I met Raven Bowen in 1995, when she became a support and outreach worker at PACE Society (Prostitution Alternatives Counselling and Education) in Vancouver, British Columbia, a charitable organisation for which I served on the Board of Directors. PACE was set up in 1994 to provide housing initiatives, outreach and support services for sex workers, most of whom were survival sex workers meeting their clients on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Raven later become the Executive Director of PACE. From 2000 to 2006, she led the organisation to both internal program development and multi-agency collaborations, all of which were designed to improve the lives of sex workers in the Greater Vancouver Regional District and beyond.
The mid 1990s to mid 2000s were desperately sad and depressing days as they marked the zenith of the disappearances of more than 50 women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. We now know that Canada's most prolific serial killer had been preying on street sex workers, women about whom no one in authority gave a damn, least of all the local police. Robert ‘Willy’ Pickton murdered 49 sex workers, an indelible stain on Canada's reputation as a caring liberal democracy.
In 2006 and 2007, Raven served as PACE Society's Policy and Research Development Coordinator. From 2005 to 2009, she held the roles of both Regional Coordinator for the BC Coalition of Experiential Communities (BCCEC), a British Columbian policy advocacy group for sex workers. A detailed account of her work with the BCCEC can be found in Davis and Bowen (2019). Also, she was a Co-Founder of the Collaborative Research Network (CRN#6) ‘Sex, Work, Law and Society’, a division of the US Law and Society Association. She is former administrator of the UK Sex Work Research Hub. Since 2018, she has been the CEO of the UK's National Ugly Mugs (NUM) organisation, which seeks justice and protection for sex workers. During her time working for these organisations, she secured the equivalent of over 2 million pounds in funding for various research and service initiatives for sex workers.
In the intervening period Raven went on to complete her bachelor's and master's degrees at Simon Fraser University in Canada (Bowen, 2013) and her PhD (Bowen, 2018) at the University of York in England.