Who's Who of Professional Women


Susan Norris

Susan Norris is the passionate and respected founder of Rescuing Hope, an organization established in 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia, to eradicate sex trafficking. Its mission is to enlighten the public about sex trafficking in America, educate potential victims and first responders, and empower advocates and survivors. Believing that it takes dedication and cooperation across relevant professions to prevent and address the crime, Ms. Norris, executive director Sean Casey, and their team have built vital local, state, and national partnerships to tackle the problem proactively. They work alongside first responders and bring a victims-centered, trauma-informed approach to be better equipped when initially encountering potential victims.

Applying Ms. Norris’ vision, Rescuing Hope’s focus on prevention targets potential victims that she and her team identify as school-age children in middle school and high school, yet the organization’s direct services are provided expressly to adult survivors of sexual exploitation, not minors. Moreover, Ms. Norris works to support survivors of sex trafficking through sustained relationships with the goal of helping them thrive. To work with survivors individually, Rescuing Hope employs its ally support advocates to establish real relationships with each survivor, helping to create an action plan that can include finding housing, securing employment, and pursuing life goals. In this work, it is important to note that Rescuing Hope refers to the people they serve as survivors rather than victims, because when they exit the life of sex trafficking, they are indeed survivors.

Initially not foreseeing a career in nonprofit administration, Ms. Norris founded Rescuing Hope to fill a need that she saw and could not ignore. As she began serving survivors of sex trafficking, the amount of work that was required grew far beyond one person’s scope and capability, prompting her to start the organization. Her educational foundation, which pointed in a different direction, included earning a Bachelor of Science in child development and family relations at the University of North Carolina Greensboro in 1988. After earning a K-4 teaching certificate, she graduated from the university in 1989 with a Master of Education in early childhood education. Ms. Norris has remained committed to lifelong learning and professional development, becoming a certified public speaker through CLASSeminars, a certified trainer with Georgia POST, a certified victims advocate with the National Organization for Victim Assistance, and a certified National Organization for Victim Advocacy trainer. Before founding Rescuing Hope, she worked in student ministry for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was involved with the Riverstone Church.

Lauded and depended on for her professional knowledge and personal commitments, Ms. Norris was appointed to the GRACE Commission by First Lady of Georgia Marty Kemp, the wife of Governor Brian P. Kemp. The organization’s name stands for Georgians for Refuge, Action, Compassion, and Education. Created to combat the threat of human trafficking in Georgia, the GRACE Commission unites public officials, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, religious institutions, subject matter experts, and law enforcement officials to seek justice for victims and hold perpetrators accountable. In addition to her involvement in the GRACE Commission, Ms. Norris has been a partner member of the Georgia State Human Trafficking Task Force since 2016. For her devotion to the cause and excellence in nonprofit administration, she was named Nonprofit Leader of the Year by the Whatever Girls Empowering Women of the Year Awards in 2021. She was also the recipient of the Mercedes-Benz Greatness Lives Here award in 2020.

Exclusively focused on fighting the issue of sexual exploitation, even creatively, in 2013, Ms. Norris authored “Rescuing Hope: A Story of Sex Trafficking in America,” the story of a young victim of sex trafficking, in parallel to her role at Rescuing Hope, where she puts her prowess into practice by identifying areas of focus and developing organizational strategies. Day-to-day, Ms. Norris leads staff meetings, shares best practices with colleagues across the nation, and collaborates with organizations throughout Georgia that seek to offer resources. She attributes her achievements to recognizing expertise in others and maintaining a commitment to growth and development. Notably, she credits her faith with giving her the strength and resilience to persevere through setbacks and obstacles.

Among her many achievements, Ms. Norris is proudest of helping survivors of sex trafficking achieve self-sufficiency and financial independence. She maintains long-standing bonds with many of the individuals she has assisted and hopes to develop a sustainable model to offer living-wage employment opportunities to those in need across the country. Further, Ms. Norris advocates for educating students in school about the dangers of sex trafficking and credits the hardworking members of her team with Rescuing Hope’s success. She feels incredibly fortunate to work with formidable and devout colleagues on such a dire issue facing American society.


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