Shanna Batten

Board Member

Ms. Batten is intimately familiar with the dynamics of power that create multiple levels of trauma for survivors of sex trafficking, having served for 15 years as a violent crimes prosecutor in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, primarily prosecuting domestic violence and sexual assaults felonies. She remains a zealous advocate for empowering survivors instead of prosecuting them. A graduate of Duke University (1992), majoring in Public Policy and Political Science and the University of Virginia, School of Law (1995), Ms. Batten has been a committed public interest attorney. In law school, she was awarded public interest fellowships to clerk with the ACLU’s Office of Legislative Affairs and the Youth Law Center, focusing on impact litigation to improve the criminal justice system. After her tenure with LADA, Ms. Batten relocated to Washington, DC to serve as a senior attorney for the Office of International Affairs in the U.S. Department of Justice. She currently serves as the Program Director for the Community Resilience Initiatives program at the University of Maryland’s non-profit Center for Health and Homeland Security, engaging with communities to create violence prevention networks.

On both the east and west coasts, Ms. Batten consistently has been committed to community empowerment and is a passionate advocate for youth and survivors of violence. On the west coast, she worked with Peace Over Violence and Stand Up for Kids and was a board member on Wells Bring Hope, Inc. and Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles. Since relocating to the east coast, she has served as a community educator and crisis intervention advocate for the DC Rape Crisis Center and as a volunteer for several organizations including Extra Ordinary Birthdays, Dress for Success, and Girl Scouts of America. She is a firm believer in empowering through education and establishing “power with” relationships through thoughtful collaboration.

Melba Brown

Secretary of the Board of Directors

Melba Robinson is a tireless advocate for girls and young women who face insurmountable challenges. Melba’s innovative works in the areas of social work, mental health, and human sex trafficking of domestic children have made her a go-to person for Juvenile Justice Judges, Law Enforcement, Community Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and Parents.

Melba has a strong interest in the next generation of girls and young women. She has served for years as a case manager, mentor and court advocate for troubled and exploited girls and has served as a hands-on resource to their families. Robinson founded STRIVE (Surviving Together regardless of Ignorance, Violence and Exploitation). STRIVE engages survivors of human sex trafficking through an aftercare group which assist girls with transitioning back into their families and communities while equipping and empowering them with the ability to set and achieve their life goals.

Her commitment to help women, girls, communities and NGOs extends far beyond Atlanta. Robinson has worked with Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS), the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Share Hope International, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, ICE. She has also served as a volunteer for DeKalb County’s Task Force for Homeless and Sexually Exploited Youth. Melba is often called upon as an expert witness for law enforcement to build case against sex traffickers, and she is a sought-after trainer and curriculum developer for Juvenile Courts, NGOs, professional associations and religious organization. Melba has served as a Director for a state licensed safe refuge, education and therapeutic home for American girls who have survived violence, street life and human sex trafficking and exploitation. In this position she led committed staff and team of volunteers in providing restorative care and services to girls and their families. In addition, Melba serves as a subject matter expert on task forces, panels and at conferences. Melba currently is the Program Director for an Anti-Human Trafficking program with the Salvation Army.

Melba holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice from St. John’s University and a Masters in Social Work from Clark Atlanta University. Melba Robinson is a Georgia resident and one of Georgia’s leaders to eradicate Human Sex Trafficking of Domestic Children.

Kevin Bales

Senior Advisor to the Board of Directors

Going undercover to meet slaves and slaveholders, Kevin Bales exposed how modern slavery penetrates the global economy and flows into the things we buy. Named by the Association of British Universities as the originator of one of “100 World-Changing Discoveries” and by Utne Reader as a “visionary who is changing your world.” In 2001 he co-founded Free the Slaves, the American sister-organization of the UK’s Anti-Slavery International, the world’s oldest human rights group. In twelve years it has helped to liberate thousands of slaves in India, Nepal, Haiti, Ghana, Brazil, Ivory Coast, and Bangladesh, and work with them to build new lives of dignity. After reading Bales’ book Ending Slavery, President Clinton told the plenary of the CGI: “It tells you that it is a problem we can solve and here’s how to do it.” With Ron Soodalter, he published The Slave Next Door: Modern Slavery in the United States, an exposé and plan to make America slave-free for the first time in its history. Check out his TED talk.

Shamere McKenzie

Chief Executive Officer

Shamere McKenzie tells the inspiring story of a woman who survived a fate that is all too prevalent in the United States – sex trafficking. Turning her past adversities into an opportunity to liberate and protect others, Shamere has become an activist in the fight against human trafficking, bringing about social and political change in America and around the world. She was discovered as a speaker by world-renowned researcher, author and cofounder of Free the Slaves, Kevin Bales. Through the mentorship of Kevin, she has transitioned into an international speaker on sex trafficking, giving a voice to enslaved women and children, those who perish while enslaved, and survivors who suffer in silence, afraid to share their stories.

Shamere works tirelessly to raise awareness of human trafficking in America by speaking at various universities, conferences, community events and with government officials. She partners with organizations by empowering survivors and youth within their programs. Her story has been featured in several books including a college text book focused on social justice, television programs, documentaries, newspaper articles, and radio programs.

Currently, she serves on the speaker’s bureau for the Fredrick Douglas Family Initiative and Survivors of Slavery organizations. She is a subject matter expert consultant with Fox Valley Technical College Amber Alert TTA; a member of the National Survivor Network and the Survivor Leadership Institute; a mentor to survivors of sex trafficking.

She is formerly the Program Assistant for Shared Hope International, where she trained various professionals including law enforcement on how to identify and respond to victims of human trafficking, used her personal experience to inform policy initiatives and provided support to other programs in the organization.

Her strong determination, passion for success and her faith in Jesus Christ helps her to keep her eyes on the prize. Shamere is working on her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at Loyola University Chicago. She believes that one day she will be a human trafficking attorney, advocating for victims of modern day enslavement in the justice system. Shamere does not consider herself a victim because she is no longer enslaved; she is not a survivor because she is more than surviving; but, she considers herself a liberator – one who has broken free from the chains of her past, determined to pave the way for others who have been enslaved.

Mark Tatum

Chairman of the Board of Directors

Born and raised in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Mark has roots tied in the greater community, the church and musical arenas. He was president of the Jazz and Concert Bands for his High School, and founder and president of a positive-movement club called Positive Brothers and Sisters.

Mark carried this leadership skill to West Virginia State University where he became President of the Student Government Association. With such outstanding civic service, Mark was selected as Who’s Who Among Students in America’s Colleges and Universities.

Mark has worked in public school education as a special subjects teacher; as a Regional Director for federally funded grant programs; and as a government contractor for youth programs. Mark has earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Communication, and is a licensed minister at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church. He is currently working as a Life Coach at a charter school in Baltimore City, and as an adjunct professor at Community College of Baltimore County. He and his wife and reside in Hyattsville, MD with their 3 children; 2 boys and 1 girl.