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

Estimates for the number of people at risk of becoming trafficking victims in the United States varies, widely, from 100,000 to 300,000. What is most consistently expressed is the dearth of qualified shelter care programs to aid victims in their healing and restoration back into society. 

At present there is no credentialed, professional preparation specific to those serving victims of trafficking. There is no specific licensure for programs serving this population. There is no national accrediting body asserting standards of care. 


The U.S. Government has been taking the issue of domestic sex trafficking seriously since 2010, a mere ten years. The average amount of time direct service agencies have been serving victims is 8 years**. This is a very young field. At the same time, over the past few years there are several agencies that have not survived their first year of operation. Burn-out, financial instability, and lack of a program are the most common causes. Burn-out has been largely attributed to a sense of isolation and lack of support.


** This average age listed is an average years since date founded from our current general membership representing housing programs in 22 states. [Updated January 2021]

Why is the Alliance important?

The work of restoring survivors of sex trafficking is not only difficult work, but an entirely new field. Very little peer reviewed research exists within the literature regarding best practices for therapeutically engaging both adult or minor survivors of sex trafficking. Promising practices are developed through trial and error, and most importantly, through the sharing of those results with other organizations. A national alliance is the perfect environment for new promising practices to be discussed and tested.
The organizations working in the field of trafficking survivor rehabilitation know the difficulty of the work that stems from the degree of trauma endured by these survivors. These men, women, and children are among the most traumatized individuals within our society, and bringing them to a place of healing takes a toll on those working directly with the survivors. A national alliance provides a like-minded community that allows for the sharing of difficulties, frustrations, and successes as well as a resource to help deal with the unusual situations in this developing field.  

Our Staff

Melissa R Yao

Melissa is the Executive Director of the National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance. NTSA’s mission is to foster a community of service providers for survivors of human trafficking, sexual exploitation and prostitution in order to enhance the quality of care for survivors.

For nearly 8 years Melissa worked at a long term restoration home for survivors of human trafficking. She has seen firsthand how isolating it is for those working with survivors of sexual exploitation and is passionate about building a community that empowers and encourages each other in this work. Melissa has worked to increase awareness and deepen community engagement on issues around human trafficking, spearheaded advocacy campaigns, hosted nation-wide gatherings and conferences, and supported staff and residents through their spiritual journey.

Prior to launching NTSA, Melissa worked with The Samaritan Women, White House’s Faith-based and Community Outreach Office at the United States Agency for International Development, Dr. Ron Sider with Evangelicals for Social Action, and with Bread for the World.

Melissa has her master's degree in International Development from Eastern University and her Bachelors in International Relations from American University.


Rachel (Kersjes) Karper

Rachel is the Director of Operations for the National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance. Before joining NTSA, Rachel had been working in international development for 4 years. In that time, she has worked with at risk populations, driven by a passion for empowering people in the face of poverty and exploitation. 

Before joining the Alliance team, Rachel worked in Uganda at Akola Project, a social business striving towards women’s empowerment, and Bright Hope, a small non-profit doing international development with communities in extreme poverty in five countries. 

Rachel has a master’s degree in International Development from Eastern University and a bachelor’s in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Calvin Fanning

Calvin is the Alliance Referral System (ARS) Program Manager for the National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance.  Prior to joining NTSA, he worked at a long-term residential program for survivors of domestic sex trafficking, where he supported their efforts to increase awareness and community engagement in the issue of anti-trafficking, as well as strengthen the greater community of residential service providers.

Calvin has also worked internationally with under-served populations in North Africa, where he experienced the impact a caring community can have on those who are overlooked in society.  His passion for seeing others served well is what drives him to cultivate supportive relationships among those working in shelter services.

Calvin received his bachelor’s degree in Anthropology with minors in Psychology and Arabic Language from Southern Methodist University in Texas.

Annie Archard

Annie Archard is the Accreditation and Government Partnerships Associate for the National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance. She previously interned with NTSA working on Accreditation and the Alliance Referral System (ARS). Before joining NTSA, she worked in program development on the collegiate level and for youth educational programs.

Annie received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with minors in Political Science and Sociology from Providence College in Rhode Island. She is also pursuing a master's degree in Public and Urban Policy from The New School in New York City with dual specializations in inequality and social policy and race, gender, and economic stratification. 

Danielle Ballard

Danielle is the Marketing & Donor Engagement Associate for the National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance. She previously interned with NTSA working in marketing and social media management.

Prior to joining NTSA, Danielle worked in public education and volunteered as a student coordinator with International Justice Mission, mobilizing emerging student leaders on college campuses across the nation to execute powerful campaigns for ending human trafficking.

Danielle received her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education- History & Social Studies from Northern Arizona University.

Zach Boyd

Zach is the Membership Coordinator for the National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance. Prior to joining NTSA, he worked at an anti-trafficking organization that supported and trained start-up programs interested in directly serving survivors of trafficking.

Zach has also worked with youth and young adults in both Haiti and Poland on community engagement projects, helping them to see their value that they have to offer others. 

Zach received his bachelor's degree from University of Maryland in English and is currently working towards a second BS in Kids and Student Ministry from Liberty University.

Board of Directors

Susan Ingram

Board Chair
President, Walk Her Home

Amethyst Spivak, JD

Board Treasurer
Assistant State's Attorney, Baltimore City

Carolyn Potter

Board Secretary
Chief Executive Officer, The WellHouse

Amanda Hightower

Board Member
Executive Director, REST

Dennis Ju

Board Member


Chris Lim

Board Member
Alabama Anti–Human Trafficking Alliance Coordinator, Office of the Attorney General

Aaron Newcomb

Board Member
Co-Founder & Development Director, Engedi Refuge


Shelia Simpkins

Board Member
Director of Education & Outreach, Thistle Farms

Rachel Thomas

Board Member
Founder of Sowers Education Group, Lead Author for Ending the Game

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?

Join the NTSA Public Newsletter

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.