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Human Trafficking: A Full Scale Assault on Human Dignity

Pope Francis has defined Human Trafficking as “an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge against the body of Christ.” Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide – including right here in the United States. This session will provide you with the who, what, where, when, how, and why of human trafficking, dispel myths, and provide you with appropriate actions you can take when identifying potential victims.

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Deb O’Hara-Rusckowski, RN, MBA, MTS

Deb is a critical care nurse by training with a BSN, MBA and a Master’s in Theology with a concentration in bioethics. After working in healthcare and the private sector for 30+ years, she now concentrates in public, non-profit organizations, and philanthropy. She works in areas where she can combine her passion for healthcare, business and faith.

Deb currently is a Delegate and Special Advisor to the Ambassador on Human Trafficking for the Order of Malta’s Mission to the United Nations, where she focuses on human trafficking and the global refugee crisis. She recently founded Global Strategic Operatives for the Eradication of Human Trafficking, (GSO), which conducts trainings to healthcare systems on how to identify victims and take appropriate actions. The goal of the GSO healthcare pilot is to create and submit a ‘universal policy’ to the WHO for consideration of implementing a worldwide human trafficking policy for healthcare providers.  In addition, Deb works with Homeland Security and law enforcement to provide human trafficking educational presentations to airline personnel, government employees, corporations and universities. She supports an anti-human trafficking educational exhibit in Haiti which rotates regularly around the country. Deb participated on a Human Trafficking Symposium at the Vatican last spring, and the Human Trafficking Summit at the White House in January 2020.

Deb founded Nurses With Global Impact, Inc. in 2016 as a resource for nurses and to recognize those doing extraordinary work and making a global impact in healthcare. She hosts International Nurses Day at the United Nations annually where a select group of nurses are chosen from around the world to be honored and awarded. 

Deb has always had a passion for healthcare missions: Haiti (20+ years), Philippines, Dominican Republic and Bosnia Herzogovina, where she was a member of a Crisis Intervention Team with National Organization for Victim’s Assistance (NOVA) of Washington, DC, to work with women and girls who survived rape camps. She was a member of the Federal Disaster Medical Team that was deployed to NYC on 9/11/01.  

Deb is active on a number of non-profit boards: two term Board of Councilor with the Order of Malta, American Association, and continues as a member of the Medical Committee for the annual Lourdes Pilgrimage. Deb also sits on the boards of Malteser International Americas, RAD-AID, Int’l, World Youth Alliance, the Gold Foundation, and the National Catholic Bioethics Center. She is a former member of the CRUDEM Board for Hopital Sacre Coeur in Haiti for 8 years, chaired the Jerome Lejeune Foundation USA, on the Board of Boston’s Healthcare for the Homeless Program for 5 years, and spent 4 years on the Board of the American Heart Association as Chair of Public Advocacy. 

Deb was the Director of Respect Life Education for the Archdiocese of Boston for 8 years. She helped start-up Pure in Heart, a 501(C3) young adult ministry in Boston, Haiti, Kenya, Ireland and UK. 

Deb was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and grew up in Boston. She is married to Steve Rusckowski and they now reside in NYC.