Our Team

Say hello to the amazing collection of people who make Free for Life go.
Meet Our People

Meet Our People

Colette Wise, founder of free for life international.

Colette Wise


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.

Free for Life

gabrielle thompson executive director of free for life international

Gabrielle Thompson

Executive Director & CEO

Gabrielle Thompson has been serving as Free for Life International’s Executive Director & CEO for 4 years. She has a heart for empowerment, justice and vulnerable populations around the globe. In her tenure as CEO, Thompson has expanded the organization’s work to 5 countries, seen the rescue of over 600 women and girls, and developed 2 different prevention and interception curriculum programs. Thompson currently serves on the Steering Committee for Middle Tennessee’s Human Trafficking Working Group, the Planning Committee for the Tennessee Celebration of Human Rights, VisionTrust International’s Orphan Care Expert Services Behavioral Health Team, and Providence Worldwide’s Orphan Care Collective Team. She served as an adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University, teaching “Global Issues in Human Trafficking”, and was chosen as one of Nashville’s Top ‘30 under 30’ Professionals in 2018. She has spoken on behalf of the organization across the United States and in India, Nepal, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Thailand. Thompson holds a Master’s of International Development, with a focus on Gender, from Middle Tennessee State University. Previously, she worked in gender policy development in Istanbul, Turkey, and in Costa Rica for an INGO that provided grants to 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 

Read Free for Life’s Blog Posts

Free for Life

Katie Thompson

Operations Supervisor

Katie Thompson is Free for Life’s Operations 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

Free for Life

Lauren Bradish

Business and Programs Specialist

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

Darlene Palwik

Darlene Pawlik

Trafficking Survivor and Advisor

The Darling Princess

Preston Collum

Marketing and Analytics Coordinator

Syndiket Marketing, LLC

Justin Schober

General Counsel

Country Directors

Bonita Thompson & Ann Thongves

Founder & Director, Home of New Beginnings

Board of Directors

Rachel Harmon

Board Chairperson

PhD Student – Emory University

John Geyerman

Board Secretary

Vice President of Franchise Sales – Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc.

Tasha Lemley

Founder – The Contributor
Executive Director – Justice Ministries

Sister Ellen Hagar

Daughters of Charity, Province of Saint Louise
Principal – Elizabeth Seton High School

Caylen Santos

North America Development Director – Partnering 4Transformation


Program Committee:

Rachel Harmon, Dr. Jim Chaney, Caylen Santos, Tasha Lemley, Mark Hooper

Fundraising Committee:

Sister Ellen Hagar, Christie Wilkins, Rachael Lesniewski, Colleen Back, Mark Hooper

Organizational Finance Committee:

Rick Miller, Davis Griffin, John Geyerman, Jane Madden, Justin Schober