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Webinar Series 2024 Speaker Bios

Speakers listed in alphabetical order.

Alia Azariah is a compassionate advocate and visionary leader with a deep-rooted commitment to empowering survivors of human trafficking and providing them with the support they need to rebuild their lives. Alia has dedicated her life and career to making a lasting impact in the fight against modern-day slavery.

Having witnessed the profound effects of human trafficking firsthand, as a victim of trafficking and the commercial sex industry, both as a minor and an adult, Alia is dedicated to never allowing the anti-trafficking industry and related fields to become stagnant. Her firsthand understanding of the challenges faced by survivors informs her approach and fuels her determination to create meaningful change.

As the Director of Aftercare at Safe House Project, a leading organization in the fight against human trafficking, Alia plays a pivotal role in developing and implementing comprehensive programs that address the holistic needs of survivors. Alia's leadership and strategic vision have resulted in the expansion of Safe House Project's aftercare services, enabling more survivors to find hope, healing, and a path to independence.

Simultaneously, Alia holds the position of Local Programs Manager at Forever Found, where she is responsible for the implementation and development of various Human Trafficking subtopics training programs and the development of their Freedom Ranch Project, a future home for local youth who have experienced trafficking in her native community within California.

Alia is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences, where she shares her expertise, raises awareness, and advocates for stronger legislation and policies to combat human trafficking. Her commitment to the fight against human trafficking has garnered recognition and respect from her peers and the wider community. Including, testifying twice in in front of the UK Parliament, and serving as an expert witness in trafficking-related cases. Her contributions have been recognized and honored with the Resiliency Award bestowed upon her by the Ventura County District Attorney's Office. Alia's journey is guided by her unwavering belief in the inherent worth and potential of every survivor. Her overcoming spirit and expertise have made her a trusted figure within the anti-trafficking community, and continues to inspire others and drive positive change in the world. 

Beth Edmonds lives in the Bay Area of California. She’s originally from Charleston, South Carolina, home of the famous Old Slave Mart in Charleston, South Carolina, once the nation’s capital of the slave trade. And once again, Beth lives in one of the nation’s capitals of the slave trade, the Bay Area in Northern California. This fact is never far from Beth’s mind as she continues to work tirelessly to abolish slavery.

Beth is the volunteer Coordinator of Ambassadors of Hope for all of California and is also an Ambassador of Hope herself for Shared Hope International, a leading non-profit focusing on domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST). Beth has been doing work in this field as a volunteer for close to 15 years. She has worked closely with the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking and several other agencies in the Bay Area, as well supporting Ambassadors all over the state.

She has been working part time for the last 5 years as an Advocate for victims of Sexual Assault for Community Solutions, a prominent non-profit in Santa Clara and San Benito Counties, in the division that focuses on supporting victims of gender-based violence in the areas of sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking.

Beth has been married for 31 years and has two grown daughters and three lovely dogs.

Molly Boeder (BAY-der) Harris is the Founder and Executive Director of The Breathe Network, a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, and a trauma-informed yoga teacher and trainer. Her own experiences of surviving sexual trauma catalyzed her to enter the trauma healing field in 2003, beginning with her work as a medical and legal advocate with children and adult survivors, a violence prevention educator, and later, as a yoga instructor specializing in working with survivors of sexual trauma.

She earned a Master’s Degree in International Studies and a Master’s Certificate in Women’s & Gender Studies, which inform the way she holds individual and collective forms of trauma, oppression, and healing close together in her work and in her personal life. Over the last 2 decades of her career and her ongoing healing trajectory, she has found that the practices that recognize the whole person – body, mind and soul – while also attending to the ways in which both trauma and resilience can manifest physiologically, offer the greatest possibility for embodied justice and social change.

Mikayla Simeral is currently the Senior Manager of Training and Promotions at Shared Hope International. She comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience from her previous position as Victim Services Supervisor with More Too Life operating out of the Suncoast region of Florida.

Before working directly in the field of anti-human trafficking, Mikayla was a Local and Global Outreach Director for a church in the Washington DC area which allowed her to develop a passion for social justice issues on a domestic and international level.

Mikayla was part of the Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force and participated in several sting operations with law enforcement to recover and provide services for victims ages 10-24.

She graduated with her Masters in Ethnomusicology from Liberty University in 2017 and recently completed her Masters in Social Work from the University of South Florida.

Mikayla currently resides in San Diego, California with her husband, her energetic toddler, and her furry black labradoodle.

Jess Torres (they/them) is a Trans Indigenous writer, educator and organizer dedicated to community building, direct action and policy work for the marginalized and criminalized. They are of Lenca lineage born on the stretch of earth now called El Salvador; displaced in NYC as an “undocumented” immigrant for twenty five years. Jess is a systems-impacted youth with lived experience of child trafficking. Today, they reside on Tongva land colonially known as Long Beach, CA.

Jess has fifteen years of advocacy experience in the anti-trafficking movement, serving in the following leadership roles: Rising Safe & Sound Program Director, Artisan Relations and In-House Production Team Manager at The Little Market, the Survivor Leadership Program Coordinator at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), PACT Regional Coordinator a program of the Children & Family Policy Institute of CA, and a former Community Liaison for the NYC Mayor’s Office to End Gender-Based Violence.

Using an anti-oppression framework and a social justice lens, Jess serves as a guest lecturer in academic spaces, a keynote speaker, and as an independent trainer and consultant. They have won several awards and their work is recognized by the City of Los Angeles and the State of CA. They have also written and co-authored various human rights and public health-based state and federal legislation, reports, essays, articles, curricula, poetry, and more. Jess collaborates with various agencies and US-based/International nonprofits to build diverse anti-trafficking and harm reduction initiatives and programs, in addition to facilitating workshops at various conferences and symposia, including work with The Women’s Foundation of CA, The ACLU, and The United Nations.