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Deb O’Hara Rusckowski is critical care nurse by training, earning her BSN from Northeastern University in 1982, then returned to NU to earn her MBA in 1994. She later attended Boston College for a Master’s in Theology Studies, MTS, degree in 2013. She has worked in both the private, public and non-profit sectors.


In 2013, she moved to NYC where she began working for C-STIP, Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons, at the United Nations. After three years, she was invited to join the Order of Malta Mission to the UN covering the third committee, which includes human trafficking and refugee crisis. In 2018, after hosting a large meeting at the UN with multiple stakeholders, she founded Global Strategic Operatives, GSO, to focus human trafficking training efforts to healthcare systems and providers worldwide—a decision based on studies (Lederer, Whetzel & Miller) that 88-92% of all survivors sought out medical care while being trafficked…68% of those went to Emergency Departments. In 2022, Deb was appointed Special Advisor to the Ambassador on Human Trafficking at the Malta Mission to the UN, where she currently serves in this capacity.

GSO is made up of teams of Survivors and Clinicians--physicians, nurses/NPs, social workers. 


The Mission of Global Strategic Operatives, GSO, is to train healthcare providers worldwide---throughout their healthcare system (Emergency Dept., Med-Surg, OBGyn, L&D, Psych/Mental Health, Social Work and all ancillary departments, i.e. Security, Registration Depts, Etc.) The purpose of the training is twofold---first, to train to identify potential trafficking victims; and second, to take appropriate action.



To have a world where any victim entering any part of a healthcare system (Hospital ED, Out-Patient Clinic, ancillary clinical departments) will be clearly identified by educated providers, treated respectfully, and offered alternative safe housing with therapeutic services to aid in their healing, restoring their dignity as they journey to becoming survivors and independent living.





Initially training was conducted live, in person. However, after COVID, we learned that people appreciated the “hybrid model” over Zoom. First, there is unlimited capacity regarding number of participants, instead of being limited to room/auditorium size. Second, the ability to record, and own the recording, allows for those unable to attend for whatever reason, to view the training at another time. This also enhances the train-the-trainer methodology, especially in large integrated network systems. With CEO buy-in to their mission and strategic plan, placing importance for their employees to receive human trafficking training, training not only is successful, but moreover, most institutions wish to imbed at least the HT 101 into their Learning Module System, LMS, for all new employees to receive as part of their new hire orientation packages. This, keeping their entire system well trained!


GSO’s training is provided over a few sessions---HT 101 which begins with a Survivor Testimony—to always remind us why we do this work! Then it covers a general overview with statistics and answers to the questions of ‘Who, What, Where, How & Why’ of human trafficking. This session provides Red Flags and Potential Screening Questions for healthcare providers as well. (Training can be customized to include specific local area statistics along with law enforcement, hospitality, airline, focus. as well as healthcare.)

GSO initially partnered with Dignity Health, now Common Spirit Health, given their proven success in championing human trafficking training to healthcare providers. We now have several partners to offer a very robust and comprehensive training. GSO offers a survivor-led training which is impactful to all participants to remind us of why we do this work. The live, in-person training consists of a Level One Training we call HT 101. that is offered to all disciplines throughout the hospital. The Level Two Training, HT 102A and 102B, focuses on those providers who will have direct contact with the trafficked victim with emphasis on a "train-the-trainer" model for expansion purposes. The pilot project sites include a research component is led by Dr. Cathy Miller. GSO training emphasizes a "train-the-trainer model" for proliferation of training throughout the entire healthcare system. We encourage all sites to embed HT 101 into their new-hire orientation learning modules.

Equally important is establishing and building relationships with local community resources, i.e. community agencies, NGOs, shelters, law enforcement, State Attorney General Office's Task Forces and agents, and Homeland Security Investigation's agents. To that end, GSO encourages, as part of each site's training, a "Strategic Leadership Community Meeting" to be held where all external local contacts are invited to attend with the hospital leadership team and all roles are explained, clarified while relationships are established to be built upon.

In recognizing the inherent dignity of every human person, and the atrocious violations of human rights to those being trafficked, we are committed to the complete and total eradication of these horrific crimes. As Pope Francis told the United Nations in 2015, “evils like human trafficking cannot be met by solemn commitments alone. We need to ensure that our institutions — and all our efforts — are truly effective… We are facing a global phenomenon that exceeds the competence of any one community or country, therefore, we need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself.”

This is our effort to mobilize — we are passionate and committed. Thank you for joining us on this journey to eradicate all forms of human trafficking!

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