Ray Lian (President) first learned about human trafficking when he attended a local meetup in 2006. He was shocked that slavery still exists in modern form, not only overseas but also domestically. He wanted to help in ways beyond just donating money and soon realized that others felt the same. So in 2007, he became co-organizer of the DC-Stop Modern Slavery meetup and began working with its members to develop a model for how community members can combine efforts to affect change and organize the DC group into an active grassroots organization. Since then, Ray has acted in many operational, leadership, and advisory roles within the organization and has been instrumental in its growth and formalization.
Gannon Gillespie was first introduced to the issues of modern-day trafficking and slavery in 2004, when he joined Tostan, a grassroots education and empowerment organization working in rural Africa. As a volunteer in West Africa, Gannon coordinated Tostan’s volunteer program, grant writing, report writing, communications, and fundraising. He also studied the large scale abandonment of female genital cutting (FGC) and child marriage taking place through Tostan’s programs, while learning about the issues of slavery and trafficking unique to the region. In 2005, Gannon returned to DC and became Tostan’s first full-time US staff member, based in Washington, DC. He has since helped to establish and grow Tostan’s base of partners and supporters and currently, as Director of Strategic Development, he oversees Tostan’s business development and strategic partnerships. Upon arrival in DC in 2005, Gannon also began attending and serving as co-organizer for the meetup group that has become DC SMS. Gannon has a BA in Creative Writing from Nebraska Wesleyan University and has been a writing consultant to UNICEF and a guest lecturer for several leading conferences and universities. He is passionate about community-led development, empowering nonformal education, and improved collaboration in the social sector.
Caitlin Ryan brings to the Board her experiences as a management consultant supporting anti-human trafficking organizations both in the public and private sectors. As a management consultant at Deloitte, she advised senior government clients within U.S. law enforcement and Intelligence agencies. Her data analysis efforts led to the identification of 15 survivors and arrest of 21 sex traffickers. In that role, she built subject matter expertise in illicit networks, focusing specifically on the crime of human trafficking. She has also worked with her company to provide pro bono engagements to help several non-governmental anti-human trafficking organizations build capacity. Caitlin believes in the power of community organizing to end human trafficking. Within DC SMS, she has served as co-director of Unbound (2013) and the SMS WalkFest (2014). Caitlin currently studies public policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.