Executive Director Mary Speta is a researcher, educator, speaker, and advocate in the movement to end commercial sexual exploitation. Mary utilizes her own lived experience of commercial sexual exploitation as well as her research on domestic sex trafficking to break down myths and inform policy advocacy efforts. She serves on multiple legislative advisory committees throughout New England as an anti-trafficking policy adviser and consultant. Mary is currently pursuing a doctorate in law and policy at Northeastern University, where her research focuses on expanding access to effective, survivor approved exit and aftercare approaches. She also holds a master’s degree in administrative sciences from Boston University and completed her undergraduate studies at Gordon College.
Director of Mentorship & Resiliency Cheri Crider is a trainer, speaker, mentor and author. In her outreach work, Cheri facilitates resiliency building curricula in correctional facilities and beyond. She has authored numerous educational programs, including “Trauma-Informed Care from a Survivor’s Perspective”. Locally, Cheri has testified before the Mass. State Senate on issues including victims' rights, criminal record relief and legislation. Globally, she serves as an Expert Speaker for the U.S. State Dept., Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. Her greatest joy is sharing her lived experience to mentor other survivors of trafficking and exploitation.
Director of Programs Tori Devine is the Director of Programs for Amirah. She received her Masters in Social Work with a concentration in health & mental health from Salem State University. Tori possesses over a decade of program management & clinical experience having worked in residential settings with families & individuals experiencing homelessness, individuals recovering from alcohol & substance use disorders, and survivors of domestic violence. Tori has also worked previously as an outpatient therapist for children, adolescents & families and interned on an adult inpatient psychiatric unit. Tori is passionate about assisting women in healing & recovering from traumatic experiences and working towards self-empowerment. In her free time, Tori enjoys spending time with her loved ones (her family, boyfriend, and friends), traveling, attending expressive arts workshops, and cuddling baby goats. Her favorite time of year is autumn.
Director of Community Resources Rebecca Joachim oversees Amirah's Community Resource Center in Lynn, MA. Rebecca initially received her master in public health, and after some work and research locally and internationally developed a passion for working with women and mental health. Rebecca is now a licensed mental health clinician after receiving her master’s in counseling from Gordon Conwell. Rebecca has spent the last few years working with women in crisis situations to receive help and support. Rebecca previously interned at an inpatient adolescent and adult psychiatric unit providing therapeutic support for mental health and eating disorders. Rebecca believes in whole person healing - physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual and desires this for every woman at Amirah. Rebecca enjoys having outdoor adventures in the woods, on the beach and everything in between.
Development & Partnerships
Director of Faith & Justice Initiatives Michael Distefano is the Director of Faith & Justice Initiatives at Amirah, overseeing our church and faith-based partnerships. As a pastor for more than five years in both Houston, TX and Washington, DC, Michael’s heart is to see God’s love for humanity and His passion for justice reflected in the church. As a pastor, Mike’s great joy comes in mobilizing the people of God to meet the needs of their city. Mike’s involvement as a volunteer in the world of anti-trafficking spans more than 10 years and includes prevention through Love 146 + the End It Movement and liberation efforts through Redeemed Ministries in Houston, TX. Michael was a volunteer at Amirah while acting as the Justice Student Committee Chair at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary from 2014-2017. He joined Amirah’s staff in 2019 through what he felt was a direct call from God to minister to survivors and elevate the church. He has degrees in Management and Entrepreneurial Studies from Texas A&M University and a Masters in Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He enjoys reading, writing, and anything that feels like “adventure” - canoeing, hiking, mountain biking, and skiing. He loves his family and is deeply committed to pie (apple, razzleberry, - you name it) and ice cream.
Annual Giving and Communications Coordinator Emily Patrick is the Annual Giving and Communications Coordinator. She received her degree from Texas A&M with a focus in Race, Gender, and Ethics, and shortly after pursued a graduate certification in Nonprofit Management with a concentration in Fundraising and Philanthropy. Her passion for helping others led her to serve with AmeriCorps where she mentored youth and worked at a nonprofit consulting company aiding in fundraising efforts. Emily is a recent transplant to Boston from Texas and is enjoying all Massachusetts has to offer—especially finding the best spots to hike and ski.
Case Manager, MA Morgan Bae is the Case Manager for Amirah’s Massachusetts safe home. Morgan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Gordon College. Morgan is passionate about justice and values individuals as individuals - recognizing that each person comes with their own stories and journeys of healing. She sees the brokenness in the world yet finds such hope in the victories: both small and large, that can be seen in the day to day. Her experience with youth from various backgrounds has allowed her to see the importance of empowerment and beauty in walking alongside people as they encounter the highs and lows of life. In her free time, she can be found walking her two dogs, spending time outdoors, practicing photography, reading a good book, playing games with friends or sipping a good cup of coffee.
Program Coordinator, CT Lauren Gerhard is the Program Coordinator for Amirah’s Greater Hartford home. She comes to the team with experience in a variety of areas, including but not limited to management, training, legal assisting, event planning, and volunteer coordination. Lauren holds a Bachelor’s Degree in American Government and Politics, an Associate’s Degree in Accounting and Business Administration, and a certificate in Human Resources. She is currently working on completing a certificate in Nonprofit Management. During college, she interned with Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence on their public policy team and trained and volunteered with YWCA New Britain’s Sexual Assault Crisis Service. In her free time, Lauren enjoys cuddling with her cat, playing games, reading, making bracelets, and going on day trips, particularly to the beach or any waterfall.
Home Coordinator, MA
Home Manager, CT Cheryl is the Home Manager for Amirah in Connecticut. She values maintaining a home environment of respect, safety, and acceptance. She received her degree in education while raising her daughter as a single mom. After starting her career as a traditional certified classroom teacher, she saw continuity often lacking in this model, especially for those challenged by disabilities or trauma. She eventually branched out to work privately with students, individually and in groups. She frequently became a part of collaborative support teams through local schools, the Department of Children and Families, Casey Family Services, Community Residence Inc., and alternative high school programs for at-risk youth. She is especially passionate about coming alongside someone in their journey of self-discovery as they uncover their strengths and gifts. Being invited into one’s private space is a tremendous privilege and responsibility. While healing/growing is an individual process, she believes it is also done best in a caring community. Cheryl’s other passions include getaways with her husband of 32 years, family, or friends. She enjoys music concerts (especially contemporary Christian) and home cooking (without a recipe!). Her flower garden is her slice of Heaven on earth.
Home Manager, MA Lynnette is the Home Manager for the Massachusetts safe home. She loves to be organized and pays attention to details. She is a biological, foster and pre-adoptive mom and wife to an amazing, supportive husband. She has been advocating for foster children and families since 2015 and comes to Amirah with an extensive background in trauma-informed care. She looks forward to advocating and supporting women being liberated from exploitation. In her free time, Lynnette can be found snuggling with one of her foster babies, teaching one of her teens to drive, or trying out a new recipe in her kitchen.
Program Coordinator, MA Pamela McLellan is the part-time Program Coordinator for Amirah's North Shore safe home. She is a recent transplant to New England from Virginia. She has worked in administrative roles in a wide range of settings, including government contracting, technology, construction, property management, interior design and church care. Her primary role as mom to four spirited kids has given her a wealth of experience in scheduling, logistics, mediation, taxi driving and crisis management. Pamela has a passion to see others set free through the healing power of Christ. She is excited to bring her administrative and organizational experience to the transforming work at Amirah. Pamela has been married to her husband, Corey, for 20 years. In her free time she enjoys running, hiking, bargain hunting, restoring historic homes and discovering all the local ice cream places on the North Shore.
Community Life & Volunteer Coordinator, MA Bethany is a lover of people and an advocate for recovering women to know their purpose and incredible value. She has attended Summit International School of Ministry, and spent three years abroad in humanitarian aid, teaching, and directing a small Theatre. She now serves as Community Life and Volunteer Coordinator for Amirah's North Shore safe home where she seeks to get to know each individual. Bethany is a believer that fun is important, and that each person is worthy of time, attention and grace. Bethany loves to laugh, and her personal joys include sitting on the couch with family, taking long walks in the woods, and songwriting.