Carissa Phelps, JD/MBA, Esq.
Chief Inspiration Officer
Runaway Girl, Inc.
Carissa Phelps, Runaway Girl, Inc.’s founder and CEO, strives for social impact. She is a licensed attorney, author, trainer, consultant and small business owner. Carissa’s fearless leadership in the survivor community has led to an increased level of awareness among communities, as well as improved legislation and responses to human trafficking victims, especially children. In 2012, Carissa, founded Runaway Girl, Inc., a training company that offers survivor-led experiential trainings to individuals and communities. Runaway Girl, Inc. has offered hope to survivors through opportunities to lead in their own communities. As a social purpose corporation, the company has a charitable purpose to improve outcomes and create opportunities for runaway and homeless youth. Carissa’s inspiring memoir Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets, One Helping Hand at a Time, has been instrumental in changing countless hearts and minds. In 2008, she co-produced the award winning short documentary that took her back to the streets where she was trafficked at 12 years old. Her memoir and film are used as tools to train and teach by organizations worldwide. In 2007, Carissa earned both a Juris Doctorate and MBA from UCLA. In 2010, she was named one of the top 100 inspirational graduates by UCLA Anderson School of Management. She holds a BA in mathematics summa cum laude from Fresno State, and in 2013 she was celebrated as a Top Dog by the university. Carissa lives on the Central Coast of California, where she creates and contributes to positive impact businesses as a social entrepreneur.
Runaway Girl: Escaping the Streets, One Helping Hand at a Time
Carissa Phelps was a runner. By the time she was twelve, she had run away from home, dropped out of school, and fled blindly into the arms of a brutal pimp. Even when she escaped him, she could not outrun the crushing inner pain of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. With little to hope for, she expected to end up in prison, or worse. But then her life was transformed through the unexpected kindness of a teacher and a counselor. Through small miracles, Carissa accomplished the unimaginable, graduating from UCLA with both a law degree and an MBA. She left the streets behind, yet found herself back, this time working to help homeless and at-risk youth discover their own paths to a better life. Like the multimillion-copy bestseller The Glass Castle, this memoir moves us through the power of its unflinching candor and generosity.
PRAISE FOR RUNAWAY GIRL
“Runaway Girl may break your heart but I promise it will ultimately awe and inspire you. No child should have to endure what Carissa did, but thousands do. Her story is a testimony to the resilience of these children and the difference a caring individual can make in their lives. If you have any doubts whether one person can make a difference in the life of a traumatized, ‘delinquent,’ young person, Runaway Girl should put them to rest.”
—Dr. Howard Zehr, professor of restorative justice, Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, and author of What Will Happen to Me?
“Carissa Phelps’s story illustrates the power each of us has to speak the words that are the difference between life and death, freedom and imprisonment, success and failure. Carissa is brilliant. She’s changing our world for the better, not despite what she’s been through, but specifically because of it.”
—Rhonda Sciortino, radio host of Crack the Code and author of Succeed Because of What You’ve Been Through
“Riveting . . . A genuinely important book that casts the problem of sex trafficking in America into stunning, heartbreaking relief.”
“This devastatingly honest memoir is not for the fainthearted . . . Kafka famously wrote, ‘A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.’ Runaway Girl just might become such a book. [Phelps] gives the reader valuable insight into a problem that is larger than most people realize.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Runaway Girl demonstrates a great amount of insight and maturity. Crisp writing and perfectly chosen events highlight the story of what happens to the majority of twelve-year-olds on the street.”
—School Library Journal, selected as a Best Adult Books for Teens of the Year