Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, and after spending over a decade in Florida, Natasha Nascimento’s diverse life experience cultivated a sensitivity to acknowledge and find ways to serve others in need. After earning her Bachelor of Science Degree in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at the University of South Florida, Natasha worked as a Financial Advisor for an International investment firm in Tampa and has since gone on to pursue her Master’s Degree in Public Administration with the University of Southern California. While her educational background and professional experience have served her well, Natasha’s life passion aims to bring awareness to; and provide resources to victims of Human Trafficking.
Recognizing the local need to develop advocacy on behalf of children without a voice, became a catalyst for Natasha to tackle what has evolved into a modern version of slavery head-‐on. The launch of the foundation, Redefining Refuge in 2010, has since sparked a contagious willingness from participants around the world who contribute to confronting and ultimately preventing Human Trafficking. Natasha’s dream of opening a local Safe House for trafficked youth became a reality in 2012, and was the first and only home of its kind in the Tampa Bay area that provided a therapeutic safe haven for girls that rescued from this depravity. For her work in this sector, Natasha was nominated as a finalist for the WEDU BeMore Awards in the category of BeMore Entrepreneurial and was awarded The Lightning Community Hero by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation. More recently Redefining Refuge has gone on to expand their Specialized Case Management Program that provides intensive services to both boys and girls impacted by Commercial Sexual exploitation.
Since its inception, Redefining Refuge has been featured on ABC Action News, Positively Tampa Bay, Fox News 13 and a WEDU Documentary highlighting the organization’s advocacy efforts as well as the prevalence of Sex Trafficking in Tampa Bay (www.wedu.org/humantrafficking) and was awarded the Spirit of Humanity Award by the DeBartolo Family Foundation. They have since been invited to the State’s Capitol to present both the challenges and successes of providing Safe Housing to Minor Victims of Sex Trafficking to The Florida House of Representatives Healthy Families Subcommittee as well as the Florida Stands Against Human Trafficking Legislative Caucus; and were a featured as a trusted Resource Provider during the respective 2013 and 2015 Statewide Human Trafficking Summit’s at the University of South Florida. Redefining Refuge was invited to Washington, DC to represent the State of Florida during the Shared Hope International JuST Response Congressional Briefing: Mapping State Responses to Sex Trafficked Youth. Natasha is also a Member of The Junior League of Tampa, as well as the University of South Florida’s Women in Leadership and Philanthropy. She proudly serves as a Board Member of Enriching Escapes; a Non-Profit Organization who provides vacations for families of children with Special Needs, as well as The Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay; a Non-Profit Organization that assists in connecting children to forever families.