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Meet Our Founder

Meet Tomas Lares, the passionate founder of United Abolitionists.

Tomas J. Lares has dedicated over three decades to championing human services, focusing his profound expertise on the fight against human trafficking. His tireless work in the field has not only raised awareness but has also led to substantial policy changes and support systems for survivors of this heinous crime.

Lares began his foray into advocacy in 1990, working with Big Brother Big Sisters in Polk County, Florida. There, he encountered the dark reality of child exploitation, a revelation that would shape his life's mission.

In 2004, Lares’s understanding of human trafficking deepened thanks to former U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, KS. This knowledge spurred him to facilitate one of Central Florida’s first human trafficking seminars in 2005, attracting over 100 attendees and laying the groundwork for future coalitions.

Co-founding the Orlando Rescue and Restore Coalition in 2007, Lares galvanized key stakeholders in the Greater Orlando region, marking the beginning of a partnership with the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation.

Lares’s commitment to advocacy was further demonstrated when he played a pivotal role in the first human trafficking outreach at Super Bowl XLIII in 2009, hosted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In the same year, Lares founded Florida Abolitionist, Inc., now known as United Abolitionists. This organization, under his guidance, networks, facilitates and creates preventative and restorative solutions to eradicate modern-day human slavery.

United Abolitionists, led by Lares, has established a 24-hour Human Trafficking Hotline in Central Florida. He was instrumental in advocating for government funding to support a groundbreaking adult female human trafficking crisis center in Florida.

Tomas Lares led the inaugural Human Trafficking Awareness march in downtown Orlando in 2009, and he has continued to spearhead this annual event, recently marking its 15th year.

In 2013, the Orlando Rescue & Restore Coalition evolved into the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force, Inc. Lares has been a driving force in uniting various groups to combat human trafficking through improved communication, collaboration, and coordinated care.

In 2017, Lares's commitment to social entrepreneurship was recognized when United Abolitionists was selected to participate in the Rally - The Social Enterprise Accelerator. He continued to leverage innovation and education by partnering with the University of Central Florida Rosen College of Hospitality Management to develop anti-human trafficking curriculum and training.

Tomas Lares has been acknowledged as a Community Advocate of the Year, an Orlando Magic Diversity Game Changer, and has received the prestigious Frederick Douglass Award. He is also a proud graduate of the FBI Citizen’s Academy and has been lauded with numerous accolades for his unyielding advocacy.

In recent years, Lares has chaired the Florida Statewide Human Trafficking Legislative Working Group, advocating for policy changes and higher standards in survivor support. His work has led to Florida being the first state to implement adult certification standards for trafficking survivors.

Lares is not only a leader in advocacy but also in education. He has been invited as a guest author for the textbook ‘Human Trafficking A Systemwide Public Safety and Community Approach’, showcasing his expertise to the academic world.

Concrete Help for a Better and Kinder World

Providing Crucial Training to the Front Line

Victims are often abruptly recovered with only the clothes on their backs. For just $75 you can provide a backpack with key essentials like toiletries and clothing for a recovering victim.

First Responders to the Human Trafficking Crisis

Hotline Advocates are ready 24/7 and are the crucial element in the rescue process. For just $150 you can provide emergency services for a person in need.

Coordinated Care for Victims

Comprehensive Care Coordination (i.e. transportation, counseling, food, rehab, safe housing) are examples of victim care. For just $300 you can help UA triage a victim.

Providing Backpacks to Recovered Victims

Experienced training for first responders is critical to effectively identify and report human trafficking in the community. For only $500 you can provide training for 10 first responders!

Each donation is an essential help which improves everyone's life

Your generous contribution ismuch more than a donation; it is a beacon of hope, shining light in the darkest corners where exploitation and slavery lurk.