About Holly

Holly Austin Smith

NewsWorks Article by Kevin McCorry, photo by Nathaniel Hamilton for NewsWorks.org

Holly Austin Gibbs (formerly Smith) is a survivor of child sex trafficking and an advocate for survivors of all forms of human trafficking. Holly has appeared on the Dr. Oz show and her story has been featured on multiple media outlets, including the Brian Lehrer Show, MSNBC, Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, PBS NewsHour, and USA Today. In 2011, Holly submitted joint testimony to Congress with labor trafficking survivor, Ima Matul, in support of reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Holly also testified before the U.S. Congressional Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations on the connection between sporting events and sex trafficking. In 2015, Holly testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of two bills: Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act and Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act.

Holly has a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and formerly worked as a Senior Microscopist for an environmental microbiology laboratory. Holly has consulted for numerous organizations, including the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), and AMBER Alert program. Holly was featured as a plenary or keynote speaker for events around the world, including the 2012 Department of Justice (DOJ) Trafficking in Persons Symposium in Salt Lake City, UT; 2013 National Association of Attorneys General conference in Milwaukee, WI; 2013 Next Generation Leadership Exchange Forum in Paris, France; 2014 DOJ National Missing Children’s Day award ceremony in Washington, DC; 2014 Immigration and Customs Enforcement event for World Day Against Child Labor in Washington, DC; and 2014 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime event for World Day Against Trafficking in Persons in Cali, Colombia.

Holly is requested on a regular basis to provide testimony and input to others in the anti-trafficking field. In 2014, Holly published an academic book titled Walking Prey: How America’s Youth are Vulnerable to Sex Slavery, and continues to publish articles on her Huffing Post blog. She currently serves as an Advisory Board member to several organizations, including ECPAT-USA, the Human Trafficking Institute, and the McCain Institute. In June 2015, Holly joined Dignity Health, one of the largest healthcare systems in the nation and largest hospital provider in California. As Director of Dignity Health’s Human Trafficking Response Program, Holly oversees efforts to identify and appropriately respond to vulnerable persons and victims of human trafficking in the healthcare setting.

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