Sexually abused the first time as a young child, Amy Leenerts was told that she was to blame for what happened to her. “That set off something in my mind,” she says. “I felt that whenever something negative happened to me, it was my fault.”
Abuse followed her throughout childhood including a traumatic rape at 19 years old. Leenerts always felt “marked,” as though something inherently evil in her that allowed abusers to find her. It was years before she gave up her rights to being a victim and became a Survivor determined to live a healthy, restored life.
Her perspective widened, and she began to notice others who suffered the effects of sexual abuse, exploitation, and human trafficking. Now, Leenerts devotes much of her energy to finding new approaches to prevent human trafficking and other sex crimes against women and children throughout our state, and ultimately to help victims begin their journey toward health and wholeness.
In 2013 Amy founded Free2Hope Inc., a non-profit devoted to Educating groups, Exposing human trafficking through outreach, Equipping local businesses, and Enabling a safe place through a Women's Drop-in Center located in Portland. Her long term goals are to establish a safe house outside of the city for women that have been victimized by sexual crimes women. On the way to that dream, she has garnered a number of awards, including:
Keiona first became involved with Free2Hope 2 years ago when she was seeking treatment for her substance use disorder and resources for her personal experiences with violence and trauma. While she had a long and tough battle with the disease of addiction, Keiona overcame her substance use disorder through attending Karen's Place Maternity Center. After recovery and healing, Keiona became a peer support at Karen's Maternity Place where she achieved certificates in the Master Studies Program of Addiction Recovery Care. After moving back to Louisville, she got back into contact with Amy, expressing her ambition to help those in the community. A few weeks later, Keiona joined the Free2Hope team as a peer support, where she would help women who struggle with similar issues she has experienced, such as substance use disorder, sex trafficking, and domestic violence. She states that Free2Hope has been a blessing and has been a platform for healing and changing lives. She is now working towards professional development through attending Southern New Hampshire University for a Bachelors in Psychology and Counseling, as well as working to be a state qualified Adult Peer Specialist.
Valerie became involved with Free2Hope when she attended a local conference on women empowerment. After hearing Amy's presentation on trafficking and her mission, Valerie was eager to become involved with the center by volunteering in the kitchen. Previously a CNA at Suburban, she then brought her cooking expertise to the center, where she now prepares hot meals and brings a warm presence to the kitchen. Outside of work, she loves spending time with her grandchildren.
John F. Leenerts
Broadcast Television Engineer
John has been working in the broadcast field for the last 30 + years. His background includes technical engineering and production. He served 30 years as a volunteer fire fighter and retired with the rank of Captain. While on the fire department he served on numerous committees from apparatus purchasing to turnout gear and equipment purchases. He also served two years on the Board of Directors for the fire department. He graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcasting. He joined Free2Hope as their first Chairman. His wife, Amy Leenerts, started the organization with nothing but a passion to help educate and stop Human Trafficking. He joined the board because he saw a need to help Human Trafficking victims and help his community. He’s honored and proud to serve on Free2Hope’s board knowing we can make a difference.
DeAris V. Hoard, Ph.D.
Police Training Officer
Louisville Metro Police Department
DeAris primarily serves as a Police Training Officer, while also holding the position of Part-time Health and Safety Officer, with the Louisville Metro Police Department. DeAris is a graduate of the University of Louisville (Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice), Xavier University (Master’s in Criminal Justice), Walden University (PhD in Criminal Justice). DeAris has a passion for generating honest discussion around the relationships between law enforcement and minority populations, while also preparing new officers with the skills and tools necessary to succeed safely and effectively. Ultimately, through honest conversations and the efficient training of new officers, DeAris hopes to change the image of law enforcement and create more positive, healthy relationships with the public. DeAris currently holds active Kentucky Peace Officer Certification from the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council and active memberships with the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, the American Criminal Justice Association, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and the Southern Criminal Justice Association. In his spare time, DeAris enjoys traveling the globe, especially the Caribbean and other places with beaches.
Ginger is a professional associate for a health care company since 1996 where her roles and responsibilities have included technical help desk support, technical consultant of messaging tools and both process and project management for IT and business organizational units. She received her Bachelors of Business in Computer Information Systems from Western Kentucky University. Happily married for 22 years where she and her husband are the proud pet parents of four dogs and four cats. Hobbies include running, cycling, swimming, indoor rock climbing and recently have added CrossFit to her active lifestyle. Whether you’re a co-worker, family member or friend, she enjoys helping others achieve their own goals.
President/Owner of Johnson Group, Inc. since 1993, an electrical contracting company. Officer/Board member of Free2Hope for the past three (3) years. Officer/Board member for Eastside Christian Academy School for five (5) years. Have a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. Previously held management positions with Tube Turn’s and Papa John’s in Louisville KY. Served in the youth ministry for fifteen (15) years and coach middle school and high school football/basketball for ten (10) years. Played football in college, was team captain two years while playing quarterback. Personal interest/hobbies: spending time with family, bike riding, trial hiking, hunting, rafting, prison softball ministry.
Sergeant Roger Collins
Community Policing Unit
Louisville Metro Police Department
Roger currently serves as one of the youngest commanding officers for the Louisville Metro Police Department. He is currently a sergeant assigned to the Community Policing Unit. The unit’s primary function is to reduce crime through community engagement and initiatives. Roger is also a certified instructor through the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council. Roger is a graduate of Youngstown State University (Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice) and is currently working on his Master’s in Criminal Justice at the University of The Cumberland's. Roger is not only a police sergeant, he is also a licensed real estate agent for the state of Kentucky. Roger’s passion is in true community policing and bridging the gap between law enforcement and minority members of our community. On the real estate side, Roger enjoys helping members of our community that thought they would never become homeowners and watching them accomplish this goal. Roger is married to a beautiful and talented Registered Nurse, Christiana and a father of three beautiful children!
Paige got to know Free 2 Hope founder Amy Leenerts through her work as an HIV Prevention Specialist and educator after meeting her at a drop in center. From then on Paige stayed in touch with Amy and developed strategies for assisting the client base Free 2 Hope serves. It was a very organic progression for Paige and Amy to get to know each other better and while supporting individual missions in public awareness, identify ways in which Paige could work more directly with Free 2 Hope resulting in a board nomination.
In addition to her work with Free 2 Hope, Paige serves as the Senior Vice President of the Kentuckiana AIDS Alliance; is a member of Team Friendly Louisville; volunteers with the Kentucky Care Coordination Program during their monthly mixer for women living with or affected by HIV and teaches two to three programs per year of Healthy Relationships, the Centers for Disease Controls evidence based course on navigating life with a positive diagnosis and positive outlook.
In her precious free time, Paige hangs out with her dog Rossi (who smells remarkably like Parmesan cheese), plays a wicked game of dominos and makes wonderful soups.
Pamela brings her skills as a social worker to her current role as a Program Specialist with the Free 2 Hope Drop-In Center. Her motto of “putting your hand to what your heart prompts” has led to serving in a variety of social service settings; including, transitional housing for single-parent families with The Salvation Army, the HIV/AIDS and Prenatal clinics at the Pasadena Public Health Department, policy making and resource coordinating for the Louisville Metro Office for International Affairs and following the devastating Caribbean earthquake in 2010 she moved to Haiti to serve as staff support for the Greta Home and Academy with the international relief and development organization Samaritan’s Purse. She has received her Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work from Spalding University and her Masters of Social Work from Azusa Pacific University. Pamela joined the Free 2 Hope team and the Board of Directors in 2015.