Melissa Sontag Broudo, JD, MPH, is the co-founder and co-director of the Sharmus Outlaw Advocacy and Rights (SOAR) Institute. She has been part of the sex-worker-rights and harm-reduction movements for over 15 years, co-founding SOAR to further policy, advocacy, and capacity-building efforts that support the rights of sex workers and survivors of human trafficking.
Through her work at SOAR, Melissa has been featured extensively in the news media regarding sex work and #MeToo, the NYC Stripper Strike, and the criminalization of sex workers. She has also been able to push for policies that further a rights-based approach to the sex industry.
Prior to SOAR, she was a senior staff attorney for seven years at the Sex Workers Project (SWP) at the Urban Justice Center. She won the first-ever vacatur motion for a survivor of human trafficking and provided technical expertise on these critical motions throughout the state and country. She focused primarily on criminal justice and appellate defense work during her time at SWP, supporting survivors and sex workers through their experiences in the criminal justice system.
Melissa is currently on the board of G.L.I.T.S. (Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society), an NYC-based organization that serves transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) individuals and sex workers. Melissa recently became a member of Equality New York’s Advisory Council, where she serves on the Reproductive Justice Committee. She is also on the board of advisors of the Pregnancy Loss Support Program of the National Council of Jewish Women. She has been an active member of the New York City Bar Association, having previously served on the Criminal Courts Committee. She has also served on the board of the PROS Network (Providers Offering Resources and Services to Sex Workers), Best Practices Policy Project (BPPP), and the Desiree Alliance, a national conference for sex workers and allies.
Melissa received her Bachelor of Arts from Brown University in gender studies in 2001. She received her Master of Public Health from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center through their dual-degree program in 2006.