About Us

The National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance

Our Mission

The National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance is a network of service providers committed to enhancing services and increasing access to care for survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

The Need

Human trafficking is the second-largest and fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, with up to 300,000 people at risk of being trafficked each year in the US alone. This problem generates a desperate need for thousands of survivors to find a safe place where they can heal. 

The U.S. Government has been taking the issue of domestic sex trafficking seriously since 2010, making this is an incredibly young and uncharted field. In such a new field, many residential programs do not survive their first year of operation due to burn-out or financial instability, and many experience a widespread sense of isolation.

At present there are no standard, widely-accepted best practices that all programs can use to inform the care they provide. Until now, there was no accrediting body for long-term shelter care for survivors of human trafficking, and there is a present gap in accountability and goal setting for agencies within this field.

The Solution

As the response to human trafficking in America continues to increase, the need for service providers to collaborate and stay connected is more important than ever. NTSA strives to address this need in three strategic ways: 

Our Referral System connects survivors across the nation with the right residential program for them both efficiently and with dignity.

Our Knowledge Center equips residential programs with the training & resources to learn and grow in a collaborative community.

Our Accreditation provides accountability to ensure that survivors receive quality care from healthy, trauma-informed organizations.

Through collaboration, we can ensure every survivor can access quality, trauma-informed care.


National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance was born out of a need to ensure every survivor has access to the best quality of care and every service provider feels connected to a support system. In 2016, twenty-two agencies from across the country gathered outside of Chicago, IL, along with a host of individuals who aspired to get involved in survivor care. Represented were survivor allies, survivors of the sex trade, and survivors of other forms of exploitation. It was an incredible gathering of dedicated individuals, each of whom had accepted the call to step into the world of darkness and evil known as human trafficking. Read More

Annual Reports & Financials

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Financial Accountability
Annual Reports

Our Staff

Our Team

Melissa Holland

Melissa Holland

Board Member
, Awaken
Melissa Holland serves as the Co-founder and CEO of Awaken, a US-based nonprofit offering direct services to women and children affected by the commercial sex trade. Awaken is located in Reno, NV and Green Bay, WI. Melissa holds a Masters degree in Marriage Family Therapy from the University of Nevada, Reno. Melissa started as a therapist offering pro bono therapy to women affected by prostitution. In 2011 she and Jen Robinson co-founded Awaken, a nonprofit who’s mission is to increase awareness and education surrounding the issue of commercial sexual exploitation and to provide housing and restoration for its victims. Awaken has worked with over 900 women and children affected by exploitation. Melissa is passionate about uniting communities in the fight to end the sexual exploitation.
Shelia Simpkins

Shelia Simpkins

Board Secretary
, Thistle Farms
Shelia Simpkins is the Director of Residential Services at Thistle Farms, a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to helping women survivors recover and heal from trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. Her past trafficking experiences are the driving force behind her desire to help others who have experienced trafficking. She sits on the Human Trafficking Advisory Council for the State of Tennessee, and she is a survivor advocate for Grace Empowered, a court-ordered prostitution intervention program operated by the Nashville-Davidson County Office of the District Attorney General. In addition, Shelia completed the Human Trafficking Leadership Academy fellowship program in 2018. She has an MSW from the University of Tennessee–Knoxville with a concentration in Organizational Leadership.
Amanda Hightower

Amanda Hightower

Board Member
Amanda is Executive Director and co-founder of REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade), a nonprofit residential program that provides pathways to freedom, safety, and hope for victims of sex trafficking and exploitation. She has over 12 years of experience working with individuals in the sex trade. She is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and is also a nationally certified High Fidelity Wraparound Coach. Amanda has her BSc in Psychology from Northwest University and an MSW from the University of Washington.
Susan Ingram

Susan Ingram

Board Chair
, Walk Her Home
Susan is the founder and president of Walk Her Home, a 501(c)3 charity with a mission to fight human sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation in the United States. She is also the founder of SRI Media, Inc., a communications company specializing in creating customized content. She currently sits on the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s Advisory Committee and is an active member of the Chester County Anti-Trafficking Coalition. In addition, Susan serves as the Co-chair of Community Assessment of human trafficking activity in metro Philadelphia for International Justice Mission (IJM) and partnered with congressional representatives to draft the Duty to Report Sexual Assault Act. In 2017, The Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus selected Susan to be honored as the recipient of the Eva Murillo Unsung Hero Award for her efforts in using her experience to make a positive difference in public education, public policy development and greater awareness about crime victims’ rights and needs.
Rachel Thomas

Rachel Thomas

Board Member
, Ending the Game
A graduate of UCLA and a personal survivor of human trafficking, Rachel has extensive experience teaching, training, curriculum writing, public speaking and mentoring. As director of Sowers Education Group and lead author of Ending The Game: An Intervention Curriculum for Survivors of Sex Trafficking, Rachel has helped millions to become more aware of human trafficking and has helped hundreds of survivors break the bonds of attachment to traffickers and the lifestyle of commercial sexual exploitation. Recently, Rachel was appointed to the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking for a term of 2 years.
Instagram: @RachelThomasWasHere
Facebook: @RachelCThomas
Grace Lee

Grace Lee

Board Member
, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Grace Lee currently serves as the Deputy Director of DHS Program Analysis and Evaluation (PA&E) where she supports senior leadership decision-making. Ms. Lee most recently served as the Interagency Policy Advisor to the Senior Response Official to Operation Allies Welcome – a whole-of-nation effort to support Afghan evacuation and resettlement. Prior to this deployment, she served as the Senior Advisor to the acting Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of DHS during transition of Administrations. Ms. Lee began her federal career in 2012 as a Presidential Management Fellow and has served in several leadership positions including Assistant Director for both the PA&E Integration and Resource teams. She also served on multiple details, such as with the US Border Patrol Operations, the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict Stabilization Operations, and as the Senior Liaison for the Homeland Security Investigation’s Innovation Lab. Prior to joining DHS, Ms. Lee served in legislative and evaluation fellowships in support of international policies and deployed to Uganda to support programs aimed at strengthening the justice system.

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