How We Started
The Exodus Road was begun through the journey and work of co-founders Matt and Laura Parker. Moving to Asia with their family in April 2010, Matt and Laura initially directed a children’s home for hill-tribe girls in rural Northern Thailand. One year later and after stepping away from his role at the children’s home, Matt began networking within the counter-trafficking community of NGO’s in the area, specifically in the area of intervention. He eventually began working with local police to identify victims of trafficking and began to see firsthand the deficiencies of intervention efforts due to a lack of funding, collaboration, training, and equipment. After building relationships for nearly two years with both the government and local NGO’s and through his own investigative work into over 250 brothels, he and Laura began The Exodus Road in January 2012. The bedrock ideas were that: ordinary people can make a difference in modern abolition, nationals should be empowered to impact their own communities, collaboration is essential for freedom, innovation and strategy are components of effectiveness, and rescues with local police and resulting legal action are critical to making human trafficking more dangerous for criminals.
Although the nonprofit is not religiously affiliated, they chose the name “The Exodus Road” based on the biblical concept of the Israelite exodus from slavery, the time when the people came out of bondage under Egyptian rule. They included the term “road” to symbolize the practical nature of the organization’s work to move beyond theory into action, past developing concept and into actual steps of movement along freedom’s path.
In the summer of 2013, Matt and Laura moved back to Woodland Park, CO, where they continued on personal support in the hopes of raising funds to empower the work of 15 investigators they had personally worked alongside and who needed funding and covert gear. They worked from their kitchen table with two laptops and knew if something didn’t break in the first three months, they’d need return to “regular” jobs. They received their first official grant in the fall of 2013 from a private foundation and opened an office above a tire shop in the small town of Woodland Park, CO. The work and vision of The Exodus Road grew quickly.
In the summer of 2014 Matt and Laura moved back to SE Asia to oversee the headquarters field office in Asia. The Exodus Road stateside office moved to Colorado Springs, where it remains today, under the management of VP of Global Ops, Kevin Campbell. Despite wearing many hats, a necessity for any start-up nonprofit, Matt currently serves as the CEO and Laura is the Sr. VP, as well as the VP of the Communications and Advancement Departments.
Matt and Laura have since been joined by a tribe of committed staff and volunteers active on three continents, and they continue to be honored to help empower such courageous and persevering work on behalf of freedom.