People to Watch 2012: Advocate Julie Clark

  • Photo by Tessa Berg
From the August 9, 2012 edition

Julie Clark flipped on the lights in Doma International’s new offices in a pocket of the Downtown YMCA.

“Wait until you see this. I’m so excited,” Clark said, as if she had just unveiled the greatest present she’d ever received.

Fair enough. The anti-sex-trafficking organization moved into the space — complete with an massive kitchen (more on why it needs that soon) — last month after years of doing business wherever worked at the moment. Like Clark’s car.

“I could get Wi-Fi out there,” she said, laughing.

Clark is a co-founder of Doma, which supports human trafficking survivors in Columbus by working with CATCH Court, a Franklin County specialty court created to address the needs of women charged with prostitution. Doma provides resources for things like health care, employment, rehabilitation and tattoo removal for women who request it.

There are also Doma-sponsored projects overseas and a 10-week class called Abolitionist U that teaches locals about how to fight human trafficking.

In the next year, Clark hopes to find a place to offer temporary housing for the women in Doma’s recovery program and also further the scope of Doma’s social entrepreneurship engine, the Freedom a la Cart food cart. (Remember that big kitchen? Voila.) Clark and her team are mapping out plans for — fingers crossed — a rooftop restaurant that employs trafficking survivors and helps fund Doma projects.

“These women teach me something every day,” Clark said. “I’ve learned the power that comes from having a loving, trusting relationship with someone and what you are able to accomplish if you have that sense of security.”

There are, of course, trafficking survivors who refuse Doma’s help. Clark can’t help everyone, but she can keep trying.

“Love loosely,” she said of how she handles the fact that seeing the effects of trauma is just another day at work, “but love hard.”

Artist: Stephanie Rond >>