Whitney Anderson honored for work with human trafficking victims


“This is an answered prayer – a deep soul longing fulfilled. It is medicine to me.” – 2024 Chickasaw Nation Dynamic Woman of the Year Whitney Anderson

Whitney Anderson was named 2024 Chickasaw Nation Dynamic Woman of the Year during the annual Dynamic Women of the Chickasaw Nation Conference conducted May 30-31 at WinStar Resort and Convention Center.

“As a historically matrilineal tribe, Chickasaw women have had important roles throughout our history, and we have long valued their strength, wisdom, leadership and skill sets,” said Chickasaw Nation Lt. Governor Chris Anoatubby. “This esteemed award pays tribute annually to a Chickasaw woman who has inspired, given hope or opened new possibilities or opportunities for others through her example.”

Anderson, a Chickasaw citizen from Oklahoma City, has dedicated her life and career to victim advocacy and support.

“As a leader in her field, Whitney’s work helps to establish the support needed for victim recovery and a better future for Oklahoma,” Lt. Governor Anoatubby said.

For more than a decade, Anderson has been at the forefront of pioneering human trafficking victim services in Oklahoma. In this trailblazing role, she led the establishment of crucial services that were previously nonexistent in Oklahoma, ensuring that survivors of human trafficking have access to lifesaving and life-changing resources.

Co-founder and executive director of the Dragonfly Home and founder of Sisters Rising Consulting, Anderson proudly embraces her Chickasaw heritage, deriving strength and inspiration from her ancestral roots. She takes pride in upholding the legacy passed down by her ancestors.

An emotional Anderson humbly accepted the award.

“This award signifies that the work I've done in the field of anti-human trafficking is seen and valued, and it matters, but it’s more than that,” Anderson said, adding she has had the tremendous privilege of receiving various awards and recognition in the past, but receiving the Dynamic Woman of the Year Award is a pinnacle achievement.

“This award resonates on a much deeper level. It means that my community is proud, my people are proud, my ancestors, my tribe. This is an answered prayer – a deep soul longing fulfilled. It is medicine to me.”

Anderson said accepting the award while surrounded by relatives, sisters and a room filled with dynamic women was gratifying.

“I'm thankful to be Chickasaw, to have roots grounded in this beautiful culture and community, to have leaders who are invested in empowering women, and I am grateful to be surrounded by such passionate citizens and passionate women,” she said.

Anderson reflected on her human trafficking advocacy journey and her reason for working in the field.

“Traffickers exploit people in vulnerable situations, preying on those in poverty, experiencing food insecurity, homelessness and often unaddressed childhood and other trauma for their financial gain,” she said.

Many human trafficking survivors share eerily similar stories. They come from families with extensive generational trauma and suffered sexual, physical or emotional abuse, and became victims of sexual and domestic violence before being trafficked, she said.

“I realized that much of their stories mirrored my own. Like many of you, I am a survivor of generational trauma and its effects. And it finally dawned on me that I was passionate about this issue because these survivors’ experiences deeply resonated with my own. I was drawn and called to human trafficking work and had a profound drive to meet people where they were with compassion, without shame or without judgment.”

Part of Anderson’s passion stems from her need for these things in her personal journey, she said.

“I’ve experienced and carried the weight of the devastating effects of colonization, trauma, abuse and violence. But I also carry the resilience of my ancestors. Stubborn tenacity, a nurturing spirit, a deep resolve and great courage. This is what blood memory is,” Anderson said.

“My heart for justice isn't just my own. It is that of my ancestors. I am literally wired to be a survivor and a warrior. In my work, we bear witness to great suffering, but we also have the honor of witnessing miracles of healing, freedom and redemption, and I am profoundly grateful for that. I am grateful to the creator who planted this calling in my soul, who has loved me, guided me, healed me extravagantly and provided for me abundantly.”

Anderson thanked her husband and daughter, all the women who mentored and encouraged her, as well as her team.

In 2016, Anderson played a pivotal role in establishing Oklahoma’s first human trafficking crisis center, the Dragonfly Home. The nonprofit has since opened its doors as Oklahoma’s first ever transition house aiding trafficking victims.

Through her work with the Dragonfly Home and Sisters Rising Consulting, Anderson strives to address the specific challenges First American women face, weaving her cultural identity into the fabric of her advocacy.

As a subject matter expert and trainer, Anderson has been instrumental in educating professionals across a spectrum of fields. Her training initiatives extend to a diverse array of professions, including law enforcement, health care, social service and more. Through these programs, she has empowered thousands with the knowledge and skills to recognize and address human trafficking within their respective professions. During the past decade, Anderson has showcased her expertise by presenting on the subject at national, state and tribal conferences.

Her impactful efforts were also acknowledged in 2019 when she was honored among The Journal Record’s 50 Making a Difference and the Oklahoma Gazette’s Forty Under 40.

Recently, Anderson was appointed to the Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Advisory Board, where she assists in shaping systemic change.

As a leader in her field, Anderson’s work helps to establish the support needed for victim recovery and a better future for Oklahoma.

“We appreciate her dedication and service, and we honor Whitney Anderson as the 2024 Chickasaw Nation Dynamic Woman of the Year,” Lt. Governor Anoatubby said.

Dynamic Woman of the Year Award

The Chickasaw Nation Dynamic Woman of the Year Award honors Chickasaw women who have made significant contributions to the tribe, serve as role models to other Chickasaw women and have made a difference in the lives of Chickasaws and other citizens, enriching their communities and society at large.

The Dynamic Woman of the Year Award was established in 2006. Anderson is the 19th Chickasaw woman to be honored with this special designation.