108 minutes | Jul 28th 2020

Real Escape from the Sex Trade (REST), Fighting Human Trafficking, and Starting a Nonprofit :: with Amanda Hightower and Brent Turner

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In this episode of Ventures we dive into the horrors of human trafficking within the sex trade, specifically in and around the greater Seattle area. We look at one group’s efforts (REST - Real Escape from the Sex Trade) to combat the problem by providing a suite of services, working closely with law enforcement, and ensuring all people being trafficked understand they are worthy of love. 

We also dive deep into how REST got started, and how the relationship between the executive director and board chair is an important story to learn from for any for-profit or nonprofit founder team. 

You can watch this episode via video here.

My guests are Amanda Hightower (REST Executive Director) and Brent Turner (REST Board Chair).

Full show notes can be found here; a few highlights are detailed below: 

3:56 - Amanda background, journey before and intro REST

6:58 - Late night outreach? What is it? Who was Amanda doing it with? 

9:29 - What is the interaction experience like with women and men Amanda was reaching out to on the street? 

21:15 - How did Brent’s journey intersect with Amanda’s? What compelled Brent to get into the work of fighting human trafficking? 

27:33 - Amanda describing how she wasn’t sure she had what it took to be a non-profit executive director, but Brent’s encouragement was a game-changer. 

29:25 - After the meeting at the pizza restaurant, where did the story go from there? Amanda continues, describing the formation of the heart and vision/mission behind REST. 

36:21 - What was the landscape of the space and services in the Seattle area in the late 2000s? How many people were being bought/sold for sex regularly? 

37:59 - Has the problem in the Seattle area grown, decreased, or stayed the same in the last ten years? 

39:15 - How has REST worked with law enforcement during the last ten years?

43:55 - Law enforcement working with REST to have a place to take victims rather than to the jails, which helps convict traffickers because their victims can be found to testify. 

49:35 - Where is REST today? What services are available? 

57:15 - What kind of impact is REST seeing? What kind of numbers does REST track? 

1:00:47 - Almost 200 people leaving the life for more than 1yr via REST services is amazing (!), what do the numbers look like for people leaving for shorter stints / coming in and out of the life? Is it possible to track that effectively?  

1:04:35 - How is REST planning to scale and/or help other organizations spin up to help fight against sex trafficking? 

1:07:18 - What would you say to people watching/listening who are thinking about spinning up an organization to fight sex trafficking?

1:09:10 - What advice does Brent have to those in positions to help support future executive directors of nonprofits in this space?

1:17:13 - What advice does Brent have for people considering whether to form a nonprofit or for-profit to get after social impact? 

1:20:03 - Amanda, what has been helpful about Brent’s involvement with REST? What do the actions of a good board chair look like? 

1:31:32 - What kinds of things has Brent done - or do board chairs do - that is not helpful? 

1:33:42 - Brent comments about his experience growing into the role as a board chair of REST and seeking advice from a mentor.

1:37:20 - What are the future plans for REST? 

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