About Us.

Photo by Fadi Dahabrah from Pexels

AsylumConnect provides the world's first tech resource platform for those fleeing persecution due to sexual orientation or gender identity.

AsylumConnect co-founders Sy and Jamie 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, Jamie realized that they had failed to speak out about their own LGBTQ+ identity in a country where they at least had that choice. Jamie and Sy co-founded AsylumConnect to extend a comprehensive digital lifeline to other 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?

Use our FREE resource website and mobile app to connect with verified LGBTQ+ affirming and immigrant friendly legal, medical, mental health, and social services in seconds, 24/7.

Join Our Team

Join our remote team and help persecuted LGBTQ+ people find safety!

OUR TEAM, BOARD & ADVISORS

Learn more about our staff, volunteers, interns, 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.

Jamie Sgarro Co-Founder & Executive Director
Paulina Leyva Resource Coordinator, Canada (Part-Time)
F.J. Genus Tech Lead (Part-Time)
Chloe Moore Programs Manager (Part-Time)
Abby Davies Resource Coordinator, Mexico (Part-Time)
Carissa Chantiles Resource Coordinator, United States (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 leadership team helps to support our staff.

Hans How Vice President
Ceren Ozgul UX Research Lead
Li-Jay Chu Co-Director of Marketing & PR
Mia Huynh UX Design Lead
Elizabeth Walker Co-Director of Marketing & PR
Douglas Santeramo Director of Corporate Partnerships & Engagement
Jordyn Mathis Director of Human Resources
Maher Darwiche Junior Board Program Liaison

Volunteer Associates

Our volunteer associates leverage their skills to advance AsylumConnect.

Marie Esther-Buh Team Coordinator
Angela Lair Senior Graphic Designer
Shoshana Weinstein Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Swati Nikumb UX Researcher
Pamela Vazquez Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Claire Bonzani Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Théa Klement Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Lilah Greenberg Research & Policy Analyst
Emily Habeck Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Ilan Korman Spanish Translator
Jace DiLamanno Social Media Coordinator
Charlotte Tate Research & Policy Analyst
Miroslav Damyanov UX Researcher
TeAnna Stamps Designer
Caroline Leeolou Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Jesus Galvan Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Gabriel Friedin Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Jeffrey Lam Web Developer
Kendra Gallick Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Mallory Woods Spanish Translator
Valeria Paulina Olmedo Jiménez Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Rodrigo Martinez Research & Policy Analyst
Rachel Little Social Media Coordinator
Chris Aguilar Partnerships & Outreach
Rubina Sidhu Policy & Research Associate (Canada)
Christine Brydges UX Researcher
Wei Li UX Designer
Taylor Holmes Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Ellie Safran Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Shannon Wu Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Matthew Tran Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Jacob Clark Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Gioia Kennedy Research & Policy Analyst
Ross Sounart Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Peggy Lu UX Designer
Julia Fest Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Sophia Zephir Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Nora Nyi Myint Corporate Partnerships & Engagement Coordinator
Kate Davila Social Media Coordinator
Joshua Lokken Web Developer
Arturo Fernández Malagón Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Karla Michelle Alas Rivera Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Steandly Eko Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Uriel Lopez Data Entry & Outreach Coordinator
Jesse Bennett Research & Policy Analyst

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
Diandra Sarr Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Amy Ciminnisi Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Alex DeTour Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Anna Blancas Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Isabella Rivera Volquez Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Beverlyn Hernandez Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Malaika Tiglao Marketing Intern
Grace Cannell Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Alice Charlotte Bethke Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Nick Kleppinger Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Sarah Funda Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Esmeralda Barragán Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Josie Manucha Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Jayna Jung Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Lee Norfleet Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Jordan Moore Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Allison Kapostasy Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Morelia Guzmán Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Alice Bruno Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Chase Cooke Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Melissa Navarro Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Autumn Eales Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Patrick Lund Forsman Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Julia Lin Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Daisy Collins Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
April Ortiz Social Services & Outreach Coordinator Intern
Edvin Morales Social Services & Outreach Coordinator 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.

Jamie Sgarro Co-Founder & Executive Director at AsylumConnect
Julian Sanjivan Co-President at InterPride
Sean Buckley, Board Chair Director of Operations at Kupanda Capital
Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen Deputy Executive Director for Policy & Advocacy at the National Center for Transgender Equality
Wesley Bizzell Sr. Asst. Gen. Counsel at Altria Group & Pres. Natl. LGBT Bar Assoc.
Justin Becker Associate at Sidley Austin LLP
Keeley Hanlon Senior Director at Purple Strategies

Junior Board

The AsylumConnect Junior Board is a group of young professionals committed to supporting AsylumConnect’s critical work through fundraising, networking and marketing. We are excited to welcome 30+ members to the 2021 program.

Updates on 2022 Junior Board recruitment will be posted on our website here.

2021 Steering Committee

The Steering Committee serves as the leadership team of the AsylumConnect Junior Board.

Slavi Arnaudov, Co-Chair The Blackstone Group, Tactical Opportunities Investor
Nehal Gupta, Social Committee Director BBR Partners, Associate
Nina Seminara, Director of Marketing Committee Ipsos, Research Analyst
Judy Siegel, Co-Chair Dow Jones, Director of Product Design & UX
Stephen Rice, Co-director of Tech Committee Google, Software Engineer
Glenn R. McGillivray, Co-director of Recruitment Committee Jones Day, Associate (Securities Litigation and SEC Enforcement)
Nima Niassati, Co-director of Fundraising Committee Salesforce, Strategy & Operations Sr Analyst
Elizabeth “Boof” Truchan, Co-director of Tech Committee Roblox, Software Engineer
Martha O’Brien, Co-director of Recruitment Committee Capital One, Human Resources Associate
Robert “Bobby” Zipp, Co-director of Fundraising Committee San Jose State University, Leadership Annual Giving Officer
Will Sheehan, Director of Learning & Development Committee Safe Passage Project, Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow

2021 Members

Javier Moran-Eserki EY-Parthenon, Consultant
Megan Druss Balyasny Asset Management, Compliance Associate
Michael Leonetti NYU Law School, Second Year Law Student
Ben Mills Cambrian Biopharma, Associate, Office of the CEO
Kasra Zarei University of Iowa, Graduate Student
Christina Tong Google, Product Manager
Bennett Johnson Kearney, Senior Business Analyst
Jenna Vaccaro American Express, Web Designer
Mary (MO) Swinson Social Worker
Gaurav Lalsinghani DC Public Charter School Board, Sector Data Analyst
Michael Lupton Blank Rome, Associate
William Chiu Better.com, Recruiting Operations Team Lead
Gabriela MacPherson Riverside Language Program, Company Outcomes Coordinator
Brett Schratz American Civil Liberties Union - Voting Rights Project, Paralegal
Kayleigh Redmond Freelance Writer
Max Chasen Deloitte, Transfer Pricing Consultant
Megan Schippmann Royal Bank of Canada, Capital Markets. Senior Associate Strategist, Global Research
Daniel Lowenthal Horizon Media, Growth Associate, Big
Kelly Chan Adobe, Program Operations Manager
Alex Campili BlackRock, Analyst

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
Grace Liu
Fernando Chang-Muy, M.A., J.D.
Raina Fox, M.A.
Priscilla F. Aybar
Micheal Ighodaro
Francisco Tenorio-Hernández
Danielle Madeja
Mike Iskandaryan
Emma Biegacki