Leslie F. King 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
Kat is an MSW student at Western Michigan University. After working as an illustrator and graphic designer for 10 years, Kat decided to pursue social work full-time. She obtained her BFA in Illustration from ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, CA. She serves on the Missions Team at Redemption City Church along with her husband, James.
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 managed a group of five radio stations with Regent Broadcasting prior to joining WOOD TV8.
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.
Professor Richards has been teaching political science for 20 years. Her areas of instruction include Constitutional Law, Civil Liberties & Rights, State & Local Politics, and American Politics. She has completed several trainings in Michigan on trafficking, which she has implemented into classroom instruction for 13 years.
Professor Richards double-majored at Western Michigan University in Criminal Justice and Public Law. She has a master's degree in American Politics with a focus on Judicial Politics. She also enjoys time with her family and two German shepherds.
Ivy Nichole Neal
Ivy Nichole is a native Detroiter and the founder of Let's Have Girl Talk, a mentoring program designed to empower and provided resources for girls ages 12-16. Ivy Nichole obtained her Associates Degree with honors in Mental Health/Social Work in 2016.
Ivy Nichole has been featured on 910 AM Superstation and became a radio personality on Motor City Woman with the show "The Social," bringing awareness to community concerns such as family systems, social problems, community organizing, and politics. In 2020, Ivy Nichole became a candidate for State Representative in Michigan House District 6 campaigning around issues of mental health, human trafficking, and women's rights. She is currently working with Church of the Messiah to create a human trafficking task force in the Metro Detroit area and plans to continue her education at Eastern Michigan University, focusing on Macro Social Work with a concentration on Urban Leadership and Human Trafficking.
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.
Nikki has been employed for over 9 years with the Reformed Church in America and has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 15 years. She is a member at City Hope Ministries and has actively served and helped with numerous church and nonprofit organizations.
James is a palliative care physician at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids. He obtained his MD from Northwestern University and completed his Hospice and Palliative Care training at Mercy Health, Grand Rapids. He serves on the Missions Team at Redemption City Church along with his wife, Kat.
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 serves as the Vice President of the Board at Sacred Beginnings. In her role, she is one of the grant writers and facilitates clinical operations. She is the Field Supervisor for Sacred Beginnings' intern from the Social Work department at Calvin University.
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.