2010 Director’s Community Leadership Award
|FBI Oklahoma City November 17, 2010|
OKLAHOMA CITY—James E. Finch, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Oklahoma, will be presenting the 2010 Director’s Community Leadership Award to Mark Elam, Director of Oklahoma Human Trafficking Group, on November 17, 2010. The presentation will take place at the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office located at 313 N.E. 21St Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma at 10:00 a.m.
Mark Elam became aware of human trafficking in 2003, and subsequently traveled to India, South Asia, and the Philippines to actively work with organizations that rescue girls from sex trafficking. He formed an international organization, named Angel Eyes, to help support, house, and restore victims of human trafficking in that part of the world.
As Mr. Elam attempted to raise awareness about the human trafficking problem internationally, he learned that human trafficking was occurring in the United States as well. With this in mind, in 2008, Mr. Elam founded a grass-roots coalition called Oklahomans Against Trafficking of Humans (OATH). In that same year, Mr. Elam became aware of the FBI-led Oklahoma Human Trafficking Group (OHTG), and quickly contacted the FBI and expressed his desire to join.
Immediately, it was obvious that Mr. Elam possessed a passion and desire to combat human trafficking in Oklahoma. His energy and enthusiasm led to an invitation by the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office, for Mr. Elam to become the primary administrator of the OHTG. In addition to these administrative duties, Mr. Elam developed an extensive network of social service providers, medical providers, shelters, and victim advocates, many of whom joined the OHTG as active members. Mr. Elam understood and focused the OHTG on the victim-centered approach that was needed to successfully rescue and rehabilitate victims of trafficking. Mr. Elam has accomplished this mission without federal funding.
In addition to the OHTG, Mr. Elam started an awareness campaign throughout Oklahoma. He quickly learned that he could not reach his goals of educating Oklahoma alone, so he formed community action teams in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. These community action teams, made up exclusively of volunteers, meet monthly to discuss the progress being made. Hundreds of volunteers in Oklahoma now actively work towards awareness of the public, victim advocacy, shelter and foster care, and working with the Oklahoma state legislators to improve state laws and funded assistance to the recovery and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking. Additionally, Mr. Elam and the OHTG have planned and held two major human trafficking conferences in Oklahoma. Several hundred people attended and were directed to specific courses that further taught them how they, regardless of employment or situation in life, could help combat human trafficking.
In recognition of his tireless work, Mr. Elam was among a very select group of national human trafficking experts invited to participate in the Bureau of Justice Affairs “focus group.” This group was tasked to review the last 10 years of U.S. efforts to combat trafficking and to develop a new model for the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to combat human trafficking in the United States.
Mr. Elam’s efforts have ignited a statewide movement to eradicate human trafficking in Oklahoma. Through his initial and continuing efforts, victims of trafficking are being rescued and are receiving the services they need to break the chains of this modern day form of slavery.
Since 1990, the Director’s Community Leadership Award has been the principle means for the FBI to publicly recognize the achievements of individuals and organizations who make extraordinary contributions to crime and violence prevention and education in their communities. Mr. Elam is well deserving of this award and the FBI thanks him for all of his efforts.