We're all in this together.

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Sometimes a healthy dose of anger and outrage is all the inspiration you need to take action
— Deborah Pfluger, Co-Founder Girls with Grit

Our Story

Girls with Grit was formed in 2017 by mother-daughter duo, Deborah and Audrey Pfluger in response to the increasing recognition and alarm about the growing number of domestic children (U.S. citizens and locals) who are being trafficked for commercial sex in the state of Texas. This mother-daughter team formed Girls with Grit to join the community fighting to end sex trafficking and exploitation of children. 

The Problem

Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking is an illegal, underground issue that is incredibly complex and under reported. According to the FBI, the average girl who becomes involved in sexual exploitation is between the ages of 12 and 14, and that some 293,000 American youths are at risk of becoming victims of sex trafficking. Further, the FBI reports that the business of human sex trafficking has become much more organized and violent. The women and young girls sold to traffickers are locked up in rooms or brothels for weeks or months, drugged, terrorized, and raped repeatedly. These continual abuses make it easier for the traffickers to control their victims. The captives are so afraid and intimidated that they rarely speak out against their traffickers, even when faced with an opportunity to escape.

Our Solution

Girls with Grit is focused on providing free prevention programs and outreach to educate children about the realities of sex trafficking and arm them with strategies needed to avoid becoming victims. Our programs recognize that the key to keeping children safe is to reach them before traffickers do. Girls with Grit will facilitate prevention programs in Central Texas with a focus on reaching higher risk populations such as kids in Foster Care and other social services systems. Ultimately, all children, especially girls, are at risk for being targeted by sex traffickers and will benefit from the Not a #Number curriculum that Girls with Grit will deliver.

How You Can Help

Girls with Grit is a non-profit corporation incorporated in the state of Texas that relies on individual and corporate donations and grants to fund its operations. Proceeds are used to provide free prevention programs throughout Central Texas and to help support like-minded, non-profit organizations that create awareness, provide treatment and other services to victims.

Girls with Grit pledges good stewardship of every donation received. We acknowledge your contributions are investments toward our mission to end human trafficking through education, outreach, and awareness and are committed to transparency with our finances. When you give to Girls with Grit you can rest assured that your donations will help end sex trafficking of children one beautiful and valuable child at a time. 

 
 

Our Team


Audrey Pfluger, Co-Founder

Audrey co-founded Girls with Grit with her Mother, Deborah, in 2017. She is passionate about human rights and is especially committed to the empowerment of girls and women. In 2016 and 2017 she traveled to the Himalayas in India with the Himalayan Health Exchange to assist medical professionals providing care to under-served, remote communities. Audrey regularly volunteers her time to the Girls Empowerment Network teaching self-reliance, confidence, and other valuable skills to girls. Audrey graduated from Texas Tech University in 2014 and is currently studying to obtain a graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a certificate in Addiction Studies. She is dedicated to the fight against sex trafficking and exploitation, and believes that “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” -Ida B. Wells

Deborah Pfluger, Co-Founder/President

Deborah co-founded Girls with Grit with her daughter, Audrey, in 2017 following the successful sale of her marketing firm, Aha Digital Marketing. Deborah’s unique career path that led her to found two highly successful advertising and marketing agencies in Austin has provided her with remarkable insights into business formation, management, operations, branding and marketing. She’s helped hundreds of brands plan, develop and execute communication campaigns that successfully integrated strategic thinking with compelling creative. Deborah, who is not one to back down from a challenge, exemplifies the well-known quote by Jonah Lehrer, “Grit is the stubborn refusal to quit.” Deborah holds a BA in History from the University of Texas at Austin.


Board Members

Steven Phenix

Steven currently serves as the PR & Communications Director for The Refuge for DMST (Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking). He is a 20-year public relations veteran and a social media innovator who has managed the corporate reputations for hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies. Before joining The Refuge, Steven was a founding principal at ViaMetric, Inc., an Austin, Texas based lead generation firm, where he turned a mashup of blogs, wikis, forums, Facebook pages and tweets into lead generating, revenue boosting business tools for large enterprises. Concurrently, at his own firm, Phenix Public Relations, LLC, he developed turnkey social media solutions for traditional PR firms nationwide. Under the road name “Flyer,” Steven is a patched member of Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.). B.A.C.A. International’s mission is to, “empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live.”

Michelle Smith, Secretary

Michelle Smith is a long-time community and school district volunteer. Her professional experience in the international business, legal, real estate and financial industries makes her uniquely qualified to serve as board secretary for Girls with Grit. Michelle holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She served on the guidance committee at Westlake High School for more than 6 years and is passionate about helping kids succeed. Michelle is a devoted mother and has spent much of her time raising two wonderful sons. Michelle and her husband, Claude, live in Austin, Texas.

Marty Urbanovsky, Treasurer

Marty is Senior Vice President of Finance at GSD&M.  In her 30-year tenure heading the accounting department for this national advertising agency, Marty has streamlined the accounting functions, managed internal controls and Sarbanes Oxley compliance, negotiated legal agreements, and managed budgeting and financial reporting.  Prior to joining GSD&M, Marty was a Senior Tax Manager with Ernst & Young.  During her career at Ernst & Young, one of her focus areas was non-profits with clients ranging from small startup charities to large associations. Marty is a CPA and holds a Master of Professional Accounting from the University of Texas and a BBA from Texas State University. Marty is a member of the Texas Society of CPAs.