Who We Are

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.

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.

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.  

Soon after, it became clear that there was eagerness to formalize an alliance of service providers. In January of 2018, a founding steering committee was established that consisted of eight agencies from across the country: The WellHouse (AL), Gracehaven (OH), Engedi (WA), Rest (WA), North Star Initiative (PA), Refuge for Women (KY), Truth for Women (PA), and The Samaritan Women (MD). Then in October of 2018, National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance (NTSA) officially launched to the public. At that time, some members of the founding steering committee became NTSA board members. 

The formation of NTSA happened organically. It was developed out of a sincere desire to learn from one another so that we could each improve our services, as well as grow together as an anti-trafficking field. There was a great determination to sharpen each other so that all involved could provide the best quality care to survivors of trafficking. There was an understanding that the best way to do that is by working collaboratively – to rise by lifting others.

Annual Reports & Financials

We value your trust & make sure your generosity counts… NTSA strives for the highest level of financial integrity. When you give, every dollar has impact.

Financial Accountability

Our Staff

Melissa Yao

Executive Director

As Executive Director of NTSA, Melissa is responsible for setting the mission & vision of the organization; informing, developing & executing the organization’s strategic plan under the oversight of the Board of Directors; as well as performing other key duties such as fiscal stewardship, fundraising, marketing, & platform building.

Rachel Karper

Director of Operations

As the Director of Operations, Rachel collaborates with leadership in the development of strategic goals & long-term operational plans, while overseeing the Alliance Referral System, Accreditation, & Operations departments.

Alexis Byers

Referral Program Manager

As the Referral Program Manager, Alexis manages the enhancement, facilitation & analysis of the Alliance Referral System (ARS) as well as the development & future launch of the TIRA app, which will enhance the current ARS program.

Zach Boyd

Membership Program Manager

As the Membership Program Manager, Zach acts as the main point of contact for NTSA members, enhances available resources, & cultivates new strategic partners while maintaining the current membership benefits.

Gen Haines

Director of Donor Engagement

As Director of Donor Engagement, Gen is responsible for inviting donors to be a part of NTSA’s mission & overseeing fundraising efforts, as well as building & maintaining donor relationships that make NTSA’s work possible.

Danielle Ballard

Marketing & Donor Engagement Manager

As the Marketing & Donor Engagement Manager, Danielle is responsible for the creation of marketing collateral, graphic design, social media content, & public communications while also supporting NTSA’s Development efforts.

Annie Archard

Accreditation & Government Partnerships Coordinator

 Annie supports NTSA’s Accreditation program by creating policies, databases, & templates, & facilitating the accreditation process. She also acts as the point of contact for federal government departments relevant to the field.

Board of Directors

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.
Bill Schneider

Bill Schneider

Board Treasurer
Bill and his wife Susan live in Annapolis, Maryland, where they are fully engaged in community advocacy work to break down the socioeconomic stratification that persists in Maryland’s state capital. Bill is a retired engineer, and has most recently earned a Masters in Theological Studies from Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC. He would be most interested though in talking to you about sailing.
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.
Samuel Baez

Samuel Baez

Board Member
, Key Financial, Inc.
Sam graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a degree in business focused on financial services. Sam has a strong passion for people and loves being active in his community. He has participated in several community-oriented projects and local events geared towards bringing the community together. He has also served with his Church, on missions’ trips to the Dominican Republic, where they educated communities on, literacy, health care and built shelters for communities in need.
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.
Rachel Thomas

Rachel Thomas

Board Member
, Lead Author for 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

Who are our members?​

Check out which agencies are currently part of the Alliance network.

Are you ready to make a difference with us?

Not a member, but still interested in hearing updates from the Alliance?

Get the latest updates on how the NTSA is supporting service providers for survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Sign up for the NTSA Newsletter here.