According to Karen Countryman-Roswurm, her biggest accomplishment can’t be found on her 30-page curriculum vitae. It isn’t recognition she has received from the White House or one of multiple awards she has won. Her biggest accomplishment isn’t a grant she has secured or the public policy she has informed.

 

“My biggest accomplishment is that ... I have inspired other people to not only change their lives but impact the lives of those around them,” she said.

Countryman-Roswurm is founder and executive director of Wichita State University’s Center for Combating Human Trafficking. For 24 years, she has served as an ally to and advocate for disenfranchised, vulnerable and marginalized communities in Kansas and across the United States.

Much of her work has focused on bridging gaps between academic research, public policy and best practices, particularly cases involving homeless youths and the sex and labor trafficking of minors.

“What keeps me going day to day is probably the knowledge that there’s so much more to still be done,” Countryman-Roswurm said. “This is not just about trafficking. ... I believe I do work on shifting paradigms and shifting spaces for all individuals.”

Countryman-Roswurm, a licensed social worker with a doctoral degree in psychology, serves on the governor’s Mental Health Task Force and the state’s Human Trafficking Advisory Board. She is also a consultant on the Human Trafficking Working Group for the U.S. attorney and an active member of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Trafficking of Women and Girls.

“I have to fight this fight on all fronts for all of us,” she said.