Meeting Professionals International (MPI) seeks to “activate, educate, support and connect the people who are passionate about bringing people together.” The association leads the industry in professional development that “advances the meeting and event” space. Many of GRCVB's sales professionals serve in leadership positions and are on working committees as part of MPI.

One of those is Malinda Harrell, CMP, CASE, the CVB's director of sales. Malinda is currently chairing MPI's Global Anti-Human Trafficking Committee. We asked her to tell us more about the issue, its impact locally and the work of the committee.

Stop human trafficking MPI

Tell us about your role with MPI global.

This is my third year serving on the MPI Anti-Human Trafficking Committee and first year as chair. MPI is committed to raising awareness of this horrible crime within the chapters and their communities to encourage individuals to be the catalysts of positive change.

What is human trafficking, and what do you think Wake County hospitality business partners should know about this issue?

Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons (TIP), is the illegal trade of human beings through force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of exploitation for labor, sexual purposes or organs. It is a crime under federal and international law.

It is NOT just an international problem; it’s happening here—where we work, where we play, where we meet. The meetings industry is at the frontline of a battle to combat human trafficking. It is the second largest and fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, second only to drug trafficking.

What has resonated with you the most since joining the committee? 

Knowing that North Carolina has consistently ranked in the top 10 in the United States for reported human trafficking cases. We are currently number nine on the list. When you realize that this is happening in your backyard and can happen to anyone, it becomes a wake-up call and once you “see” it you can’t unsee it.  

National Human Trafficking Hotline

Tell us about the work of MPI's committee.
In 2022, the committee has:

  • Curated and implemented a four-hour comprehensive curriculum for the accredited certified meeting manager program. Adult learners had to successfully complete the course to earn their certification (May 2022).
  • Hosted an education session at the 2022 MPI World Education Congress called “Human Trafficking: Evolution and Impacts for the Meeting Industry.” Panelists included advocates and leaders from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other, local anti-human trafficking advocates.
  • Made presentations to chapter leaders and members at the events noted below with a call-to-action to include the issue in educational programs and utilize the resources available through the committee:
    • Chapter Business Summit (April 2022);
    • Global Meetings Industry Day (April 2022);
    • MPI Global International Board of Directors (June 2022).
  • Created a library of talking points for industry leaders to be able to share anti-human trafficking information with a call to action to join the fight through advocacy and awareness.

MPI has also signed the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (the Code), a travel and tourism industry-driven initiative that seeks to provide awareness, tools and support to prevent the sexual exploitation of children. The Code is a voluntary set of business principles that travel and tour companies can implement to prevent the trafficking of children.

Where can partners go for more information and training?

For more information about how human trafficking impacts Wake County tourism, contact Malinda Harrell, CMP, CASE.