My name is Sehla Ashai, and I am thrilled to begin my second week of work at IOFA as a Program Specialist, where I will be working primarily on human trafficking issues.
My interest in human trafficking began as an attorney representing victims of trafficking in immigration matters, which resonated strongly with my long-standing interests in gendered violence and labor exploitation. At IOFA, I will be building on my experience representing victims, and I will provide technical assistance to the new Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force, and contribute to IOFA's Building Child Welfare Response to Child Trafficking Project.
Before working as an immigration attorney, I was a labor organizer for Chicago area taxi drivers, clerked for a judge in Ann Arbor, was a research fellow in Kashmir, interned at a domestic violence shelter in Pakistan, and taught summer school in Baltimore City. Before I joined IOFA, I was also a legal consultant to a non-profit in Haiti working on child trafficking issues. These varied experiences reinforced my passion for social justice work and confirmed my love for working with youth, both domestically and abroad.
Although IOFA is more than a decade old, the organization is at an exciting stage with a new, visionary strategic plan, and I feel incredibly privileged to join at this juncture. Much of my work will involve reaching out to community organizations, law enforcement, and other players who are involved in the fight against human trafficking, so expect to hear from me soon!