Megan Lundstrom, M.A.
DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH & CO-FOUNDER
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How did you first learn about and begin working with The Avery Center? How long have you been with the organization?
Following my exit in 2012, and as my healing progressed, I felt compelled to begin sharing my experience of being lured and trapped in the commercial sex industry. As I began speaking, I quickly realized that I was not the only young woman that was at-risk for or had previously experienced commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. What I found as I began to share my story in my home town was that very few agencies were aware that these crimes were occurring in their community, and even fewer felt equipped to serve the complex needs of survivors like me.
In 2014, I founded Free Our Girls in response to these needs and we began delivering our Human Trafficking Awareness, Prevention & Response Training, the curriculum that was used to train most northern Colorado agencies, organizations, and community groups prior to the Colorado Human Trafficking Council’s statewide standardized curriculum was released in 2017. We've delivered training and educational presentations in academic communities as well as a variety of organizations, including the Commercial Sexual Exploitation Institute at Villanova University Law School.
After hosting the first and second annual Human Trafficking Awareness Weeks at the University of Northern Colorado, and extensively training the region, service provider referrals began to come in with requests for mentorship, referrals, legal services, mental and physical health care, housing, and employment for victims and survivors now being identified in the area.
Beginning in 2017, Free Our Girls began offering direct services to at-risk and exploited women and girls in northern Colorado. Since then, we've expanded our direct service offering, begun a new research branch, and re-branded as The Avery Center. Behind the scenes, I have always pursued furthering my formal education and hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and a Master’s degree in Sociology from the University of Northern Colorado.
Throughout our time as Free Our Girls and now, The Avery Center, I have had opportunities to consult for the Department of Homeland Security and Polaris Project. My research on cultic theory was internationally published through United Nations University and presented at the International Cultic Studies Association annual conference.
The Unlikely Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor and the Instagram Account That Saved Her Life
What do you think sets The Avery Center apart from other organizations in this sector?
While becoming more common, being a survivor-founded and -led and trauma-informed organization are still unique in our field. Evidence-based services are shockingly uncommon and the status quo that we're working to change.
What's your favorite part/the most fulfilling part of your role?
Knowing that we have created a space for survivors to find community, healing, and long-term empowerment. I love hearing about all the barriers that are being broken down and accomplishments that our staff and those we walk with are achieving.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not at The Avery Center?
Cooking for my family, being outdoors on a walk or in my hammock, decorating my home, traveling and exploring new cities.
Who is someone you admire, and why?
Any and all trailblazers - I am deeply grateful for the thankless work put into this field and individual communities that created the foundation for us.
Do you have any skills or talents that most people don’t know about?
I am a champion sleeper (most people wonder when I sleep)!
What advice would you give someone who wants to join the Avery team of superstars?
We work hard and we play hard. The work we do is serious stuff, that's why we find love and laughter in everything else.
What you're listening to now:
The podcast "Deep Knowing" by Rob Bell
TV show you're hooked on:
Thank you always to my incredible team who sees the vision and works tirelessly to make it a reality!
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