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ECPAT-USA honors leaders in fight to end trafficking at 2019 Freedom Awards

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ECPAT-USA, the leading policy organization in the United States seeking to end the commercial, sexual exploitation of children through awareness, advocacy, policy, and legislation is pleased to once again honor leaders in the fight to end sex trafficking at its Freedom Awards gala. The event, held this year at Neuberger Berman in New York City, was made possible by the generous Platinum sponsorship of American Airlines and Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

The recipients of this year’s awards are as follows:

-Freedom Award: Carol Smolenski, Retiring Executive Director of ECPAT-USA

Carol is one of the founders of ECPAT-USA and has been working in the field of children’s rights for over 25 years. She is a longtime nationally recognized leader working to stop the commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. At ECPAT-USA, Carol oversaw the development of the first research project on child trafficking to New York City and two other research projects about commercial sexual exploitation of children. She has spoken at numerous conferences and has presented testimony in venues ranging from the New York City Council to the United States Congress to the United Nations.

-Visionary Award: Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott International

Award will be accepted by special guest David Marriott, COO, Marriott International Arne Sorenson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International, Inc. Sorenson presides over one of the world’s largest hospitality companies and some of the most iconic brands in travel.

-Defender Award: Anthony Spagnuolo, Hilton Area Director of Safety and Security

As the Hilton Area Director of Safety and Security, Anthony Spagnuolo oversees more than 20 different hotel properties across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. He and his team of 38 safety and security professionals are charged with keeping thousands of guests and associates safe every single day, and Spagnuolo has organized countless trainings for staff on security issues – including how to identify and best respond to instances of suspected trafficking. Additionally, when New York, Connecticut and New Jersey issued new regulations for postings and trainings at hotels, Spagnuolo spearheaded Hilton’s compliance efforts and led trainings at five properties and organized trainings at 15 more.

-Rescue Award: Glenn Logan & Jett Jeffery, Delta Flight Products

Delta Flight Products employees Jett Jeffery and Glen Logan were enjoying their lunch at a McDonald’s on a Saturday afternoon in August when two girls walked in the restaurant who looked completely out of place. Around 15 or 16 years old, the girls were dressed inappropriately for the area. The man with them looked much older, and the girls were timid around him. Both Jett and Glenn had recently received anti-trafficking training from Delta, and everything about the scene they were witnessing that day at McDonald’s seemed to line up with the indicators of potential instances of trafficking that they had learned about. The two felt they couldn’t just walk away from the situation. They decided to report the incident to local law enforcement, who handled the situation appropriately.

-Next Gen Award: Kelly Fang & Ria Gaur, Brooklyn Technical High School, Stuyvesant High School

Kelly Fang and Ria Gaur represent the future of the fight to protect children around theworld from exploitation. Both are leaders in their communities – in addition to the homework and typical stressors faced by high schoolers, Kelly and Ria lead the student anti-trafficking groups at Brooklyn Technical High School and Stuyvesant High School, respectively. This year, they both spoke at ECPAT-USA’s UN Commission on the Status of Women panel where they highlighted what makes girls susceptible to traffickers and how they can combat these tactics by encouraging young girls to be confident and bold, to stand up for themselves and for those around them.

More information about the 2019 Freedom Awards is available at

More information about ECPAT-USA is available at

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About the author


Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.