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Our Team.

100 years of shared experience

Loreal Weitzel 

President and co-founder

Arukah Project

Loreal Weitzel is the President and co-founder of Arukah Project, a non-profit that works to restore, renew and rebuild the lives of survivors of sex trafficking in Santa Cruz County and beyond.  She has a BA in Psychology from UC Santa Cruz and has a Master’s in Intercultural Studies with an emphasis on Children at Risk. She is currently working on her Master's in counseling Psychology to become and LMFT that focuses on trafficking trauma. She has traveled abroad doing international missions with anti-trafficking organizations and worked directly with CSEC and at-risk youth. She has served in Santa Cruz County as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate),  worked with children as an Early Intervention Specialist and is a California Certified Human Trafficking Case Worker. 

 

Her experience working with vulnerable women and children combined with her extensive education offers a uniquely integrated approach as it relates to best practices for prevention, effective approaches to survivor restoration and the importance of a multi disciplinary team (MDT) approach.  She has worked closely with Law Enforcement, Victim Advocates, Lawyers, Therapists and is working to build a highly specialized Foster Family Training curriculum to address the unique challenges of CSEC in Foster Care and Probation.

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Natasha 

Director of Outreach

Arukah Project

Natasha has spent more than half of her life as an advocate, fighting for survivors of sex trafficking.  She is nationally recognized for her work and is considered one of the nation’s leading Subject Matter Experts.  

 

As a survivor herself, Natasha knows first hand the trauma victims suffer as well as the challenges they face to rebuild their lives.  Her story was featured on America’s Most Wanted and she was awarded the Special Courage Award, which recognizes a survivor who has exhibited exceptional perseverance or determination in dealing with their victimization; acting bravely to aid other victims and to prevent more victimization.  Her relentless pursuit of justice finally put her trafficker away for 174 years.

 

In addition to helping survivors, Natasha earned a B.S. in Justice Studies and a Minor in Public Administration. She graduated with the highest distinction of Latin Honors, Summa Cum Laude.  She has testified on Capitol Hill to Congress to help pass the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support act. She has traveled the country consulting with and training law enforcement agencies and district attorneys to help identify victims and establish a case.

 

In her personal life, she successfully built, owned and operated several businesses, and was nominated entrepreneur of the year by the Chamber of Commerce and Volunteer of the Year by her local school district. She was appointed as the Small Business Commissioner for District 4, working passionately on behalf of small businesses. Keeping true to who she is, Natasha has sat on numerous prestigious boards such as Hearts of Gold for a local Police Department and the Sheriff’s Advisory Council for the local Sheriff’s Department. 

 

She currently serves as the National Training Director for Arukah Project, a non profit that works to restore, renew and rebuild the lives of survivors of sex trafficking. She continues to speak at schools and universities and co authored the online training and prevention platform Truth2Freedom (a division of Arukah Project) that does sex trafficking prevention training for parents, schools, businesses and first responders.

 

Natasha is passionate, fearless and a force to be reckoned with.

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