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.
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.
Communications & Development Associate Director
Sarah learned about modern day slavery in middle school and has sought out ways to advocate for justice ever since. After studying music and business administration at Belmont University, she moved to New York City to work for The Navigators. She believes there is value and beauty in the transformation of one life. Alongside her ministry to college students in the Mid-Atlantic, Sarah loves connecting more people to the mission of Freedom Firm.
"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."
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.
"Freedom Firm believes in the intrinsic value of every girl in India, especially those disregarded. Through tireless effort, one-on-one support, they work to elevate the lives of those needfully rescued from ruinous trafficking...one girl at a time...with no effort being too large."
Gaye has had an enriching career in rehabilitation service as a physical therapist. Her deepest joys and laughter have sprung from raising two cherished daughters. Her life is a continual reformation only by God’s grace and mercy.
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.
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.
"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."
"Fighting oppression to restore identity and hope is always worth the effort. I believe in Freedom Firm’s combined approach of rescue, justice and restoration done in partnership with locals to create a real chance for long term change."
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.
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.
"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.
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.