About Us.

Photo by Fadi Dahabrah from Pexels

AsylumConnect provides the world's first web and mobile resource platform for LGBTQ+ people fleeing persecution.

AsylumConnect co-founders Sy and Jamie met as college students at the University of Pennsylvania. Sy shared his experience struggling to find safe resources during his own U.S. asylum process. Despite access to technology, upon arrival in the United States Sy struggled as a gay asylum seeker to know where it was safe to go for help to meet his basic needs, from finding legitimate pro bono legal representation for his asylum claim to LGBTQ+ affirming health care, mental health support, housing, and educational opportunities. As a trans man from a conservative background, the feeling of not being able to live authentically deeply resonated with Jamie. During their senior year, Sy and Jamie co-founded AsylumConnect to extend the first ever digital lifeline to other persecuted and marginalized LGBTQ+ people.

AsylumConnect is founded on the belief that every LGBTQ+ person deserves the safety and freedom to live authentically.

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!


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


Our staff members lead our operations and collaborate with our volunteers to ensure every LGBTQ+ person finds the safety to live authentically.

Join us! Learn more about our open staff, volunteer and intern positions here (*all positions remote).

Jamie Sgarro Co-Founder & Executive Director
Paulina Leyva Resource Coordinator, Canada / French (Part-Time)
Brian Dilworth Development Director
Asher Sovereign Operations Coordinator (Part-Time)
Carissa Chantiles Resource Coordinator, United States / English (Part-Time)
Abby Davies Resource Coordinator, Mexico / Spanish (Part-Time)


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. 

Interested in joining our remote team? Click here

Li-Jay Chu Director of Marketing
Chris Aguilar Partnerships & Outreach
Claire Bonzani Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Jeremy Kern Corporate Partnerships/Outreach Volunteer
Meghan Singer Spanish Translator
Courteney Leinonen Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (Spanish)
Anette Mei Rajander Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Leah Gribko Graphic Designer
Fredel Granados Spanish Translator
Alex Londres Spanish Translator
Frida Gutierrez Spanish Translator
Miroslav Damyanov UX Researcher Lead
Patricia DuBose Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Kevin Ye Web Developer
Shoba Jayaraman UX Researcher
Enrique Santamaría UX Researcher
Abbas Hasan Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Kristen Shonborn Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Corey Hummerston Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Xandrea Burns Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Daniel Santana Spanish Translator
Julia Appel Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Marie-Esther Ahone Team Engagement Coordinator Volunteer
Wei Li UX Designer
Shannon Wu Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Melissa Navarro Spanish Translator
Grey Weinstein Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Genevieve Husak Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Tommy Solano-Szostek Graphic Designer
Tel Anderson Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Margaret McCardell Furr Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Vig Hermannsdottir Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Alyssa Carbone Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (Spanish)
Peggy Lu UX Designer
Julia Fest Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (French)
Steandly Eko Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Daniel Salvito Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Gemma Lynch Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Kate Ellison English Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Tucker Holl Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Linda María Urueña Mariño Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)
Izebel Nani Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (Spanish)
Emelyn Gabriela Portillo Sánchez Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (Spanish)
Catherine Lee Community Research & Outreach Volunteer (English)


Our interns join us for the summer or a semester to develop their skills while helping LGBTQ+ asylum seekers and other LGBTQ+ people fleeing persecution find the safety to live authentically.

Learn more about our Spring 2022 intern class below.

Interested in interning with us? Click here to view our Summer 2022 internship positions. 

Douglas Van Renen Marketing Intern
Amy McAfee Community Research & Outreach Intern (English)
Georgia Pertsch Community Research & Outreach Intern (Spanish)
Sydney Levy ResearchOps Intern
Charlotte Pierrel Corporate Partnerships Intern
Eliza Blackwell Community Research & Outreach Intern (English)
Anand Balan Community Research & Outreach Intern (Spanish)
Fatima Karim Community Research & Outreach Intern (English)
Jody Caretti Community Research & Outreach Intern (English)
Jordan Scoggin Community Research & Outreach Intern (Spanish)
Saskia Schneider Community Research & Outreach Intern (English)
Maddie Ceasar Community Research & Outreach Intern (English)
Raven Calloway Community Research & Outreach Intern (Spanish)

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is the governing body for AsylumConnect. The board plays a pivotal role in developing AsylumConnect’s strategic plan, providing oversight and guidance. Ultimately, our board works to steer AsylumConnect towards achieving its vision of ensuring every LGBTQ+ person knows where it is safe to go for help.

Jamie Sgarro, Co-Founder Co-Founder & Executive Director at AsylumConnect
Keeley Hanlon Senior Director at Purple Strategies
David Robinson Sr. Manager eDiscovery at Macquarie Group
Sean Buckley, Board Chair Operating Partner at Kupanda Capital
Julian Sanjivan Co-President at InterPride
Christina Tong, Board Vice Chair Senior Product Manager at Peloton & Former Junior Board at AsylumConnect
Justin Becker Associate at Sidley Austin LLP
Wesley Bizzell Sr. Asst. Gen. Counsel at Altria Group & Former President at National LGBT Bar Assoc.
Hans How Program Manager of Housing Investments and Strategic Initiatives at Meta & Former Volunteer Vice President at AsylumConnect

Junior Board

The AsylumConnect Junior Board is a group of young professionals in the United States committed to supporting AsylumConnect’s critical work through fundraising, networking and marketing.

Meet our 2022 Junior Board class of 40+ young professionals below! 

Learn more about this innovative program for young professionals in the U.S. and how to become a member here.

2022 Steering Committee

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

Slavi Arnaudov, Co-Chair The Blackstone Group, Tactical Opportunities Investor
Kelly Chan, Co-Director of Tech Committee DoubleVerify, Technical Program Manager
Michael Lupton, Co-Director of Social Committee Blank Rome, Associate
Athena Zander, Co-Director of Recruitment Committee Joynup, Inc., Director of Business Development
Tanushree Khanna, Co-Chair PwC, Assurance Senior Associate
Meredith Simpson, Co-Director of Tech Committee Petal, Product Manager
Vikram Ramnarain, Co-Director of Social Committee Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Financial Market Infrastructures Analyst
Kristelle Aisaka, Co-Director of Recruitment Committee The Jed Foundation, Senior Campus Advisor and Data Lead
Javier Moran-Eserki, Co-Director of Fundraising Committee (Events & Individual Giving) EY-Parthenon, Consultant
Mary (MO) Swinson, Co-Director of Marketing Committee Social Worker
Grete Miller, Co-Director of Learning & Development Committee Shutterstock, Product Operations Specialist
Yousaf Shakil, Co-Director of Fundraising Committee (Corporate Partnerships) ACLU, Donor and Brand Activation Officer
Madeline Elliott, Co-Director of Marketing Committee Accenture Federal Services, Senior Analyst
Micki Lee Coleman-Palansky, Co-Director of Learning & Development Committee Levy Konigsberg, LLP, Paralegal

2022 Members

Judy Siegel Dow Jones, Director of Product Design & UX Research
Rohan Dsouza PwC, Digital Assurance & Transparency (DAT) Manager
Bryce Badger PwC, Cyber Risk & Regulatory Consulting Associate
Chase Bernier Chelsea Senior Living, Human Resources Intern
Jayne McGarrity PwC, Director of Cybersecurity and Privacy
Blair Gregory Macquarie Group, Governance Team Coordinator
Sehrish Rashid LifeTies, Inc., LGBTQ+ Mentor Coordinator
Nehal Gupta BBR Partners, Associate
Angel Yu PwC Strategy&, Senior Associate
Oleg Grachev GTCR, Private Equity Associate
Joy Chung Meta, Privacy Legal Counsel
Simmi Mulchandani PwC, Digital Operations Manager
Joe Anderson Deloitte Consulting, Business Analyst
Pearl Huang Macquarie Group, Lawyer
Bennett Johnson Kearney, Senior Business Analyst
Federico Ivanissevich PwC, Consultant
Daniel De Boulay Repair the World NYC, Service Corps Program Manager
Korey Anthony Chisolm NYC Health – Community Health Worker, Visiting Nurse Services of New York – Behavioral Health Senior Program Assistant
Seraphina Meacham PwC, Tax Associate
Bruno Rovai Macquarie Asset Management, Sr Manager, Sovereign Strategist
Alice Schyllander Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN), Assistant Communications and Program Manager
Max Chazen Deloitte, Transfer Pricing Consultant
Kassidy Rumpf PwC, Tax Associate
Rachel Weiss Consilio, Contract Attorney
Bram McGinnis Harry’s, Inc., People Business Partner
Matt Fittipaldi Gay Men’s Life Lab at Buck Dodson Inc., Podcast Associate
Alex Joseph Project Renewal Inc., Case Manager of Mental Health Services-Next Step

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
Sara Wagner, MA
Fernando Chang-Muy, M.A., J.D.
Raina Fox, M.A.
Priscilla F. Aybar
Glenn R. McGillivray
Micheal Ighodaro
Francisco Tenorio-Hernández
Danielle Madeja
John Lloyd, Ed.D.
Mike Iskandaryan
Emma Biegacki
Maher Darwiche