Expert on anti-human trafficking to speak at TEDx event

During his service at the San Jose Police Department’s Vice Unit, John Vanek was given the responsibility of overseeing one of the first anti-human trafficking task forces in the country.

From there, Vanek discovered his passion; he began collaborating efforts with federal and local law enforcement agencies, including private and community organizations to fight against trafficking.

Vanek has since retired from the police department after 25 years as a Lieutenant but is still taking the lead in spreading awareness about trafficking. After publishing his first book and national recognition for his influential leadership, Vanek is presenting his message at this year’s TEDxCarson City event Oct. 13, for the first time.

“I enjoy helping people understand these issues,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of public speaking but this will be an exciting challenge for me since I only have 15 minutes to talk about this topic. It’s going to be a different experience.”

Vanek’s presentation is addressing there are many issues, such as trafficking, that lie within communities around the world and why people should embrace the complexity.

His book, “The Essential Abolitionist: What you need to know about human trafficking & modern slavery” explains what human trafficking is and how enslaved lives impact the world’s quality of life, how to identify a victim and how to help.

“There are many complex topics in this world that make up a small piece of news or is used through memes, for example, to learn about them,” he said. “I’m twisting this with human trafficking and I want the audience to see how they can contribute to help from a global to a local level.”

As of January, Vanek serves on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) National Advisory Committee on the Sex Trafficking of Children and Youth in the United States. Recently, he was inducted into the Assent Compliance’s Top 100 Human Trafficking & Slavery Influence Leaders.

Vanek’s knowledge on trafficking and human trafficking task force collaboration also have been utilized by the United States Department of Justice, the Office of the United States Attorneys, the United States Department of Defense, the California’s Office of the Attorney General, the Freedom Network Training Institute, the Nevada Coalition to Prevent the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, and other governmental and private organizations.

In addition, John is an Adjunct Professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, and holds an MA in Leadership from Saint Mary’s College of California.

He and his wife, Dawn, now reside in Gardnerville where they enjoy their horse, dog, and a variety of mountain activities.

Follow Vanek’s blog at


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