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Robert J. Benz
Founder & Executive VP, Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives

Robert Benz is responsible for policy, program and strategic development for Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI). He was the leading creative source of FDFI’s core philosophy for an educational approach to human trafficking as well as initiatives such as: the Frederick Douglass Dialogues, the Abolition Day Project, its curriculum – History, Human Rights and the Power of One and Globalize 13.

Robert was first introduced to the issue of human trafficking when reading a September 2003 cover story in National Geographic Magazine called, 21st-Century Slaves. Believing that the only choices were to carry on as before or to become involved in eradicating modern slavery, he proposed creating an advocacy organization to his business associate and longtime friend, Ken Morris, that would leverage Ken’s unique family history in order to bring widespread awareness and real knowledge to anti-trafficking efforts.

“We present history in the classroom not as a compilation of detached facts but as essential knowledge necessary for young people to play a vital role in the global community. History must be used to contextualize human trafficking otherwise this contemporary crime cannot be properly understood. We all need to refresh our under-standing of slavery as one person or one group’s unwelcome control over another … because it’s all around us and its victims continue to suffer because of our ignorance.”

Robert previously owned and operated a hospitality industry marketing company. With a focus on developing group meetings, conventions and niche consumer markets for clients, Robert was responsible for the design and execution of sales and marketing programs for many of the country’s most important hotel and casino brands. His company was also contracted by the largest cruise lines in the world to develop the incentive market. Robert’s group ultimately implemented some of the biggest music cruise charters ever done at the time, starring such acts as: The Dave Matthews Band, Kenny Chesney, and Tim McGraw.

Robert does frequent speaking engagements on the subjects of human trafficking, education and social justice at conferences and in schools across the country.

Robert has represented FDFI on the Board of Directors of the Sojourn Foundation in Nevada and the Las Vegas Human Trafficking Task Force. He also served for many years on the board of the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism for Valley High School in Las Vegas.

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