Today is both a sad day and a proud moment for Free the Slaves. We are saddened to bid farewell to Karen Stauss, who has directed our field programs and advocacy efforts for the past six years.
But it’s also a proud moment because Karen has been asked to join the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department. She will serve as senior policy counsel in the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.
Karen will have lead responsibility for formulating policy on human trafficking, for congressional relations, for coordination with all federal agencies, and for coordination and collaboration with U.S. attorneys prosecuting trafficking cases around the country.
Karen’s unique skills and background will greatly strengthen America’s response to trafficking. Through her many years of advocacy with Congress and the executive branch, Karen has been a tireless advocate for tougher laws and tougher enforcement. It is remarkable that someone from Free the Slaves has been asked to join the Justice Department at such a senior level, and a validation of the respect that Free the Slaves and our staffers have earned over the years.
Karen has been instrumental in helping Free the Slaves grow and mature as an organization. Under her leadership, the programs department has assembled a remarkably talented staff in the U.S. and in our front-line country offices. She leaves us with a strong team in place.
One of her biggest contributions has been her role in the creation of our community focus to fight slavery. We now have compelling evidence validating Karen’s belief in strengthening community resistance to slavery. Our attention has turned to strategies for scaling up and integrating anti-slavery work into the broader international development community.
Many of us here at Free the Slaves have fond memories of working with Karen.
Here’s a sampling:
“Karen is, has, and always will be the greatest kind of fighter,” says FTS board vice president (and Karen’s law school colleague) Gregory Haile. “She does not fight for attention, accolades, or praise; she fights because it the only way to ensure the protection of others.”
“I am so grateful for how you could articulate our ideas and values so perfectly,” says Ginny Baumann, who helped develop the FTS community based model for fighting slavery with Karen. “Happy to know you’ll still be bringing your brilliance to anti-slavery work.”
“Karen Stauss has an amazing ability to keep an unbelievable amount of information sorted out and instantly retrievable in her head,” says FTS Director of Monitoring, Learning and Evaluation Karen Snyder. “Her lawyerly attention to detail never loses sight of the big picture or the human element of our work.”
“I am proud to have worked with such an achiever, who worked hard and tirelessly,” says FTS’ first front-line field activist, Supriya Awasthi.
“I am incredibly lucky to have seen you in action,” says FTS Program Manager Jarvis Fisher.
Farewell, Karen. It has been a privilege to work with a person of your integrity, passionate commitment and skill. We look forward to watching your next contributions to the eradication of slavery.