Holly Thompson ’19 has been selected for the inaugural class of Douglass Fellows for 2017-18. The Douglass Fellows program was launched earlier this year by the Human Trafficking Institute in McLean, Virginia. The program’s name honors Frederick Douglass’s commitment to freedom, education, law enforcement and advocacy.
Chosen by a competitive process based on academic achievement, leadership potential, research and writing ability, and demonstrated commitment to human rights and anti-trafficking efforts, Douglass Fellows serve from September through May. Fellows support the institute’s research efforts, which provide clear, data-driven materials to support scholars and criminal justice practitioners who are fighting human trafficking. As part of her fellowship, Thompson will coordinate an institute event at Vanderbilt Law School during this academic year.
Fellows are also paired with mentors currently working on anti-trafficking initiatives.
The Human Trafficking Institute works with criminal justice systems to fight human trafficking and modern slavery. The institute provides training, investigative resources, evidence-based research and embedded experts to educate criminal justice professionals and support their work to stop human trafficking.
Thompson earned her undergraduate degree at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, in 2015. She spent a year working full-time at a home for boys in foster care, which she describes as “a wonderful, tough year.” She also worked part-time with an anti-human trafficking organization, A21. Both experiences resulted in her decision to earn a law degree. “Vanderbilt offers some unique opportunities for someone interested in advocacy and justice,” she said.
During summer 2017, Holland worked in the chambers of Judge Alistair Newbern, a federal magistrate on the Middle District of Tennessee, and for the International Justice Mission, an anti-slavery organization based in Washington, D.C. Through its field offices in Africa, Latin America, South Asia and Southeast Asia, the IMJ combats slavery and other forms of everyday violence against the poor.
“Students in the International Practice Lab have helped produce an evidentiary handbook designed to help prosecutors around the world respond to the scourge of human trafficking,” said Michael A Newton, professor of the practice of law. “The Human Trafficking Institute is committed to the same kinds of cooperative efforts to protect victims, and we look forward to supporting Holly’s work this year.”