Held by ECPAT-USA, the Freedom Awards bring together a highly selective group of 200 luminaries in the corporate, philanthropic, government, and media communities in support of ECPAT-USA’s vital work to ensure no child is bought or sold. The highlight of the evening is the recognition of the world’s most remarkable individuals for their contributions in ending child trafficking.
Hilton Area Director of Safety and Security
As the Hilton Area Director of Safety and Security, Anthony Spagnuolo oversees more than 20 different hotel properties across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. He and his team of 38 safety and security professionals are charged with keeping thousands of guests and associates safe every single day, and Spagnuolo has organized countless trainings for staff on security issues - including how to identify and best respond to instances of suspected trafficking.
Spagnuolo first became aware of human trafficking as an issue that could affect guests and team members during a special training session held in anticipation of New Jersey and New York hosting the Super Bowl in 2014. That program, he said, really opened his eyes to the topic, and he is proud of how Hilton embraced the issue and has worked to fight trafficking across all its properties.
Since then, Spagnuolo has ensured that anti-trafficking information has been incorporated into team member trainings and tailored each training to the specific department, so that each associate is receiving the most relevant information about how to identify instances of trafficking for his or her department. Additionally, when New York, Connecticut and New Jersey issued new regulations for postings and trainings at hotels, Spagnuolo spearheaded Hilton’s compliance efforts and led trainings at five properties and organized trainings at 15 more. Spagnuolo’s efforts mean that signage about human trafficking now appears in all of the Hilton properties that he oversees.
Spagnuolo said he has seen team members acting on the knowledge they gained during these trainings to keep guests and fellow associates safe through recognizing a situation as suspicious and reporting it to it to him or one of his team members.
“We really need to rely on all our team members to be our eyes and ears,” he said.
Whether the reports result in police action or a definitive conclusion that an incident was a case of trafficking, Spagnuolo says are the wrong things on which to focus. To him, an individual being aware enough to make the initial report is an accomplishment.
“People coming up to you and reporting situations, those are our success stories,” Spagnuolo said. “We may not find out exactly what happened, but we did our part.”