In 2003, while on holiday in Europe, Deborah Sigmund first heard the phrase “human trafficking.” She had no idea what this was. When the issue was explained to her, she was horrified that buying and selling children is actually a huge business. In fact, it is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world today, producing over $150 billion annually. Every day, young women and children are being bought and sold, used and tortured. As a mother, she felt something had to be done.
To learn more about the issue, she talked to the non-profit organizations such as The Protection Project, Save the Children, and Vital Voices. In addition, she went to the United Nations to hear what was being done and met with Ricky Martin and his Ricky Martin Foundation. Knowing of her dedication to the issue, Deborah flew to Stockholm to meet with Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden (photographed above with Mrs. Sigmund), who had been working on this issue since 1996. The belief they all shared was that combating trafficking had to become a major global effort and together they could become a stronger voice.
From the U.S. Department of State, Mrs. Sigmund learned that there is a tremendous need to create awareness. When she talked to her circle of friends, they agreed to help. As a result, Innocents at Risk was formed and became a 501(c)(3) in 2005.
“To see but not to see,
To see but to deny,
To see but not to act is a crime against a child.
You can all do something.
You can make a difference.
Save a child.”
- Queen Silvia of Sweden
Deborah Stark Sigmund
Mrs. Deborah Sigmund is the Founder and Director of Innocents at Risk, a non-profit, established in April 2005, to help stop the trafficking of women and children. The United States Department of State has endorsed the organization’s efforts on behalf of the three million women and children who are trafficked annually worldwide. She speaks regularly across the U.S. to organizations of the need to keep our children safe.
In 2013, Deborah received the D.C. Metropolitan Area Mother of the Year Award from American Mothers,the Organization established in 1935 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to recognize Mothers of the highest achievements in their state.
In April of 2010 Deborah received the annual Making a Difference Award from the Soroptomist International – Alexandria Chapter. In May of 2010 Deborah received the Ruby Award from the Soroptomist International – U.S. Chapter, in recognition of her outstanding work to improve the lives of women.
Prior to becoming the full-time Executive Director of Innocents at Risk, Mrs. Sigmund was President of the CMW Group, an international consulting firm specializing in Latin America. She continues to serve on the board of the U.S. Mexico Chamber of Commerce.
Along with her professional accomplishments, Mrs. Sigmund is well-known in the Washington area for her work on behalf of charitable organizations such as The Washington Ballet, Knock Out Abuse, Second Genesis and Arts for the Aging. Mrs. Sigmund has held leadership positions in several prominent charitable organizations. She was on the Golden Circle for the Kennedy Center for the Arts from 1993-2005. She is currently on the boards of: The Washington Ballet and Second Genesis. She is active in activities at her church, Christ Episcopal Church of Georgetown, and is a member of the Capitol Speakers Club, The Georgetown Club, The National Press Club and has been accepted as a new 2010 member of Leadership of Greater Washington.
Recently widowed, Deborah Sigmund was married to Donald W. Sigmund for 25 years. She is mother of five children and has four grandchildren.