Sex trafficking in the San Fernando Valley is a major issue and concern. The VNNC Summit will address this issue not only in Van Nuys, but throughout Southern California.

VAN NUYS, CA — The Van Nuys Neighborhood Council will host a special council meeting on Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 at 6:30 pm to address Child and Sex Trafficking. Dr. Stephany Powell, the Executive Director of the Mary Magdalene Project in Van Nuys, will be headlining the event and speaking at length regarding this very serious issue facing our community.

“It will be an honor and a privilege to welcome Dr. Stephany Powell to the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council’s Child and Sex Trafficking Summit. Dr. Powell has worked on this issue for decades, and the summit will benefit immeasurably from her knowledge and expertise. We hope to hear about Dr. Powell’s real world experience from her unique perspective as a former LAPD officer and as Director of a nonprofit dedicated to tackling the problems of child and sex trafficking with compassion,” said George Christopher Thomas, President of the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council.

The Mary Magdalene Project was created by a grant from the Presbyterian Women of America (PWA) in June 1980 at the prompting of West Hollywood Presbyterian’s Reverend Ross Greek. Its location on Sunset Boulevard had put him in contact with prostituted women working the streets right outside his church. He told the PWA he was giving these women what was, at best, only temporary shelter from abusive pimps and violent johns, allowing them to hide or sleep in pews during the day. To effect real change, food, clothing and shelter were needed. Without these, it was impossible for an immediate exit from dependence on either a pimp, or the funds obtained from commercial sexual exploitation.

PWA responded with a $30,000 original grant which was used to rent a residential house in the distant relative security of the San Fernando Valley. Women were allowed to escape into the program where they were hidden and cared for up to six months, and then they were given bus tickets home. While it didn’t take long to realize the homes of origin were frequently responsible for the circumstances that led to their exploitation, this residential program was, and is, the only residential program exclusively for women aged 18 or over seeking an escape from sexual exploitation and abuse. As the only solution in Southern California for commercially sexually exploited adult females, the program ultimately expanded beyond the original intervention to include family reunification and intergenerational prevention programs, relapse prevention, emergency support services, street outreach and harm reduction programs for successive approximation interventions.

While many agencies attempt to provide services to intervene in any or all of the co-occurring disorders, only Mary Magdalene Project exists to address healing from the whole experience of domestic sex trafficking and prostitution and its corollary challenges.

Leading up to the event, the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council is still reaching out to every level of law enforcement, as well as other local governments and municipalities in the area with the goal to bring the experts, community leaders, and the general public together to address this local and global issue. The Summit and Special Van Nuys Neighborhood Council Meeting this July will focus solely on the issue of child and sex trafficking.

“As elected officials, we have an obligation and a duty to our community to come up with a strategic plan, and I believe doing so should be our top concern,” said Thomas.

The Van Nuys Neighborhood Council meets at 6262 Van Nuys Boulevard and the Summit will take place in the Council Chambers starting at 6:30 pm. If your Neighborhood Council or organization would like to co-host this summit with the VNNC, please email Council President Thomas at For more information please visit


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