Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, recently named the county's "Citizen of the Year," was honored again this week at a Sacramento luncheon with the by the 2015 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award.
O'Malley was one of five Californians presented with Foundation awards to recognize innovative leaders advancing breakthrough solutions to critical issues facing the state.
Her award was for heading an office that leads the state in human trafficking prosecutions.
In 2005, O'Malley created the Human Exploitation and Trafficking (H.E.A.T.) Watch program, the first of its kind in California and the first to operate within a public prosecution office in the U.S.
H.E.A.T. Watch brings prosecutors, investigators and victims' advocates together to address the needs of those who have been exploited, while working to ensure their exploiters are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. A 2012 report from the California Attorney General stated that O'Malley's office has prosecuted 46% of all human trafficking cases in California.
"We need a meaningful and substantive dialogue among law enforcement, public welfare, juvenile justice and other leaders to chart a course for how California's public systems should best handle and care for victims of human trafficking and abuse," O'Malley said.
"By coming together, working collaboratively and providing a comprehensive response, we will save lives and we will be more effective at preventing child sex trafficking, she added.
O'Malley and the other four honored each received $200,000 to advance their work.
"(My office) will use this award as an opportunity to create an Institute devoted to ending the sexual exploitation of children," O'Malley said.
"The Institute will bring together a group of committed leaders from diverse backgrounds that will examine the status of our state's response to human trafficking and create an evidence-based guide for policy makers, elected leaders and communities to adopt in the fight to end human trafficking of children across our state."