Our mission is to build skills and knowledge with teens who have real life experiences with the sex trades, street economies and the streets on their rights, options, and healing so they can take power in their own lives and communities.
Represent started as a weekly leadership group in January 2013 for teens with life experience in the sex trades created and facilitated by Claudine O’Leary. The group is a space for youth to support peers, unpack experiences in the sex trade and work on small projects together. The work of Represent grew in April 2013 through another weekly group for girls detained at the Milwaukee County Youth Detention Center. This group evolved through girls’ feedback and group process to be called Real Talk and Sharing Real Life Skills and Knowledge. Through these two leadership development groups, many more harm reduction groups, individual support for teens and systems advocacy, Represent has grown and impacted hundreds of teens in the Milwaukee area.
We decided after five years to turn Represent into a recognized nonprofit and received our 501 (c) 3 status as of January 2018.
We are all volunteers. All of our funding is from individual supporters in the community.
Our director is Claudine O’Leary. Claudine has been working with teens in the sex trades and street economies since 1991. She is an independent consultant and provides technical assistance to many programs on improving their response to teens and adults who trade sex for money through Rethink Resources. Claudine was the first director and co-founder of the Young Women’s Empowerment Project which grew into a member based social justice organizing project led by and for young people of color who have current or former experience in the sex trade and street economies.