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Alezandra Russell    

Counter Child Trafficking & Anti-Sex Trade Expert; Human Rights Leader; Founder of Urban Light

Alezandra Russell is an award winning anti-trafficking activist, entrepreneur, author and founder of Urban Light, a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring, rebuilding and empowering the lives of young men affected by the human trafficking industry in Thailand.

Russell was spurred to found Urban Light after a 2009 visit to Thailand where she witnessed firsthand the trafficking, violence and exploitation of young boys in Chiang Mai. Upon returning home from her two-week trip, Russell sold her engagement and wedding rings to raise capital to launch the first non-profit of its kind in Thailand and much of the world.

To date Urban Light has provided services to over 6,000 vulnerable young men and boys through an array of health, education, creative and recreational activities at its Urban Light Youth Center in Chiang Mai. By providing desperately needed services that directly address the needs of young men and boys, Urban Light is empowering at-risk young males to live a life outside the grasp of exploitation and trafficking.

Despite the visibility Russell and her team have brought to the trials faced by young men who are victims of trafficking, Urban Light remains one of the only organizations in Thailand working specifically on behalf of boys who are so often overlooked, forgotten, and ignored in the global discussion of trafficking and exploitation.

Russell, who was forced to flee Thailand in June 2018 as a result of her work, continues to advocate across the globe for restoring the young lives of boys served by Urban Light.


Speech Topics

Money is Only One Type of Currency: What Currency are You Living By?

As Americans we are told by a vibrant and competitive culture that success is ranked entirely on one’s monetary wealth. What happens when you challenge the construct of monetary currency and create your own kind of currency—is success still the same? In this talk, Alezandra explores both the misconceptions and possibilities surrounding the definition of ‘currency,’ the concept of being in charge of building our own futures, and how we can all leverage our passions and interests to create something of meaning.

Mobilizing Generation "Y" to Become Serial Catalysts for Change

As powerful multi-taskers and solution-seekers, Generation "Y" possesses great talent to significantly impact global issues plaguing our continents, cities, and villages. How can we, as a community and as individuals, harness this potential to expand our impact into the global community? As a leading expert in the horrific international sex-trade industry, Alezandra shares how her experiences living abroad lead her down a path of creating change, and how audiences can formulate and execute their goals on their respective paths to change-making.

Building a Culture that Cares: Turning Tears Into Action

So often we see the sad, hungry, desperate face of a child flash before our eyes during a 30 second television advertisement. We watch, we tear-up, but then we fail to act. And even when we do, as Alezandra Russell explains, we often fool ourselves into thinking that we are doing something more beneficial than we actually are. Reaction is not the same as action—and action can entail different levels of engagement. To make an impactful change, we don't have to move thousands of miles away and dedicate our lives to helping others. In this talk, Alezandra explains various ways to turn reactive tears into real action with the support of our global neighbors who share similar interests, skills, and talent. It only takes one person to set of ripples of change, and Alezandra shares with audiences how to do just that.

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