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Press Release

United Way Worldwide and Survivor Alliance Unveil Fellowship for Survivors of Human Trafficking

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 9, 2023 – Survivor Alliance and United Way Worldwide are launching a new fellowship program that prepares survivors of human trafficking to take on leadership roles in U.S. organizations working to stem the tide of global trafficking. 

Human trafficking is illegal in every country but happens worldwide, impacting an estimated 50 million people through forced labor, commercial sexual exploitation, and forced marriages

The Pembrook Fellowship helps build skills among survivors to lead the anti-trafficking movement and equips organizational partners with tools to create trauma-informed, inclusive workplaces. Eight Pembrook Fellows are beginning their year-long fellowship placements at United Way Worldwide, Humanity United, Marriott International, ICF, Polaris, United Way of Greater Atlanta, Verite, and You Are More Than. 

The program is designed to foster partnership and collaboration between survivors and allies by matching nonprofit organizations in the anti-trafficking sector (and corporations involved in this work) with survivor leaders based on their skills, interests, and values. Funding for the new program also comes from The Elkes Foundation, Humanity United, Marriott and UPS.

The program honors the contributions of the late anti-trafficking leader, Deborah Pembrook, a friend and colleague to both United Way and Survivor Alliance,  an international NGO that empowers survivors to be leaders in their own communities. “Deborah Pembrook was a strong advocate for survivors of human trafficking in leadership positions, pushing for those in our community who were most marginalized,” said Minh Dang, co-founder and Executive Director of Survivor Alliance. “She was a steadfast partner with allies, willing to educate and connect with folks who were walking the talk as partners.”

As United Way Worldwide and Survivor Alliance embark on this journey, both organizations seek to uphold Deborah’s legacy of bringing people together to create lasting systemic change. Through the new fellowship program, survivors of human trafficking will go through leadership training for diverse roles across the anti-trafficking sector, while receiving a competitive part-time salary, access to benefits, and the opportunity to build a career. Fellows will have guidance and support as they grow their professional skills. 

Participating organizations will conduct in-depth internal assessments, and implement recommendations focused on fostering equitable workplaces. Partner organizations will get training on organizational allyship, trauma-informed supervision, and equitable recruitment and hiring practices. Fellows and supervisors will receive ongoing support via regular cohort peer sessions and meetings with a trauma-informed support specialist.

"At United Way, we believe the world’s best experts on human trafficking are the survivors who have lived through it," said Mara Vanderslice Kelly, Executive Director, United Way’s Center to Combat Human Trafficking at United Way Worldwide. “The Pembrook Fellowship is part of our integrated approach to empower survivors to shape the future of the anti-trafficking movement while also mobilizing cross-sector engagement and support." 

The Pembrook Fellowship kicked off today, celebrated with a reception for the fellows, hosting organizations, and other anti-trafficking supporters. The fellowship placements will last through July 2024. 

“We look forward to welcoming a fellow into our business whose lived experience will further enhance our efforts to combat human trafficking,” said Tricia Primrose, Executive Vice President and Chief Global Communications & Public Affairs Officer for Marriott International. “The Pembrook Fellowship program marks an important step on our journey as we continue to expand our human trafficking awareness and survivor empowerment efforts and strive to create a safe and welcoming world for all.” 

Said Nikki Clifton, President of UPS’ Social Impact and The UPS Foundation, “Our mission at The UPS Foundation is to create a more equitable and just world, and combatting human trafficking is one important way we advance that mission. UPSers have proudly donated more than $8 million to United Way Worldwide to combat human trafficking, advance social impact programs, including this innovative new fellowship program, train victim service providers and conduct global research to advance policy changes.”



About The United Way Center to Combat Human Trafficking: The Center was founded in 2015 as a global center to accelerate action. It is working to create effective community-based solutions, galvanize collaboration across sectors, and build public and political will to support, fund and scale strategies across the world that find, stop, and prevent human trafficking. It is innovating where needed, uplifting good work already being done, and utilizing the United Way Network to scale the anti-trafficking movement. The Center is part of United Way Worldwide, which offers global reach -- impacting 48 million people every year -- and local impact led by 1,100 local United Ways. Learn more at and follow us @United Way and #LiveUnited.

About Survivor Alliance 
Survivor Alliance (SA) envisions a world where survivors of slavery and human trafficking are thriving members of society. The organization’s mission is to unite and empower survivors of slavery and human trafficking around the world to become leaders of the anti-slavery movement. SA is a registered 501(c)3 in the United States with 8 full time staff, most of whom are survivors of human trafficking. SA has a network of survivor leaders from around the world and provides opportunities for community building, leadership training, and employment in the anti-trafficking sector. Every three years, Survivor Alliance will convene the World Congress, a global gathering to advance a survivor-led movement. SA also runs a consulting service that offers survivor-led training and technical assistance on how to engage survivors meaningfully and ethically.

Media Contact

Erica Hess, Vice President for Communications, United Way Worldwide