2014 – Catherine Longkumer

SONY DSCCatherine Longkumer’s deep commitment to protecting the rights of human trafficking victims began in college when she first read about sexual slavery as part of a book study. These stories had a profound impact on Catherine and would become a driving force of her career. Not satisfied to simply read about the problem, she took action and spent a month in Thailand volunteering with the Tamar Center, an organization that provides housing, counseling and job training to individuals trying to get out of the sex trade. Following her college graduation, Catherine continued to seek out opportunities to work in this area and ultimately accepted an unpaid internship with the International Justice Mission in India, where she spent eight months working with their legal and investigative teams to assist trafficking victims.

Catherine soon realized she could effect more change in this field by pursuing a law degree. After completing her first year of law school at Penn State, Catherine learned that the University of Michigan Law School was starting the country’s first anti-trafficking legal clinic. She immediately applied for a transfer and was accepted, giving up a scholarship at Penn State so she could continue her anti-trafficking work through the clinic. Catherine worked at the clinic during her 2L and 3L years, then stayed on as a post-doctoral fellow to establish a legal clinic in Mexico City.

In 2012, Catherine joined the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services as an Equal Justice Works Fellow to help launch ATLASST, an anti-trafficking initiative that provides holistic pro bono legal services to survivors of human trafficking. Over the past two years, Catherine already has served more than 30 clients, trained more than 100 pro bono attorneys, and led awareness efforts reaching hundreds of people. Her dedication and compassion are boundless. In the words of one of her supporters, Catherine’s “ability to establish trust with these clients, who have been repeatedly betrayed and abused by those they trusted, is remarkable.” The Anderson Fellowship will allow Catherine to continue helping victims of human trafficking and pursue the work she loves.