Statement of Belief
Our mission is empowering youth impacted by human trafficking and exploitation, equipping community members to recognize and respond to domestic sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children.
We Shall Rise!
Create a community who guides juvenile sex trafficking survivors
on a journey of healing.
-Assist victims as they overcome trauma
-Provide a safe haven to foster growth by reducing shame, increasing self-worth, and restoring self-confidence
-Advocate for victims’ rights
-Promote awareness and education about human trafficking
Phoenix Rising was established to assist those who have experienced sex trafficking and those at a higher risk of experiencing sex trafficking or exploitation. The organization is a nationally recognized 501c3 with the majority of direct services being provided in Kentucky.
The idea for Phoenix Rising, Inc. began over a decade ago when founder Dr. Azurdee Garland began working with at-risk teens from around the United States. Azurdee continuously found herself meeting youth who had been victims of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. Azurdee spent time mentoring, educating, and advocating for trafficking victims.
In 2011, Azurdee began consulting with organizations and state agencies in an effort to teach others how to recognize victims and potential victims. Azurdee worked with programs to educate their staff on domestic sex trafficking, the needs of survivors, and how individuals could make an impact. While researching the motivation needed to work with individuals who have experienced extreme trauma, Azurdee was challenged to develop her own direct service program. Through local leadership, Azurdee was able to meet others who shared her vision of helping victims transition into survivors who thrived in their communities.
At the same time Azurdee was looking for local support, the President of the Broadway UMC chapter of the United Methodist Women, Missy Cunningham was seeking a way to use knowledge gained from reading books and attending a conference about human trafficking. Unbeknownst to both Missy and Azurdee, they were both invited to a picnic where the two would strike up a conversation, which would ultimately change both their lives and impact thousands.
Over the next couple of months, Missy recruited additional support while Azurdee made connections within the anti-trafficking survivor leadership community. The addition of local leadership and survivor leader support paved the way for Phoenix Rising to establish itself as a nonprofit foundation within the commonwealth of Kentucky in the summer of 2015. Seeing the need for an increase in the presence of survivor leadership, Phoenix Rising held its first survivor led Warrior Conference, which proved the organization had merit and could became an official national organization. In 2016, Phoenix Rising, Inc. was deemed a nonprofit foundation and given tax-exempt rights as a 501c3.
Garland is the co-founder and Executive Director of Phoenix Rising, a nonprofit organization serving kids affected by commercial exploitation and human trafficking. Garland leads Phoenix Rising’s various programs and activities designed to educate the community, mentor youth, and demonstrate how healing from extreme trauma is possible.
In addition to Phoenix Rising, Garland has worked various jobs assisting at risk youth, consults with other agencies, and acts as Training and Technical Assistant with the Office for Victims of Crime. In her spare time, Garland enjoys spending time with friends and Kappa Delta Sorority sisters.
Trauma comes in many forms such as trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, child abuse, domestic violence, or witnessing a crime, natural disaster, or terrorist attack. Recognizing the impact of trauma on the human psyche, Garland and her team provide various downloadable resource materials such as workbooks at no cost to the user.
Cunningham is the co-founder of Phoenix Rising, where she assists in the general operation of the foundation, advises the executive director and board of directors on current and future programing, and coordinates major fundraising efforts. Additionally, Cunningham has served on the Wesley at WKU board of directors, church council and trustees committee at Broadway United Methodist Church, as well as served as the ministry leader of the Room in the Inn at Broadway UMC. Professionally, Cunningham has worked in the accounting and administrative assistant field for 30 years.
After years of reaching and personal research, Cunningham felt a need to help those who have experienced such horrors as those seen in human trafficking and exploitation. She believed there was a need for a different kind of program in Kentucky.
After meeting Garland, the two formed a personal and professional bond, which lead to the first Warrior Conference and subsequent establishment of Phoenix Rising Foundation (known as Phoenix Rising, Inc.).
Garland and Cunningham accepted the challenge of creating an organization dedicated to assisting youth affected by sex trafficking and exploitation. The two have worked hand-in-hand to build and grow Phoenix Rising into the organization it is today.
Both recognize the importance of every board member, volunteer, contracted staff, donor and supporter who has provided for us along the way. We thank you and look forward to growing together.
Phoenix Rising's board is made up of members who provide leadership, volunteer their time, and give financially because they are dedicated to seeing an end to trafficking in our world.
Interested in becoming a board member? Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Meeting minutes, financials, and other information available by request.
Copyright © 2023 Phoenix Rising KY - All Rights Reserved.
Phoenix Rising INC. does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression,
age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations.1