By Brooke Wilzen, Community Engagement Manager
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with BEST’s newest board member, Kitty Suidman, and learn a little more about her background and the experiences that led her to get involved with BEST.
BW: Tell me a little about your background and how you ended up in Seattle.
KS: My husband and I are both Dutch. I left the Netherlands when I was 5, and while I returned to my native homeland for a short stint for college, I have primarily lived in Japan and Hong Kong for most of my adult life. I also spent 4 years in Curacao and 1 year in Norway.
In 2003 I was offered a position with Motorola, and my husband and I made the move to Chicago. A few years later, in 2010, I was recruited by T-Mobile and moved to Seattle. We have been in Seattle ever since. I am now with Sonos as the Materials and Finishes Director.
BW: What led you to want to get involved with BEST?
KS: When I was first starting out in my career, in my mid 20’s, my design work would take me to several small cities in China. I was one of a few women in a mostly male dominated industry. On these business trips, our Chinese hosts would return our group to the hotel for the night, and then they would invite my male colleagues out for some “entertainment.” That was my first exposure to human trafficking.
I was further shocked and disturbed when I found out human trafficking happens right here in the U.S. as well. What worries me most is where the demand side of this issue is coming from. The buyers of sex are some of our top corporate execs, government officials and people of great influence and power. We live in a highly educated society and what is sad is--that’s where the demand is coming from.
When I first encountered human trafficking, I knew I wanted to help these victims and get these young girls and boys out of this situation. So when I learned about BEST, I knew this was an organization that I had to get involved with.
BW: How do you see businesses stepping up to make a difference, and stopping human trafficking?
KS: I feel that employers today have a responsibility to educate their employees and raise awareness around this issue. I also feel that when companies educate their employees, they are empowering them to feel comfortable and confident enough to take a stand and intervene if they see human trafficking happening. Furthermore, employers are sending a clear message to buyers and potential buyers that this activity will not be tolerated.
In my career I have seen, firsthand, the intersect of business and trafficking. I really believe that businesses have such an important role to play in preventing this crime from happening. I’m so honored to be part of the Board at BEST and help change social perspective around this issue.
Kitty Suidman resides in Seattle with her husband Ben, both whom are dual citizens of US and Netherlands. Kitty’s international upbringing and travels across the world provide a great understanding of cultures and global perspective to the BEST Board. Welcome to BEST, Kitty—we’re so grateful to have you!