Today is the last day of Human Trafficking Awareness month and we wanted to highlight one of our WARN | Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network interns, Nathalie Elam!


Nathalie Elam (she/they) is a 2nd year Master’s of Social Work student at the University of Washington following the community centered integrative pathway. They are concurrently enrolled in the Graduate Certificate of Global Health program. Between the two programs she is exposed to a myriad of micro, mezzo and macro factors underlying the health of individuals and communities both near and far, and varying interventions and approaches addressing the forces driving gaps in wellbeing. She has been a case management intern with the IRC’s Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network since June, 2022 after last year as an advocate intern with the Seattle IRC’s Family Wellness program.

We had the wonderful opportunity to interview Nathalie who shared with us the impact of this work and her experience interning at the IRC in Seattle. 

IRC: What drove you to this internship position?

Nathalie: My background in supporting youth in wilderness therapy programs, inpatient and outpatient settings taught me the impact of land-based healing and advocacy in the lives of vulnerable populations. I wanted to bridge this direct experience with my concerns for the gap in care for a growing population of forcibly displaced peoples. One of my goals is working towards increased land-based wellness programming that is accessible for communities seeking refuge and/or healing in the Pacific Northwest.   

IRC: Could you describe your role?

Nathalie: I am an intern case manager and it has been an honor to be entrusted in this role. I work with a team of four other incredible humans and receive regular, thoughtful supervision. In my role I provide limited case management support to several individuals on our waitlist, full case management for two folks, bill tracking during the 2023 legislative session, compile community resources, attend various meetings and workgroups, assist in our community dental clinics, and am available as an extra set of hands for our team.

IRC: You were previously a Family Wellness intern with IRC in Seattle and now an Anti-Trafficking Intern – what are some things you learned or skills you gained from this experience?

Nathalie: A crucial skillset I am building in an ongoing manner is deepening cultural sensitivity and humility. As someone who has spent most of my time in the PNW, isn’t fluent in another language, and is very systemically privileged – I am learning how much I treasure the constant beginner’s mentality it takes when approaching the individuals we serve. I am learning the art of communicating through interpreters and learning about the parameters of my socio-cultural position and how best to show up with that awareness.

IRC: What are some challenges about your position or perhaps about this particular field in general?

Nathalie: One of the greatest challenges in working with the IRC so far is learning how to hold the complex truth that I am benefiting from and paying into systems that are often implicated in the driving forces of human trafficking while working to support folks surviving them. Furthermore, working within a neoliberal landscape provides never ending challenges to connect our clients with the safe and stable housing, employment, case management, and mental/emotional care they deserve.

IRC: What is meaningful about this work to you?

Nathalie: Continuing to learn about the driving forces behind the conditions that enable the kinds of human rights violations our clients and countless others are surviving, can leave me feeling hopeless. However, being connected to others within the social services, as volatile as the ever-changing landscape can feel at times, I get to see how many small things work out every day. I get to see bigger movements up close. I get to build on the legacy and hard work that others have risked it all to give us with the hopes that we’d at least try anyways. I have seen a few small things add up in someone’s case and lead to their expression of empowerment which are moments that make my heart soar. Many empowered people is how big changes happen.

The Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network (WARN) is a coalition of non-governmental organizations that provide direct services to victims of human trafficking in Washington State. Since 2004, WARN has assisted survivors of sex and/or labor trafficking to live out their desired lives without re-victimization. You can learn more about the work of WARN by visiting