Health

Mercy's anti-human trafficking coordinator named to federal council

Teresa Davidson, anti-human trafficking coordinator for Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, was recently named to a na
Teresa Davidson, anti-human trafficking coordinator for Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, was recently named to a national group that is to advise on anti-trafficking policy. (Mercy Medical Center photo)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Mercy Medical Center’s anti-human trafficking coordinator was appointed to a national council that will help shape federal policy on human trafficking.

Teresa Davidson is one of nine people named by President Donald Trump in late October to the Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking.

She was nominated for the council by Iowa’s U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and will serve a two-year term.

Davidson became the anti-human trafficking coordinator at Mercy last year. At the time, hospital officials said her role represented the first hospital-based position of its kind in the state.

Since then, her role has evolved beyond the Cedar Rapids hospital. She often advises other health care facilities who lack policies or training on how to identify and aid human trafficking victims.

Davidson also is the executive director of Chains Interrupted, a Cedar Rapids-based not-for-profit, and a member of the Iowa National Anti-Human Trafficking Board.

We talked to her about that work.

Q: What is the Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking?

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A: It is a committee that’s been put together because of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. It was renewed in 2017, and that mandated this council to be put together because it’s ground-level advice to the administration. Specifically, we’ll be advising the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking. That was established when the Trafficking Victims Protection Act went into effect in 2000.

Q: What will you be doing on this council?

A: We are going to look at the federal policies and programs that are already in place and make recommendations to the (President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking). We’re also advising the Senior Policy Operating Group on Trafficking in Persons federal committee.

There’s a lot I don’t know yet, but the council is just a gathering of people on the ground, currently working on this issue. One of the things we have to do is create a report 45 days before the Interagency Task Force meeting in September, to tell them if there’s anything that they’re doing right, if there’s any recommendations we can make and if there’s any additions we can make to what they’re already doing.

Q: How do you feel about being named to this council?

A: I’m very honored. I’m excited. I think anyone who works in a social justice advocacy role always dreams that someday, they may make a difference. I’m excited that this may be a big difference — a federal policy-reaching difference. But I’m most excited because I work with a lot of survivors, and I plan on being their voice in Washington, D.C.

Q: What are your goals for this council?

A: I watch survivors all the time be treated in the wrong way. I watch funding for them disappear. I watch the criminals that have perpetrated crimes against them walk free or get off easy while (the survivors) have to deal with that the rest of their lives. I see gaps in services they need, or services being implemented in the wrong way. So I’m really excited to potentially make recommendations to change that.

Where to get help:

• National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-(888) 373-7888 or text 233733

• National Human Trafficking Resource Center: humantraffickinghotline.org.

Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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