About Us.

Photo by Fadi Dahabrah from Pexels

AsylumConnect provides the first and only resource website and mobile app for LGBTQ+ asylum.

AsylumConnect co-founders Sy and Katie Sgarro met as college students at the University of Pennsylvania. As Sy shared his personal experience seeking LGBTQ+ asylum in the U.S. and explained the persecution that LGBTQ+ people continue to face on a global scale, Katie realized that she had failed to speak out about her own LGBTQ+ identity in a country where she at least had that choice. They co-founded AsylumConnect to extend a comprehensive digital lifeline to persecuted and marginalized LGBTQ+ people.

At AsylumConnect, we believe there should never be a time when someone does not know where it is safe to go for help due to their LGBTQ+ identity or immigration status.

Need Help?

Visit our resource catalog today to search for verified LGBTQ- and immigrant-friendly services near you!

Join Our Team

Join our team and help LGBTQ+ asylum seekers find the help they need! We need volunteers in all depts.

OUR TEAM, BOARD & ADVISORS

Learn more about our staff, volunteers, Board of Directors, Junior Board, and Advisory Council.  

Staff

Our staff members lead our operations and collaborate with our volunteers to connect persecuted LGBTQ+ people with safety.

Katie Sgarro Co-Founder & President
Shehryar Khan Tech Lead (Part-Time)
Abby Davies Resource Coordinator (Part-Time)

Volunteers

Our volunteers are invaluable to the continued growth of our organization. We are proud to have volunteers from a diversity of immigration statuses, races/ethnicities, sexual orientations and gender identities. Learn more about our volunteers below. 

Volunteer Directors

Our volunteer directors support our staff and help to lead AsylumConnect.

Hans How Vice President
Tuqa Youssef Director of Partnerships
Carissa Chantiles Senior Director of Data Management
Jordyn Mathis Director of Human Resources
Maher Darwiche Director of Development
Douglas Santeramo Director of Corporate Partnerships & Engagement
Li-Jay Chu Director of Marketing & PR

Volunteer Associates

Our volunteer associates leverage their skills to advance AsylumConnect.

Rebecca Jones Policy & Advocacy Manager
Chris Aguilar Data Manager
Yosheel Bangaroo Policy & Research Associate (Canada)
Rubina Sidhu Policy & Research Associate (Canada)
Christine Brydges UX Researcher
Camilla Menin Lead UX Designer
Wei Li UX Designer
Azucena Hunsaker Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Marni Kostman Web Developer
Marie Esther-Buh Team Coordinator
McCall Wells Blogger + Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator (Mexico)
Colin Kraczkowsky Web Developer
Miroslav Damyanov UX Researcher
Dani Cooke Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Chelsey Copps Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Soo Kim Web Developer
Annalisa Galgano Research & Policy Analyst
Jack Dickson UX Designer
Peter Viverito Data Manager
Angela Lair Designer
Shoshana Weinstein Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Swati Nikumb UX Researcher
Sarah Jayne Dimmick HR & Recruitment Manager
Dasha Sverzhanovskaya Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Pamela Vazquez Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Sara-Ann Rosen Policy & Research Associate (U.S.)
Peggy Lu UX Designer
TeAnna Stamps Designer
Vladimir Deryuzhenko Web Developer
Ceren Ozgul UX Research Lead
Lyndi Castrejon Web Developer
Tam Soucy Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Nina Rosenblatt Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator

Interns

Our interns join us for the summer or a semester to develop their skills while supporting LGBTQ+ asylum seekers’ safe resettlement.

Douglas Van Renen Marketing Intern
Emma Myers Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Nina Ellard Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator (Mexico) Intern
Michael Smoley PR Intern
Daniel Jones PR Intern

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is the governing body for AsylumConnect. Our board plays a pivotal role in developing AsylumConnect’s strategic plan, providing oversight and guidance. Ultimately, our board works to steer AsylumConnect towards a bright and sustainable future.

Katie Sgarro Co-Founder & President at AsylumConnect
Sean Buckley Director of Operations at Kupanda Capital
Wesley Bizzell Sr. Asst. Gen. Counsel at Altria Group & Pres. Natl. LGBT Bar Assoc.
Keeley Hanlon Senior Director at Purple Strategies

NYC Junior Board

In 2020, we launched our inaugural AsylumConnect Junior Board for young professionals. Members help support and promote our mission, fundraise, and build greater awareness for the first ever digital resource platform for LGBTQ+ asylum.

Alex Wheeler BRAC USA, Associate
Ryan Eakin Twitter; Technical Recruiter, Cortex
Lauren Gerken INEE, Consultant: Gender & Education in Emergencies
Stephen Rice Google, Software Engineer
Glenn R. McGillivray Jones Day, Associate (Securities Litigation and SEC Enforcement)
Michael Stewart-Evans UN Women, Policy Analyst - Gender and Migration
Chasen Richards, 2020 Co-Chair McKinsey & Company, Business Analyst
Michael Leonetti University of Oxford, Postgraduate
Ivana Bolfarini PwC, Assurance Associate
Aimée Hernandez-Meza Freelance Graphic Designer
Nehal Gupta, 2020 Co-Chair Novantas, Senior Analyst
Mary (MO) Swinson The Mount Sinai Hospital, Volunteer Program Coordinator
Jimmy Zhang McKinsey & Company and Stanford, Alumni
Caylyn Perry Hogan Lovells, Law Clerk
Erica Riley Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, Graduate Student
Megan Druss Point72, Intelligence Associate
Michael Lupton Blank Rome, Associate
Nina Seminara Ipsos, Research Analyst
Julie Hendrickson, Jones Day, Associate in the Financial Markets Practice Group

Advisory Council

The Advisory Council is a diverse group of LGBTQ+ advocates, asylees, refugees, nonprofit leaders, and human rights defenders. Members generously lend their areas of expertise, personal experiences, and networks to help AsylumConnect reach its full potential.

Jacque Larrainzar
Maikel Nabil Sanad
Julian Sanjivan
Fernando Chang-Muy, M.A., J.D.
Subhi Nahas
Emma Biegacki
Micheal Ighodaro
Raina Fox, M.A.
Grace Liu
Mike Iskandaryan
Francisco Tenorio-Hernández
Priscilla F. Aybar