January 14: Maria Odom, Ombudsman, CIS, DHS & Chair, DHS Blue Campaign


Join us for lunch with

Maria M. Odom
Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman
Chair, DHS Blue Campaign

Becky McDonald
Women at Risk

Louise Babirak
Author, Shadow Children


Maria M. Odom serves as Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Our luncheon will recognize Human Trafficking Prevention Month with the Chairwoman of the DHS Blue Campaign, and the Founder of Women at Risk International.

Human trafficking is occurring in our back yard, right now.  In 2014, more than 5,000 incidents of potential human trafficking were reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, and almost 700 calls into the center’s hotline came from within Virginia.   DHS is deeply involved in this problem. For example, ICE helped almost 400 victims of human trafficking and made more than 1,400 arrests in 2015, and the DHS Blue Campaign continues to spread awareness and training across the nation. January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, so it’s appropriate that our monthly luncheon speaker will address this issue.  Maria Odom is the Chair of the Blue Campaign, the Department’s unified efforts to combat human trafficking. She also serves as Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman for the Department of Homeland Security, and leads that office.  As a bonus, she will be joined by one of the foremost NGO leaders to tackle this problem directly, on an international scale.  Becky McDonald is the founder of Women at Risk International (WAR), which works in all 50 states and in 40 countries, helping to get children and women out of brothels and into her safe houses where they can learn skills to support themselves.  As a 2nd bonus, author Louise Babirak (author of Shadow Children, about child sex trafficking), will be available to discuss (and sell) her book. 

About Maria Odom
Maria Odom leads the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman. The Ombudsman’s Office is dedicated to improving the quality of citizenship and immigration services delivered to the public by providing individual case assistance, as well as making recommendations to improve the administration of immigration benefits.

To carry out this mission, Odom works with community leaders and immigration professionals across the country to understand current issues and explore solutions to problems faced by individuals and employers seeking citizenship or immigration services.  Under her leadership, the Ombudsman’s Office serves as a visible, accessible and reliable resource to the community.

Odom came to the Department as a legal expert with a wide range of immigration experience in the government, private and charitable sectors.  Most recently, Odom led the country’s largest network of charitable legal immigration programs as the Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC).  Odom practiced immigration law in the southeast for many years, leading a successful private practice dealing with defense from removal along with business and family-based immigration.  Early in her career, Odom also served as Assistant District Counsel for the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service and as a judicial law clerk at the Executive Office for Immigration Review.

Odom also serves as the appointed Chair of the DHS Blue Campaign, the Department’s unified effort to combat human trafficking. In collaboration with law enforcement, government, and non-governmental partners, the Blue Campaign works to educate the public about how traffickers operate, where help is available to victims, and the importance of a victim-centered approach to combatting human trafficking.

Odom is a graduate of The Florida State University College of Criminology and the Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law.  In 2010, Odom was honored with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by the College of New Rochelle in New York.

Last Published Date: September 22, 2015