THE OFFICE OF
Dr. Dana Hunter
A Paradigm Shift to Assist Survivors
of Human Sex and Labor Trafficking in Louisiana
By Dr. Dana R. Hunter
Courage. Perseverance. Aspiration. These are words that a human trafficking survivor in Louisiana used to describe when she realized that she needed to get out of “the life” of trafficking. “Despite my hardships and being told by my trafficker that he owns me, I faced my trials boldly and got out of that life.” Over the last several years, hundreds of individuals have been identified as victims of human trafficking in Louisiana and millions across the globe. Louisiana leaders such as Governor John Bel Edwards, his wife First Lady Donna Edwards, and countless others have made bold decisions to face this crime head-on. In June 2021, Governor Edwards signed SB170 into law during the 2021 Regular Legislative Session to create the new Office of Human Trafficking Prevention within the Governor’s Office of Programs and Planning. The Office of Human Trafficking Prevention is monumental in that it gives Louisiana its first entity solely dedicated to addressing human trafficking and provides an even more excellent opportunity to improve outcomes for survivors of this heinous crime. Governor Edwards also announced his appointment of Dr. Dana Hunter to serve as Executive Director of this new office.
Today, my heart is filled with joy, excitement, and humility as the Governor of this great state has entrusted me to lead such important work. This leadership position is a role that I take very seriously. I have already asked God for wisdom and guidance to develop and implement even greater innovative strategies to help survivors of trafficking and prevent others from becoming a victim. Over the last several years, the Governor’s Office Children’s Cabinet has worked closely with key stakeholders across the state. It has included expert consultation from the State of Texas to build a comprehensive multi-disciplinary model to address human trafficking specifically among minor victims. Training, outreach, advocacy, and victim identification have been the key components of the model. The Governor’s Office also contracted with the Louisiana Alliance of Children’s Advocacy Centers to hire dedicated staff. These 9 Regional Coordinators throughout the state serve as central points of contact for law enforcement, child welfare, and critical service providers when we identify a victim. This model has proven beneficial in others states and is now starting to demonstrate impact here in Louisiana. The goals for the new office will be to create a cohesive statewide care coordination model that is accessible to all victims in the state regardless of their identity or location.
Furthermore, we want to build a statewide network of providers trained in trauma-informed victim-centered service delivery. I believe wholeheartedly that Louisiana will be a model for the world. Victims will obtain healing and justice, and children and adults will become more aware and less vulnerable to traffickers. The new Office of Human Trafficking stands ready to be a beacon light in the state for these victims and to create a strong network of agencies and supporters. If you or your agency would like to get involved with human trafficking efforts in your region, please contact Dr. Dana Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know or suspect that someone is a victim of human trafficking, please contact the Louisiana State Police Fusion Center Hotline Number at 1-800-434-8007 or text to “BeFree” (233733).
Dr. Dana Hunter
Dr. Dana R. Hunter is a native of Baton Rouge, LA. In February 2017, after serving in various leadership roles in academia and government, she was appointed by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards as the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office Children’s Cabinet. In this role, she worked passionately to coordinate and align resources and policies to better outcomes for children in the state of Louisiana. She worked closely with Governor Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards to facilitate statewide anti-human trafficking efforts and the Human Trafficking Prevention Commission. On July 1, 2021 Governor John Bel Edwards appointed Dr. Hunter to serve as Executive Director of the newly established Governor’s Office of Human Trafficking Prevention. The mission of this office will be to create a statewide cohesive care coordination model for victims regardless of their location and identity and a network of resources to aid in prevention.