Forum Set on Human Trafficking, Refugees

NEWS RELEASE (updated)

For immediate use

June 17, 2019

Contact: Chuck Isenhart, 563-599-8839

Gretchen Brown-Waech, victim rights and human trafficking coordinator for Attorney General Tom Miller, will visit Dubuque on Thursday, June 20, to speak about the reality of and response to human trafficking in Iowa.

Also presenting will be Neil Wellner, homeland security coordinator for the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

State Rep. Chuck Isenhart will host the speakers, 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Northeast Iowa Community College Town Clock Center, 680 Main Street. The public is invited.

Suzie Wright of Set Free Dubuque and members of the Tri-State Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Slavery will brief attendees on their work in the Dubuque area. Isenhart will discuss the status of legislation introduced with Rep. Lindsay James to provide incentives to lodging facilities that educate their employees on how to recognize the signs of human trafficking.

The event has been planned to observe World Refugee Day in support of the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT).

According to the Catholic Sisters’ group, an unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under 18. Every 15 minutes a family is forced to flee their homeland.

“There is a strong link between forced migration and human trafficking. Men, women, and children are made vulnerable to human trafficking by the mass displacement caused by violence, extreme poverty, humanitarian crises, climate change, natural disasters, and conflict. Impoverished, vulnerable families are targeted by traffickers who promise to provide education and opportunity only to exploit them through forced labor, sexual exploitation, enslavement, or organ theft,” according to USCSAHT.

Brown-Waech will discuss the roles of the Iowa Department of Justice. The attorney general’s Crime Victim Assistance Division supports direct services around the state for people affected by human trafficking, domestic abuse, sexual abuse, homicide, and other violent crimes.

Wellner will discuss the role of the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s Office to Combat Human Trafficking in holding accountable those who exploit the vulnerabilities of others. The office has been tasked with providing a comprehensive and coordinated response to labor and sex trafficking in Iowa.

Awesome April

Very much looking forward to the rest of this month. There are many exciting opportunities happening.

Work continues with local middle-schoolers, local hotels, and in the community. Happy to share a bit of the unusual.

The article below this talks of a color run/walk happening this weekend where you actually get to be on the airport runway. Read it below for more details.

April 18 6:00PM – 7:30PM Human Trafficking Awareness

Learn how to recognize and respond to potential trafficked persons at this informative presentation and discussion with educator/presenter and cyclist Kevin Schwendinger. Mr. Schwendinger recently biked from Omaha, NE to Milwaukee, WI to bring awareness to this devastating human tragedy in rural communities.
This presentation will include a historical perspective, labor and other forms of Human Trafficking, as well as how individuals, governments, and coalitions are attempting to interrupt this ongoing illegal activity throughout the world and in the Midwest.

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against a person’s will. Human trafficking affects every community in the United States across age, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Simply put, anyone can be a victim of human trafficking. Not only are victims trafficked in other countries, they are also our children, our teenagers, and our young adults. Knowledge is power and together we can raise awareness of the crime of human trafficking to help victims and stop traffickers.
*Due to the subject matter, adults may wish to accompany any children.

GRIDSHOCK at Julien Dubuque International Film Festival

A riveting documentary exposing the disturbing reality behind sex trafficking demand in Iowa. It shines a light on buyers and how they fuel the demand for exploitation.

Thursday 4.25

3:15pm | Hotel Julien Ballroom

Saturday 4.27

6:15pm | Five Flags Orpheum



Run the Runway Color Run/Walk for Human Trafficking

Sat April 13, 2019     8:00 AM CDT     $15
10965 Aviation Drive Dubuque, IA US 52001

The University of Dubuque Spartan Nation Liberation Foundation would love anyone’s support on making a difference when it comes to human trafficking. Whether it is sex, labor, domestic or any other type of trafficking you are standing with the victims and showing them that they are not alone when it comes to fighting the traffickers that are still out there in the world today! With your participation in this event that we are putting forth in this community, you are helping us make small steps and soon long strides to taking down human trafficking.

The Race (it is a 5k) will be on April 13th at 8:30 am with sign in at 8:00 am! Make sure to sign up now (only $15 plus transaction fee $2.50). The sign up does END APRIL 1TH, if you still want to run come the day of and you can pay $20 (you will not be receiving a shirt if you do this)! Tell your friends and family in the area to come support or even donate!


If you have any questions about this race, please contact the race director at

Thankful for the Schools

During this school year, we have had great opportunities to speak on human trafficking, to elementary, middle school, high school, and secondary ed students, faculty, and staff at schools in Dubuque, Hazel Green, and East Dubuque.

Some were private schools and some were public. All have helped protect their students and staff understand human trafficking and we pray it will help protect those students from being trafficked. Hoping to be in more as the year goes on. We know that we will be back for four more sessions at Roosevelt in April,


Happy to say that HF 455 is heading to a subcommittee meeting this week. Wednesday morning 9 AM in the state capital. Please pray that the subcommittee, committee and then the whole house will approve and then pass this bill on to the Senate, then governor. Read the entry below to see who is on the committee. Reach out to the them if you will. Thank you.