Tomas J. Lares is the Founder/President of United Abolitionists, formerly Florida Abolitionist, Inc. and the Co-founder/Chairman of the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force, Inc.
Lares has 28 years of human services experience at the local, state and national level, managing and starting non-profit and public advocacy initiatives. In 2004, Lares became aware of the crime of human trafficking by U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, KS. In 2005, he was instrumental in facilitating one of the first human trafficking seminars in Central FL where over 100 individuals and stakeholders attended.
In 2007, Lares cofounded the Orlando Rescue and Restore Coalition to network key stakeholders in the Greater Orlando region. In 2009, Lares founded a non-profit called Florida Abolitionist, Inc. as an anti-human trafficking organization that networks, facilitates, and creates preventative and restorative solutions to ending modern-day slavery. Lares has been instrumental in creating a 24-hour Human Trafficking Hotline in Central FL and for advocating Orange County Government to fund a first-of-its-kind adult female human trafficking crisis/short-term, 24-hour facility in the state of Florida.
In January of 2009, Lares led the first Human Trafficking Awareness march in downtown Orlando and is preparing to celebrate the 11th Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day this January 2019. In 2013, Lares cofounded the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force, Inc. whose mission is to combat all aspects of human trafficking in the Greater Orlando area through collaboration and partnerships with key stakeholders. Recently, Lares cofounded the Central Florida Alliance on Human Trafficking which includes 12 counties in Central FL working together to fight human trafficking through communication, collaboration, and care coordination. Lares has an undergraduate degree in Psychology, Bible, a minor in World Missions and has pursued graduate studies in the MSW program at the University of Central Florida.
Lares is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Citizen’s Academy, was nominated as a finalist for the Orlando Sentinel ‘Central Floridian of the Year Award,’ was chosen for the Orange County Bar Association 2015 Liberty Bell award, shared a chapter with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in ‘Doing Good GREAT’ by Scott George, received a certification of appreciation in 2016 by former State Attorney, Jeff Ashton, State of Florida, Ninth Judicial Circuit, for being an advocate for funding earmarked for human trafficking. In July of 2017, Lares was invited for a Senate Committee hearing on human trafficking in Washington, D.C., and is the most referenced contributor in the Valencia College and University of Central Florida newly released textbook, ‘Human Trafficking: A Systemwide Public Safety and Community Approach.’ Recently, Lares was named Advocate of the Year 2017 at the Change Everything Awards and appointed to the Advisory Board to the University of Central Florida’s Center for the Study of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery.