Melissa Ditmore

consultant on research and rights-based programming

Curriculum Vitae

Melissa Hope Ditmore

P.O.Box 20853
New York, NY 10009 USA

Email: mhd at melissaditmore com


  • Over ten years experience in research and advocacy on global health, gender, violence, migration and development
  • Skilled researcher, policy analyst, trainer, organizer, public speaker, advocate
  • Experience working with marginalized populations with a variety of community-based organizations culminating in reports and peer-reviewed publications
  • Experienced program manager and administrator, particularly with emerging organizations and organizations in transition, including fundraising, monitoring and evaluation, and hiring
  • Author and editor of numerous publications related to gender, development, violence, HIV/AIDS, mobility and trafficking in persons, and human rights
  • Experienced instructor and mentor on research methods and research ethics


  1. Ph.D., CUNY Graduate Center, Department of Sociology (19972002)

    My thesis explored the consequences of the conflation of trafficking and prostitution in international and U.S. domestic policy.

    • 2000-2001 co-recipient of the Helena Rubinstein Dissertation Proposal Award.
    • 1999 research award recipient from The Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women.
    • Presented policy analysis and research at various symposia, conferences and universities.
  2. Universiteit van Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture, and Society, 1998
  3. B.A. Linguistics, Cornell University, 1992

Current community service

  • Red Umbrella Project, Member of the Board of Directors (Treasurer)
  • HOOK Online, Member of the Board of Directors (Treasurer)
  • Prostitutes of New York, Community Liaison


  1. Advocacy Adviser, International Council of AIDS Service Organizations and the Civil Society Working Group on HIV in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, New York, August 2013-December 2014

    • Coordinating events and advocacy related to MDGs in order to promote the inclusion of HIV post-2015, with a broad spectrum of actors including governments and multilateral organizations.
    • Representing the Civil Society Working Group on HIV in the Post-2015 Agenda at meetings of the UN Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals and other UN meetings including the Commission on the Status of Women
    • Providing input to the new development framework being developed, including about goals, targets and indicators
    • Planning events for the High Level Meeting in New York in October 2013.
  2. Consultant, John Snow International, April 2011 to July 2014.

    • Drafting guidance for best practices and monitoring and evaluation in HIV interventions for the Dominican Republic.
    • Writing about effective HIV prevention in the field including policy analysis.
    • Evaluating sex work projects to identify best practices, using criteria including effectiveness in HIV and STI prevention and treatment, numbers of people reached, and capacity building of sex workers.
    • Writing about effective HIV-prevention programming with female sex workers for AIDStar website,
  3. Trainer, Harm Reduction Coalition, November 2013 and February 2014.

    • Developing and implementing trainings for health care program personnel working with transgender people and sex workers of all genders.
    • Hiring and managing co-presenters.
  4. International Consultant, UNAIDS and the National AIDS Secretariat of Sierra Leone, February-June 2013.

  5. Research consultant, Harm Reduction International, November 2012-October 2013.

  6. Research consultant, Urban Justice Center, March 2011-October 2012.

    • Analyzing funding streams (PEPFAR) and writing fact sheets and papers about funding streams and their implementation.
    • Developing and implementing protocols for interviews and focus group discussions about how people from Latin America end up in slavery-like situations.
    • Overseeing research staff.
    • Co-authoring written reports and papers.
    • Fundraising.
  7. Training Consultant, AIDS Project Management Group, May 2011-February 2012.

    • Conducting trainings for trainers in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (February 12-25, 2012)
    • Developing and finalizing exercises, slides and manual for 5-day training about HIV prevention programming with sex workers.
    • Liaising with sex work networks.
    • Identifying appropriate personnel to conduct trainings.
  8. Research Consultant, Good Participatory Practice Project with TTAG, Thailand. June 2011-November 2011.

    • Developing and implementing protocols for interviews and focus group discussions to evaluate research practices and identify good participatory practices in clinical research with marginalized populations.
    • Co-authoring written reports and papers.
    • Fundraising.
  9. Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Behavioral Sciences Training, National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. July 2009-June 2010.

    • Designed and implemented research project with drug users in Cambodia.
    • Writing academic papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals – two have been accepted and one is under review.
  10. Researcher, Association for Progressive Communication Women’s Networking Support Programme, US Research Team, May 2009-April 2011.

    • Investigating access to information in the US, including both availability of information for end-users as well as information collected and used by corporations
    • Use of online research tools and recruiting participants online
    • Analysis of data
    • Report writing
    • Proposal writing.
  11. Researcher, Good Participatory Practice Project. March 2008-April 2009.

    • Developing protocol for Internet survey on good participatory practices in research with sex workers.
    • Supervising French translation and coordinating and supervising Spanish and French interviewers.
    • Co-authoring final report to be submitted to sex worker networks and AVAC.
    • Fundraising and management of funds.
  12. Consultant, AIDS Fonds Netherlands, January August 2009

    • Writing a strategic plan for advocacy and spending for effective HIV prevention among sex workers.
    • Developing protocol and consulting with sex workers on five continents.
    • Evaluating HIV prevention programs for sex workers to identify and promote best practices.
    • Hiring and supervision of assistants and translators.
  13. Research Consultant, Urban Justice Center Sex Workers Project, September 2006January 2009

    • Finalizing report on law enforcement raids conducted in the US, report, including but not limited to finalizing text; choosing illustrations; hiring and supervising proofreader, external reviewer, graphic designer, and printer; and coordinating media release and strategy.
    • Writing and conducting a national report on the effects of anti-trafficking policy and implementation on outcomes for prosecution in the US.
    • Analyzing data.
    • Developing interview protocols for sex workers, trafficked persons, service providers and law enforcement.
    • Conducting interviews. Some translation involved.
    • Training interviewers and interview coders.
  14. Gender Consultant, Asian Development Bank, September 2007 December 2008

    • Evaluating HIV-prevention efforts for infrastructure projects in India.
    • Writing country reports from India and Tajikistan on gender mainstreaming and HIV-prevention efforts on ADB infrastructure projects.
    • Research on HIV-prevention and gender mainstreaming needs and efforts related to ADB projects in India and Tajikistan. Conducting, coding and analyzing interviews.
    • Hiring and supervising assistants and staff in India and Tajikistan.
    • Recommending HIV-prevention methods for infrastructure projects in Tajikistan.
  15. Interim Director, Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center, August 2008November 2008

    • All financial reporting and all contact with current and potential SWP funders.
    • Supervising staff of six.
    • Implementing internal evaluation.
    • Overseeing hiring procedures for the Director’s position.
    • Updating and coordinating transition for ongoing policy projects and funding concerns with new Director, especially during the first month of the Director’s employment.
    • Coordinating joint NGO advocacy letter to national media outlets.
  16. Research Methods Trainer on Respondent-Driven Sampling, UNAIDS, November 20 25, 2007

    • Teaching workshop on respondent-driven sampling (RDS) and analysis to researchers and program officers in Khartoum, Sudan.
  17. Research Consultant, Women’s Network for Unity, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, December 2005 October 2006

    • Designing and implementing research project with sex workers across Cambodia
  18. Consultant, United Nations Population Fund, February March 2006

    • Writing national strategy for condom promotion.
  19. Coordinator, Global Network of Sex Work Projects, January 2005September 2007

    • Development and implementation of activist agenda and strategy, including focused campaigns, to promote the rights of sex workers around the world.
    • Overseeing organizational consultation to develop democratic structure.
    • Frequent public and media appearances and statements.
    • Writing press releases related to campaigns.
    • Developing guidelines about sex work projects for donors and grantmakers.
    • Organized and coordinated presentations by sex workers at the 2006 International AIDS Conference, Toronto, Canada.
  20. Senior Research Fellow, Center for the Study of Women and Society, Graduate Center of the City University of New York, October 2003 May 2006

    • Writing and editing policy analysis and ethnographic articles and reports about migration, health, and HIV; and
    • Participating and presenting at CUNY events on research and methodological issues.


Peer Reviewed Journals

  • Allman, D, Ditmore, MH & Kaplan K. 2014. Improving Ethical and Participatory Practice for Marginalized Populations in Biomedical HIV Prevention Trials: Lessons from Thailand. PLoS-One (In press.)
  • Ditmore, MH. 2014. “Caught between the Tiger and the Crocodile:”: Sex Workers’ Experiences of Structural and Physical Violence. Studies in Gender and Sexuality 15(1):22-31 doi 0.1080/15240657.2014.877726
  • Grov C, Rodriguez-Diaz C, Ditmore MH, Restar A & Parsons JT. 2014. What kinds of workshops do Internet-based male escorts want? Implications for prevention and health promotion. Sexuality Research and Social Policy 11(1) doi 10.1007/s13178-014-0151-z
  • Ditmore MH, Allman D. The Effects of Funding Restrictions on HIV Programming for Sex Workers. Journal of the International AIDS Society 16: 17354
  • Ditmore MH, Allman D. “Who Is Helsinki?”: Sex workers recommend better communication in clinical trials. Health Education Review Highlighted in UNAIDS’ “HIV this Week” bulletin.
  • Ditmore MH, Thukral J. Accountability and the Use of Raids to Fight Trafficking. Anti-Trafficking Review 1.
  • Miller, L., Folayan, M., Allman, D., Nkala, B., Mutengu, L.K., RuizMingote, L., Calazans, G., Mburu, R., Ntombela, F. & Ditmore, MH. How Ethical Is Your Clinical Trial? International Journal of Clinical Practice. 2010 August; 64(9): 1179–1182. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-1241.2010.02421.x.
  • Ditmore MH, Choun Neth. “Unsafe Condoms.” Reproductive Health Matters 28 (November 2006): 171-173.
  • Loff B, Jenkins C, Ditmore MH, Overs C and Barbero R. “Unethical clinical trials in Thailand: a community response.” The Lancet 6 May 2005; 365: 1618-1619.
  • Ditmore MH & Wijers M (2003). “Crime, sex, money and migration: The negotiations on the United Nations Protocol on Trafficking in Persons.” Nemesis 4 (Utrecht, Netherlands).
  • Ditmore MH & Saunders P. “Sex work and sex trafficking,” Sexual Health Exchange number 1, 1998.

In preparation

  • Ditmore, MH. Don’t Believe the Hype: Emotional appeals in anti-trafficking campaigns. (In revision,.)
  • With Dan Allman. ‘Its “Dark Ripple Effect”: Competing narratives of PEPFAR and sex work in southern Africa’ (presented at the International AIDS Conference, Washington, DC, July 2012)
  • With Sara Bradford, Niya Branham and Em Seng. “The Suspension of a Successful Needle and Syringe Program in Cambodia and Rising HIV among Women”


  • Ditmore MH. Prostitution and Sex Work (2011) in the series Historical Guide to Controversial Issues in America (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Press).
  • Ditmore MH. Editor (with A. Willman and A. Levy). Sex Work Matters: Exploring Money, Power and Intimacy (2010). London: Zed Books.
  • Ditmore MH. Editor, Historical Encyclopedia of Prostitution (2006). Westport: Greenwood Press.

Book chapters

  • Ditmore MH. Social Network Analysis. CUNY Women (in press, Palgrave, 2014).
  • Maternick A & Ditmore MH. Sex, Violence and the Border: Trafficking for Sex Work from Mexico to the United States. In Global Human Trafficking, Molly Dragiewicz ed. (in press, Routledge, 2014.)
  • Ditmore MH. “Sex Work and Development” (2008). In Development with a Body: Making Connections between Sexuality, Human Rights and Development. Andrea Cornwall, Sonia Correa and Susie Jolly, editors. London: Zed Books.
  • “Sex Workers are Organizing in Kolkata.” (2007) In The Affective Turn: Theorizing the Social. Clough, Patricia with Jean Halley, editors. Chapel Hill, NC: Duke University Press.
  • Ditmore MH. “Trafficking in Lives: How Ideology Shapes Policy” (2005). In Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered. Kamala Kempadoo, Bandana Pattanaik and Jyothi Sanghera, editors. Boulder, CO: Paradigm.
  • “Reaching Out to Sex Workers.” Reaching the Hardly Reached. (2002) Program for Appropriate Technology and Health.


Journals and Periodicals

  • Editor-in-chief (2008, 2006, 2005). Research for Sex Work 8, 9 and 10. Thematic issues on sex work and money, law enforcement and sex worker rights.
  • “Sex Work and Trafficking” (2007). New Internationalist.
  • “New U.S. Funding Policies on Trafficking Affect Sex Work HIV-Prevention Efforts World Wide.” (2005) SIECUS Report. 33 (2) 26-29.
  • (2002). “How immigration status affects sex workers’ health and vulnerability to abuse A comparison of two countries.” Research for Sex Work 5.
  • (2001). “Report from the USA: Do prohibitory laws promote risk?” Research for Sex Work 4.

Book Reviews

  • Review of Life Interrupted by Denise Brennan. Women’s Review of Books (forthcoming).
  • Review of I’ve Got to Make My Living by Christine Blair. Journal of Social History (December 12, 2012) 46(2):575-577
  • Review of The Professional Guinea Pig: Big Pharma and the Risky World of Human Subjects by Roberto Abadie. Symbolic Interaction.
  • Review of Sex Trafficking by Siddarth Kara. Women’s Review of Books (September/October 2009) 26(5):23
  • Review of Global Outlaws: Crime, Money, and Power in the Contemporary World by Carolyn Nordstrom and Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry by Laura Maria Agustín. Theoretical Criminology (May 2008) 12(2):253-255.


  • Taking the Pledge, 2007 (video). Producer.

Thesis supervision

  • Echols, Kevicha. The Power of the P. Widener University PhD 2012.
  • McCracken, Jill. Listening to the Language of Sex Workers: An Analysis
    of Street Sex Worker Representations and Their Effects on Sex Workers
    and Society. University of Arizona PhD 2007.
  • Koken, Juline. The meaning of the ‘whore’: How feminist theories on prostitution shape research on female sex workers. Second Doctoral Exam. Social-Personality Psychology, the Graduate Center, CUNY. 2006.