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.
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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.
Community Engagement Manager Tricia Grant is a strong advocate for survivors and people vulnerable to exploitation. She is a leader in the anti-trafficking movement. As the Community Engagement Manager for Amirah, Tricia’s passion to educate the community about the reality of human trafficking and exploitation will be used to recruit and train volunteers to support the programs of Amirah. Being a survivor of domestic minor sex trafficking, Tricia uses her ability to connect with program participants as a mentor as they move forward in their healing process. She would love to connect with you and feel free to ask her about her fun collection!
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Rapid Re-Housing Manager Chelsey Buckley is a leader and speaker in the anti-trafficking movement. She uses her own lived-experience in the commercial sex trade to give hope to others and raise awareness about this current epidemic. Chelsey is passionate about advocating for survivors and breaking down the barriers that make it difficult for her to get on her feet after coming out of "the life." As the Rapid Re-Housing Coordinator, she will be breaking down these barriers, empowering survivors by providing them with a home of their own, and walking alongside them while they are on this journey. Chelsey has years of experience working with people who are experiencing housing insecurity. She has earned her certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling at North Shore Community College and is currently studying to become an LSW at Salem State University. She loves spending time outdoors with her son, being with family, and sharing the love of Jesus!
Intake Specialist & Group Facilitator Jessie Funk is the Intake Specialist & Group Facilitator of Amirah. She is a survivor-leader and graduate of Amirah's Residential Program. As a graduate of Amirah, she brings confidence in the Amirah program to women who are on their journey. She offers a judgment-free space where hope can begin. Jessie loves to bring joy to others and work in a team environment. and seeks to cultivate a sisterhood of survivors that thrive together. In her spare time, you will find Jessie smiling and bringing positivity to others.
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Home Manager, CT Susan Alley is the Home Manager for Amirah in Connecticut. This new role at the Greater Hartford Home includes the administrative responsibilities for the home. Susan received her BS in nursing at Seattle Pacific University. After working in nursing for 20 years, she became a full-time mom of 7 children, as well as providing foster care. She has volunteered for several agencies working with women and children who have experienced trauma. Susan feels particularly passionate about walking alongside people working through the many obstacles in life. She joined the Amirah staff as the Home Manager in the North Shore Home in 2017. She has volunteered for Amirah since it first began and has been a vital part of the home life running smoothly. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family, taking long walks, going to the beach, and learning new things.
Case Manager, CT JoDeanne Francis is the Case Manager for Amirah’s Greater Hartford home. She has a background in administration, program management, and event coordination. She graduated from Amherst College with a Bachelor of Arts in both Sexuality, Women, and Gender Studies and Psychology. Currently, she is working towards finishing her Master of Social Work in clinical practice with a concentration in mental health and a focus on trauma. JoDeanne passionately believes in creating change by examining how an individual’s day-to-day experiences are impacted by existing systems. Her previous nonprofit work has given her experience in providing religious support to young adults, women, and underrepresented groups. In her free time, JoDeanne enjoys adventures through trying new foods, traveling to new places, and becoming engrossed in a good fiction book.
Program Clinician Rebecca Joachim is the program clinician for Amirah's long-term recovery program. 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.
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.