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  • Age
    56
  • Occupation
    Software Specialist, Mainframe Network Support
  • Company
    U.S. Bancorp
  • Location
    Brookfield, Wis.

“No one says, I want to be a prostitute when I grow up,” says Debbie Lassiter, who in 2004 co-founded the Convergence Resource Center, in Milwaukee, to help incarcerated women rebuild their lives—a mission that she and her colleagues expanded in 2010 to help victims of sex-trafficking. The center provides support groups, skills training, and mentors for women who are often manipulated into selling themselves once—and then find it can take years to escape their traffickers. (The illicit industry generates an estimated $32 billion a year, according to the United Nations.) Lassiter, whose efforts have been recognized by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Eastern Wisconsin, gives the credit elsewhere: She says fellow volunteers are the “lifeblood” of small organizations like hers.

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