Announcing the 2012 Pathbreaker Recipients

In 2000, the U.S. Department of State enlisted Shared Hope to hold Pathbreaking Strategies conferences in six countries to energize the national conversation about the issue of trafficking and share innovative approaches to combat the problem. During this process, we created the Pathbreaker Award to recognize the pioneering efforts of individuals throughout the world who broke the trend of inaction and initiated proactive responses to prevent sex trafficking.

We are proud to honor the following 2012 Pathbreaker recipients:


Ernie Allen

Ernie Allen is the Founding Chairman of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and  President and CEO, International Center for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC). Ernie Allen served as president and CEO of NCMEC for more than 23 years, growing the $1 million organization with 40 employees to a nearly $50 million organization with 350 employees. Under his leadership, NCMEC played an active role in the recovery of 175,000 missing children and its recovery rate increased from 62% in 1990 to 97% today. Mr. Allen revolutionized the way America searches for missing children and today more children are returned home safely than any time in American history. Allen influenced advances in technology and law to better prepare law enforcement to respond quickly and effectively.  In the coordinated effort led by NCMEC, more than 18,000 local police departments, business leaders, researchers, nonprofit groups and community members work together around the nation to rescue children. An attorney in his native Kentucky, Ernie Allen came to NCMEC after serving as Chief Administrative Officer of Jefferson County, Director of Public Health & Safety for the City of Louisville, and Director of the Louisville-Jefferson County Crime Commission.


Amy O’Neill Richard

Amy O’Neill Richard is a Senior Advisor to the Director in the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. She serves as co-chair of the USG interagency Committee on Human Trafficking Research and Data. Previously, Ms. Richard worked as the Senior Coordinator for Reports where she oversaw the Department’s Annual Trafficking in Persons Report.  Her own research has earned her several awards, including the State Department’s Swanee Hunt Award for Advancing Women’s Role in Policy Formulation and the Warren Christopher Award for Outstanding Achievement in Global Affairs for her report “International Trafficking in Women to the United States: A Contemporary Manifestation of Slavery and Organized Crime”.  This study, which was carried by the New York Times, was used to support the drafting of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, and its findings became an initial baseline for assessing early U.S. government anti-trafficking efforts. Formerly, Ms. Richard worked in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, where she received the Analyst of the Year Award, for shedding new light on transnational organized crime.


Drew Oosterbaan

Drew Oosterbaan has been Chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the U.S. Department of Justice since 2001. CEOS leverages the expertise of its prosecutors and computer forensic specialists to develop and prosecute high-impact child exploitation cases, national and frequently international in scope, involving the most prolific and dangerous offenders. In 2003, Drew led CEOS in a partnership with the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to design and implement the Innocence Lost Initiative, a nationwide, federal-local joint law enforcement strategy to investigate and prosecute traffickers exploiting minors through prostitution. Since its inception, more than 2,100 children have been rescued and over 1,000 traffickers and facilitators who exploit children through prostitution have been convicted, many receiving life sentences and seizure of assets. In 2011, Drew successfully advocated to join the Innocence Lost Initiative with Project Safe Childhood recognizing the frequency of compound exploitation of prostituted children through pornography. Since its beginning in 2006, Project Safe Childhood has convicted 11,447 defendants in federal courts of an offense related to the sexual exploitation of a minor and identified 3,500 children depicted in child pornography. In 2010, Drew spearheaded The National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction to Congress, which lays out a comprehensive plan both to prevent and interdict in the sexual exploitation of children. As Chief of CEOS, Drew has been integrally involved in the drafting of major legislation targeting child exploitation, such as the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation of Children Today Act of 2003 (the PROTECT Act), and the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.


Deborah J. Richardson

Deborah J. Richardson is currently the Executive Vice President of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, leading fundraising and program development. Prior to joining the Center staff she was Chief Program Officer at Women’s Funding Network in San Francisco. Deborah was the CEO of The Atlanta Women’s Foundation; Director of Program Development for Fulton County Juvenile Court; founding Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Fund. She has received the following honors for her leadership and community service: The Community Leadership Award by Spelman College Board of Trustees, The Lives of Commitment Award by Auburn Seminary, The Legacy Award by the Juvenile Justice Fund, The Grassroots Justice Award by the Georgia Justice Project, inducted into the YWCA Academy of Women Achievers, the Atlanta Business League 100 Black Women of Influence and the Liberty Bell Award by the Atlanta Bar Association. She has a Masters of Leadership from St. Mary’s College in California, and is currently pursuing her doctorate in public policy and social change. She is on the boards of the African Women’s Development Fund – USA, Frederick Douglass Family Foundation, Intown Collaborative Ministries, Board of Visitors – Agnes Scott College, Advisory Council – Siegel Institute for Leadership, Ethics, and Character at Kennesaw State University and Advisory Committee for Ivan Allen College of Georgia Tech. She has designed leading programs for girls victimized by commercial sexual exploitation and is the co-author of “Ending Sex Trafficking of Children in Atlanta” (Journal of Women and Social Work). She is a national spokesperson for A Future. Not a Past., a campaign to stop the prostitution of our nation’s children.


Congratulations to this year’s recipients!

Rebecca Bender

Pathbreakers look on as Rebecca Bender, a survivor advocate, reads the comments of a fellow survivor reflecting her desire to have known these Pathbreaking leaders during her experience.

About Taryn

Taryn Offenbacher is Director of Communications and joined Shared Hope International in 2009. She has completed field research and authored reports on the sex trafficking of U.S. citizen minors in Arizona and Virginia. Her ongoing concentration in leveraging social and digital media to generate awareness has resulted in extensive coverage and awareness of the dynamics of child sex trafficking in the U.S.

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