Veteran Voices
Episode 56

I joke about it now, but I was a knucklehead college dropout who signed up for the college fund and my seventh jump was into combat. There were dudes shooting; I remember seeing red and green tracers. It was not the onslaught of combat that our grandfathers would've seen in World War II, but it was intense combat in the eyes of a 22-year-old who'd been through about six months of training.

- John Freeman, U.S. Army Veteran

Episode Summary

In this interview, Veteran Voices host Mary Kate Soliva welcomes John Freeman, a U.S. Army Veteran and Director of Law Enforcement Operations at the Human Trafficking Institute. After being raised in a military family, he became a combat paratrooper and went on to serve and work in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Bosnia, Panama, St. Criox, Nigeria, and Korea.

It was while working as a Special Agent for the U.S. State Department in Korea as part of a visa/passport fraud detection unit that he came across a connection between many of the people they were investigating – just 5 IP addresses. It ended up being a crucial missing link between Korean organized crime and human trafficking. He had found the cause that would drive his work going forward.

Mary Kate and John take this opportunity to discuss:

  • The surprise at finding himself on humanitarian missions while in the Army
  • Why transitioning out of the military can create such a feeling of insecurity and instability for Veterans
  • Just how pervasive and close to home the problem of human trafficking is today

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:00:02):

Welcome to veteran voices. A podcast is dedicated to giving a voice to those that have served in the United States, armed forces on this series, jointly presented by supply chain now, and vets to industry. We sit down with a wide variety of veterans and veteran advocates to gain their insight perspective and stories from serving. We talked with many individuals about their challenging transition from active duty to the private sector, and we discuss some of the most vital issues facing veterans today. Join us for this episode of veteran voices.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:00:41):

How today and hello, Mary Kate Soliva with you here on veteran voices. Thanks for joining us today. We’ve got a wonderful conversation. I’m really excited, teed up for you today with a veteran and an advocate. Stay tuned for a great discussion. Quick programming note before we get started, this program is part of the supply chain. Our family of programming is conducted in partnership with our friends. My dear friends Ave to industry. Learn more about this powerful nonprofit that is serving so many folks@vetstoindustry.org and an initiative near and dear to my heart, the Guam human rights initiative, find them on LinkedIn and at the university of Guam under the regional center for public policy. Okay. I can’t wait any longer. I’ve been very, very excited to introduce our guest in the past few weeks. So without further ado, less our guest today, our guest serves as the director of law enforcement at the human trafficking Institute. You he’s also a veteran of the United States army and hint, hint. He is a psychological operations soldier veteran, just like I am and here without further ado, John Freeman. Welcome John. Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me today.

John Freeman (00:02:00):

Awesome. Hey Mary Kate. Uh, great to be here. Thank you for inviting me and really looking forward to our conversation.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:02:06):

Yes. I’m really excited for our listeners today to get to know a little bit more about you and about what you’re doing now. So I’d like to get started with some motivation. I know maybe our listeners are looking out their window right now and it’s sunny, but as you know where we’re at now, it’s pretty Dr. It’s pretty gray gloomy day. So I need a little pep in our step today. And we wanted to know if you could give us a little bit of motivation with a favorite motivational quote of yours.

John Freeman (00:02:35):

Mine probably goes back back to my lower enlisted days in the army. And I don’t know exactly who to give the full credit to. Probably my first urgent John Chandler at the time, but maybe my team Sergeant and I might talk about him later. Hope for the best prepare for the worst. It’s rainy, where I am. And so, yes, uh, nowadays, if I’m going out in the rain, I’m taking an umbrella, you know, couldn’t have an umbrella in uniform, but, uh, yeah, I, I, I like to be prepared for things and it’s served me well, both professionally and personally.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:03:07):

It’s really great. And when you say hope for the best prepare for the worst, I mean, there’s a pretty wide range there of what the worst can be. And when you talk about being from, you know, coming from the army community, that that could range from all kinds of things. So I don’t know. The first thing that stuck out in my mind was how a lot of times the drill instructors will have us eat cake donuts, Chuck, a bunch of chocolate milk before they throw us in the gas chamber. So <laugh>, you know, you hope for the best you’re like, yes, they finally like us. No, they don’t. So that’s great. Quote,

John Freeman (00:03:40):

My doughnut connection was finding crispy cream donuts in the chow hall at, uh, jump school and thought like, man, like I’m definitely loving this army thing. And then of course, I don’t think the crispy cream stayed down for very long. I went through jump school until

Mary Kate Soliva (00:03:55):

You got crispy creams, terrible. I mean, times have definitely changed. John’s I don’t think, I, I don’t think I ever got crispy creams when I was in, but I really, really love that quote. I think that’s something that definitely applies today and even, uh, during my time in service, but I wanna take it a little bit further back now and, and start and, and let our listeners know about where you grew up. And I’ve been really looking forward to getting to know this part about you. Well,

John Freeman (00:04:20):

Sure. Born into a military family, my dad was in the air force at the time I was born, but, um, with my family based out of mostly Charleston, South Carolina, I was born in a Navy hospital. So I got, I got almost all the branches covered, um, with, with his, with my dad’s, uh, air force career. We moved a couple places throughout the south, uh, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia. And then by the time I get to first grade, we were overseas in Germany and that was 73 to 76. I didn’t know it at the time, but the cold war was going on. I just knew that, you know, my dad wore a uniform every day and you know, so did everybody else’s dad. And, um, we came back to the states, uh, lived in, uh, outside of St. Louis at Scott air force base. We lived in an old, uh, base now close Richards GAU, uh, outside of Kansas city.

John Freeman (00:05:12):

I wish I had known about Kansas city barbecue at the time. And then we ended his last, uh, posting was to offer air force base in Nebraska Homeland hear command. And so, you know, about that time, I’m in junior high in high school. And I kind of realized what the cold war is and knew that, you know, when my dad was in a flight suit, he was on the airborne command post, uh, in DC, 1 35, the looking glass was the call sign of the plane. One was up 24 hours a day on eight shifts over the course of like 25 or 30 years during the cold. So to know that that, that was what his career was like. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> with like kinda the heavier undertone of it, but also every summer standing on a flight line at an air show of a total airplane geek.

John Freeman (00:05:59):

I mean, if I hear a jet fly over in the middle of this call, I might jump up and go see what jet it is. But I, I, I think maybe genetically I knew I was gonna go into the army or into, into the military. I don’t think I had mass skills to get into like the pilot seat. Um, I remember a bunch of know neighbors, fathers who are pilots, oh, you gotta have a good engineering or math background. And I didn’t, I ended up going to the university of Nebraska after graduating high school, not really on a good track. I was not a great student. Uh, I thought I would be getting a degree in international affairs. And after a couple years I realized I’m, I’m going through a lot of, of money with not a lot to show for it, not a lot of discipline in those years. And then I think simplistically knew the army recruiter down in Lincoln, Nebraska would, would listen to what I, I, I might have to offer in those days. This is, uh, 1988 for those keeping track, the recruiters had video discs and each disc oh, really pertained to the job skill. Yeah. Not, not VCRs, not DVDs.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:07:06):

There was a whole library of video discs. Yeah.

John Freeman (00:07:09):

Like with these video discs, you know, and they were all the size of dinner plates or, uh, you know, the older members of the audience, uh, albums. And he pulled a couple of ’em off. And I don’t remember my ASVAB score. I tested, I remember him saying I tested and, and could qualify for military intelligence. And I thought, oh, that sounds awesome.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:07:29):

Does sound awesome.

John Freeman (00:07:30):

And then he showed me a couple of those and I don’t remember being impressed by him and he pulled one off, but, and, and the opening scene is a G Jeep. And at the time, I didn’t know what was mounted in the back of the Jeep, but you and I would both recognize it as a loud speaker system. And it was off on, you know, the, the, what I refer to as the Madam mile side of the hill at smoke Bob hill, where we used to do PT all the time that I was in six or ninth battalion. So seeing that I’m thinking, well, that’s kind of, you know, the guy said face paint on, they had the old steel pot, this is a pre Kevlar video.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:08:05):

My goodness.

John Freeman (00:08:06):

And I thought, well, that’s, that’s kind of cool. And the recruiter said, and it’s got the airborne option. And I said, well, wow, what does that, what does that mean? He goes, well, you would be going to jump school and it’s $110 extra a month. And I thought a and $10 extra a month. Hey Sergeant, where do I sign up?

Mary Kate Soliva (00:08:24):

Oh, good. They gotcha. They got you, John. They

John Freeman (00:08:27):

Got chasing chasing the money. In hindsight though, I am so glad that that was the path that, that video disc put me on because it literally leads to all the doors that were opened for me or all the doors that I fell into. Um, it gets me into, I think you might agree one of the coolest career fields in the military, in the army, it opened so many doors that exposed me to so much stuff. If your career was anything like mine, you were always being in allowed to perform at a much higher level in a much higher environment. Had you been, you know, an E two E three E four in almost any other career field, you know, it, it, it is a special part of, of the army. You know, at the time we were part of the first special operations come in, we had a cool patch with a horse, like the Trojan horse with, um, I think a lightning bolt through it. If I

Mary Kate Soliva (00:09:24):

Remember a good old chess piece,

John Freeman (00:09:27):

You know, we refer to it as the electric, you know, and at the time, like it, it, it was awesome. And, and going in as a, you know, kind of college dropout and then getting through basic init. And I thought basic in, it were a walk in the park. You know, we had the best drill Sergeant at basic at, at Fort Jackson, the two drills we had going through AIT at Fort Bragg. And we were the only AIT students class on Fort Bragg, which is grueling to be, uh, at the time a leg and get yelled at, by airborne guys driving up and down. Some

Mary Kate Soliva (00:10:01):

Of our listeners today might be legs as well. God bless meaning you, you’re not airborne you. Don’t the smart ones. Let’s see, but, oh goodness. I, I really, your, your whole, um, experience is just so interesting because as you were part of that original with the, the OG group of, uh, psychological operations and then into like the newer generation of having to go through a selection assessment process, uh, is really interesting. And I love the, your description of the discs. Cause I, I would love to unbe that disc and really see what that was about, because I think for, for mine, it was a little bit different. They, and this, this kind of ties in well with what you’re you’re doing now, but the counter human trafficking piece was where my recruiters really got me where they’re like, oh, SIOP, we do a lot of counter human trafficking, but I was like, really, um, maybe not so much, but I was an army medic at the time. And you know, when I look back at mine, I was also born in an evil hospital as well. My dad was Navy, so similarities there. And I just think it’s really, really cool. How many, um, similarities we do have in our career, even though, uh, it was at different. So not, I would, can’t say there’s probably still some that hasn’t changed. I mean, we still got the, the loud speakers still got, so you can come and check ’em out, sometimes you this.

John Freeman (00:11:30):

And, and if I remember the scheduling correctly, one of these Friday afternoons, everybody’s gonna be out picking up pine cones doing the spring cleanup, um, which,

Mary Kate Soliva (00:11:40):

Oh yeah, that’s always coming. We still do that. So,

John Freeman (00:11:43):

I mean, I remember

Mary Kate Soliva (00:11:45):

Proactive duty guys. So

John Freeman (00:11:46):

Remember being in E three, thinking like, can’t, they get people from, you know, prisons to do this stuff <laugh>

Mary Kate Soliva (00:11:52):

Oh, they already pay you, but it’s really, you’re absolutely right. That it’s such a rewarding, uh, choice to, to do a career, to pursue in the army. So, uh, hopefully retention’s thanking us. Maybe our conversation today will help somebody. Yeah. I think there’s, there’s more often than not people that don’t, I understand psychological operations or, or what it is that we do, but I think it’s just really, it really is a rewarding, uh, career and my, the opportunity that I had to work with with Muslim women opportunity to work with law enforcement, with the host nation, the opportunities there to engage with people in the villages that they grow up in that they live in and being able to really hear what they’re and listen to what they’re experiencing, what their concerns are, what their wants are. It’s just really great to see the, the fruit of our labors. So to speak after

John Freeman (00:12:53):

That. And, you know, the, the, I think the kind of cheerier, you know, maybe line that was maybe coming outta the Vietnam era, winning the hearts and minds. Well, sometimes that’s exactly what it is to get them to support the overall goal that we have either as a military or as a country moving forward.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:13:10):

Absolutely. And

John Freeman (00:13:12):

It’s so great to, to have that. The other, other massive factor for me was probably after about two years in, I took a position as the junior, most training NCO up in my battalion S3 office in the, the operations office. And I think it was tremendously foundational for almost everything I’ve done since that day in probably 1990, too. Uh, a friend of mine now, you know, will describe me sometimes as a bureaucrat. And I appreciate the structure of formulating things. Like if it’s a training regimen, can we go down to range control and, and sign up to get, you know, a company of, of soldiers to, you know, practice and recall qualify on their rifles. The, for me, the process of learning that and helping to set that up and sometimes having go back to the company and get Raz, you know, by my buddies who are still in the line company on, on the loud speaker teams, you know, still kind of dragging their knuckles, whereas I’m this, you know, uh, paper pusher, Hey guys, I need your stats. You have to sign up for this. You know, we need this many people still

Mary Kate Soliva (00:14:15):

Have those today, John, we still got those paper.

John Freeman (00:14:18):

Yeah. And, but, but it taught me more, more than just the, like the mindset of, of being on the operational team that, that so much goes into ensuring that the actual, the really sharp pointy tip of the spear gets to where it needs to be. You’ve got everything behind that, on the spear. Who’s helping to get the ultimate team to where they need to be. And, you know, nobody would’ve walked down into our old platoon or company area said, Hey, you know, we’re looking for the best on the Brice to come up on staff.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:14:46):

Right.

John Freeman (00:14:47):

But it, for me personally, it was very instrumental in helping me to organize how I conduct myself and how I can apply my abilities to business or operational models, no matter where my career has taken me.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:15:04):

Uh, I really love that. And I, to take it back, you, you touched on a couple things there about from your time growing up in that, that transition that you had into going into the military. Do you have any sort of anecdotes from, from that time, like, just before you ended up enlisting in the army,

John Freeman (00:15:22):

You mean pre army

Mary Kate Soliva (00:15:24):

Yep. Pre army. You have any sort of anecdotes from that time,

John Freeman (00:15:29):

Just, you know, the, the coming from a, a, a military family, we were always, you know, moving from, from army air, air force based air force base, you know, the, to be able to see the world and do a lot of traveling, I think opened up my eyes to concepts that I would not have gotten had I just grown up in one neighborhood, you know, attended or two schools with the exact same number of close friends. Um, and, and I really appreciate the chance to get a more wide ranging aspect of things. You know, sometimes I would tell people that my family’s, you know, from the south, from, from Tennessee, from, from South Carolina and people say, but you don’t have an accent. Well, cuz I’m a military brat. You know, we grew up with kids from every other part of the United States, some S some didn’t and we all merged together, uh, as military brat. So that was probably the, the childhood developmental anchor for me.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:16:26):

Oh, a nice plug with the anchor in there too. <laugh> so I actually agree with that to some, it wasn’t always that we were moving, but even growing up in, in maybe housing, my friends were also moving. So having the opportunity that even if I wasn’t the one moving, my friends were moving, but I also, of course, this was pre September 11th, pre twin towers falling. So the, it was different than, uh, there wasn’t all the fences and the gates around those communities. Uh, and you may remember that too. Like the housing was fairly open where you could have friends that were not part of a military family that lived down the road in a different neighborhood, but they could easily come up to your house. Uh, as opposed to now a lot of these housing, uh, developments are gated in engaged communities and fenced off, but back then, it really was, anybody could just come knocking on the door and, and ask to come out and play.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:17:21):

And I really think having that, uh, exposure to kids from all different parts of the country and parts of the world, uh, I mean, even some of the, some of my mom’s friends, like even some of the, the wive of the sailors were from other countries. So, and hearing those accents, but I really remember the food and having that exposure to like, to pen and like the different food from the, like the pilled or food from, uh, South Korea and just having that exposure, um, German bra, German food. Yeah. It’s just, you know, eating all that food is so wasn’t just a round child, but, uh, really loved to eat from that, from that time,

John Freeman (00:18:04):

My first actual job with a paycheck was at the air force based golf golf course. It was then called K part because of the K part neighborhood. And you’re exactly right. There were no fences in that you just drive in. Yeah, the,

Mary Kate Soliva (00:18:17):

Yeah, no fences

John Freeman (00:18:17):

Golf course. I think the public could play at the golf course, but it was also, you know, everybody from the force, from the four star general, you know, the, the commander of strategic care command, one of those four star generals left his wallet in the golf carts. And I was part of the crew that would put the golf carts away and we’d have to clean up the clubhouse. And I found the General’s wallet, you know, putting golf carts away and ran it up to my boss. And he was a retired chief master Sergeant chief Guerrero, Hey, chief, I think I found the General’s wallet and he just places a phone call must have called, you know, the staff duty officer general came right back and I, I go out there, you know, scared to death, like, sir, here’s your wallet. He’s like, Hey, thanks. In hindsight, like, could you could have slipped me a five or something? Know,

Mary Kate Soliva (00:19:05):

I know, Well now nowadays it would probably be, you know, maybe, maybe a challenge point or something, but goodness. Yeah. Not even

John Freeman (00:19:14):

Find or get proned out by SPS. Like, Hey, did you rifle through the wallet? You know, you know, take, did you, No, dude, I was mortified when I found that wallet.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:19:25):

Oh, well, yeah. Oh, I, I love the stories of the winds that they’re driving around the general and then they forget to take down the markers. And so they go through the gate and people, the gate guards are saling them, but they’re not the general, you know, gotta remember those things. So, um, that that’s too, that’s really funny. Uh, I really wanted to, to get into, we, we touched on a little bit about the early stages of your career in the army, but wanted to talk a little bit more about where you, you got to go during your time in service. Cause you touched a little bit about that. Did, did C before do an opportunity to travel a lot.

John Freeman (00:20:04):

And of course it did. And, and uh, I can only assume that yours was even more travel filled than mine was just because of rapid, uh, and constant deployments, uh, of, of the last 20 plus years. So I had been at the unit for less than I think three months. And we got, I think we called the, we, we used the term reacted and we jumped on a C 1 41 and flew down to the island of St. Croix after it had been devastated a hurricane Hugo, this is September of 1989. And so that was, that was me, you know, doing a little bit of my job. We set up a loud speaker once or twice to tell people, uh, where to go to get food and water. So a humanitarian mission, you know, and recruiter didn’t talk about that. We didn’t talk about that in basic training or it, but here we are doing humanitarian mission.

John Freeman (00:20:53):

It was, it was great. Three week deployment, um, flew back to Bragg, you know, and it got cold while we were gone in about that time as a, as a PFC, I’m starting to hear the word Panama repeated after time. And sure enough, uh, December, I guess it was 18th. I was in the chow hall, uh, same chow hall that I had been going to when I was at a I T and our company clerk came in and grabbed about six or seven of us guys. You gotta come back. You’re, you’re going. I’m like, where are we going? We gotta attach to the 82nd, went through the holding area with the guys. I was attached to the fourth of 3 25 parachute infantry regiment. If I remember correctly and loaded up a 1 41 with them. And early on the morning of the 20th of December jumped out of a C 1 41 into combat.

John Freeman (00:21:45):

And I joke about it now afterward, but like, you know, here’s, here’s a knucklehead college dropout who signed up for the college fund and my seventh jump is into combat. Yeah, there were dudes shooting. Um, I remember seeing red and green tracers. It was, it was not the, the onslaught of combat, you know, that our grandfathers would’ve seen in world war II, but it, it was intense combat in the eyes of a, of a then 22 year old. Who’d kind of been through about six months of training. My team started at the time Paul Backstrom did a very good job of keeping me under his wing. We were together for the entire three weeks. We were in Panama three weeks. And if I was coming close to making anything, resembling him, mistake, Paul would grab me by the Scruff of my neck and, you know, put me back in line.

John Freeman (00:22:33):

And I, and everything that I was doing was to emulate Paul or make sure I would, I wouldn’t upset him. So, um, that was instrumental. And then three weeks later, we’re back at brag again. And in February of 90, we went through training and I, I, you know, as a, as a, as a know itall then, uh, I think I got, I pined on E four a know it all E four, like, why do we have to go through this kind of training? We just were proven in combat no knucklehead. You’re always gonna be training. Um, but you know, I was, I, I was a young idiot. Um, within six months, we’re all being deployed to, uh, Saudi Arabia to get ready for desert storm. Oh, wow. Was on a, a, a three, a three, three band team, last speaker team, eventually in a Humvee driving all over Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait, just reminding, um, myself yesterday. Like we didn’t take showers very often. <laugh> that, that wasn’t discussed you

Mary Kate Soliva (00:23:34):

Hold your pants up and it wouldn’t fall down. Right. It would just

John Freeman (00:23:37):

That, that, that factor was not discussed in the recruiter’s office, you know, a year and a half prior, but that, that’s one of those episodes where you get exposed to so much. So with a little bit of experience in St. Croix in Panama, by the time we get to desert shield and leading into desert storm, I got attached to second armor calorie regimen. And at times I’d find myself standing in the talk, looking around like, whoa, this is awesome. And, you know, know, I’m, I’m, I’m now a corporal, I got ladder laterally promoted to corporal and impressive to watch these professional soldiers, you know, NCOs and officers, um, who were about to lead the seventh, um, seventh course effort that famous left, uh, the right hook in, into, uh, Kuwait. And I’m, I’m standing in the regimental talk, you know, I have to go and get information and bring it back to our detachment where it would be pared out to the live speaker teams that we had.

John Freeman (00:24:37):

And I think it’s slowly, maybe at that stage, I realize, Hey, I, I’m also part of this team, I’m we the same uniform. I’m not this, you know, dumb college student anymore. And, and that was impressive to me, you know, the, the, the reality of desert storm smacks home, I think maybe at the end of the first or second day after we’d driven into Iraq, encountering Iraqi soldiers who had really just walked away from their unit, they weren’t really ING to us. Okay. Maybe technically they did, but we got to interview you, um, the guy who is our team leader, my team leader, uh, an interrogator, what was that? 97 echo, maybe I don’t remember the code. He would say that we interrogate ’em. I think we interviewed them because they were telling us anything we wanted to do. And these were conscript soldiers from the very badly defeated Iraqi army.

John Freeman (00:25:26):

Um, in a, and I remember thinking, like, we’re getting information from them, that’s gonna help, but also thinking what happens to these guys afterwards. Yeah. They’re gonna end up in a cage in, in a large pen in area in Saudi Arabia. And sometimes I think, like, whatever happened to those guys, did they go back and were encountered on the battlefield again in 2003 or late? Or were they by that time, older members, you know, fathers, grandfathers in Iraqi society, I’ll never know. Um, but that human part of it for me, mostly because they were not pointing in AK 47 to me, I, I never felt threatened by people like that, that we encountered most of the threats as a, you know, Humvee based loud for team was from artillery being traded back and forth. But, you know, for me being exposed to first ACR, the second ACRs talk, um, I was later the detachment NCO when three of us went up to support, I think it was first armor division.

John Freeman (00:26:24):

And then we spent some time up at the TRUS point mm-hmm <affirmative>, um, a up just north of SA Juan Iraq, you know, and every once in a while, again, I find myself in these tents or these massive, I don’t even know what the guys called them. You know, the tracks all backed up the armor, personal carriers backed up with a huge tent, a massive armored personnel carrier command centers, just awesome. And, you know, I’m there as the SIOP co that was, that was also, you know, professionally impressive to me to be able to do that. And as a guy who’d never been through an NCO school as a guy who’d never been formally in charge of groups of, I was not a platoon Sergeant, you know, I certainly hadn’t been to west point, but I’m standing in the room with people who are, and that was the thing that I, I really appreciate the, the exposure to really advanced development that I think you and I got in that community that we came from. It was awesome.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:27:23):

It really, it really is. I mean, we could literally talk all day about the different stories that we had, but I think one of the commonalities is that the experience that we had as SI soldiers, really what we experienced overseas, um, you know, and it, it’s not to say that we don’t love being home, but the experiences that we had to be able to see, uh, um, to see them grow like the, wherever we’re at the, the host nation, working with them, like I said, working with the law enforcement or working with their military, seeing the people there, uh, grow and prosper yep. Is really, and the humanitarian mission that you mentioned that was really appealing to me entering this was what can, what can our team do to really make a positive difference? You know, being able to bridge that any gaps, uh, being able to provide any resources.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:28:16):

So I, I really think that that was a rewarding part of the job is working with people you talked about, even the Intel part. I, I think military tell was something that was interesting to me in the beginning as well, but I really see myself working with people. It’s why I became an army medic at the gate when I first came in. But, um, but I think just being with people, helping people, uh, supporting people and, and I see that you, uh, doing a lot of that, you still continue doing that. Now you touched on, on one of the leaders that took you under your wing, but do you have a couple people that you would like togive a shout out to, uh, that were really paramount in your career?

John Freeman (00:28:58):

My, the team started mentioned Paul Baxter. I actually talked to him on Monday. Uh,

Mary Kate Soliva (00:29:02):

Oh, you did? Oh, well, hopefully he’s tuned to this.

John Freeman (00:29:06):

We, he was so influential in my life. And then, you know, it, is it again, maybe people didn’t have it in other military communities, but to be rising to the level of a peer of his, you know, within a short matter of time meant that, you know, it was a relationship that I get to have with Paul and not just Sergeant BSRO. He eventually would go off into, uh, special forces. I stayed in the SIOP community, but as we both got all

Mary Kate Soliva (00:29:35):

At Fort Bragg, right. All at Fort Bragg, North Carolina,

John Freeman (00:29:38):

As, as we both got outta the army about the same time, 1996 or so, he called me one day and we’d stayed in touch. We actually went to a job fair at the Fayetteville civic center one time. And, and we’re both in our very ill-fitting suits at the time. But, um, and we, we stayed in touch over the years and, and this was kind of pre-internet, you know, this, these were phone calls that we would have from time to time. And so he calls me in 1998 and said, diplomatic security is hiring. I said, well, that sounds interesting. What is diplomatic security? And he very quickly explained the law enforcement security arm of the us department of state. And I said, well, that sounds interesting, Paul, would you please hang up the phone so I can get in touch with it? There was no website I had to call him. Hi, I would like an app application. Long story short. We both got hired off the same hiring list. Uh, I didn’t know it at the time, but you know, the, all the applications come in, the HR, uh, office goes through hundreds, if not thousands of applications and then builds a list most qualified. So Paul got into training class number 50 in 1998. I got into training class 52 in 1999. You’re

Mary Kate Soliva (00:30:46):

Still following him around John. You

John Freeman (00:30:48):

Still, well, it continued, it, it, it continued for 20 years because he, he was on secretary of state Albright’s protection detail. And years later, I was on secretary of state condo Aliza, rices protection detail. We both converted from being a foreign service, special agent of diplomatic security to being civil servant special agents. So we, we, we kind of resigned from the foreign service and then both took domestic anchoring jobs so that we could each focus on investigations. Um, as, as diplomats security, special agents, uh, much like zop the world is the world is literally your oyster. Um, you can do everything from counter-terrorism work to counterintelligence work, to counter, uh, drug trafficking, human trafficking, uh, VI P bodyguard protection, but the real bread and butter for the is helping to secure and defend us embasies and consulates in every country of the world. Um, which, you know, off that one little phone call with Paul back in 1998, I had no idea the door that I was opening that would take me to so many different foreign countries.

John Freeman (00:32:00):

I was eventually posted to the us consulate in Legos, Nigeria. Uh, and years later, after two domestic assignments went to work in the us embassy in soul, South Korea, and just a fantastic organization, small, but the, the ability to really hone professionally and as in individual, as an individual develop what you want to develop. Um, and, and I chose investigations, which then led me to go into a civil service position, which gets me, you know, where I am today, still fighting anti-trafficking, uh, efforts. Although I retired back in, uh, the summer of 2020. So Paul was very instrumental. The, uh, and it was, it was amazing to kind of have him as a touchstone all throughout both my army and then my diplomatic security career. So tremendous hat off to him. And I definitely owe him, uh, at least a good lunch the next time I see him.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:32:56):

Well, I hope you’re tuning this one’s for you. Uh, this episode. It really just such a cool experience. And, and just in your lifetime, your professional life, you’ve just talked about so many changes. I mean, you touched on pre-internet and pre like you like, not even D V, D <laugh>. And so just in the, in the, just that have happened in your professional life, in, in just how the messaging and the recruiting, uh, really takes it back to the root of just friend, helping friend veteran, helping veteran, uh, taking it back to the core. Uh, so really appreciate that, that little anecdote there. And I think if you were talking to a room full of, of transitioning service members now, what are, what are some things that you would like to say to them to, to help them get through their transition?

John Freeman (00:33:54):

Yeah. And it, it’s one of those things. And I, I think it’s still a reality, although tell me if I’m so outdated, uh, <laugh> Making sure all the paperwork is correct.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:34:04):

Yes.

John Freeman (00:34:05):

You know, is everything as you want it to be on your DD two 14, you don’t wanna have to come back, you know, six months, 12 months, 12 years later and realize, oh, shoot, something’s not right. I’m really not qualified for a VA loop. So all of the, all of the paperwork and it, if, if nowadays, maybe people just save it, you know, on, on their account, on the cloud, if they’re saving it to a thumb driver or something like that, some way of proving to that person that you have to talk to at the VA or wherever you have to talk to, to prove that you are who you are and you’ve achieved what you’ve achieved. Even as I retired from the state department having to approve, uh, to the office of personal management, how I achieved my pay raises over 21 years in the state department, you know, and I actually went to some EALs I had and shared copies of, of SF 50 S uh, I don’t know that I was that vigilant in saving paperwork in the army.

John Freeman (00:35:00):

When I was giving out, I, I was approaching the eight year mark and thought, if I’m gonna do one more reenlistment, I might as just won go the full 20. And I had, I had a couple of, um, officers when I worked in the S3 ops section, tell me that I should look at a federal job, you know, good to have the army, the military background, but now go find a good federal job, uh, you know, move off in a professional in, in a professional, uh, field. I didn’t realize what they were saying at the time. Of course, I ended up on the path going into the state department for 21 years to, to have the ability to look at what’s out there and what’s available. I would like to think that the opportunities to get rapid information through the internet, through websites, through podcasts, through blogs, whatever empowers service members to take more opportunities than maybe we would’ve had, as I was getting out in 1996, we had lists of phones.

John Freeman (00:36:00):

You know, I could go to the, uh, transition center and get handouts of paper, you know, walking around with a piece of paper. Like it was, it was that bad walking around with like a folder filled with pieces of paper, like, Ooh, this is maybe where I’m gonna go get a job. And I’m also like huge proponent of any kind of networking someone has done it before. And if you could find that someone, they might be able to show you a better, more efficient way of getting into a position, getting, uh, accepted to succeeding with a job interview. Um, it’s not just, you know, if you’re looking for a federal job, it’s really not just efficient to go to you, USA, uh, jobs and start clicking around. You’ve gotta know a little bit how to get through the system to find the job that you want filtering out. Like, mm. I don’t necessarily wanna work in Washington DC. Right. I’d much rather work, you know, for department of agriculture in Nebraska or, or, or whatever it is. Yeah.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:36:56):

Geographic locations absolutely important. <affirmative> yeah. But you touched on that too with the virtual about just the ease of internet and having the world at your fingertips, uh, really a click of a button. Uh, but I, I, I think that one thing that really hasn’t changed too much, even from your time, as you talked about Paul, letting you know about, you know, seeing this career opportu, and I think now fast forward to today, it, it really, we talk about network. Now we’re just calling it, we’re calling it network, calling it, learning how to put yourself out there to give your elevator pitch, talk about yourself for 30 seconds. It’s more, it’s less about the team that you have in service and more about pitching yourself and what you can offer to an organization or company, but really, you know, how Paul helped you is, is still, I think, with applies today and just having that veteran, looking out, reaching back and, and pulling those other ones forward. So I really appreciate that,

John Freeman (00:37:55):

That, that clearly is something that the military does a very good job at building us into a team.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:38:01):

Yes.

John Freeman (00:38:02):

And realizing at some point you’re going to come off of that team. You you’ve done 25 to 35 years and you’ve retired. You’re not gonna be on the team the next day. And, um, an army roommate of mine at the time who stayed in a few more years after I did, he wants to be the comment to me that his seemed like I walked out of the army. Whereas we had another friend who literally ran out of the army. Uh, really didn’t go do any kind of transitioning meetings. You know, didn’t take any of the self-awareness tests. Um, we’ve not been able to track whatever happened to that friend of ours. Um, you know, it, it, do you have the wherewithal to start looking out for yourself? You know, not, not from being solely independent, but to then be able to promote yourself so that the next employer, the next connection, the next opportunity D says, that’s the person that we want to bring into. What’s gonna be the next team that you’re on

Mary Kate Soliva (00:39:02):

Point

John Freeman (00:39:02):

Coming out from under that army security blanket. You know, it’s not just the poncho liner. That’s so comfortable knowing that you are so well protected. Being a member of the us military can be frightening if you think like, am I gonna have healthcare or with the next employer, am I gonna have, you know, guaranteed vacation days, somebody made it. One of my buddies on Facebook made a comment about find flying space, a, you know, I never took that opportunity, but, you know, will the next opportunity have as much member benefits, fringe benefits, um, or will they be even greater? So yeah, it, it really boils down to, can you, as the individual look out for yourself and then properly package to get yourself on the next team. Absolutely. Unless you’re gonna, unless you’re gonna win the lottery, you know, and go live on some tropical island fingers,

Mary Kate Soliva (00:39:50):

Cross

John Freeman (00:39:52):

Drinking my ties all day,

Mary Kate Soliva (00:39:55):

That’s it. I mean, really appreciate your, your thoughts, insight on that. Cause I, I think it, it really goes back to looking out for one another and into your friend that ran out of the army. I think there’s still veterans out there who don’t identify as a veteran. They sort of moved on, they cut the ties, but I think it’s from those who can continue to fight. And those who fought before us, the generations before us for a better transition to really take care of our veterans and, and the, and their families, uh, is really made so many waves in the positive changes that we’re seeing now. So really thankful for all those who came before us to really raise their voices and say, you know, we’re not doing enough. So like looking at those incentives that we did have in service, uh, they just keep getting better. I mean, we, we talk about even the educational benefits now, um, you talked about your, your airborne pay and them convincing you to go airborne just in offering just over a hundred dollars of a month. And I’m like, is that what your life’s worth? You know, you’re jumping out of an airplane, but gravity will work no matter what you’re gonna go down. But I just think about awesome, the bonuses, right. That you get now, like you hear about soldiers now and they’re and service members when they’re reenlisting the, the amount it’s

John Freeman (00:41:13):

Amazing their

Mary Kate Soliva (00:41:14):

Bonus now, but I really appreciate your advice that I really wanna take the time, cuz I’ve been waiting all day for this one, especially to talk about what you’re, can

John Freeman (00:41:25):

You, you just, you, you briefly touched on it and I, I, I really should give it credit. So mm-hmm, <affirmative> as mentioned before I dropped out school at university of Nebraska, uh, I’m still a tremendously big Huskers fan, but, uh, I knew, and I, I wish I would’ve gotten on it sooner than I need to have a college degree at some point in my life. And thankfully the education center on Fort Bragg had a great relationship with what was then I think called, uh, the university of the state of New York. It’s it’s since changed its name to now Excelsior college. So with my credits from the university of Nebraska, plus given credit for going to things like BOC, uh, the, the intermediate, if I don’t think it’s called that anymore, the, the intermediate NCO school that would’ve allowed me to pin on E seven had I stayed long enough to other experiences in other college course.

John Freeman (00:42:15):

I got eventually long story short leads to me getting a bachelor of, of science from Excelsior college. And that’s great. It is a, an accredited four year school. Um, and through LinkedIn I’m, I’m now seeing more and more, uh, senior leaders, senior enlisted leaders who are also alumni. And I’m, it, it it’s enough of a, of a, of a degree that allows me to open the door, to go getting a position as a federal agent, diplomatic security, much like many other governmental, uh, hiring agencies don’t really care what your degree is in. You just need to have a four year degree under your belt to be able to show them. So, um, as proof of that, you know, a guy who has kind of an extension on nowadays, it would be an online degree, but one of my best friends at the time when we were both junior agents, he had a doctorate in strategic studies.

John Freeman (00:43:11):

Mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, I’m like, wow, like that, dude’s a doctorate and I’m a guy I with a diploma from Excelsior yet we’re by the state department’s, uh, eyes we’re, we’re the same type of employee. No difference. So the importance of, of having that ability, whether it’s to the university of Maryland or any of the online courses now find the time it’s almost like investing in yourself. Absolutely. Yeah. There’s always gonna be a chance to go to happy hour. There’s always gonna be a chance to go play golf on, you know, Saturday morning. There’s always gonna be a chance to do that, but please consider spending an hour or two, every couple of nights taking an online course. You can probably go straight to the tests and probably pass with flying colors,

Mary Kate Soliva (00:43:53):

Be an active learner,

John Freeman (00:43:55):

Get yourself a degree,

Mary Kate Soliva (00:43:57):

Be a continued. Yeah, the continuous active learner. I, and I think that, especially with the military, the way it is now, we’re not, you talked about your operational tempo early on, early in your army career where you were going on deployment, you’re coming back and then you’re right out the door again within the same 12 months. And I, I just think the stress of importance on higher education now, or even getting certifications is something that, where I can, I’ve seen a shift even in my time and service, uh, towards that. And, and you absolutely hit the nail in the head when you said invest in yourself. Cause it’s one of those things that nobody can take away from you, your education and that opportunity to continue growing and, and gaining that knowledge. So that’s, that’s absolutely great. Great advice there. Thank you for sharing that. I, I really want to get, uh, to what you’re doing now. You’re the director of law enforcement at the human trafficking Institute, which I, you know, it’s more of a passion project for mine and in combating human trafficking. So I really wanted to hear about what your you’re doing now, what your role entails and, and tell us a little bit more about the human trafficking is to

John Freeman (00:45:12):

Sure. So let me give you a quick, uh, backup. When I went to Korea in 2008, mm-hmm <affirmative>, um, was a DS special agent assigned to the consular section who issues, passwords and visas, not really directly assigned to the security and safety programs associated with DMC like a, like a traditional double diploma security agent position in our embasies, but one focused on combating fraud, whether passport fraud or visa fraud. So in the three years that I was there eventually got more and more connections to American federal investigators, customs enforcement, immigration, and my own, uh, agency asking questions about people who were getting visas to travel to the United States. Hey, these people are committing crimes when they come to the United States, opened the door a little further and realized we were talking mostly about prostitution and by the fluke of doing auto sort on an Excel chart, one time I realized, wow, wow.

John Freeman (00:46:10):

Of all these people that we think are connect to, uh, illicit visa applications, you know, hundreds of people, there were five IP addresses. I’m not an analyst. I, I didn’t go into military intelligence. So I don’t think I’m that smart, but by hitting auto sort and realizing, whoa, the same IP addresses keep repeating. I got a chance to talk to my good friend and colleague from the, uh, Korean national police, uh, and said, Hey, do these numbers, you know, mean anything to you? And he kind of jokingly said, John, do you think I memorize IP addresses? I’m like, no, no, no, but you know, can you write these down and see if they mean anything? And he called me back 35 minutes later, John, these are tied to an organized crime invest. This is the link that we’ve been looking for. So Korean organized crime was, was taking people in, into coercive situations, forcing them into prostitution, other forms of labor trafficking.

John Freeman (00:47:07):

And then at some point having some of them come to the United States had no idea what, what, where that would lead me professionally came back to the United States, got assigned to a headquarters office, uh, within DS headquarters in Washington, specialized investigations, part of which was human trafficking and another tremendous influence in my life. Andrew Parker was our branch chief at the time. And I don’t know if anybody told Andrew or if he just decided like, Hey, we’re gonna start doing more. And more of these anti-trafficking efforts, both with specialized cases, but also to connect to the state department, our own department and the FBI, uh, department of Homeland security department of labor department of justice to better improve the federal effort, fighting human trafficking. And I ended up going to some what I would now describe as bureaucratic meetings, but I met some very key influential members of well below like secretary, well below director, senior management level.

John Freeman (00:48:07):

These are the worker bees inside the beltway, and we were all fighting anti-trafficking anti-human trafficking efforts, but we got more and more connected to each other and realized if my tiny agency had the best information on visa fraud, we could give it to department of justice or the FBI to better their efforts. Right? So from 2011 to the time I 2020, it was all about making connections and better improving the federal effort to combat trafficking. My counterpart over at the FBI was a guy named Dave Rogers. I remember going to Dave Rogers retirement party and then kind of followed him cuz by now I’m I kind of consider myself doing more and more anti-trafficking work. And I, I watched this, Dave went to one anti-trafficking nonprofit, I think based in Tennessee, maybe. And he was with them for a short time before he came back to this brand new nonprofit in Northern Virginia.

John Freeman (00:49:03):

And I watched over the course of, I think about two years, Dave worked from within the human trafficking Institute and their model was to take the taskforce concept and apply it as best they could in all other places. And Dave’s organization was looking at international, uh, deployment of that idea. And so they first started in Belize and it was early in 2020 Dave called me and said, Hey, would you consider coming to work at the Institute? And I thought, you know what, I’m getting close to eligibility. I, I can retire. And I can’t think of a more, better place to work. The founders of the Institute, uh, Victor buttros and John cutman were both department of justice, anti-trafficking prosecutors in their headquarters office. And so these are people that we, that I would see at meetings or events around Washington DC. I was never fortunate to see them in the courtroom on their cases, but John and Victor formed the Institute and it was easy for them to bring in colleagues and friends and work on the effort that we’re now still working. And we’re grown. The Institute now does work in Belize. We also do work in Uganda. Um, again, trying to foster collaborative taskforce modeled work involving investigators, prosecutors, and social service providers. Those who will help a victim of human trafficking as soon as a victim has been removed, extracted from the situation or their, their, uh, their harsh conditions inside a trafficking scheme.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:50:41):

And you all come up with a, a report annually, do you not?

John Freeman (00:50:46):

We do. And, and this is another interesting, uh, component they’re actually working on it right now. The staff, uh, the in-house staff who works on a report, it’s, it’s effectively looking at what the us federal government has done in anti-trafficking efforts over the past year. So HTI is getting ready to release the 2021 report probably gonna be, be sometime June or July. Um, and it analyzes programmatically, not case by case, but how well the us government is doing in prosecuting human trafficking cases. And, um, in our system, federal state and local judiciaries it’s, we’re not reliant on the federal government to do all anti-trafficking prosecutions. So in, in other countries, they would say like, man, America, your numbers are very low, but then you realize some trafficking cases also take place at the state level, a recent case that was just, uh, uh, shown in a DOJ, press release three labor traffickers in the Southern part of the state of Georgia.

John Freeman (00:51:48):

We’re going away to prison for their involvement in the scheme involv involving farm laborers, I think kind of from south central to Eastern Georgia, you know, and these are mostly migrant workers, okay. Maybe some of them may have been in the country illegal, but many others came in legally by a visa or other methods to then be exploited doing farm. So, you know, the, the produce that ends up on your dinner table, that ends up on my dinner table or that we see at a restaurant it’s gotta come from somewhere. And if, if that labor is exploited, we’d very much like the American government to, um, to find ways to stop that from happening, investigate, find the evidence, identify the victims, get their ’em into safety, and then go after the traffickers through prosecution.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:52:34):

And I think that’s even especially valid with the supply chain that we talk about, you know, veteran voices, part of the supply chain now family. But we talk about supply chain, really taking a look and, and holding those, those people accountable, those places that there may be labor trafficking involved. And you wanna make sure that what the products that we’re getting from those places isn’t as a result of, of slave labor. Cause that’s what that human trafficking is, right? Moderny slavery. Yeah.

John Freeman (00:53:03):

It it’s, it’s, it’s hard. It’s hard to do, you know, as, as consumers I’m wearing a, a white cotton t-shirt this shirt’s probably mostly cotton too. I, I don’t know where the cotton was picked. Um, was it picked by coerced labor in Bangladesh? Was it, you know, uh, was it farmed on some farm in central Asia using exploited labor? I don’t know the coffee I drank this morning.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:53:30):

Yes.

John Freeman (00:53:30):

Who, who picked the beans and, and, and where they paid a fair wage. I, I, I don’t know. You can go to some websites, you can even get apps on your phone, that kind of grades. And every once in a while, you’ll hear of, uh, usually lawsuits involving, uh, producers. Um, and, and there have been some big monumental cases against some very large conglomerates who have, have found exploitation within their supply chain. Um, I, I think for the most part, uh, corporate, uh, the global corporate structure wants to do the right thing, but in many times it is, it is about turning a profit. Um,

Mary Kate Soliva (00:54:08):

So what would you, um, for, for those folks who want to learn more about human trafficking, I, I think you, you’ve done a, a great job of not throwing out a bunch of numbers. And I think just you and I being in this space know that the data is really difficult it to go off of, because you might know the cases, you can count the cases that are prosecuted, but as far as the number of cases, and you alluded to like how difficult it is to identify and to track. And so to just be very mindful of the numbers that are out there, but if folks want to, to learn more about trafficking and the different types and, and, uh, where would you recommend that they go, and then also if they want to get involved, uh, where would you advise them to go?

John Freeman (00:54:55):

Well, I mean, and not to be overly dramatic

Mary Kate Soliva (00:54:57):

Volunteer,

John Freeman (00:54:59):

Go, go to Google type in human trafficking and then type in the name of your town. Maybe not city type in the name of your town, chances are what’s gonna come up. Is a new story, probably with a connection to prostitution. So is that a legitimate person who wants, who chooses to be in sex work and we’re not talking children, but you know, isn’t adult sex worker who identifies themself as a sex worker. I don’t know, is it like I, I saw a news, uh, clip yesterday of a, of a sting operation. You know, they were trying Tose in purchasers of commercial sex. You know, it’s legal in a few places, but it’s not legal everywhere to find labor trafficking. Um, there are a number of websites, um, and any number of places to look, the department of labor has, uh, a website where you can go and, and type in things like your zip code or if you’ve made a re reach and purchase on something, find out if that came for potentially, uh, exploited labor.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:56:01):

That’s great. Absolutely. Yeah.

John Freeman (00:56:04):

As far as trying to, uh, volunteer it, it sometimes can be a very challenging environment to volunteer. You really? I don’t know that you could just show up at a shelter, let’s say for, um, you know, women, uh, who had been involved with, uh, who had been victimized by commercial sex. You’re probably not gonna be ushered in the front door and immediately put to work. Um, right. But there are a number of places to volunteer places like women’s shelters and shelters for any kind of victim are always in need of financial support. Um, the pandemic was exceedingly difficult for social service providers. Um, and it was a, it was a also very dangerous time for, for victims and survivors of, of crime because they did not feel protected. Things were locked down, things were shut down. Um, shelters were not open. Social service offices were not open.

John Freeman (00:57:01):

Those workers were, were at home potentially teleworking or just not working. So, um, just like, you know, if you wanted to find a news article, you could also type in volunteering in Google and probably find some really good opportunities, uh, to volunteer in your neighborhood that some are faith based. Some are more civic based, um, to get operationally into human trafficking. Um, I sometimes joke with Victor, my boss, who is an attorney that it’s easier for a, a junior attorney to get more involved into doing anti-trafficking judicial work than it is for. Let’s say an investigator, uh, most police departments, most investigative agencies require you to go off and kind of cut your teeth and build your skills and other methods. And then after years you might get transferred into an anti-trafficking unit is it’s really hard. It’s really hard to get as a rookie investigator onto an anti-trafficking team at any level, within any jurisdiction.

John Freeman (00:58:05):

I would say pretty much anywhere in the world, social service work, you know, the, the core effort of certified very well educated in, um, successful social workers. That’s also a long path of education and incremental experience. So, you know, you’re not just gonna a walk off the street, you know, straight out of let’s say your high school or your college graduation sermon and go straight into social service work, but there are building blocks to it. So, so volunteering might be the way. And in some cases we were HTI. We were connected to, I think, a couple fraternities at the university in Texas who wanted to stage just a one day event, all proceeds of that event, going to anti-trafficking efforts. Some of it came to HDI and some of it went to, uh, Texas based organization. So I’m

Mary Kate Soliva (00:58:54):

Glad that you brought that up yeah. To cuz it, it shows that wherever that anybody can really get involved, like you don’t there’s no, you don’t see have a major degree background, um, that you can really just volunteer your time to organize an event. Right. That

John Freeman (00:59:09):

You’re also a great example. Um, you’re also doing, you know, efforts for, for the tremendous need in Guam. But my guess you

Mary Kate Soliva (00:59:17):

Can talk about, yeah,

John Freeman (00:59:18):

You probably haven’t been to Guam in recent days, but yet you’re still contributing, you know, by both my effort and maybe, maybe you send a couple dollars every once in a while too.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:59:29):

And even, even your representatives, like I spoke to a congressional representative, a congressional office recently, and just getting opportunity to speak to, like you mentioned the town. So even speaking to your local city council, or it just do you have a human trafficking task force in your community, if you don’t have one, is there a way that you could get one? Is there a need to have one? Um, and really just even in the next town, over from where I live, they establish a human traffick task force. It was a group of women and that came together and they saw that there was a need and they, they pitched it in front of the city council and it got approved and this was back in 2016 and they’re still going strong now. So it was just, uh, something of just getting together and, and being able to see where you can offer and lend your support, uh, through the skills that you have and the connections that you have.

Mary Kate Soliva (01:00:21):

And that’s where I’m, I’m doing now with my research now in my doctoral program. And I’m really glad that you brought up school, cuz even if you take a break from school, you drop outta school, there’s always, there’s always an opportunity to continue learning and to go back and numerous resources now available, especially to the veterans out there to be able to go back and, and earn a certification or, or, or training. So there’s, there’s a lot of opportunities to go offer and do the things that you love to do. Like John and I are both in, you know, we’re both in the counter human trafficking space. So I, I really want to, if listeners, there’s so many nuggets of wisdom that you drop today, John, but if our listeners today wanna be able to get a hold of you, what would be the way for them to reach and perhaps keep the conversation going with you

John Freeman (01:01:07):

Fastest is probably through LinkedIn. And I think we’re gonna put my connection up on the website, right?

Mary Kate Soliva (01:01:16):

We can absolutely share your LinkedIn information. And then out on LinkedIn will also on veteran voices. So play chain now will definitely tag you and also human trafficking Institute. So you can learn more about, uh, John. I like to say those virtual cups of coffee are really helpful. I remember the first time I spoke to John, I was actually on, on staff duty. So <laugh> still on active duty army. And I wanted to reach out for that, uh, virtual cup of coffee with you, John. And I’m so glad that you did cuz you’ve been so helpful and instrumental during my transition from active duty and uh, just really grateful for your time today and, and sharing about your story.

John Freeman (01:01:57):

Appreciate it. So

Mary Kate Soliva (01:01:59):

Yeah. Thank you so much. Uh, was there any, any last minute, uh, things that you have before we close?

John Freeman (01:02:04):

I mean just to, to kinda keep all bases covered. If anybody thinks they have an indication of human trafficking or they’ve, they’ve seen something that seems a little, uh, unusual. My advice is always don’t put yourself or those people in any potential arm. If it’s a real human trafficking situation by you confronting it, you may actually put the, the victim at further harm. So please let somebody know, uh, if it’s, if it’s an emergency call 9 1 1, if someone is facing harm, call nine one. Um, if you’d like to, you can also call the national human trafficking hotline. Their number is 1 8 8 8 3 7 3 7 8 8 8, uh, easily found online too, but let somebody know we would much rather you err on the side of caution and realize, uh, just, you know, some, some unusual, uh, work arrangement, but chances are the, if you see something and say something, we might get a jump on the chance to, to stop something much more sooner than just chalking up to, uh, that’s that’s something weird. I don’t wanna get involved. I don’t wanna don’t wanna get into anybody’s business. Um, absolutely. So if, if, if you do see something that’s the best, uh, track forward.

Mary Kate Soliva (01:03:25):

Thank you so much, John. Absolutely. I’m really glad that you shared the, the hotline number. And again, with it 9 1 1, just these resources that are available, uh, 24 7 context and, uh, see something, say something. So thank you so much, John again, and for, you know, sharing a bit more about the human trafficking Institute and your transition from the military on behalf of the entire team here at veteran voices. Thank you so much. And thank you to all our listeners today. We invite you to find us and subscribe wherever you get your podcast from a big thank you to our partners at bets to industry. This is Mary Kate saliva wishing all of our listeners, nothing but the best stay motivated, do good, give forward and be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see you next time here on veteran voices. Thanks everybody.

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Featured Guests

John Freeman is a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper, who now directs investigative efforts combating human trafficking. John was a Psychological Operations NCO in the 6th and 9th PSYOP Battalions assigned to both tactical teams and staff operations with deployments to Panama, Southwest Asia, Haiti, and Bosnia. In 1999 John was sworn in as a special agent of the Diplomatic Security Service – U.S. Department of State. Over 21 years, John worked both domestic & international postings culminating as the first DSS Human Trafficking Investigations Coordinator. He was instrumental in facilitating national policy, expanding interagency task forces, and developing specialized anti-trafficking training. He simultaneously directed human trafficking investigations, including victim and subject interviews, coordinated multi-leveled responses for highly visible, highly sensitive cases, and supported numerous successful federal prosecutions. In 2019, he was a member of the U.S. Delegation to the annual United Nations Convention Against Transnational Crime’s (UNTOC) Working Group on Trafficking in Persons. John is the Director of Law Enforcement Operations with the Human Trafficking Institute directing efforts to build, enhance, and sustain specialized investigators wherever the HTI has impact and beyond. He manages focused training and mentoring for partners and facilitates cooperative efforts across a wide spectrum. Connect with John on LinkedIn.

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

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Adrian Purtill

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.

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Joshua Miranda

Marketing Specialist

Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more.  In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.

Donna Krache

Director of Communications and Executive Producer

Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys.  She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.

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Vicki White

Controller

Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.

From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.

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Allison Giddens

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.

She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.

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Greg White

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise

When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.

Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.

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Chris Barnes

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.

Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.

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Karin Bursa

Host of TEKTOK

If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.

With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog.  He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community.  Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include CiscoMicrosoft, Citrix and IBM.  Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane UniversityO’Reilly MediaLinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight.  Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems EngineeringCarrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.

He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

Mary Kate Soliva is transitioning from active duty in the US Army. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.

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Jeff Miller

Host

Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business.  Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.

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Amanda Luton

Chief Marketing Officer

Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM.  When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.

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Clay Phillips

Business Development Manager

Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.

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Billy Taylor

Host of Dial P for Procurement

Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.

An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.

A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.

A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning.  He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.

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Chantel King

Social Media Manager

My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.

Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.

Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.

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Katherine Hintz

Sales and Marketing Coordinator

Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.

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Ben Harris

Host

Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.

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Page Siplon

Host, The Freight Insider

Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics.  He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.

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Demo Perez

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.

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Kim Winter

Host, Supply Chain Now

The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.

He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.

A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).

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Nick Roemer

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.

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Alex Bramley

Sales Support Intern

Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.

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