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Staff Team

Leah Henck

Leah completed her MBA from Regent University in December 2008 and joined her husband in India in January 2009. Together they spent the next 7 years serving with the Freedom Firm team in Pune. During this time, Leah and Mala worked together to found Ruhamah Designs, a business dedicated to providing rescued women a healthy, sustainable livelihood. Upon returning to the U.S., Leah turned her focus to running after three active, beautiful children. Through unexpected events, Leah rejoined the work of Freedom Firm USA, first as treasurer and now as President. Today she finds incredible joy in the privilege to stand as one of a team, reaching out hands of hope and healing to girls forgotten and abused.  

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Anne-Nicole Dean

Grants Coordinator

Anne learned about Freedom Firm in 2007 while she was working at an equine therapy program. In 2008, she spent 3 months sharing her skills with rescued girls at the aftercare program in Ooty. That experience led her to return to India and continue assisting with the program from 2009 to 2011. After moving back to the United States, Anne continued to follow the work of Freedom Firm and currently serves as a board member and grant writer. Anne joined Freedom Firm's work to offer support and hope to girls who have endured such compounded difficulties and abuse. It has been her joy to see many of their lives changing for the better over the years. 

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Esther Varghese

Communications & Development Associate

Esther volunteered at Freedom Firm's first restoration home in Ooty, India shortly after the organization launched in 2006. Working closely with survivors was an unforgettable experience. Esther moved to the USA for college, but followed the work of Freedom Firm from afar. Over the years, she completed a B.A. in English Literature, married, had four children, and launched two small businesses. She was overjoyed when the USA team invited her to utilize the skills she had acquired over time, and reconnect to the work in India. Esther loves to invite others to witness the courage and tenacity of each survivor, to listen to their stories, and to join their fight for justice for the horrors they have endured.


Tabitha Pinckney

Awareness Coordinator

Tabitha has been passionate about the complex issue of human trafficking ever since learning about it.  After coming face to face with these girls and women on multiple continents she had found their stories impossible to forget. In 2018 she connected more deeply with the work of Freedom Firm through helping lead a team to India to host a Freedom Camp. Five years later in a season of being tied more closely to home with two active little boys she was delighted to come on staff and have the privilege to continue this work. She remains in awe of the hope and strength of these girls and the restoration that is possible in their lives.

Board Members
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Roger Rumer


"My wife and I have been blessed with two daughters; when Mala and Greg Malstead visited our church in 2011, I was motivated to serve Freedom Firm when I realized that 'there but for the grace of God' they could have been in need of rescue."

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Bethany Lueers

After graduating with a business degree from the University of Maryland in 2018, Bethany was compelled to spend time solo traveling around the world and learning about some of the world’s greatest needs. Her time in Kolkata opened her eyes to the horrific reality that so many young girls face. Realizing that sex trafficking young innocent girls is one of the greatest injustices of our world today, she was inspired to make a difference in any way possible. Bethany is excited to join the board of Freedom Firm and prays that God will use her to help advance the mission of Freedom Firm.


Raghu Velaga

In 2007, Raghu heard about Freedom Firm's mission and work in India. This introduction gave him a deep compassion for survivors of modern day slavery. Since then, Raghu has been an advocate of Freedom Firm, helping host events and volunteering in a variety of ways. Raghu also became an integral part of the justice ministries at his church to support local and international anti-trafficking organizations.

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Greg Malstead

Board Member Ex Oficio

Greg, an attorney, established IJM’s first overseas office in Mumbai in 2000. He assisted in the prosecution of more than 180 perpetrators and successfully attained convictions in 6 groundbreaking cases. After serving with IJM for five years, the Malsteads were eager to engage in the restoration of the girls in a deeper way. The Malsteads founded Freedom Firm in Ooty, Tamil Nadu in 2006. Together they pioneered anti-trafficking work across India, working to bring restoration to countless victims and strengthening legal systems to fight exploitation.

They now live in rural Kentucky and continue to actively support Freedom Firm USA.

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Evan Henck
Vice President

"Freedom Firm's work is so real, tangible and necessary. Once you have seen these girls faces and seen them go from bondage to freedom, it is hard to imagine not trying to help." 


Evan and Leah met at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia where they studied law and business respectively before serving with Freedom Firm in India for 7 years. Evan managed the field work in Maharashtra while Leah co-founded Ruhamah Designs, a jewelry making micro-enterprise for rescued women. Evan is currently the Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney in Grayson County, Virginia. 

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Margie Gardner

"I joined the Freedom Firm board because I believe in fighting for the marginalized. God has called us to rescue us the weak and needy; to deliver them from the hand of the wicked (Ps 82:3-4). The young women that have fallen into sex trafficking desperately needs our help!


First and foremost, I am a child of God and a Jesus follower. I have an amazing husband, Jack, two children and four beautiful grandchildren. For the past 20+ years, I have worked for non-profit organizations. I am currently employed at Grace Church in Fayetteville, GA. As the director of operations for Grace, I serve on the church leadership team, oversee all church operations and streamlining processes for the ministry teams."


Brian R

Brian and Erica have always had a heart for the marginalized. After helping families adopt children from China, they adopted a son from India. They spent many years in outreach to college students and built friendships with many Indians. During this time they became familiar with Freedom Firm and have supported the work and ministry of loving the broken through practical help and walking alongside those in need.

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Amy Swanson

Amy brings to the board a wealth of experience in education and ministry in cross-cultural settings, following more than 25 years of teaching in secondary schools both in the US and abroad.  Amy has also been involved with anti-trafficking organizations for over 15 years. 

She and her husband volunteered with Freedom Firm in India over 11 years ago.  Ever since, Amy has continued to support Freedom Firm because of her sincere desire to see God's redemptive love and justice restore hope and joy to each precious girl that is rescued. 

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Mala Malstead

Board Member Ex Oficio

Mala Malstead, an American, was born in Kolkata, India in 1970. She spent her first three years in Kolkata and then aboard Operation Mobilization's ocean-going ship. Living and attending school aboard the Logos, Mala experienced over 40 different countries before she turned 10 years old. The family moved to the US in 1980. When she was eighteen, Mala first heard about child sex-trafficking as a senior in highshool (1988). An Indian friend of the family who worked with women in the red-light district in Kolkata, told her about young girls who were sold and forced into sexual slavery. Deeply concerned about this injustice, she vowed to work in India after finishing college.

Meet the Founders

Today, Freedom Firm has a total of 6 regional offices spread across India. These are established in the nation's most needy states and regions where trafficking is a major industry. The teams often travel within a 500 mile radius of their office to search for and rescue girls, and to follow up with rescued girls. As part of Freedom Firm's regional aftercare program, social workers regularly visit the girls who live in government shelter homes,  providing counseling, health care, education and job training.

In Ooty, Mala, together with professional staff, developed a residential home that cared for rescued girls for the next five years. She also created Leg Up, a unique horse therapy program that taught the rescued girls to overcome fears and learn to care for others.  In 2010, Freedom Firm transitioned from offering residential care to providing employment opportunities through Ruhamah Designs, a handicraft business created by Freedom Firm in Ooty.

Freedom Camps are one unique part of our restoration program. Each camp provides 25 girls with a whole week in the wilderness that combines learning, overcoming fears and having fun through a myriad of methods, stories, crafts, games, and activities. For most, it’s the only camp they will ever attend, and for many, the camp is life-changing.

Since 2006, Freedom Firm has rescued over 815 young women from commercial sexual exploitation. The hundreds of life interventions provided opportunities in moments of need:  births, deaths, marriages, illnesses, conflicts, jobs, adoptions, education, friendships, therapy, money, food, shelter, sound advice, child care, and prayer, simply cannot be counted. Freedom Firm doesn't just rescue a girl, they walk with her for life.


Greg and Mala Malstead moved their young family to Mumbai, India in 2000 to work with an anti-trafficking organization. Compelled by a unique calling that combined God's heart for justice and His love for the oppressed, their dream was to rescue young girls from forced prostitution and bring systemic change to the sex-trafficking industry in India. During their five years in Mumbai, they also saw vast areas of India that no other NGO had explored. They wanted to bring rescue to the thousands of girls still held captive in sexual slavery.

In 2006, the Malsteads founded Freedom Firm in Ooty, Tamil Nadu. Freedom Firm’s investigative team was soon on the ground rescuing minor girls. The very first girl they rescued was Karishma, age 12. Soon Freedom Firm started regional offices in Pune and Nagpur, each with its own team of investigators, social workers, and police liaisons managing the rescues, regional aftercare and legal work in cities and surrounding areas populated by tens of millions of people. 

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