On Friday, October 20, 2017, Michelle Cobern, Executive Director of CASA of Titus, Camp and Morris Counties and Enya, Courthouse Facility Dog for CASA of TCM had the privilege of meeting Withelma “T” Ortiz Walker Pettigrew at the Texas CASA conference in Galveston, Texas. Withelma “T” Ortiz Walker Pettigrew is a Survivor Leader and nationally recognized policy consultant, specializing in developing strategies to end domestic child sex trafficking; reforming the child welfare, juvenile justice and mental health systems; and implementing policies and practices to ensure that all vulnerable children have an opportunity to thrive.
“T” uses her story and experiences as a former foster youth and survivor of sex trafficking to highlight wellness and empowerment for the children in foster care.
Named by TIME magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2014. In 2013 “T” was named one of the “30 People Under 30 Changing the World”. “T” was also honored by Glamour magazine as a “Woman of the Year” in 2011. “T” testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the need to strengthen the child welfare response to domestic child sex trafficking. “T” currently serves on the board of the Human Rights Project for Girls (Rights4Girls) and the National Foster Care Youth and Alumni Policy Council, and she is a consultant for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Michelle shared with “T” the work that Enya is doing with children in the foster care system. “T” responded, ” I wish I had a dog to go to court with me when I was in foster care”. “T” is a huge inspiration to our program stated Cobern. Cobern said; “Enya and I will forever treasure the experience of meeting such an amazing lady.”