempts to alleviate human trafficking in high-risk areas. Through S.O.A.P’s outreach, it provides bars of soap for certain hotels and motels accompanied by a toll-free hotline number for victims facing trafficking.  What sort of long-term projection do you have for this program?

Theresa Flores: If someone told me ten years ago that I would still be doing this I would have thought they were crazy. I initially thought that we could eradicate human trafficking within two years and unfortunately, that hasn't been the case. This year would be our seventh super bowl outreach that we've done. Each year, the number of volunteers coming out increases which show us that people really care about this and they really want to do something about it. The number of hotels that are accepting the soap with the hotline number has been increasing. Unfortunately, there are just as many missing kids as there was seven years ago. And trafficking, I believe is increasing. So if I had to project in the future, I would like to see hotels coming up with their own initiatives and what they can do in their own hotel property to fight this and everybody is trained on this. It is such a huge problem that every entity and every organization and business need to get on the same page.

Lean In Ohio: What sort of outreach are you doing in the state of Ohio?

Theresa Flores: We are still doing our Soap Outreach and are organizing awareness events. Also, I work with Grace Haven and we received a grant from the Department of Youth Services that allowed me to go into any school in the state of Ohio and offer them a free in-service…  I can speak to teachers, administrators, even more importantly; I can speak to the whole student body. I can teach these kids what this look like or who you talk to when something like this is happening and how would you recognize it when it is happening to a friend. So that is a really amazing thing. We just received a grant that will allow us to hold a human trafficking video contest and film festival. We are opening it up to Ohio high school or college students and asking them to provide a ten-minute video on what do they think human trafficking is. People who train and teach about human trafficking will be able to use those resources.

Lean In Ohio: Potential trafficked victims have no one face or background. It could be anyone. What sort of red flags or warning signs should a parent look for in children who might be in danger? Or are there signs or triggers?

Theresa Flores: Definitely look for a change in their demeanor. If they were an outgoing and bubbly kid before and now they're jumpy, depressed and anxious, if they change friends, and if they're now going out and hanging out with older people, especially guys who are using drugs and alcohol, grades dropping or running away a lot, they are coming up missing and not telling you where they’ve been, or if they are coming in with new clothing, new items that you know you did not but for them, those are a few to look for.

Lean In Ohio: What keeps you focused and moving forward to do this kind of work?

Theresa Flores: I meet people every day that tell me that this happening to someone they know. That keeps me motivated. I met a lady that said that this kind of put the pieces together in a puzzle for her. She believed that this happened to her when she was younger and didn't know it was called human trafficking. Recently, I did a talk for a bunch of nurses and a woman and her husband came forward and said that they think that this is happening to their 16-year-old daughter and wanted to talk to somebody. I feel so blessed to be able to talk to talk to them and help them through that.

Lean In Ohio: For the many women out there who have experienced some sort of sexual violence in their lifetime whether it was harassment, assault or abuse as a minor or as an adult, what piece of advice would you lend them?

Theresa Flores: Try to find healing. For a long time, I think that I survived thinking that because I was going to school and functioning, I thought that I was surviving.  Yet, you have to get counseling to become a survivor. It's really important to do more. We do not want to bury what's happened to us. It's hard to look at it, examine it and think about it. But it really will help in the long run. For people that have been sexually abused or raped, telling somebody about it is important. I'm a firm believer that we need to go after these perpetrators because we know that they are doing this over and over again. As hard as it is to prosecute and seek out law enforcement and someone for help, it really is for the best because we need to put these guys away for this.

Up and Coming Events!

♦ On February 24th, Join us for  Lean In Circle Columbus: Women Empowerment, Advocacy, & Activism! The offical kickoff is a place for women in the community to learn, share, and grow together within our changing lives. This social event is for everyone who have interests in community advocacy, women empowerment, and workplace leadership! Lean In Circle Columbus is aimed for women to step outside of our comfort zones, finding your voice, and leaning in.

♦ On February 25th, Springfield Circle February Meeting-- Challenging Stress Management and Support Networks! (Click for more)

♦ On February 25th, This next Lean In Coffeeshop (Dayton) Meeting picks up on where we left off last year. Join us for a powerful meeting as we dive into Planning Work/Life Balance. If this is a challenging area for you or if you've established a routine that is working, please join us for this Lean In discussion. (Click for more)

♦ On February 25th, Ways to Get Involved with Lean In Ohio - Post our Lean In Coffee Shop Meeting for Planning Work/Life Balance, join us for a meeting to discuss more ways to get involved with the Lean In Ohio Chapter. (Click for more)

 On March 8th, RISE UP AND RALLY WITH WOMEN'S MARCH ON WASHINGTON- OHIO! ---From 4:30 pm-6pm at the Ohio Statehouse, Women's March on Washington- Ohio is hosting a rally! Celebrate and Advocate for Women Empowerment, Lean In Ohio on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment, Lean In Women of Color, and the Protection of Women Immigrants! After the rally, from 6-9pm, there will be bands, food trucks, drinks and of course, information on how to be a better advocate!


(32) Interview with Rhiannon Childs

"A leader isn’t afraid to admit when she’s made a mistake… "

Rhiannon Childs accompanied a historic feat. On January 15th, as Co-Chair for the Women's March on Washington Ohio Chapter, she organized a statewide women's march where approximately 3000 people participated in Columbus, Ohio. One week later, she helped mobilize over 5000 Ohioans for the Women’s March in DC. 
As a stakeholder of the Women’s March on Washington, Childs sanctions its founding principles which ensure the inclusion of every race, gender, and those within marginalized communities. In a Lean In Ohio Interview, she explains how her personal experiences working in corporate America compelled her to Lean In as a Community Organizer. 

Lean In Ohio:  What sort of obstacle or challenge you’ve faced that you were able to overcome?

Rhiannon Childs: Some of the obstacles I faced was committing to organizing the Women’s March on Washington in Ohio. It was out of my comfort zone. There was a lot of self-doubt along the way. Though I believed in the mission, I did not know if it would have an impact or meaning in my community. Additionally, being new to community organizing, I had a fear of rejection. However, it helped build my self-confidence because I knew that my efforts were pointed towards positivity, education, and social change.

Lean In Ohio:  What does a leader look like to you?  

Rhiannon Childs: A leader is someone that isn’t afraid to admit when they have made a mistake.  I learned that being perfect does not make someone a leader but when you are able to recognize and learn from your mishaps it is an admirable trait.  

Also, being a leader means oftentimes making unpopular decisions.

Sometimes, leaders have to make decisions on their own or collaborate with others. Plus it is crucial to be able to listen to the voices of and work with other people! In an organization such as the Women’s March on Washington Ohio Chapter, relying on the help of the community is important. I think our mission is stronger because we have aligned ourselves with community members and organizations that share our commitment and goals.

Lean In Ohio:  What advice would you lend to a young woman who is interested in following your footsteps?

Rhiannon Childs: Do not become complacent and get caught up in the comforts of your daily life. Always stay conscious and aware of the world around you because it is constantly changing and evolving. Find a leader or organization that you believe in and support them. And believe that you can make a difference.

Listen to the rest of the interview>>
  Listen to "Interview with Rhiannon Childs, Co Chair Women's March on Washington Ohio" on Spreaker.

Events: Saturday February 25th, Ways to Get Involved with Lean In Ohio

  • Let's #LeanInTogether!!!
    Post our Lean In Coffee Shop Meeting for Planning Work/Life Balance, join us for a meeting to discuss more ways to get involved with the Lean In Ohio Chapter.
    Our 2017 chapter activities consist of the following:
    March 8th, International Women's Day Celebration located at Ohio's State House
    March 29th, the screening of the film, Equal Means Equal, sponsored by the Women's Fund of Central Ohio at the Gateway Theater in Columbus, Ohio
    April 4th, Equal Pay Day Awareness Event (still in the development stages)
    May 13th, Lean In with Dr. Blondin, Lessons on Mentorship Mid Year Workshop, at Clark State's Beavercreek location.
    Get involved.  We will have a brief discussion on each activity- the mission, expected outcome and where we are in the planning and organizing stages.  Please bring your suggestions and ideas!  

    Location: TBA 
    Day and Time: Saturday February 25th, 2016, 2:30 p.m. -4:00 p.m.  
Join the Lean In Ohio Chapter online at

Events: Saturday February 25th, Planning for Work/Life Balance

Every Lean In Coffee Shop Meeting is shamelessly energizing! We establish a more connected sisterhood and part with new friends.  In a room full of busy women from diverse backgrounds, we lean into deep talk and education centered on both personal and work adversities.
This next meeting picks up on where we left off last year. Join Lean In Ohio's Coffee Shop Circle for a powerful meeting as we dive into Planning Work/life Balance. If this is a challenging area for you or if you've established a routine that is working, please join us for this Lean In discussion.
This meeting is all about making connections and having a thoughtful conversation over Lean In education.
We ask everyone who attends to download the pdf from the attached link.

What's a Lean In Circle? 
This Meeting's Moderator: Dr. Crystal Akers
Location: TBA 
Day and Time: Saturday February 25th, 2016 1 p.m. -2:30 p.m.
Join the Lean In, Coffeeshop, Ohio Circle online at

Events: Wednesday March 8th, International Women's Day Celebration


Since the early 1900s, International Women's Day (IWD) is a world-wide day to come together for gender parity and awareness of women's issues around the globe. For everything from ending domestic abuse and providing equal opportunity, to ending poverty and hunger and supporting healthy activities for girls, IWD is adapted to address women's needs locally, and globally.

When is International Women's Day?
This year, Women's Day is Wednesday, March 8th. We hope you'll join us for our celebration!



From 4:30 pm-6pm at the Ohio Statehouse, Women's March on Washington- Ohio is hosting a rally! Celebrate and Advocate for Women Empowerment, Lean In Ohio on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment, Lean In Women of Color, and the Protection of Women Immigrants!

***Elected officials and community organizations will be speaking to the fabric of our future; Women in Leadership!***


After the rally, from 6-9pm, there will be bands, food trucks, drinks and of course, information on how to be a better advocate! 
 Enjoy the evening with us and take some information back to your communities to keep the momentum rolling!  

If you sign up for the RISE, Rally and Ride ticket (from your respective city) that ticket includes:
  • Round trip transportation on a luxury motor coach bus
    • Departure time will be 2pm on March 8
    • Details on departure and return location will come in an email after you purchase your ticket. This will be a central location in each city.
    • Return time to your origin location will be at approximately midnight 
  • A ticket to the rally
  • Transportation and entrance to The RISE Project event
  • (buses will leave from the event at 9pm to return to your origin location)

A portion of the proceeds will go towards: 
  • making transportation to marches affordable (or free) for those who want to show up, but can't afford to go.  
  • helping to get facilitators and speakers to events locally and around the country. 
Show your support for women owned businesses and visit with vendors and collect information on how to keep the momentum going back in your own communities! 



(31) Interview with Dionna Walker

"You never want to be the smartest person in the room. It's okay to get help."


Book Author and Founder of Dionna's Helping Hands, Dionna Walker has a passion for helping children and their families which led to being awarded the “Image of Hope Award 2016”. The prestigious community award honors people and organizations who help the area’s youth.

Out of a desire to service her community, Dionna founded the nonprofit organization, Dionna Helping Hands which services families in Dayton, Ohio. The organization provides free clothing, furniture, and other assistances. In an interview with Lean In Ohio, Walker discusses following her passion, purpose and the power we each have.

  Listen to "Interview with Dionna Walker" on Spreaker.


Interviewed by Julene Allen


The Lean In Ohio Chapter empowers women to realize their visions and is being operated by a LeanIn.Org regional leader.


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