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Town hall focuses on human trafficking

Awake and Bold, a North Carolina nonprofit formed to combat human trafficking, is hosting a town hall 1-4 p.m. Sunday, May 21, at the Doubletree Hotel, Biltmore Village, 115 Hendersonville Road, in Asheville.

Human trafficking is the world's fastest-growing and second-largest criminal empire, second only to drugs. Predators abduct or recruit (under pretenses) 24.9 million people a year worldwide, Awake and Bold said in a news release.

Leigh Dundas is the keynote speaker. A human rights attorney, Dundas is devoted to combatting global injustices, especially child slavery. Her career spans three decades, beginning with her representation of Fortune 500 companies in high-dollar courtroom battles in the early 1990s to the last decade when her focus became human rights.

Dundas's experiences include cooperating with foreign governments to allow undercover surveillance of child brothels by former U.S. law enforcement officers and working closely with nonprofits on a plan to have on-ground investigators amass evidence of money laundering by human traffickers.

Joining Dundas is Henderson County School Board member Shelia Dale, who says is alarmed by the education system and has expressed concern about a decline in children's learning skills and about school safety.

Linda Cherry will speak at the Town Hall about online and offline safety. Her early childhood was marred by being kidnapped. She was stalked and assaulted. Ultimately, she assisted the police in identifying the man, who was convicted and sent to prison. Bryan Prather, of Veterans for Child Rescue (, and Awake and Bold co-founder Hara Taicher will also speak. A panel discussion will follow.