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UW Business Incubator Client CEO Receives USA Today Honor

March 17, 2022
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Ashleigh Chapman, president and CEO of the Alliance for Freedom, Restoration and Justice (AFRJ), was one of 60 women nationwide recently honored as part of USA Today’s Women of the Year. Chapman was recognized for her efforts against human trafficking in Wyoming and nationwide. She has multiple businesses, including AFRJ, housed in UW’s IMPACT 307 business incubator. (Ashleigh Chapman Photo)

For her continued efforts against human trafficking in Wyoming and nationwide, Ashleigh Chapman was recently recognized by USA Today as one of its “Women of the Year.”

Chapman, who has multiple businesses housed in the University of Wyoming’s IMPACT 307 business incubator, was one of 60 women bestowed the honor for having made a significant impact across the country. Women from 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, as well as 12 women recognized nationally, made up the list, which was released March 14. Four of the women on the list recognized nationally also were honored for their individual states. For information on this year’s honorees, go to https://www.usatoday.com/storytelling/grid/women-of-the-year-2022/.

“It’s a team award, for sure,” Chapman says of the recognition. “We have so many amazing women (and men!) who make up our leadership teams. And it’s truly an honor for all of the incredibly hard work we have all been doing for so many years now -- over 20 for me!”

For the past 21 years, Chapman has worked solely on issues of human trafficking and protecting vulnerable populations.

The Alliance for Freedom, Restoration and Justice (AFRJ) has been a UW business incubator client since April 2019. The AFRJ launched the Every Day Heroes Challenge in January 2020. The challenge is designed to engage everyday people to become heroes against human trafficking by completing a one-hour online course.

The campaign seeks to get 1 million people to take the free course and earn their online Human Trafficking Awareness badge so citizens can move from awareness to action. Thus far, more than 4,500 learners in 47 states and eight countries have taken the course.

The course was set up so people could spot signs of trafficking every day -- whether in their local communities or while traveling. Signs to look for are based on what type of trafficking is taking place; what individual is being trafficked; and how citizens are likely to interact with potential victims or perpetrators.

Altus Solutions Inc., also set up in the incubator, is a business that powers solutions that can not only help accelerate the anti-trafficking movement, but also could fund the nonprofit side of her business. Chapman says she is grateful to the leadership of IMPACT 307 in helping Altus scale up the company’s solutions, including Justice U, its education solution, and Engage Together, its community-strengthening solution, for communities that need these programs.

“We are still in the process of seeking and securing impact investments and, in the meantime, we are continuing to support their implementation in states, most recently Wyoming, and countries around the world,” she says.

logo for USA Today Woman of the Year

Engage Together just completed a comprehensive assessment of current efforts across the entire state of Wyoming to end and prevent human trafficking for the Human Trafficking Task Force. All of the reports -- including ways every community can help -- are available on the Attorney General’s Division of Victim Services website at https://dvs.wyo.gov/human-trafficking-task-force.

Before founding the AFRJ and Altus, Chapman served as the co-founder and director of the Center for Global Justice at Regent University School of Law in Virginia; the director of a nonprofit serving thousands of at-risk youths in Tennessee; a children’s pastor; and a court-appointed special advocate for children in foster care.

In January 2021 and 2022, Chapman was one of the primary speakers invited to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Zoom event that focused on the subject of eradicating human trafficking and how businesses can be part of the solution. Chapman also is the founder of Freedom Council, a global assembly of business leaders dedicated to this cause. January is designated as National Human Trafficking Awareness Month in the United States.

Chapman hopes this national recognition will shine an even brighter light on awareness of human trafficking and force people into action against the scourge, which is estimated, as of 2019, to be a $150 billion business annually and involves roughly 40 million people trafficked worldwide, with more than 325,000 victims in the U.S.

“I certainly hope so. And particularly, I hope it does more than raise awareness of human trafficking. I hope it inspires people to act,” she says. “It’s not enough for each of us to be generally aware that human trafficking is happening in our world today. We need to understand how each of us can be part of the solution, especially in our local communities. And that’s what so many of our solutions are created to do -- to equip each person and every community to join the fight.”

For more information, email Chapman at Ashleigh@altusnow.com.

For Wyoming statistics on the National Human Trafficking Hotline, go here.

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