The fourth annual Human Trafficking Symposium will be held on Thursday, May 3, 2018 from 7:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Florida Gulf Coast University’s Cohen Center Ballroom.  The symposium is presented by the Department of Justice Studies, Florida Gulf Coast University; the Department of Social Work, Florida Gulf Coast University; and Christy’s Cause, Inc., a local non-profit working to eradicate child sex trafficking.

The keynote speaker is Louis Bivona, founder and chairman of The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, northeast region and founder Bivona Child Advocacy Center. Admission is $50.  Lee Health employees may attend at no cost with employee badge.  Florida Gulf Coast University students may attend at no cost, based on space availability.  Breakfast and lunch are provided.

Human trafficking is on the rise tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal industry in the world and the fastest growing, according the US Department of Health and Human Services. Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery. Victims are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of commercial sex or forced labor. Victims are children, teenagers, women, and men. Thousands of American children are at risk of becoming victims of child sex trafficking (US Department of Justice) with Florida ranking third in reported human trafficking cases (National Human Trafficking Resource Center).

“The US Department of State reports that less than 1% of sex trafficking victims are identified,” said Dr. Amanda Evans, EdD, MSW, LCSW, Assistant Professor, Florida Gulf Coast University Department of Social Work. “The goal of the symposium is to provide new tools to identify and treat victims of human trafficking and to reignite our passion to help the 99% of unidentified victims in our community.”

“We are so pleased to have Lou Bivona join us as keynote speaker for this year’s symposium,” said Christy Ivie, founder of Christy’s Cause. “Service to missing, exploited and sexually abused children has been his lifelong driving passion.”

Bivona and John Walsh established the Adam Walsh Center in 1982 which became the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 1984. His personal fundraising efforts resulted in more than $30 million raised.  In 2001 he led efforts to establish the Bivona Child Advocacy Center (BCAC) in Rochester, New York, which streamlines the process for law enforcement and human service professionals to meet with and address the needs of child sexual abuse victims. The center has dramatically increased the conviction rate for sex crimes against children from 10% to 80% in the Rochester area.  BCAC has served 19,000 children with more than 16,000 arrest or plea bargains since 2001. Three years ago, under Lou’s leadership, BCAC moved to a 30,000 sq. ft. $5.3 million state of the art Child Advocacy Center.

The symposium will offer professional training tracks for law enforcement and prosecution, health care providers and mental health professionals.  Breakout speakers include Francine Donnorummo, SVU Chief Office of the State Attorney, 20th Judicial Court; Lt. Daniel Cote, Major Crimes Section, Lee County Sheriff Office; Kristy Dutton, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Director Emergency Services at Lee Health; Jennifer Wolff, BSN, RN, Lee Health; Susan Young, PhD, RN, PHNA-BC, Assistant Professor, Florida Gulf Coast University School of Nursing; Alyssa Ferry, BSN, RN, Lee Health;  Amanda Evans, EdD, MSW, LCSW, Assistant Professor, Florida Gulf Coast University Department of Social Work; Deborah J. Cunningham, Office of the State Attorney, 20th Judicial Court; and Sgt. Wade Williams, Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

Licensed clinical social workers, mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists can receive up to 5 hours of continuing education hours through the Department of Social Work, Florida Gulf Coast University.   Nurses can receive two hours of Human Trafficking continuing education credits by attending the WeCare break out session.

To register visit visit or email