Square image with NSN logo that includes Human Trafficking Awareness Month hashtags. Text says "Our values are our North Star. Shared values create a container for generative conflict."

Announcement: A Values-Based Membership Network

For most of 2020-2021, much of the NSN’s work was behind-the-scenes and internal restructuring. We do want to share a few key highlights with you before describing upcoming changes to our structure and processes.

  • While we did not introduce any new policy initiatives in either year due to a pause on policy work, Cast’s Policy Director and Associate Director for Survivor Advocacy continued to work tirelessly toward the existing policy changes that the NSN had agreed upon in the past.
  • We restructured our place as a program of Cast to ensure greater support for the NSN, its members, and its leadership.
  • In 2020, the NSN distributed $30,000 in direct COVID aid to survivors of human trafficking.
  • In May of 2021, the NSN distributed $15,000 to survivors in the NSN in direct COVID aid.
  • In 2021 we contracted with NSN survivors to review policy briefs regarding mandatory training and protocols in healthcare settings. 
  • In December of 2021, we distributed $25,000 directly to survivors. $10,000 of this was dedicated grant funding to support educational and vocational training expenses for youth survivors up through age 26. $15,000 was direct aid. We distributed this aid in alignment with our equity priorities.

In order to continue the work of the NSN effectively and with integrity, the NSN has implemented a few changes as a result of our internal restructure processes that we would like to share. All members received an email in January of 2022 outlining these changes; If you have not seen it, please check your spam folder or reach out to the Survivor Leadership Program Manager to update your email.

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1. The NSN is becoming a values-based network

As of now, the NSN is taking steps toward becoming a values-based network. What this means is that the NSN will continue to advocate for issues faced by all survivors, full membership and certain leadership activities will be restricted to those who align with our clarified statement of values

Do I have to agree with all of the NSN’s values in order to be a member? 

No. Members may join who do not entirely agree with every statement or who are still learning about the issues in our statement, as long as they are largely aligned and understand that the NSN’s policy, advocacy, and educational work will be done in alignment with our values statement. If, however, someone finds any of our policies problematic, offensive, or harmful, they should not be a member. We will incorporate a review of values alignment into future interviews with potential members and renewal processes with existing members. 

What was the values-clarification process? 

In December, the SLPM convened a team of 8 experts in a variety of fields, to include human trafficking, social work, public health, anti-racism organizing, and harm reduction. All of these experts have lived experience of trafficking. Some of them are past or current survivor leaders in the movement, and some have been involved in the NSN in some form in the past. Some have not engaged in survivor leadership in the anti-trafficking movement for differing reasons. Our SLPM and Associate Director of Survivor Advocacy, along with our eight contractors, formed our Restructure Team. These survivors spent January reviewing our existing values document (brilliantly drafted by prior NSN staff), revising, expanding, and clarifying the values that they felt would guide an anti-trafficking survivor movement that focused on those most vulnerable to interpersonal and state harm and oppression. The values statement is now finalized by the team, with an intention of revisiting them annually to ensure continued dialogue and clarity. 

Were these survivors on the Restructure Team all white and privileged? 

No. You can learn more about the members of our Restructure Team in our Restructure Team Demographic Report

Why aren’t you telling us who the members of the team were? 

The anti-human trafficking movement is not a safe space for all survivors, particularly those who have significant intersectional experiences of oppression and marginalization. We wanted to create a space for those with valuable insights and lived experiences to share their perspectives freely and authentically, which they could not do if they knew doing so would make them targets of harassment similar to that experienced by many of our staff and members in the movement in the past. In order to avoid creating a space in which the only survivors who felt safe enough to attend were those with the most privilege in our movement, we offered all invited team members confidentiality. We prepared the demographics report in order to still have transparency with our membership about who was making these decisions. 

Can I view the values statement now? 

Not yet but soon! We will be rolling out our newly adopted values in topical segments so that we can provide our members with a full education about what each statement means. We recognize that discussions around values such as anti-oppression work and public health can sometimes be shrouded in language that makes sense to in-groups but is less obvious to others. The full statement of values should be released by the end of March, 2022. In the mean time, you can see the values as they are released here.

Does this mean you’re turning your back on survivors who don’t agree with your values? 

Definitely not! We will continue to advocate for the needs of all survivors, but will do so with a focus on those who are most at risk for trafficking and whose voices are often erased from our movement. Our values statement is not meant to be exclusionary but visionary, and the NSN will continue to work alongside the variety of survivor-informed and survivor-led organizations in our work toward shared goals regardless of membership status. Additionally, all of our direct aid opportunities for survivors will remain open to all survivors of human trafficking, regardless of membership status, as will the bulk of our professional development and educational opportunities. 

Do these values reflect the values of Cast? 

Not inherently. Cast founded its Survivor Leadership Program, which includes the NSN, because it saw the lack of truly meaningful survivor-led work in the human trafficking movement. While there is significant alignment between Cast and the NSN values, the NSN is 100% survivor-driven. The NSN’s programs and advocacy are privately funded and do not share in any of Cast’s government-funded grants. Cast’s policy department may collaborate with the NSN’s policy working group on aligned initiatives, and any policy work done by the NSN outside of Cast’s priorities will be 100% funded through the NSN’s dedicated foundation funding. Second, the NSN is 100% survivor-driven and survivor-led (as affirmed by our funders) and thus operates with a higher degree of autonomy than many of Cast’s other programs. This is to offset the power dynamics prevalent throughout the rest of the anti-trafficking movement and the nonprofit industrial complex, in which survivors’ speech is limited by nonprofit leadership. NSN leadership deeply respects and appreciates the work and support of our parent organization, and considers Cast to be movement leaders and visionaries. We are grateful for Cast’s continued support of our program through its challenges and growing pains.

2. The NSN will resume accepting new applications for membership in 2022.

We anticipate that membership will be re-opened to new member application after the full rollout of our values statement and accompanying educational offerings, likely during summer of 2022.

3. The NSN will be switching to a working group structure rather than an executive committee.

As part of our commitment to power-sharing, the NSN will be shifting from an Executive Committee structure to a Working Group structure. We will have working groups for policy/advocacy, membership and engagement, consultancy (ad hoc, project-based groups for contract consultants), and other ad hoc working groups as needed. 

4. The NSN will formalize its policy advocacy protocols by the end of 2022.

For now, we will continue to advocate for policy priorities that align with the NSN’s past policy work and new policy work may be considered on a limited basis depending upon alignment with our clarified values. By the end of 2022, the NSN will have worked with our policy working group to develop a draft policy protocol, which will outline the process through which formal NSN policy statements will be approved and released. This protocol will then be presented to the full membership for feedback before it is finalized and implemented.

5. The NSN member discussion group will be switching to GoogleGroups in 2022.

Our online discussion forum, which was previously hosted via a secret Facebook group, has been archived since 2019. We intend to open a new group on GoogleGroups by June of 2022. All members who have current, signed memberships at the time of the group’s launch will be invited to join if they choose, and will be expected to adhere to our revised Code of Conduct policy before joining. 

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To existing members: We are excited to continue with you on this next phase of our journey, and look forward to the powerful impact the NSN can have on the movement as change-makers. The movement benefits tremendously from your brilliance and dedication, and we are committed to supporting you in your leadership.

To survivors interested in membership: We are so grateful for your patience as we prepare to welcome you into our unique and intentional community of movement-makers. Please sign up on our Membership page to be notified when membership applications re-open, and subscribe to our stakeholder newsletter, Network News, to stay in the loop until then!

To our other stakeholders: We are grateful for your support as we continue to evolve as an organization. We remain committed to our public health framework and human rights approach, and look forward to sharing in continued excellence in our collaborative work to empower survivor leadership in the movement. Please do stay in touch, and reach out with any questions or requests.