Town’s Human Trafficking Symposium attracts 150

Town’s Human Trafficking Symposium attracts 150

Cutler Bay Mayor Peggy Bell is joined by Jean Tong-Noon from Thread of Life International organization, and speaker panel. Pictured (l-r) are Special Agent Victor Williams, Homeland Security; Cutler Bay Councilmember Sue Loyzelle; Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesias, Dr. Katarina Rosenblatt, survivor and author; Mayor Bell; Tong-Noon; Dr. Lawrence Feldman, School Board member; Brenda Mezick, Assistant Miami Dade State Attorney; Bahild advocate, Barbara Martinez, U.S. Attorney; Palmetto Bay Councilmember Karyn Cunningham and Miami-Dade Police Det. Kurt Lueck.

The Human Trafficking Symposium conducted by the Town of Cutler Bay on Monday, Mar. 14, at its Municipal Center was called highly successful by officials and staff, with some 150 persons in the audience for the serious discussion.

Cutler Bay Mayor Peggy Bell was joined by a panel of experts from various agencies to discuss awareness and prevention of Human Trafficking within Miami-Dade County.

Mayor Bell opened the symposium by greeting attending elected officials and the audience. She thanked town manager Ralph Casals, town clerk Jacqueline Wilson and staff for working with organizer and speaker Jean Tong-Noon to bring this important topic to South Dade. Baptist Hospital sponsored the event and was represented by Marsha Tejeda.

“We are honored to have a powerhouse panel of speakers,” said Jean Tong-Noon after being introduced and thanking Mayor Bell and the town staff. “Thank you to Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava for her full support and sponsorship.”

In the audience were Judge Michelle Gonzalez-Paulson and her Miami-Dade College class of 34 students. Many in the audience were surprised to learn that Human Trafficking exists in their communities.

Dr. Katariina Rosenblatt, author of Stolen: The True Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor, gave details of her being victimized and related that even today she still is being bullied. Many remained afterward to speak with the panel and volunteer their time to advocate with Tong-Noon to bring awareness throughout the area.

“It was beautiful,” Tong-Noon days said later. “The students really learned a lot. People connected with each other. A lot of people volunteered to help. It was great.”

Jean Tong-Noon is available to speak before any groups by contacting Thread of Life International by email at

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