TIP Award Year:
Sister Imelda Poole’s leadership in the fight against human trafficking extends far beyond her own work to inspire others. A force of nature, she has prioritized achieving systemic change through grassroots action and effective networking. At the local and regional levels, she is persistent in advancing advocacy, outreach, and rehabilitation services to combat human trafficking.
Poole is a member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Mary Ward) congregation and serves as president of the Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation (RENATE), a network of European women religious from 21 countries combating human trafficking. She has traveled throughout Europe, mentoring and training others and becoming a leading spokesperson for anti-trafficking initiatives in Europe.
Always discerning the needs of the moment, Poole adapts to meet new challenges. When her ministry moved to Albania in 2005, she quickly established the anti-trafficking NGO Mary Ward Loreto (MWL) in Albania. Under Poole’s strategic direction, MWL addresses the root causes of human trafficking, focusing on communities where Roma, migrants, women, and children are most vulnerable. Poole and her staff have worked with more than 3,000 women. They have set up 16 economic empowerment businesses throughout Albania, which aim to decrease women’s risk of exploitation by providing opportunities to participate in entrepreneurial projects in tourism, design, and education, among others. In the past year, the MWL team has fervently worked to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and families in Albania affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to human trafficking.
Because of her passion for the cause to which she has committed her life, Poole works across borders to cultivate support for combating human trafficking and protecting vulnerable communities.