SWOP is fortunate to have the contributions of so many incredible and dedicated social justice activists. Below are the names and bios of some of the people who have made this on-going project possible. This list is incomplete, and additional entries and information are welcome to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2015-2019 Andrea Ferguson (Treasurer & Secretary) graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor’s in anthropology and focused her undergraduate research on various aspects of sex work.
Through this she quickly learned about the injustices sex workers regularly face and how criminalization negatively impacts them. This fuels her desire to advocate for sex worker’s rights and create positive change within the community. She uses her perspective as an anthropologist to conduct ethical research and present at conferences to raise awareness of various issues within sex work. Andrea served on the GSU Undergraduate Advisory Board, is a veteran, and a licensed practical nurse.
2015-2019 Justice Rivera (President) spent three+ years involved in SWOP Denver before joining the SWOP USA board. She also spent time providing direct and in-direct services to people involved in the sex trade and survivors of trafficking at Prax(us), and people who inject drugs at the Harm Reduction Action center. During this time, she served on the board of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition and volunteered at VORP Denver, a restorative justice program for youth. Justice received her undergraduate degree in an Individualized Degree Program from the Metropolitan University of Denver in 2015. Justice currently works as the Drug User Health Fellow at the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors in Washington DC, and is excited to advance the rights and health of people involved in the sex trade as a SWOP USA board member.
2019 Lielah Leighton is a first generation Black Pinay born and raised in New York. She is privileged to join the SWOP USA Board of Directors, and will use her position to lift up and support the community-led activism and advocacy of sex workers throughout the United States. Lielah is passionate about sex worker rights and justice for those who are most impacted by poverty, violence, stigma, and criminalization. Lielah holds a B.S. in Community Health Education from Portland State University, and a Master’s in Social Work from Tulane University with a focus in Trauma Studies and Disaster Mental Health. She currently lives and works in Portland, Oregon.
2018-2019 Rebecca Beauregard has been working various roles in and alongside the sex industry since 2005. She researched body positivity in sex workers and was an active volunteer with the Utah AIDs Foundation before serving in Ethiopia with the Peace Corps. She went on to manage international projects providing emergency assistance to vulnerable populations living in conflict-affected areas across Yemen, Syria and Nigeria. Rebecca is excited to be part of SWOP to support sex workers and reshape the narrative around sex work. She gets nerdy about organizational and management literature and is conscious about the privilege that has been afforded by her skin color and actively seeks to address racism in her own heart as a regular practice. She holds a MA degree from SIT Graduate Institute in Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management.
2018-2019 Zooey Zara is a Los Angeles based sex worker, international BDSM and bondage educator and performer, and fetish model. Her styling and modeling have been featured in publications such as PUMP Magazine and a bit of her bondage work can be seen on HBO’s Westworld Season 2. She is a recent law school graduate, and the newest director of photography, videographer, and editor at slavetobondage.com. She is also the newest director of the SWOP Los Angeles chapter and is committed to serving and building a supportive community in Southern California.
2018-2019 Dr. Laura McGuire is a nationally-recognized sexuality educator, trauma-informed specialist, and inclusion consultant. She has worked as an instructor, presenter, educator, consultant, and trainer. Dr. McGuire earned her bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Thomas Edison State University and her graduate degrees in educational leadership for change from Fielding Graduate University. Dr. McGuire is a certified full-spectrum doula, professional teacher, a certified sexual health educator, and a vinyasa yoga instructor.
2018-2019 Rebel Rae [she/hers] is a criminalized tech savy prostitute and adult model who uses her skills to provide safety tools for sex workers while advocating and fighting for decriminalizing prostitution. In 2015 she was convicted of aggravated assault for self defense as a trans sex worker against a violent assault. Founder of the SW UP app (removed temporarily for fortifying against FOSTA) and loud-mouth activist, she hosted the sex workers contingent at the Women’s March and lead organizing for International Whores Day in Las Vegas in 2018 as well as support networking for parents in sex work, leading lobbying, panels, and education efforts for politicians and the general public, and a close interface to street/bar prostitution in Las Vegas.
2016-2019 Jacqueline Robarge is the director and founder of Power Inside, a 14 year old harm reduction program that serves women and girls impacted by incarceration, street life, and abuse by providing direct client services, advocacy, leadership development, and public education to work toward systemic change.. She was awarded an Open Society Institute Fellowship in 2002. As a feminist, survivor, and activist, Jacqueline Robarge has spent more than two decades working to end gendered violence and oppression. Her work has included trauma healing and justice projects, white anti-racism organizing, action research, and a range of human rights advocacy.
2016-2018 Ankit Gupta is a queer feminist activist passionate about sexual and reproductive rights, prison abolition movements and building communities with queer and trans folks. They are a member of Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YCSRR) and also previously served on the Board of Directors. They serve on the Advisory Group to The Guttmacher-Lancet Commission on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Youth Action Team of CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Partnership. Ankit has worked on a range of issues from comprehensive sexuality education, public safety for young queer youth, especially trans youth to climate change and environment. Previously, they have worked as a consultant with International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the YP Foundation.
2015-2018 Matthew Rose (Treasurer) is a health advocate with a special focus on HIV/AIDS. With a passion and love for social justice work, he has spent a great deal of his professional and personal life operating under the framework that health is a vehicle for social justice. Health lives at the intersection of a number of oppressions and can create unique moments for liberation. His background is centered in public policy, community engagement and strategic planning. Since 2009, he has been a member of Prevention Research, Outreach, Advocacy and Representation (PxROAR), a domestic program created by AVAC to offer training for advocates in biomedical HIV prevention research education. Previously Matthew spent two and a half years with the National Coalition for LGBT Health overseeing its HIV/AIDS policy work and is chair of the policy committee the Young Black Gay Men’s Leadership Initiative.
2016-2018 Katie Bloomquist (Vice President) is a Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist in Minneapolis at the Minnesota Sexual Health Institute. She has multiple sex work research publications and presents academically on the sex workers rights movement, sex work stigma and the minority stress of sex work at sexual health and mental health conferences. She is currently developing a training for mental health professionals aimed at reducing clinician bias against sex workers and increasing cultural competency – this training will be tied to a national directory of sex worker-affirmative mental health professionals. Katie offers a therapeutic support group for current and former sex workers in Minneapolis at her clinic.
2016-2017 Jasmine Phillips received her Juris Doctor degree in 2015 from UCLA School of Law with specializations in Critical Race Studies and Public Interest Law and Policy. As a Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program fellow placed at HIPS, she is currently building the advocacy and policy capacity of the organization by utilizing an anti-criminalization framework. Prior to HIPS, Jasmine conducted research in South Africa in collaboration with sex workers and has interned at the Vera Institute of Justice, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the Los Angeles HIV Law and Policy Project. She has also published two articles in law review journals complicating sex trafficking discourse and police reform efforts.
2015-2017 Maggie Mayhem is a sex positive activist, artist and a sex educator. She began receiving formal training on sexuality, sexually transmitted infections, harm reduction, and substance use in 2003 and has continued accessing as many academic and medical resources possible to keep up to date with medically accurate information.
2015-2017 Savannah Sly (President)
Savannah is a natural community organizer who specializes in event production, creative media, and group collaboration. As a member of the queer and kink communities with a professional calling in mind/body wellness and fantasy facilitation, Savannah is acutely aware of the need for non-judgmental spaces in which consenting adults may safely explore of erotic persona, access catharsis, and express non-binary gender identity. Savannah is a harm reductionist and labor rights activist, employing her skills in communication, collective action, and community building to expand platforms from which America’s sex worker communities may articulate their realities and advocate for their own needs.
2015-2016: Fatemeh Hosseini
Fatemeh is an adjunct instructor at the University of Maryland where she obtained her PhD in women and gender history, and focused her research on sex work in the Middle East. Her current research focuses on precarious citizenship. Fatemeh has experience in policy and non-profits and has worked with survivors of domestic violence in the DC metro area and volunteered at the local Rape Crisis Center and participated in harm reduction outreach to drug users and sex workers. Committed to a holistic approach to social justice, in her free time, Fatemeh enjoys traveling, reading, and photography.
2014-2016: Brittany Turner (Secretary)
Brittany Turner currently works as a Librarian in Shreveport, LA. She received her Master’s in Public Administration through the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the State University of New York at Albany as well as a Master’s in Library and Information Science through the University of Alabama. Brittany has experience in social and economic justice, government, non-profits, and politics, including past work with the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, Family Planning Advocates of New York State, Planned Parenthood of the Mid-Hudson Valley, and Save Women’s Lives: March for Freedom of Choice. She is an active volunteer for various organizations in her community and is also a founding member and co-organizer of the Shreveport-Bossier City Chapter of SWOP.
2014-2016: Miriam Weeks (dba Belle Knox)
Miriam Weeks is an award-winning pornography actress and a feminist activist. She has contributed to Time, Rolling Stone, Jezebel, XoJane, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, and Forbes on the topics of feminism, sex work, censorship, and libertarianism. Her upcoming literary publications include contributions in Best Sex Writing of 2015 and The Association of Libertarian Feminists Anthology. Miriam is a Women’s Studies student at Duke University and Students for Liberty Campus Coordinator. She has spoken at universities across the country and The International Conference on Human Trafficking.
2012-2016 Katie Hail-Jares (Secretary 2012-2014)
Katie is a PhD candidate in Justice, Law & Criminology at American University and research associate on harm reduction practices at Georgetown University’s Department of International Health. For the past five years, Katie has been an outreach volunteer and team leader with HIPS in Washington, DC, and has collaborated with HIPS on a number of research projects. Prior to returning to graduate school, Katie spent seven years working with incarcerated people in Iowa, including directing Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s Skylark Project, which served imprisoned survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. In her free time, Katie enjoys bourbon tasting, traveling, and volunteering as a cheetah interpreter at the National Zoo.
2015: Kate Zen
Kate Zen is an immigrant labor organizer and independent researcher in New York City and Toronto, who has been engaged with sex worker rights organizing since 2008 through joining SWOP/SWANK and helping to edit $pread Magazine. A member of the Migrant Sex Worker Justice project, Butterfly, and Maggie’s in Toronto, she is currently working towards expanding this project to New York City, by doing weekly outreach to Asian immigrant massage parlor workers in Queens and Manhattan. Kate is also a member of the Best Practices Policy Project, and has served as a community organizer at the Red Umbrella Project, the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, and Streetwise and Safe. Born in China, she is the daughter of a former restaurant worker and domestic worker, and has been involved with Chinatown community activism since first becoming a youth organizer in 2002.
2014-2015: Karen Creary
Karen is a Client Support Worker/ POETT/Speaker/Advocate located in Fort Lauderdale Fl. Professional committees / boards as well as certifications includes, Co-Chair Florida Department Health Bureau of Communicable Disease Advisory Board, Ryan White Part A Planning Council, Previous Ryan White Part A Chair of Membership, Previous Ryan White Part A Executive Committee, Previous Co-Chair of BAAG, Previous Co-Chair of the Black Aids Treatment Network (BTAN),20/20 Leading Women’s Society, Alcohol Substance and Mental Health Planning Council and AVAC. My certification includes, WILLOW Training, SISTA Training, VOICES/VOCES, 500, 501, Rapid Testing and HIPPA. I am currently on the Board of Directors of Commucare as the Secretary. Karen is currently continuing her college education and pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Public Health.
2014-2015: Conner Spinks
Conner is a hard femme Black queer whose passions include reproductive justice and HIV advocacy. Born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, Conner is finishing her undergraduate degree in Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa and is currently employed with the Crisis Center of Johnson County as a Call Room Manager. She can be found at drag shows and dive bars as part of her self-care.
2012-2015: Lindsay Roth (President | 2014 – 2015)
Lindsay Roth has been an advocate for reproductive justice and access to health care on local and national levels for the past 10 years. She is currently the Executive Director of Project SAFE, which provides direct services to women working in street economies, many of whom are impacted by the sex trade. She has also worked with AVACs PxROAR program, Planned Parenthood, the Red Umbrella Project and the Mazzoni Center as an educator and advocate. She is a MSW candidate at the Colombia School of Social Work.
2015: Lindsey Scotney
Lindsey was born and raised in Oklahoma, but has traveled extensively. She is a former sex worker and human trafficking target. This background has made her passionate about the protection of consensual sex workers’ rights to practice their trade safely and legally. Lindsey has trained and assisted municipal police departments in differentiating consensual sex work from human trafficking. She has also served as the head of multiple community service organizations and causes. She currently owns a very successful real estate investment company. Lindsey lives with her husband and six children in Tulsa and is training for her first triathlon.
2013-2014: Kate Koster (Treasurer)
Kate Koster is a sociology student at the University of Chicago with a sustained devotion to social justice and supporting community-led organizations. Prior to working with the sex worker rights movement, Kathreine volunteered and worked for education and leadership development projects for refugees, Palestinian women and youth, and inner-city students. Katherine is currently a community organizer with SWOP-Chicago, where she oversees financial and organizational planning, leadership development, community partnerships, and new program development. In her free time, Katherine volunteers with the Chicago Recovery Alliance and ChiChiCo, a collective that provides free childcare to local grassroots organizations.
2012-13: Liz Coplen
Liz served as the Board Chair of SWOP-USA and is a member of SWOP-Tucson. She has also been active in the Social Justice Task Force of Desiree Alliance. She is proactive about the representation of issues of relevance to street sex workers and people with experience of incarceration. She works tirelessly in assuring human rights for all sex workers are achieved, with focus on those wishing to exit the industry.
2012-13: Shannon Williams, Co-Chair
Shannon Williams was a sex workers for the better part of 16 years. Her arrest in 2003 became a national news story (“Berkeley High School Teacher Arrested for Prostitution”) and helped launch SWOP. In addition to doing sex work, Shannon worked to make life better for her fellow sex workers by doing political work with SWOP, educational work with Whorespeak, and peer counseling at the St James Infirmary, a health and occupational safety clinic for current and former sex workers. She had a 20 year history of radical activism on many social justice issues. Shannon was a trained sex educator, sex coach, friend and beloved peer to many, and a mother of two. Shannon Williams passed away on Jan 20th, 2015.
2012-2013: Jenny Heineman, Treasurer
Jenny co-leads SWOP Las Vegas. She is a sociology graduate research assistant, working on research projects concerning the legal brothels as well as on the intersections of sex, gender, sexuality, and commerce.
2012-13: Michael Ralph
Michael is an Assistant Professor at NYU in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis. His research interests include citizenship and sovereignty, gender, sexuality and labor.
2012-13: Sarah Elspeth Patterson
Sarah Elspeth Patterson is a proud SWOP-USA Board Member, as well as a SWOP-NYC community organizer and a sexual health consultant based in Brooklyn, New York. She is a former media columnist for $pread Magazine, the sex worker advocacy publication, and holds a Masters in Human Sexuality Education from Widener University. She teaches sexual health workshops for folks in the sex trade and co-bottomlines the Education Team for the SWOP-NYC. She is currently conducting an IRB-approved exploratory study of sex workers who are students and is the planning stages of conducting a survey of NYC sex workers regarding access to healthcare, in collaboration with other sex worker rights activists, as well as current and former sex workers. She believes in advocacy through education and regards sex worker rights as sexual rights, as well as labor rights, for a special population of gender and sexual minorities.
2012-13: Vanessa A. Forro
Vanessa A. Forro is a Licensed Social Worker in Cleveland, Ohio. She is a former independent escort and exotic dancer, active advocate for sex worker’s rights, writer, curator, and educator. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Public Health from Case Western Reserve University with an emphasis on international public health policies and institutional research ethics with sex workers. Vanessa is an active member with St. Paul’s Community Outreach, a local non-profit that provides outreach, wrap-around, and support services to street-based sex workers on Cleveland’s west side. She provides one-on-one counseling to sex workers on an as-needed basis and consultation to other agencies and organizations in an effort to enhance capacity building work with sex workers. Her relationship to SWOP and other sex worker organizations and efforts spans almost ten years. One action that people can take now to support sex worker’s rights is to get involved in their local organizations, programs,or SWOP chapters to raise awareness about what the sex worker’s rights movement is doing now and increase membership and development of national SWOP chapters.
2011-12: Eileen Rogers
Eileen is a current sex worker. She became a sex worker by circumstance, but has since stayed to make this a career. Her professional background prior to sex worki is a long career as a journalist. She has done some advocacy around addiction/recovery issues. She is on Facebook as Eileen Rogers and on Twitter as EileenAdvocate.
2011-12: Che Gossett
Che is a member of ACT UP Philadelphia and is a contributor to the book Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex. In Washington D.C., they were involved with a grassroots campaign to combat prostitutioni free zones following the release of the Move Along Report. Together with members Penelope Saunders and Elizabeth Nanas of The Best Policy Practices Project and the Desiree Alliance, Che authored a report on sex worki in United States that was submitted to the United Nations 9th Session of the Universal Periodic Review. As a recipient of the Leeway Art and Change Grant, Che put together a publication about the impact of HIV on trans communities of color in Pennsylvania. Che recently curated a community driven exhibit at the William Way Community LGBTQ Center, commemorating the ten year anniversary of the Philadelphia transgender health conference and organized and moderated a panel, “HIV Criminalization: Community Resistance and Resilience,” at Philadelphia FIGHT Prevention Summit.
2011: Cris Sardina
Cris is a co-coordinator of the Desiree Alliance and is one of the founders of a progressive re-entry program in Arizona, the Women’s Re-entry Network (WREN). She is passionate about the inclusion of the voices of people with experience of incarceration and the inclusion of other marginalized groups in rights based organizing.
2011: Dara Barlin
Dara is the Associate Director of Policy for the New Teacher Center, a leading non-profit focusing on improving equity and excellence in public education, working to build relationships with funders and policy makers at the local, state, and federal level. Prior to this, she worked at the Ford Foundation as a Program Associate and in a think tank in London called the Institute for Public Policy Research. She has also worked as Lead Organizer and Negotiator for the American Federation of Teachers fighting for the rights of school support personnel such as custodial staff, maintenance workers and food service employees in Compton, Hawthorne, and East Los Angeles.
2011: Kirsten Aspengren
Kirsten served as the secretary on the board of directors. She is an advocate for low income sex workers and the homeless. She worked for many years in New York at FROST’D (Foundation for Research on Sexually Transmitted Diseases). She is also a PONY (Prostitutes of New York) member since 1995 and maintains a New York connection from Oregon via SWOP-NYC and SWANK.
2009-2010: Acire Roche
Acire has been active in SWOP across the nation via SWOP Chicago and SWOP chapters in California. She is currently an activist in Portland, Oregon.
2009-2012: Penelope Saunders
Penelope has been the executive director of several different service providers in the US and beyond including Different Avenues and HIPS in Washington, D.C. She currently is the director of the non-profit organization, the Best Practices Policy Project, that provides policy analysis and capacity building for organizations and individuals working with sex workers and related vulnerable groups.
2008-2012: Jill McCracken
Jill McCracken served as treasurer to the board of directors. She is an active member of the Desiree Alliance. She is also a researcher and educator. She received her PhD in Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English from the University of Arizona in 2007.
2008-2012: Tara Sawyer
Tara served as board president. Tara is a member of SWOP NORCAL and volunteers for a wide range of groups working for justice/safety/rights. Zie is an optimistic individual who believes loving everyone and everything is possible. As a transgendered person with genderqueer sparkles, formerly homeless and sex worker, zie works to serve these communities and to bring their issues to groups such as SWOP USA.