ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – Kimberly Ritter of St. Charles, a senior account manager at Nix Conference & Meeting Management, was honored today by the FBI for her efforts to protect children from sex trafficking. Dean C. Bryant, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the FBI St. Louis Division, presented the 2012 Director’s Community Leadership Award (DCLA) to Ritter in a surprise ceremony today at the Millennium Hotel in downtown St. Louis.
Each of the FBI’s 56 field offices annually selects an individual or organization to receive this award, which honors efforts in combating crime, terrorism, drugs, and violence in America. Next spring, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller will present a plaque to Ritter and the other 55 recipients at a national ceremony to be held at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Violent crimes against children, including child prostitution, are among the top priorities for the FBI, according to FBI Special Agent Bryant.
SAC Bryant said, “Raising awareness goes a long way to preventing sex trafficking or any crime. By challenging their counterparts to raise awareness among the tourism industry, Ms. Ritter and Nix are creating a force multiplier that could eventually have a nationwide impact.”
Ritter and the owners of Nix – Jane Quinn and Molly Hackett – have become experts on the topic, addressing the issue of child sex trafficking at conferences and in meetings with hotel general managers. They first became aware of the problem four years ago when a client asked Ritter whether the hotel she was booking on their behalf had a policy on human trafficking.
“This was a request and an issue we had not heard about before,” said Quinn. “As we researched it, we realized we could have a real impact on this crisis.”
Earlier this year, Nix worked with ECPAT-USA (End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking) to initiate and sign the first-ever Meeting Planners Code of Conduct. Nix reaches out to industry peers and competitors, encouraging meeting planners to join them in addressing the issue at every hotel where they do business. Companies that adopt the Code of Conduct agree to establish an internal social responsibility policy, implement an action plan with objectives and timeframes, and report to ECPAT annually
“The buzz around this issue has been phenomenal,” said Hackett. “We’ve fielded dozens of calls and emails on child sex trafficking from the media, law enforcement, the U.S. attorney’s office, our own clients, hotel management, religious organizations and other meeting planners.” Nix’ efforts have been covered by CNN, NPR, USA Today, industry trade magazines, national bloggers, and local TV and print media.
Today’s ceremony was held at the Millennium Hotel St. Louis to acknowledge its commitment to the fight against child sex trafficking, which occurs at hotels across the country. The Millennium is the first hotel in St. Louis to sign an ECPAT International Code Of Conduct. Hotel management educates employees on ways to spot red flags and empowers them to take action if they spot a potential incident of child sex trafficking.
Nix Conference & Meeting Management, based in St. Louis, has managed meetings, conferences and trade shows for associations, religious organizations, businesses and nonprofits since 1985. Nix has managed events on four continents and in 17 countries. For more information, call (314) 645-1455 or visit www.nixassoc.com.