Ellensburg will play host to three events highlighting the growing issue of human trafficking starting Feb. 19 with an interactive exhibit designed to give guests a first-person account of what it is like for a modern-day slave, locally and abroad, according to a news release.

The Sold Experience runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Feb. 19-20 at Central Washington University’s Student Union and Recreation Center Ballroom.

Kittitas-Yakima County Women of Vision and Central Washington University will host a forum on human trafficking at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 27 in the Student Union and Recreation Center Ballroom.

Speakers will include:

n Andy Conner, a King County sheriff’s deputy for domestic minor sex trafficking and founder of The Genesis Project. He began taking an active role in the cause in 2005 after several repeat prostitution offenders began asking him for help. After joining forces with other officers in his department, he opened a drop-in center for victims and named it The Genesis Project. Conner, who received the King County Citizen of the Year Award for 2012, will speak on real stories of how the victims get “caught in the game” and how his organization is striving to rescue, restore and release those affected by such atrocities.

n Velma Veloria, who served in the state House of Representatives from 1992 until 2004. She helped pass legislation which made Washington the first state in the nation to criminalize human trafficking. Since then, 42 states have passed such legislation. Veloria is co-chair of the University of Washington’s Women’s Center Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force.  

n Bill Forbes, international director of child protection for World Vision, will serve as keynote speaker for the event. Previously, Forbes worked for World Vision in Cambodia for eight years, providing leadership to the Peace and Justice Program,  which had a special focus on trafficking and sexual exploitation/abuse of children. Forbes studied international development at Fuller Theological Seminary School of World Mission and Cornell University. Forbes is based in Federal Way where he lives with his wife, Heather, two daughters, and his son. He will speak to the effectiveness people can have in combating human trafficking starting now.   

Kittitas and Yakima counties Women of Vision, CWU’s Center for Leadership and Community Engagement and CWU’s Center for Diversity and Social Justice and Juneteenth Central Washington organized the event.

Follow-up luncheon

Community members will have an opportunity to meet panelists at a follow-up luncheon at noon Feb. 28 at the Hal Holmes Community Center.

To order a $5 sack lunch, contact Jan Vaughan at 607-9160, sign up at the library or email wovkittitascounty@gmail.com.

Women of Vision and the Ellensburg Public Library are hosting the luncheon.

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