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COM alumna receives 2013 Pathbreaker Award

An estimated 100,000 American children are exploited through sex trafficking every year in the United States. To recognize a national leader in the fight to end sex trafficking, Shared Hope International will present one of its three 2013 Pathbreaker Awards to Husch Blackwell Partner Cynthia L. Cordes (’01) . Cordes recently joined the firm’s Government Compliance, Investigations & Litigation team and is based in Kansas City, Mo. She has prosecuted more human trafficking cases than any assistant U.S. attorney in the country.

Cynthia Cordes ('01)

Cynthia Cordes ('01)

The fourth annual Sharing the Hope Gala and Pathbreaker Award ceremony is being held Nov. 8, 2013, at the historic Sphinx Ballroom at Franklin Square in Washington, D.C. It is the culmination of the three-day Sharing the Hope Conference, attended by 600 people representing current and former members of Congress, law enforcement agencies, private businesses and victim-service providers, such as medical providers, shelters and other non-profit agencies. Cordes will serve as a keynote speaker at the conference.

Throughout the past decade as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, Cordes’ pioneering work involved some of the most complex and contested criminal litigation cases in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice. She is well known for her innovative techniques and aggressive prosecutions, which have garnered bipartisan praise before the U.S. Congress. Among her groundbreaking achievements, Cordes was:

  • The first federal prosecutor in the United States to use the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to prosecute the customers of sex trafficking victims.
  • The first federal prosecutor in America to charge an international trafficking enterprise with the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
  • The first to prosecute the newly enacted fraud-in-foreign-labor contracting statute.
  • The first assistant U.S. attorney to prosecute a mother with trafficking her own child.

Cordes continues to serve as a national icon in the battle against human trafficking. As a part of her work at Husch Blackwell, Cordes partnered with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas City to represent — on a pro bono basis — the international victims of human trafficking for their immigration needs. Additionally, Cordes continues to provide training to law enforcement agencies and companies on the subjects of human trafficking and labor and immigration compliance issues.

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