John Freeman Joins Institute as New Director of Law Enforcement Operations

By: KELLI L. ROSS

John Freeman joined the Institute as the new Director of Law Enforcement Operations on August 17. He brings 21 years of experience with the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), U.S. Department of State, where he retired in July 2020.

As the Director of Law Enforcement Operations, John will co-lead the Institute’s programs in Uganda and Belize, establish and maintain relationships with government and non-government officials, establish and support law enforcement specialized units in both countries, and supervise all Institute Law Enforcement Advisors providing them with training and mentorship.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have another world class human trafficking expert join the Institute team,” said Victor Boutros, CEO. “As the coordinator of the State Department’s human trafficking investigations, John was responsible for guiding investigations with connections to both DSS domestic offices an DSS investigators in U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. He brings a wealth of investigative insight, human trafficking expertise, and international experience that make him ideally suited to advance the Institute’s mission.”

John is replacing Dave Rogers, who has held this position since April 3, 2017.

“John brings so many gifts and talents to the Institute,” Dave said. “He is an expert in trafficking investigations and is very highly regarded by the anti-trafficking community. His experience working abroad sets him up perfectly to continue the strong relationships the Institute has established with our country partners. His expertise in investigations will enable the Institute to remain impactful with our law enforcement partners abroad, while simultaneously speaking with authority into trafficking matters in the U.S. I am excited to see how the Institute’s work will continue to flourish under his leadership.”

During Dave’s tenure with the Institute, he was instrumental in establishing agreements between the Institute and the Belize Police Department, the Supreme Court of Belize, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Uganda in order to better equip each government office with the resources and skills needed to stop traffickers and free victims. He established strong relationships with civil society organizations in both Belize and Uganda, resulting in greater impact in both countries. The relationships Dave built with the police in Uganda ultimately led to the establishment of an agreement between the Institute and the Ugandan police in order to expand the Uganda Police Force’s capacity to investigate human trafficking cases. He was also instrumental in designing and tailoring training academies to maximize the impact of specialized units in Belize and Uganda.

Prior to joining the Institute, John was the first DSS Human Trafficking Investigations Coordinator and represented both his bureau and department in formulating national policy, expanding interagency task forces, and developing specialized anti-trafficking training. In this role, he also initiated investigations, including victim interviews, coordinated multi-leveled responses for sensitive cases, and supported numerous successful prosecutions. John facilitated investigations with many international law enforcement and NGO partners, and in recent years, was called on by multiple anti-trafficking NGOs for his participation in training seminars and conferences. This culminated when he was named a member of the U.S Delegation to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Crime’s Working Group on Trafficking in Persons in 2019.

While serving as a Foreign Service special agent, John was posted to U.S. Embassies in Nigeria and South Korea, the first DSS representative to the Joint Terrorism Task Force – Seattle, Washington, and served on Secretary Condoleezza Rice’s Protection Detail. Prior to joining Diplomatic Security, John served in the U.S. Army.

“My path to anti-trafficking is slightly different than most, and while I feel so fortunate having worked with many of the best, both in the United States as well as partners overseas, I am overjoyed to continue my work alongside my new colleagues at the Human Trafficking Institute as we strive to decimate the scourge of human trafficking,” John said. “I specifically want to thank Dave Rogers for his partnership, and more importantly his friendship, in recommending me to take over from the great success he achieved in building the Institute’s law enforcement portfolio.”

About the author

Kelli serves as Chief of Staff and Director of Communications at the Human Trafficking Institute. Her background is in journalism, public relations and peacebuilding. Prior to joining the Institute, she was the Communications Officer / Special Assistant to the Executive Director at Lwala Community Alliance in Nashville, Tennessee. She has worked for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations in Washington, D.C., directly supporting the Bureau’s Assistant Secretary; as director of communications for microfinance organization Five Talents in Vienna, Virginia; and as business reporter at The Jackson (TN) Sun. She has worked and studied in Kenya, South Sudan, Liberia, India, Peru, and Israel. Kelli holds a BA in communication arts from Union University and an MS in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Kelli Ross

Kelli Ross

Kelli serves as Chief of Staff and Director of Communications at the Human Trafficking Institute. Her background is in journalism, public relations and peacebuilding. Prior to joining the Institute, she was the Communications Officer / Special Assistant to the Executive Director at Lwala Community Alliance in Nashville, Tennessee. She has worked for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations in Washington, D.C., directly supporting the Bureau’s Assistant Secretary; as director of communications for microfinance organization Five Talents in Vienna, Virginia; and as business reporter at The Jackson (TN) Sun. She has worked and studied in Kenya, South Sudan, Liberia, India, Peru, and Israel. Kelli holds a BA in communication arts from Union University and an MS in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.