Innocents at Risk: Panel Discussion

Thursday, October 10, 2019
10:30 a.m.
Burns Auditorium,Department of State

The Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW) cordially invites you to join us at this informative presentation on an important issue — Human Trafficking — that affects society today around the world.

The Panel discussion will take place on Thursday, October 10 at 10:30 a.m. in the Burns Auditorium at the George Marshall Center of the State Department in Washington, D.C.

We are featuring two remarkable women: Deborah Sigmund, Founder and President of “Innocents at Risk,” and Alma Tucker, Founder and President of “International Network of Hearts”, who both are doing an amazing job helping and advocating for the rights of the victims of inhumane and slave-like conditions.

RSVP to AAFSW at no later than Tuesday, October 8 and send us your driver’s license number or passport number and date of birth for submission to State Department security. In addition, please send a check made out to AAFSW for $5 for members and $10 for non-members to AAFSW Reservations, 4001 9th Street North, Suite 214, Arlington VA, 22203. You can also pay online at; Scroll down to find the PayPal payment button on the right sidebar. You do not need to have a PayPal account, but may pay as a guest with your credit card.

Please come to the 21st Street NW entrance of the Department of State, between C Street and Virginia Avenue. There is no number on the building, but if you enter “330 21stStreet NW” in your GPS, that will give you the location. After going through security, go up the ramp, and through the heavy double doors into the original 21st Street lobby. We will be checking in guests on the left side of the lobby.

We look forward to seeing you.

Warmest regards,
Sheila Switzer
AAFSW Program Chair

Mrs. Deborah Sigmund is the Founder and Director of Innocents at Risk, a nonprofit established in April 2005 to help stop the trafficking of women and children.

The U.S. Department of State endorsed Innocents at Risk in 2005 for its efforts on behalf of the millions of women and children who are trafficked annually worldwide. In 2008, Innocents at Risk established The Flight Attendant Initiative after meeting Senior Flight Attendant Sandra Fiorini Hodges, who informed Deborah, “Flight attendants see what you are talking about in planes and in the airports, but we don’t know what to do about it.” Innocents at Risk produced a brochure with Polaris and The National Hotline Number: “Protecting Women and Children from Human Trafficking.” Sandra began distributing these brochures in every international flight to all the flight attendants.

Innocents at Risk became a distribution center for all flight attendants. The training grew and flight attendants were training each other! In 2009, Deborah took the Flight Attendant Initiative to DHS. An official protocol was established after several meetings with Deborah and Sandra for attendants to use during their flights. That protocol is used today! Deborah introduced the Flight Attendant Initiative to Nancy Rivard and Airline Ambassadors. Airline Ambassadors continues to train flight attendants and airline personnel in the US and abroad.

In 2010, Deborah met with the Secretary of Transportation, Secretary Raymond Lahood. Secretary Lahood had everyone in Transportation trained to recognize and report situations of Human Trafficking! In 2013, Deborah received the D.C. Metropolitan Area Mother of the Year Award from American Mothers, the organization established in 1935 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to recognize Mothers of the highest achievements in their state.

In April 2010 Deborah received the annual Making a Difference Award from the Soroptomist International – Alexandria Chapter. In May of 2010 Deborah received the RubiAward from the Soroptomist International – U.S. Chapter, in recognition of her outstanding work
to improve the lives of women.

Please note the photo of Deborah Sigmund is by Neshan H. Naltchayan.


Ms. Alma Tucker – A former investigative officer for the Child Protection Unit with the Mexican Consulate General in San Diego, CA. She is founder and President of International Network of Hearts (INH) based in San Diego, CA, and Tijuana, Mexico. Alma Tucker has had over 20 years of experience assisting victims of human trafficking and advocating for their rights, within the border region of Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, CA.

Alma is also the founder of La Casa Del Jardin, the only group homes in Baja California designed for children and young adults ages 18 to 24 years old who survived human trafficking.

Through INH, Alma provides training and education at an interdisciplinary and binational level to authorities, civic groups, church organizations and the public/private sector. Since 2017, Alma has served as an academic honorary member of the National Commission of the Ministry of Interior to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Human Trafficking, in Mexico.

Alma is committed to supporting victims of human trafficking suffering severe forms of violence from sexual and physical assaults, imprisonment, gang rapes, torture, threats to themselves and their families, especially but not inclusively, victims of forced-sex labor.

In 2019, Alma was invited to the White House in Washington, DC to discuss Human Trafficking issues at the U.S./Mexican border. Alma was also invited to speak in The Rayburn Building at the Capitol on Women’s Day in Washington, and at the Global Sustainability Network (GSN) at the Vatican in Rome, Italy.

Alma received her degree in Clinical Psychology from CETYS University in Mexico.