Meet Our Team

PACT aims to provide customized technical assistance, training and linkages, rooted in harm reduction and guided through the lens of those with lived experience, to support the improvement of services to children and youth who have experienced sex and/or labor trafficking. We work with an amazing team of staff and consultants throughout the State of California.

Melissa Gomez

PACT Project Director, Child and Family Policy Institute of California

Marina, CA

Sarah Johnson

PACT Regional Coordinator (Southern CA Cohort and Bay Area Cohort), Child and Family Policy Institute of California

Long Beach, CA

Jessica Pittman

PACT Regional Coordinator (Central Valley Cohort), Child and Family Policy Institute of California

Fresno, CA

Melissa Gomez has contributed 20 years of service to the anti-trafficking movement. Her international and local leadership has been instrumental in establishing multi-disciplinary coalitions and in coordinating comprehensive care to survivors of both labor and sex trafficking in Europe and the Central Valley, California. As the Chair of the Central Valley Freedom Coalition and Program Manager of Fresno’s Central Valley Against Human Trafficking, she contracted with partnering agencies to provide services throughout six central valley counties.  Additionally, she acted as regional liaison to facilitate 24-7 trauma response in partnership with Polaris’ National Human Trafficking Hotline. Melissa is dedicated to the advancement and integration of diverse voices to pioneer systemic change and co-create pathways of empowerment. In 2018 Melissa was selected to participate in first cohort of the Human Trafficking Leadership Academy administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, where she contributed to national guidance on survivor informed practices within federal grant programs. In 2020, Melissa was recognized with an Outstanding Service Award by the CDSS for her efforts to increase awareness and improve services to survivors of child labor trafficking. Ms. Gomez is currently the acting Director of the Preventing and Addressing Child Trafficking Project for the Child and Family Policy Institute of California. In partnership with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), she facilitates a statewide model of cross-coordination strengthening child welfare programs serving vulnerable children and youth within California. Melissa resides in Marina, California and is the proud mother of two creative boys.

Sarah is a victim advocate and community leader. In her current role as the Preventing and Addressing Child Trafficking Regional Coordinator for the Child and Family Policy Institute of California, Sarah provides training, technical assistance and coordination for Child Welfare Agencies across the state of California on Child Trafficking Related Issues.

Sarah was previously the Program Manager for Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission’s Central Valley

Against Human Trafficking project. and Chair of the Central Valley Freedom Coalition. Sarah has over five years’ experience providing comprehensive trauma-informed client services, advocacy, outreach, training, and public awareness.

Sarah is a Rise Up Gender Equity Initiative Fellow and a Human Trafficking Leadership Academy Fellow. Sarah has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and International Relations and a Minor in Human Rights from the University of California, Davis and is a Master’s of Social Work Candidate at the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Sarah resides in Long Beach, CA where she enjoys relaxing with her partner and taking her dog to the beach.

Jessica Pittman has been a community advocate and faith leader for the past twenty years in the Central Valley. Jessica is the Founder of the Central Valley Justice Coalition, a non-profit organization that partners with the church and community to prevent human trafficking through education, partnership and outreach. Jessica has paved the way for partnerships and advocacy in the Central Valley by building strong relationships across sectors, and is passionate about engaging the entire community in addressing systemic injustice and providing opportunities for holistic change. Prior to establishing the Justice Coalition, Jessica pioneered a new position at Fresno First Baptist Church and spent ten years focused on community development and global partnerships.

Jessica has a Masters in Social and Civic Entrepreneurship from Bakke Graduate University, and loves to creatively work with others within and across cultures to find innovative solutions to bring empowerment and change. She lives in Fresno, CA with her husband and children and loves to skate, hike, go to the beach, and drink coffee.

Diana Cisneros

Consultant, Director Hope Rising, CSEC Action Team Consultant, Human Trafficking Trainer and Advocate


Julie DeFranco, MSW

Consultant, CSEC Coordinator, Program Manager, San Luis Obispo County, Department of Social Services

San Luis Obispo, CA

Ummra Hang


Oakland, CA

Diana’s work in the anti-trafficking field led her to be named 2016 Woman of the year at California’s State Capitol.  Diana earned her degree in Crisis Counseling and is passionate about her engagement in the anti-trafficking movement. She has provided human trafficking trainings across the state of California and beyond for a variety of agencies including child welfare directors and mental health professionals. She created specialty training for school districts and foster youth. Diana has provided direct services for survivors of all ages, led survivors groups, and created her county’s first adult survivor support group.

Diana has been a guest speaker at many engagements including the National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect. She is a consultant for the CSEC Action Team Advisory Board and the Child and Family Policy Institute of California. Diana dedicated 7 years of work to the Kern Coalition Against Human Trafficking, the first one in her rural community. She co-directed the coalition until recently founding the project Hope Rising, focused on making quality training accessible to rural communities.

Julie DeFranco, MSW, is currently a Program Manager with the County of San Luis Obispo. She serves as the Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) coordinator, as well as the CWS lead on the Human Trafficking Task Force (HTTF) and Trauma Informed Practice (TIP) collaborative programs, among others. She is a CalSWEC IV-E graduate and has worked in the field of social work for twenty years, providing direct practice prior to transitioning to training and program development on county, state and national programs. Julie’s professional experience, combined with her personal history of aging out of foster care into homelessness and exploitation, solidified her commitment to serving children, families, and the field of social work by bringing awareness to and ultimately ending the exploitation and trafficking of children.

Ummra Hang is a second generation Cambodian American, consultant, advocate, trainer, and speaker born and raised in Oakland, CA. She is dedicated to working with those who have been impacted by child sexual exploitation as well as formerly incarcerated people. Ms. Hang has an M.S.W. from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a B.A. in Psychology from San José State University. She focuses on research and education in anti-trafficking, particularly around the importance of trauma, the impact of narratives that are placed on people, and language/label usage. She uses her academic and lived experiences to promote the power of healing from trauma through agency, self-empowerment, and pursuing authentic selves to realize one™s passions and goals for self-sufficiency. Ms. Hang shares her story to uplift the many others who are still silent and continue breaking barriers to help others reach a place of healing and not only survive but thrive.

Jamelia Hinds-Vicks


Fresno, CA

Aja Houle


Sonoma, CA

Jimmy Lopez

Consultant, Survivor Advocate, Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA

Jamelia Hinds-Vicks survived 12 years of human trafficking as a domestic servant for an American woman. She was trafficked from Belize at the age of 12 and has currently been free for 8 years. In that short time, she secured a T-Visa, graduated with her GED and began work in advocacy. Jamelia has engaged in public speaking at local, regional, statewide and national events, integrating her experience and lending its’ application to the anti-trafficking movement. She initiated the first survivor support group in the greater Fresno-area of California; continues to collaborate with numerous CBO’s including the role of Survivor Leadership with Breaking the Chains, as a Survivor Coordinator for MadeForThem and has participated as a PACT Consultant since 2014. She recently received her U.S. Permanent Residency status.

Jamelia, a mom of two children (who were also a part of her trafficking situation) shares, “my babies are my everything and they motivate me every day to move forward and stay strong. Today I have my green card, something I thought would never happen, but I never gave up hope. Now I’m on the next chapter in my life with my husband and kids by my side.”

Aja Houle is a human trafficking survivor, mother of four, and advocate. She graduated from Santa Rosa Junior College and is currently a Public Affairs candidate at the Goldman School of Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley.

On her journey, she came to realize the importance of spreading awareness about combating trafficking. She also came to acknowledge how valuable survivor empowerment is and it’s extraordinary capability to spread throughout communities. Public Affairs has became an area of focus in her life, because trafficking policies do not currently reflect fair & just policy that survivors deserve. Aja is passionate about working together in communities at city-levels to stand for anti-trafficking policies through sharing her experience as a professional in the anti-trafficking field as well as her lived experience. She has dedicated her life to preventative & reparative efforts for all forms of trafficking.

Jimmy Lopez is a child labor trafficking survivor. He fled Honduras to avoid being recruited by gangs at 14. He was trafficked twice in the US, in a factory and then in a restaurant. He is now a survivor advocate for other children who have had similar experiences. He has spoken at the United Nations, the White House, and US Congress. He has trained judges and service providers on the dynamics of child labor trafficking. He has also travelled internationally and is recognized as a young leader in the Anti-Trafficking movement.

Raechel Ibarra Smith

Consultant, Case Manager, Children’s Law Center

Sacramento, CA

Deborah Pembrook

Consultant, Human Trafficking Outreach Manager, Monterey Rape Crisis Center

Monterey, CA

Jess Torres

Consultant, Survivor Leadership Program Manager, Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA

Raechel is an advocate in Sacramento supporting the CSEC Community and has been providing direct services to the Native American community in Sacramento since 2014. Raechel is very passionate about advocating for her community and currently works at the Children’s Law Center as a Case Manager supporting a specialized caseload of commercially sexually exploited clients. Raechel has previously worked with WEAVE as a Victim Advocate American Indian\Alaska Native specific, and in youth advocate roles. Raechel is passionate about reaching Native American youth and families and emphasizes the role of cultural and traditional support for the Indigenous population. Raechel has a background in AOD training and has been a strong advocate in preventing violence against Native American women and girls. Raechel is a Chiricahua Apache descendent and her ancestors originate from Arizona and the border of Mexico.

Headquartered in Watsonville, CA, Ms. Pembrook is the Human Trafficking Outreach Manager at Monterey County Rape Crisis Center and Chair of the Coalition to End Human Trafficking in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. Ms. Pembrook left a successful executive position in a technology company to help her community end the types of exploitation she experienced in her childhood. An inspiring educator, she has partnered with and trained regional police and sheriff departments, probation officers, educators and direct service providers to humanize exploited children and vulnerable people. With ten years in the anti-trafficking field, her experience ranges from providing direct services to trafficking survivors and other survivors of violence to helping create a cross-sector community collaboration, and building community awareness, outreach campaigns and multi-sector response. Deborah has served two terms on the California Child Welfare Council’s Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Action Team Survivor Advisory Board. She is the 2016 recipient of the YWCA Silicon Valley Empowerment Award.

Jess is the Survivor Leadership Program Coordinator at The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST). Co-organizing a Los Angeles based survivor group called Resilient Voices and the National Survivor Network. A 2019 Women’s Policy Institute Fellow successfully passing their human trafficking prevention / foster care training bill (AB 865) in the State of California and their Title IV amendment (SB 493) in 2020. In addition to policy and leadership development work, Jess has served as a guest lecturer in academic spaces, a keynote speaker, trainer and presenter for various anti-trafficking efforts throughout LA County and the state of California. They were recognized by the City of LA with a ‘Change Maker’ Award and a Certificate of Recognition from the CA Senate in honor of “Outstanding Community Service” for their work as trainer with the CA Dept. of Social Service. Jess is also an independent consultant, collaborating with various Federal agencies (FBI, DOS-JTIP, DHS, HUD, HHS, DOT) and participating in a variety of national conferences and symposiums. They are currently a Master’s candidate in Community Development: Policy and Practice from the University of New Hampshire.

Russell Glenn Wilson

Anti-Trafficking Expert, Consultant, Researcher

Oakland, CA

Angelica Zuniga


Bakersfield, CA

Russell recently graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Anthropology and South & Southeast Asian Studies. As a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, Russell completed a research project in Cambodia looking at the factors of resiliency for male survivors of commercial sexual exploitation.

Russell recently worked with the National Human Trafficking Training and Assistance Center as a Human Trafficking Leadership Academy Fellow (HTLA).

Russell has also spent extensive time living and traveling throughout South and Southeast Asia, providing him with a deep understanding of the cultures as well as knowledge of the systemic mechanisms of human trafficking in those countries. As a CSEC survivor and former foster child, Russell has a unique and insightful perspective on the issues that male trafficking victims and survivors face in their daily lives. It is through these experiences that Russell brings authenticity and passion to his research and his life.

Angelica Zuniga is a survivor and an advocate for human trafficking victims. Currently, Angelica volunteers in Twilight Treasures, a group that reaches out the women working in the commercial sex industry. She is a wife and a mother of 5. She works closely with several organizations including the Department of Human Services, Kern County Probation, and Common Spirit Health.

Our Partners

In fall of 2020, Child and Family Policy Institute of California launched an expanded Preventing and Addressing Child Trafficking – PACT Statewide Model to support all California Opt-In Counties, funded by the CDSS Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Program. We work closely with our partners and funders at the CDSS Child Trafficking Response Unit (CTRU) and the County Welfare Directors Association of California (CWDA).

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Child Trafficking Response Unit (CTRU) began in November 2014. CTRU administers the Senate Bill 855 voluntary (opt-in) Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Program and provides support to child welfare and probation agencies in all 58 counties in California to meet federal and state requirements to screen and assess the needs of children at-risk or victims of CSEC.

The County Welfare Directors Association of California – CWDA – is a nonprofit association representing the human service directors from each of California’s 58 counties. The Association’s mission is to promote a human services system that encourages self-sufficiency of families and communities, and protects vulnerable children and adults from abuse and neglect.

Customized Technical Assistance & Training Requests

Access customized Technical Assistance or Training from the PACT Project Staff and Consultant Team.


Request Training or Technical Assistance HERE.