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 nine years. After a national survey in 2017, research found that the average amount of time direct service agencies have been serving victims is 5.28 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.

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. For nearly 8 years Melissa worked at The Samaritan Women, a long-term restoration home for survivors of domestic 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 those in the trenches every day.

While at The Samaritan Women, Melissa 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 joining The Samaritan Women, Melissa worked with the 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 Bread for the World.

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


Rachel Kersjes

Rachel is the Alliance Membership Coordinator for the National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance. Rachel has 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. 

Madelynn Reyes

Madelynn is the Partnerships Manager for the National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance. With a background in youth development she served at-risk youth for 7 years in the inner city of Chicago as a Director of after school programming. From youth development she made the switch to donor development as she worked at Bright Hope for 4 years, raising funds for those living in extreme poverty internationally. In her time there, she was introduced to issue of human trafficking in India and she hasn’t looked back since. 

Madelynn is passionate about inviting men and women to be a part of the movement to end trafficking and sexual exploitation here in America. She sees value in empowering donors as they raise their voices in this battle and enjoys joining them in their journey. 

Madelynn has a bachelors degree in Liberal Studies with concentrations in Psychology, Education and Sociology from Bethel University in Indiana

Kim Checkeye

Kim Checkeye is the Shelter Care Advisor of the National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance. For 14 years, Kim served as Executive Director for a faith based nonprofit organization recognized in providing restorative care for sexually exploited women. Kim has assisted Homeland Security and local law enforcement on sting operations by providing services and support to recovered victims. Kim has firsthand experience on the devastating effect trauma has on survivors and care needed to provide a safe place for the healing process.

Kim is passionate about educating and training people on sex trafficking as well as educating direct care providers on identifying victims and working with survivors through a trauma-informed lens.

Board of Directors

Susan Ingram

Board Chair
President, Walk Her Home

Amethyst Spivak, JD

Board Treasurer
Association Manager, Guilford Association 

Pro bono Attorney


Carolyn Potter

Board Secretary
Chief Executive Officer, The WellHouse

Amanda Hightower

Board Member
Executive Director, REST

Aaron Newcomb

Board Member
Co-Founder & Development Director, Engedi Refuge


Who are our members?

Are you ready to make a difference with us?