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Martina Vandenberg

Founder and President, The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center

United States

Martina E. Vandenberg is the founder and president of The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center.  Vandenberg established the Center in 2012 with generous support from the Open Society Foundations (OSF) Fellowship Program.  Prior to becoming an OSF Fellow, Vandenberg served as a partner at Jenner & Block LLP, where she focused on complex commercial litigation and internal investigations under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  She served as a senior member of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee.

Vandenberg has spent nearly two decades fighting human trafficking, forced labor, rape as a war crime, and violence against women. Vandenberg has represented victims of human trafficking pro bono in immigration, criminal, and civil cases. She has testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, the Helsinki Commission, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the House Armed Services Committee on an array of human rights issues.

A former Human Rights Watch researcher, Vandenberg spearheaded investigations into human rights violations in the Russian Federation, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Uzbekistan, Kosovo, Israel, and Ukraine, and authored the first published report documenting human trafficking in Israel. She is the author of two Human Rights Watch reports, “Hopes Betrayed: Trafficking of Women and Girls to Post-Conflict Bosnia & Herzegovina for Forced Prostitution,” and “Kosovo: Rape as a Weapon of ‘Ethnic Cleansing.’”

While living in the Russian Federation in the 1990s, she co-founded Syostri, one of Russia’s first rape crisis centers for women.


Vandenberg has received multiple awards for her leadership against human trafficking.  In 2012, the Freedom Network USA presented Vandenberg with the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Award for her “outstanding leadership and dedication in working to combat human trafficking and slavery in the United States.” In 2013, she received the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation’s Stevens Award for outstanding service in public interest law.  She also received Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Pro Bono Award for her successful representation of trafficking victims in United States federal courts and her advocacy before Congress.

A Rhodes Scholar and Truman Scholar, Vandenberg has taught as an adjunct faculty member at the American University Washington College of Law.