Laura Cordisco Tsai
Dr. Cordisco Tsai is a researcher and social work practitioner specializing in human trafficking and gender-based violence. Her research broadly targets the development of more empowering and effective services for people who have been trafficked, with a specific focus on strengthening economic empowerment and re/integration support programming for trafficked persons in Southeast Asia. She utilizes a combination of participatory, qualitative, and quantitative methodologies in her research. Prior research projects include, among others, a participatory assessment of a savings program for trafficked persons and their family members in the Philippines; a financial diaries study with women who were trafficked in the Philippines; a grounded theory study exploring family financial responsibility among women who were trafficked in the Philippines; and a randomized trial evaluating a microsavings intervention for women engaged in sex work in Mongolia. She previously worked at UNICEF on research pertaining to violence against children globally. In addition to her research, Dr. Cordisco Tsai has worked as a consultant/practitioner with a variety of NGOs in the counter-trafficking sector. She currently serves as an advisor for a longitudinal study with survivors of sexual exploitation in Cambodia, where she collaborates with the research team on data analysis pertaining to survivors’ perspectives on their experiences in shelter care. While at Harvard, she will conduct participatory research with survivors of human trafficking in the Philippines, exploring what economic empowerment means to survivors themselves. In addition to her appointment at Harvard, she is a Visiting Scholar at New York University School of Social Work. She holds a BA from Brown University (magna cum laude) and MSSW and PhD from Columbia University.