Leslie King-Friday is a survivor of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. She was coerced into the lifestyle of prostitution at the tender age of 15 in Grand Rapids, MI. She became trapped in the underworld of prostitution and drug addiction for over 20 years. On July 4, 2000 Leslie miraculously found the strength and the courage to break free. Since 2003, she has been intensely engaged in working with individuals who find themselves trapped in the same horrors that she experienced.
In 2005, Leslie utilized her experience, expertise, and inspiring example of a renewed lifestyle to open Sacred Beginnings, a safe haven that offers hope, and healing to trafficking victims. Leslie consults with law enforcement agencies, human service professionals, clergy, and others requesting direction and understanding in working with prostituted individuals. She also speaks at various conferences and academic institutions on the issue of human trafficking.
Leslie is well-respected in the state of Michigan from which she hails and where she is often seen boldly conducting street outreach to sexually exploited people during unconventional hours.
Her awards and recognitions include:
2005 Grand Rapids, MI Woman of the Year nominee
2008 YWCA Advocate of the Year
2011 Rising Hero Award
2014 "50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan"
2018 Michigan Liberator Award
2019 Grand Rapids Negro Business and Professional Women's Club Certificate of Achievement
2021 African American Leadership Award
2021 BBB Trust Award
MEET THE BOARD
Daniel W. Spaans
Dan retired from a 32-year career in leadership at Haworth Corporation.
He is a graduate of Ferris Statue University, a member of Thornapple Community Church, and has served with a number of local organizations including The First Tee of West Michigan, Hope Network, The Other Way Ministries, Kids Hope USA, Degage, and Kids Food Basket.
Kat is a medical social worker with Corewell Health Hospice and Palliative Care. Before transitioning to social work, Kat worked as an illustrator and graphic designer for 10 years.
Kat obtained her MSW from Western Michigan University and her BFA from ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, CA.
Board Vice President
Mary has a background in marketing, sales, and management. She currently works for the NBC and ABC affiliates in Grand Rapids WOOD TV8 and WOTV. She previously managed a group of five radio stations with Regent Broadcasting.
Mary won top honors for two national promotions she developed and executed with the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo. She was nominated for the 2019 YWCA Tribute Award and two Addy Awards. Her hobbies include golf, international travel, and just hanging with family. Mary attended Davenport University and resides in Grand Rapids.
Marilyn is a doctoral student at Western Michigan University's Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology Program. Her passion is advocacy and activism, particularly for the most marginalized, as well as research in race-based trauma and its impact on Black people.
Marilyn credits her awareness of human trafficking due Leslie's trainings. Over the years and through her research, Marilyn began to see the ties that link her research interest in race-based trauma systemic issues and human trafficking. It is her hope to help victims of exploitation receive evidence-based mental health services and address existing systemic issues that enable the cycle of human trafficking to continue.
Susan is the President and CEO of Holy Cross Services, a statewide Michigan child welfare and homelessness nonprofit. She obtained her MSW from the University of Chicago and lives in Rockford with her partner and two children.
Susan has led youth and young-adult trafficking victim service programs for 10 years, including the development, launch, and expansion of Texas-wide anti sex-trafficking operations, national interventions for labor trafficked children, and interventions for youth trafficked into and out of orphanages overseas. Through this work, she came to understand that trafficking involves the abuse of relationship, power, and trust. As such, effective intervention must center relationship, shared power, and trust with survivors.
Patrick A. Nelson
Patrick is a native of Grand Rapids, MI and is a mental health therapist at Family Outreach Center as well as an independent contractor. Patrick is a graduate of Cornerstone University and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He graduated in May 2020 with Master of Counseling and Master of Ministry Leadership degrees. He is currently a doctoral student at Northcentral University's Psychology program with a specialization in Trauma and Addiction.
Patrick loves working with marginalized and socio-economically deprived populations such as citizens returning from incarceration. He currently works with middle school and high school youth who have been impacted by violence. Patrick specializes in TF-CBT, Mindfulness Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing.
Madelaine C. Lane
Madelaine is a partner at Warner Norcross + Judd LLP specializing in white collar criminal defense and complex civil litigation. She regularly acts as trial counsel representing clients in both federal and state court. Madelaine served as a Criminal Justice Act Panel member for the Western District of Michigan for nearly a decade. She has extensive experience working in several sectors, including higher education, automotive, health care, finance, and agriculture, among others. She is recognized as one of the go-to lawyers in Michigan when clients need to create programs focused on sexual abuse prevention and detection training. Madelaine also serves as Warner's deputy general counsel, handling questions regarding privilege and ethics at the firm level.
MEET OUR STAFF
Stacy is our fantastic Housing Director and Peer Support Specialist.
A survivor herself, she has the heart and compassion to help those who have been sexually exploited. Her previous work began at The Hope Project in Michigan providing administrative support. She has years of volunteer experience with organizations that help victims of human trafficking. After moving to Florida, she worked with the Justice Restoration Center assisting paralegals in pro bono cases that focused on advocating for victims.
Stacy has worked one-on-one supporting minors in a safe house at Redefining Refuge with her certified therapy dog. Previously working as a dog groomer, she enjoyed combining her love for animals and her passion to help others in need. She is looking forward to turning her passion in advocating for trafficking victims into a career. She recently moved back to Michigan to be near her family.
Brittany is our fabulous Executive Assistant and works closely with Leslie at Home Base.
Bio coming soon!
Jamie is our wonderful Case Manager.
Jamie is an alumna of Grand Valley State University. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and Juvenile Justice with the goal of become a victim's advocate.
Jamie is originally from the Detroit area where her parents currently reside. She is very family-oriented. Jamie is also an extreme animal lover and has a Shih Tzu named Elvis. In her free time, Jamie likes to craft, read, coach volleyball, and play intramural sports.
Katie is a Survivor and is passionate about working with victims of human trafficking. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor. She has been working with the Department of Veteran Affairs for 15 years.
Katie has years of experience in community education and is a Social Work Program Adjunct Professor at Grand Valley State University. Katie has her own private practice and provides therapy to survivors of trafficking, sexual exploitation, and abuse. Her specialty is working with teens and adults who have trauma and substance abuse concerns.
Katie is involved in the Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness, City of Grand Rapids Human Trafficking Task Force, and serves on the Service Provider Sub-Committee with the Solutions to End Exploitation Kent County task force.