Meet Our People
After seeing a television show in 2005 featuring the buying and selling of a young woman in Romania, Colette was completely heartbroken by the travesty of what she had seen. She was immediately compelled into action and started a partnership with Lana Matei, who runs a safe house in Romania. By turning a single experience into action, Free for Life International was founded in 2006.
Executive Director & CEO
At a young age, Gabrielle’s heart was drawn towards women in developing countries. Once she knew how to place that into action, she pursued avenues to engage in helping and empowering women in developing countries. Thompson believes that empowered women, empower women. Thompson holds a Masters of International Affairs, with a specialization in International Gender Development from Middle Tennessee State University. Her master’s thesis titled “Perceptions in Development: Costa Rican Policy Initiatives and Pathways to Socioeconomic Accessibility” is available to read here. She has worked in gender policy development in Istanbul, Turkey, and in Costa Rica for an INGO on grants for impoverished female entrepreneurs.
Thompson has a love for adventure, which has taken her to over 20 countries – and when she is not fighting trafficking you can find her lost in nature.
“Let it not be said that I was silent when they needed me” – William Wilberforce
Katie Thompson is Free for Life’s Administrative Supervisor. Growing up in the D.C. metropolitan area, Katie developed a passion for the nonprofit sector and issues of social justice. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from George Mason University, Katie moved to Nashville and brought her heart for international work and unique skill set to the Free for Life Team.
Katie is a live-music photographer and coffee shop regular in her moments of down time.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others” – Nelson Mandela
Trafficking Survivor and Advisor
Darlene Pawlik was sold into human trafficking at the young age of 14. She now uses her life experience to advocate for those who are victims of human trafficking. She is a survivor, a motivational speaker, and inspiration to us all.
Business and Processing Assistant
Lauren Bradish is Free for Life’s Business and Processing Assistant. Her connection to Free for Life began with an internship and quickly grew into a passion for the organization and its cause. She is a recent graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, and is currently pursuing a Masters in International Affairs. In her free time, Lauren enjoys cuddling with her two dogs, Freya and Raven, and binge-watching Netflix.
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” -Charlotte Bronte
Marketing and Analytics Coordinator