Leslie 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
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 West Michigan. 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 was the Sales Manager for 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 local 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 CEO for YWCA Kalamazoo, a social justice organization dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women.
Susan is a social worker by training. She has dedicated her career to serving survivors of violence and contributing to safer, kinder, more equitable communities.
Susan joined the Sacred Beginnings board because of her belief in its mission. She is inspired by the unique, beautiful, and effective way Sacred Beginnings amplifies the expertise of survivors.
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
Brittany is our fabulous Executive Assistant and works closely with Leslie at Home Base. She obtained her Masters in Public Administration Nonprofit Management and Leadership with a focus in human trafficking and survivor services. Upon graduation, she began her career as Interim Executive Director of a local pantry where she addressed food insecurity and helped in a community-wide effort to change the food landscape of Grand Rapids.
Brittany's passion for helping others can also be seen through her volunteer work and advocacy regarding domestic abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Over the years, she has gained leadership experience in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors and has managed both small- and large-scale operations. She is excited to return to her original pursuit of combatting human trafficking and advocating for survivors in Michigan.
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 becoming 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, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor. She has been working with the Department of Veteran Affairs for 18 years.
Katie has her own therapy private practice with Life Support Counseling and Coaching, LLC in Grand Rapids, MI. She has a passion for working with victims and survivors of human trafficking, intimate partner violence, and other forms of abuse. Her specialty is working with teens and adults who have a history of trauma, eating disorders, substance abuse, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking.
Additionally, Katie has achieved years of experience in community education and consultation. She is a School of Social Work Program Associate Professor at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, teaching classes on human trafficking and homelessness. She is a national Health, Education, Advocacy, and Linkage (HEAL) Trafficking speaker and trainer and has provided over 100 national and international trainings on human trafficking.
Katie was recently awarded "40 Under 40 Boston Congress of Public Health Catalyst Award" for her achievement in shaping human trafficking as a public health concern.