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October 6, 2020 47 min

Megan Lundstrom is the co founder and Director of Research at The Avery Center, a nonprofit organization that serves victims and survivors of exploitation and human trafficking through evidence-based, survivor-centered programming. Megan holds a Bachelors of Science in Finance and Masters in Sociology from the University of Northern Colorado. 

During COVID Megan lead her company through a legal name change, rebranding and re-launch in order to be more inclusive to all people, all genders, all races. 

Checking with Megan: She says there’s a mass of emotions in her home with three kids 5-16 years old. Works from home but is able to go into the office and safely distance from co-workers. 

Megan says the key word of COVID is PIVOT. As a small team, they are over worked but are also super flexible. 

They’ve seen an increase in need and vulnerability during COVID. 

Support groups rolled online, going virtual opened up the ability to serve more people; people who have had transportation issues or who live in another

Job Training Program in Northern Colorado, physical site dependent. During COVID they have been able to double with a staffing rotation schedule. A silver lining during COVID!

100% of their clients are on Medicaid so being able to access tele-health is “hit or miss.” Having a support net through all the barriers and 

Megan said it’s been really really hard to lead in a time when people are looking to you for leadership and as a leader you don’t necessarily know what is coming next, you may not have the answer. Decision-making is about what is best for the team; making sure her staff has the support at home to being able to work at home, including the added responsibility of remote learning for most children in this season. As a leader she is going through the same things as her team. Everyone is giving 100% right now and it doesn’t look the same as pre-COVID.

Conversations around healthy boundaries – what are we actually able to do? When is too much, especially for over-achievers on her team. You just can’t be in it all the time. 

Growing pains – having all the service referrals and all the system changes amidst the rebrand, it grew her team to add a Director of Services, knowing that she could not do any more than she was already doing. 

Megan’s organization received both a State and a Federal Grant – including a Housing Grant – which will allow them to build internal capacity.

Megan says QAnon, #savethechildren and similar hashtags actually create fear and misinformation. She thought they could be an opportunity to educate and inform people but instead she has come to realize that these hashtags are actually traumatizing people, making them feel helpless, powerless and ill-equipped to help do the work. The burst of awareness is good but the misinformation has been harmful. She shared a story of someone in one of these Facebook groups who went vigilante style to “rescue” a child, compromising an open investigation. 

Places to get good/accurate information about trafficking:

  • Polaris – National Human Trafficking Hotline that center survivor voices and are a data and evidence based organization
  • Rebecca Bender and Elevate Academy – Training and educating communities.             Myth Buster Series
  • Gems in NY
  • Breaking Free in Minnesota
  • Race & Human Trafficking: “Trafficking happens because of these intersections of vulnerabilities, and marginalization and oppression. You can’t not be anti-racist and I’m fighting human trafficking. When people have equal access to resources, education, employment, housing … trafficking will go away. The data shows that those who are trafficked are disproportionately people of color. Race and racism and equality it is all apart of this conversation around human trafficking.

    It’s a complex system! 

    Anti-trafficking work can be done daily, fighting in direct and indirect ways. Do you know where your clothing is made? What changes can you make that go towards contributing to a better world?

    Megan recently learned about “Dirty Deleting” and how we can challenge privilege. When someone posts a question or comment and there is following discussion and comments. Then the original poster deletes a post that feels exposing; they’ve been called out and/or has learned something new… Deleting the post silences everyone else’s voice in order to protect your own ego. It’s hard to sit in discomfort. It’s not just saving face, it’s also preventing other people from learning.

    Live out the things you talk about publicly in your everyday life. 

    --- 

    Megan is reading: “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk

    Megan is listening to: Rob Bell’s The Robcast “Deep Knowing”

    Megan is inspired by: Ruth Bader Ginsberg 

     

    Connect with Megan at www.theaverycenter.org

     

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