Gillian Wood -Founding Director
Founding Director Gillian Wood, MPH, earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and women's studies with a minor in African-American studies from Middlebury College. Her undergraduate thesis explored how pornography influences the hegemonic model of masculinity and its subsequent correlation with violence against women and children. After the tsunami of 2004, Gillian traveled to Thailand to volunteer. Learning about the vulnerability of children orphaned by natural disasters to sex trafficking, she decided to focus her graduate studies on a more global scale. Gillian pursued a master's degree in international public health from New York University, where she focused on the cultural factors that influence maternal and child health worldwide. For her graduate internship with ECPAT-USA, she honed in on domestic sex trafficking. Gillian helped to write Safe Harbor legislation and worked with policy makers across the country to encourage ratification, advocating for states to recognize sexually exploited youth as victims instead of criminals.
Gillian worked with Child Protective Services (CPS) in Seattle, WA for three years supervising and coaching visits between children in out of home placement and their biological parents. She also worked for CPS in Denver, CO for five years as an intake caseworker investigating reports of child abuse and neglect. Here she worked solo on the overnight crisis team responding with law enforcement to nocturnal crises involving children, including located missing and exploited youth, drug trafficking, prostitution, driving under the influence, domestic violence, homicide, and suicide. Gillian has testified in court on behalf of women and children.
She completed a two-year program in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) under the supervision of Marsha Linehan, the creator of DBT. Gillian is highly trained in the impact of abuse and neglect on child development, the neurobiology of trauma, domestic violence, runaway prevention, self-harming behaviors, and crisis intervention and de-escalation. With her extensive knowledge, experience, and passion, Gillian has been invited to speak at multiple charitable and educational engagements, including on the topic of domestic minor sex trafficking.
Gillian spent time working as a youth coordinator in a domestic violence shelter, where she organized therapeutic art, dance, and recreational activities. She spent three years with an organization that works with some of the most challenging children in Washington state. She worked in one of their group homes for adolescent girls, some of whom had been sexually exploited. During graduate school, Gillian worked at SNACK - Special Needs Activity Center for Kids in New York City, a recreational program for children and youth with developmental disabilities including autism, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy.
A lifelong athlete and coach, Gillian was a semi-professional ballerina, a competitive and show figure-skater, a collegiate competitive cheerleader, a collegiate soccer forward, and a collegiate track sprinter and jumper. In college, she started Middance; producing a biannual show, it gave many students a place to belong and raised thousands for local charities. She currently still trains as a figure-skater, snowboards recreationally, and performs annually in a flying trapeze circus show. She enjoys occasionally jumping out of planes and off of forty-foot platforms donned in a purple tutu in the name of charity. Gillian is an active participant in other charity events such as Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure and the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America's MG Walk.