About Us, Our Courses, and Our Mission
Nice to meet you! Let’s learn and change the world!
Austin and Chicago, interactive and academia
People in the movement to end slavery seem to share an intense, internal drive to make a difference. Somehow they became aware of the reality that slavery has never been eradicated. They acknowledge and recognize that many of the goods they consume generate profit through slave labor. It’s a disgusting reality.
And too many people try to ignore it or pretend it’s not real.
We found each other because wanted to find effective ways to teach about trafficking that are impactful, measurable, and can be scalable worldwide. Combining our skills toward that shared goal has powered our courses (and consumed us) since 2021.
PBJ Learning is the culmination of our lives’ work. We really believe the basic skills our courses provide are absolutely bare minimum knowledge people need to survive in a society.
Thank you for being here, no matter how you found us!
Billy Joe and Dave
Billy Joe has spent 30 years in the interactive space, creating award-winning games, simulations, educational programs, and “gamified” training products. He has launched a new EA Sports franchise, built products for Nickelodeon, delivered a flight simulator for the United States Air Force, and created and maintained online educational programs to improve critical thinking, math, and vocabulary skills. Now, his mission is to prevent human trafficking.
Billy Joe has been building educational products to fight trafficking since 2017, because his children were being groomed by a sex predator, whom he had known as a friend for years.
For his nonprofit, Radical Empathy Education Foundation, he developed an immersive Virtual Reality (VR) experience which, in 15 minutes, demonstrates how anyone could be psychologically manipulated into becoming a victim of human trafficking.
Billy Joe co-founded PBJ Learning with his partner, Dr. David Deeds, to provide online certificate-level training around the world.
He is a member of the Prevention Workgroup of the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Taskforce for the Office of the Attorney General of Texas, Central Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking (CTCAHT), and the Tarrant County 5-Stones Taskforce.
Dr. David Deeds, Co-Founder, Education Director
David brings over 10 years of experience researching and raising awareness about human trafficking. In that time, he has hosted events, engaged legislators, and found innovative ways of working against human trafficking while informing others. He has conducted a content analysis on more than 5,000 pages of textbooks that revealed criminal justice students are exposed to very little literature on human trafficking in schools. Additionally, David’s doctoral capstone work focused on educator pedagogy to investigate a possible gap in student understanding about human trafficking, the educators.
Beyond research, David has worked with nonprofits for more than three years and has helped design a roll-call training to help police officers identify human trafficking victims. He has also participated in outreach to potential victims and participated in many discussion panels and conferences as an expert of human trafficking.
David has spent the entirety of his educational career in Illinois working to educate people about human trafficking and make a difference. He has created a fundamentals course based upon 10 years of teaching the definition, specifics, and preventative actions of human trafficking at College of DuPage and Governors State University. PBJ Learning’s Human Trafficking Essentials course is the result of that decade of hands-on teaching.
Adam Zarnowski, Advisor
Adam Zarnowski specializes in matters of human trafficking, sexual and domestic violence, and crimes against children.
He currently works with the Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Initiative, and his personal mission in life is to end human trafficking. He uses his skills in intelligence, psychology, and social work to protect and aid vulnerable populations.
Theresa Ryan-Rouger, Advisor
Theresa Ryan-Rouger, B.A., LL.B, LL.M (University of London), is an experienced human rights lawyer, professor of human rights law, published researcher, and development project leader with expertise in international human rights, specifically regarding human trafficking.
She is on the board of Agir Ensemble Pour Les Droits Humains and is the director of Global Movement of Hope.
She brings her significant experience and wisdom to ensure international concerns are incorporated and addressed in PBJ Learning’s training courses.
Marielle Combs, DNP, RN, CNE, Advisor
Marielle Combs is an experienced certified nurse educator, published author (“Human Trafficking: Empowering Healthcare Providers and Community Partners as Advocates for Victims“), and advocate for increasing anti-human trafficking awareness. She is the nursing education director for the anti-trafficking non-profit organization Exitus. Dr. Combs uses her educational expertise to empower future nurses and the community in human trafficking identification, rescue, and the healing of survivors. Her extensive educational experience will guide PBJ Learning’s training curriculum.
Ariane Gandy, Advisor
Ariane Gandy is a Co-founder of Foster Innovations. A nonprofit creating a new way to provide guidance and oversight to children and youth underserved in the child welfare system.
Her passion for change comes not only from her lived experience in the system but also from time spent as a foster parent and therapeutic childcare specialist in a rehabilitation treatment center for abused and severely neglected children.
She is very passionate about the things that go unnoticed, like the gap between kids in the foster care system and those trafficked into other cycles of trauma. Throughout her career, even as an Insurance Agent, Ariane has been an advocate and voice for others suffering loss and trauma. She creates opportunities to hold a hand while guiding others through spaces attempting to silence them.
Additional course review advisory groups and individuals
Since 2017, we have built relationships with hundreds of organizations and individuals and have been fortunate to share advice and learn promising practices with regard to human trafficking.
Through those relationships we have built the most thorough, interactive online courses available. Our alumni can be proud to know we have four criteria for our courses. Our materials must be: rigorous, interactive, effective, and efficient.
Our advisors provide ongoing advice and guidance to keep us on this path by reviewing and approving teaching and resource materials. Pedagogy is maintained by teachers, curriculum experts, educational researchers, and representatives from many schools, universities, and job training providers. Proposed teaching materials are ensured that they align with the goals and standards of every course’s required learning objectives. Our advisors provide feedback to help improve the materials before they are used by our students.
PBJ Learning is committed to ensuring our teaching materials are of high quality and will effectively support student learning.
The following is a small list of contributors without whom we would not exist. It is in a constant state of growth.
Andrea Sparks, Director, Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Child Sex Trafficking Team
Todd Latiolais, Associate Director, Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Child Sex Trafficking Team
Terry Hamm, Director, Texas Association of Student Councils
Terri Markham, Executive Director, Uprising Wyoming
Debbie Solcher, Central Texas Regional Administrator of the Texas Office of the Governor Child Sex Trafficking Team
Carol Smolenski, Executive Director of ECPAT-USA
Dr. William Watson, Professor, Director of Purdue Center for Serious Games and Learning in Virtual Environments
University of North Texas Health Science Center‘s Martha Felini, PhD DC MPH, Associate Professor, Epidemiology, Department of OB/GYN and other UNTHSC leaders
Lisa Knapp, Co-Founder of the Austin 20, and her husband, Dave Knapp
John Nehme, President & CEO of Allies Against Slavery
Sharon Windham, Founder & President of United For Human Dignity
Christina Arnold, Director of Prevent Human Trafficking
Texas State Representative Tony Tinderholt
Angie Goeke and Board Members of Not in Our City Houston
Lauren Petrowski, co-anchor, Good Day Austin on KTBC – FOX 7 Austin
PBS Decibel’s Crew: Blair Waltman-Alexin and Joe Rocha
EPIK Project‘s Justin Euteneier and volunteers
Erica Raggett, Owner, and staff of A 2nd Cup
Hilary Sherrer, Marketing & Communication Coordinator, members of the board of directors, and other staff from The Landing
Ken Rogers, Cinematic Arts Teacher, and Andrea Rogers, Data Processor at McCallum High School, Austin, Texas
Eric Chagala, Principal, and Angela Townsend, M.S., 8th Grade Math, 8th Grade History, and PBL Coach, from VIDA Middle School, Vista, California
Dena Miller, Certified Mental Health Peer Specialist (MHPS), Executive Director, Peers Of Faith
Dr. Paula Zobisch, Executive Vice President, Curriculum Development & Partner Relations, envisageconnect.com
Steve Powers, Author, Actor, Veteran Interactive Professional
Jenny Bendel, Activist and Community Relations Advisor
Camille Euritt, LMSW, 2021 Vice President Education for Austin Toastmasters
Amanda Jones, MBA Finance, Executive Vice President, Operations & Corporate Relations, envisageconnect.com
Chong Kim, Advocate, Speaker, Producer, Author
Staff and volunteers of Refuge of Light
Staff at Love146 Houston
Staff at Tier One
Members of the Capital Factory board of directors, staff, and guests
Attendees of the FBI Citizen’s Academy’s Annual Conference
There are so many others! Thank you all!
What distinguishes PBJ Learning courses from other anti-slavery training?
The structure and design of our courses are intentional, and we are open to improvement at any time. Here are the hallmarks of each of our courses.
Rigorous Course Content
They are then reviewed by our advisers to determine which data is the most trustworthy. At that point, we translate those into the course material itself.
Finally, once our courses go “live,” we continually update training to improve results.
Measurable, Assessment-Based Certificates of Mastery
Students earn post-course certificates that ensure understanding of the core learning objectives. These objectives are defined clearly by legal requirements or by experts in their fields. They are awarded for performance, not completion.
Pre-course assessment. Every course opens with an assessment to determine a baseline of an individual’s current understanding. This baseline helps us measure the effectiveness of our training.
Post-course assessment. Students must reach a certain mastery level of learning objectives before they receive their certificate.
Certificates are accessible online and sharable through email. Alumni and those approving continuing education credits have access to the certificate as well as the learning objectives from the related course.
Interactive Lessons and Activities
A study from Carnegie Mellon University shows that students using interactive learning out-perform students only learning through instructional videos by a factor of six to one.
“While more watching, reading and doing all predict better learning outcomes, the amount of learning associated with each activity done was six times greater than for each video watched or page read.”
Mistakes lead to wisdom, so we give students interactive tools to practice with their new information. When they need it, we point students to the correct information. Our students can progress when they feel comfortable with what they have learned.
Learn when you want wherever you want, on any browser
All courses are optimized for use on smartphone browsers, tablets, and laptops. If you can access the internet, you can access your courses.
Bite-sized videos, lessons, and activities
Your time is important to you. Everything is built to allow you to go “just a little further” instead of feeling the dread of watching an unstoppable 30 minute video.
Instructional and animated videos
Learning objectives are paired with, and integrated within, the most appropriate video techniques.
PBJ Learning's Mission
PBJ Learning exists to end human suffering through education, awareness, and personal action. Effective, fact-based, victim-centric education is vital if we are going to make a difference. We want to explain the reality of this issue and dispel myths at the same time. We believe prevention through education is better.
How we are doing it: We provide the most effective human trafficking prevention education training programs through your web browser. Online delivery allows us to improve and update our materials immediately, and be confident the instructions are current. Our courses are written by experts in the field, including survivors, law enforcement, social service providers, parents, corporate trainers, and ongoing education providers. Advisers continually review our materials to meet new educational challenges. Online delivery allows us to make changes as often as our advisers suggest.
We believe education should always be available and easily accessible, so we created a system to let you learn what you want, when you want it, and where you want to learn it.
Let’s get started!
Billy Joe and Dave