Colleen Owens

Colleen Owens

Colleen Owens is an expert on human trafficking with over a decade of experience directing and implementing US and international research and training and technical assistance projects funded by the U.S. Department of State, National Institute of Justice, and Bureau of Justice Assistance.  She currently serves as a technical assistance provider with the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance team, funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and led by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in collaboration with Aequitas and John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In addition to this work, Ms. Owens is the recent Founder and CEO of THE WHY, a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating modern slavery, promoting and supporting sustainable and ethical design, and economically empowering survivors. Prior to founding THE WHY, she served as Senior Research Associate with the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center where she codirected an over $4.1 million portfolio of research on human trafficking in the US and several foreign countries.  Her research studies have included analyses of labor trafficking across multiple industries in the U.S., a study on human trafficking survivors' perceptions of justice, exploratory research on forced marriage, intimate partner violence and sexual violence, a study on challenges identifying, investigating and prosecuting human trafficking, and research to estimate the size and scope of the underground commercial sex economy, among many others. She has also conducted numerous evaluations, including evaluations of anti-trafficking programs overseas. She helped design and operate the first national data collection system on human trafficking for the federally-funded task forces. In May 2017, she graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Fashion Institute of Technology where she focused her studies on sustainable and ethical footwear design.

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