Staff Directory

Hossein Alizadeh, Regional Program Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa

Hossein Alizadeh is the IGLHRC's Regional Program Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa. From 2006 to 2009, Hossein worked as IGLHRC's Communications' Coordinator, while monitoring LGBT rights violations in Iran and Iraq. He previously worked as the Fellowship of Reconciliation's Coordinator for Iran and Iraq. Hossein is bilingual in Persian (Farsi) and English, and has an advanced comprehension of Standard Arabic. He has an M.A. in International Relations from the National University, Teheran, Iran and an M.A in International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame.

+1 (212) 430-6016
Sarah Bennett, Executive Assistant

Sarah Bennett joins IGLHRC with a passion for LGBT rights. Originally from Arizona, she earned her B.A. in Sociology and minored in LGBT studies and social justice at DePaul University in Chicago. She served for over two years in the Peace Corps in the African country, Namibia. There she worked as a teacher focusing on English, computer literacy and sex education. She later traveled in India and Southeast Asia prior to returning to the States. Prior to joining IGLHRC, Sarah worked at New York University, providing support for the faculty at the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

+1 (212) 430-6033
Lindie Botha, Operations and Compliance Officer, Africa Program

Lindie Botha has been working in the development sector since 1998, gaining experience in Europe, West, East - and Southern Africa. She holds an MSc in Development Management and has designed, implemented and evaluated award-winning projects and worked with a variety of international donors. Her areas of expertise include: Donor development and grant compliance; Technical assistance and capacity building; Organisational Development and management training; Project management, monitoring and evaluation. Lindie has a passion for supporting grass-roots organisations to implement innovative projects leading to real-world change. She has assisted a variety of NGOs, many in deep rural areas in South Africa, to create evidence-based programmes, to exhibit and market their work at international conferences, to expand funding sources, and to implement projects more effectively.

+27 (11) 486-9571
Emily Carson, Development Coordinator

Emily Carson has worked internationally and domestically with local organizations dealing with the social impact and intersection of HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ realities for the past 10 years. Her focus specializing in the organizational and programatic development of Youth, Sex Work and Drug User networks. She is the former Youth Program Coordinator for the 2012 International AIDS Conference; and currently sits on the steering committee and advisor board for HIV Young Leaders Fund and The Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she holds a B.A in Media and Journalism from the University of Guelph-Humber and a specialization in photojournalism.

Cristina (Ging) Cristobal, Project Coordinator for Asia and Pacific Islands

Ging Cristobal brings 12 years of LGBT activism in the Philippines and Asia to her position as Project Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific Islands at IGLHRC. She co-founded Lesbian Advocates Philippines (LeAP), and has lobbied for laws to protect LGBT rights, researched and documented LGBT discrimination cases, and facilitated various local and regional groups and networks on LGBT sexual health and rights. She is currently an active member of Asia Pacific Rainbow, a regional LGBT organization and Ang Ladlad, a national organization for LGBT people in the Philippines. She is committed to addressing the intersections of violence and poverty in LBGT communities.

María Mercedes Gómez, Regional Program Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean

María Mercedes Gómez is a Colombian academic and human rights activist whose work has focused on exploring the challenges of understanding, preventing, and reducing violence based on sexual prejudices in the US and Latin America. María holds a Ph.D. in Political Science, as well as a M.A. in Gender Studies and Feminist Theory from the New School for Social Research. She taught for many years at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia as well as in universities in Canada. She is general coordinator for RED-ALAS, a group of law professors and lawyers that promotes curricula in gender and sexuality in Latin American law schools. María has also served on the legal team and the Board of Directors of Proyecto Colombia Diversa, an NGO dedicated to promoting human rights of LGBTI communities in Colombia.

Through her writings on violence based on prejudice and training workshops, María has promoted awareness of LGBTI violence among law professors, law enforcement agents, and representatives from the criminal justice system in Latin America.

Michael Hartwyk, Operations Manager

Michael Hartwyk, IGLHRC's Operations Manager, dates his LGBT activism back to his time at the University of Pennsylvania where he majored in Sociology with a concentration in Structures of Opportunity and Inequality. While at PENN, he was a student leader in the LGBT and theatre communities on campus. Since his graduation, he has worked in higher education, K-12 education, software marketing, and market research.

+1 (212) 430-6019
Shehnilla Mohamed, Regional Program Coordinator for Africa

Shehnilla Mohamed is IGLHRC's Regional Program Coordinator for Africa. During her over 25 years experience in media and development, Shehnilla has always maintained a strong focus on human rights including LGBTI rights violations. She previously worked as South Africa Director for Oxfam GB, Deputy Director of BBC Trust African Media Initiative based in Kenya, and Principal Advisor for the Hivos-IMS Program in Zimbabwe among others. She spent six years working in The Gulf as Bureau Chief, Northern Emirates for the daily, Gulf News. Shehnilla is presently completing her Masters and has a BA honors in Journalism and Media Studies. She is a certified work place coach and can speak English, Urdu, Shona and basic French.

+27 11 486 9366
Marianne Mollmann, Director of Programs

Marianne Mollmann is Director of Programs at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in New York City. Ms. Mollmann previously was a senior policy advisor with Amnesty International's International Secretariat in London where she focused on freedom of expression and sexual rights issues, and a women's rights researcher and advocate with Human Rights Watch in New York. Ms. Mollmann specializes in sexual rights, reproductive rights, women in conflict, economic rights, and anti-discrimination.

Ms. Mollmann has lived and worked in several countries and continents. She is the former co-coordinator of the Women's Working Group of the International Network for Economic Social and Cultural Rights and the former executive director of the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA). Ms. Mollmann holds an LL.M. in International Human Rights Law from Essex University and speaks fluent Spanish, French, and Danish.

Thomas Ndayiragije, Senior Program Officer for Africa

Thomas Ndayiragije is IGLHRC's Senior Program Officer for Africa. Thomas’ activism for LBTI rights began in 1998 addressing issues of xenophobia and homophobia in discussion groups while in college in Johannesburg, South Africa. For the past 14 years, he has worked with local and international organizations dealing with conflict resolution, peace building and human rights research and campaigning. Thomas has traveled in Africa, the Middle East and Europe where he met with LGBTI rights activists and shared activism knowledge and experiences. He worked in Uganda for seven years with Amnesty Internationals’ East Africa team. While in Uganda, Thomas contributed to LGBTI movement building, often supporting LGBTI rights activists at the grassroots level, in a personal capacity. He brings with him a rich experience of monitoring, documenting and reporting on human rights violations and solid skills on human rights research and strategic advocacy for LGBTI rights.

+27 11 486 9345
Grace Poore, Regional Program Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific Islands

Grace Poore, from Malaysia, is the Regional Program Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific Islands at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). She oversees multi-country documentation and advocacy projects in Asia, conducts trainings on human rights documentation, and facilitates LBT engagement with UN mechanisms, specifically the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). She co-wrote the video, “Courage Unfolds” about LGBT activism in Asia and the Yogyakarta Principles. Her other two documentary films on domestic violence and surviving child sexual abuse have been viewed in eighteen countries. Ms. Poore holds a Masters degree from Syracuse University, Newhouse School of Communications. She is a frequent contributor to online journals such as the Huffington Post and The New Civil Rights Movement.

Maria Sjödin, Director of Development and External Relations

Maria Sjödin joined IGLHRC as Director of Development and External Relations in 2014 after being the Executive Director of RFSL, Sweden’s largest and oldest LGBT organization for 9 years. Maria led the expansion of RFSL’s international work from a single advocacy project to a number of projects with partner organizations in several countries and human rights and leadership training of hundreds of international LGBT activists.

Maria serves on the board of ILGA (the global membership organiation for LGBT organizations) since 2008 and led the organizing of the largest ever ILGA World Conference hosted by RFSL in Stockholm in 2012.

Roberta Sklar, Communications Consultant

Roberta Sklar is a leading communications strategist and media relations’ specialist. A veteran of social justice media campaigns, she has worked to advance LGBT civil rights, sexual and reproductive health rights, and global female empowerment.

Sklar is the former communications director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Empire State Pride Agenda. During her tenure, the Task Force re-established itself as a leading national voice for LGBT rights. At the Pride Agenda Sklar conducted media campaigns supporting the delivery of groundbreaking statewide nondiscrimination law, a hate crimes law, and NY’s first state funding for LGBT health and human services. As a consultant, she worked with NYC Anti-Violence Project, Freedom to Marry, the National Sexuality Resource Center, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, Queers for Economic Justice, and others.

Sklar developed and implemented global advocacy campaigns addressing the status of women and girls with the United Nations Population Fund, Family Care International, Saving Women’s Lives Project, Women ARISE, and the International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture and Society.

+1 (917) 704-6358
Jessica Stern, Executive Director

Jessica Stern, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), specializes in gender, sexuality and human rights globally.  As the first researcher on LGBT rights at Human Rights Watch and a Ralph Bunche Fellow at Amnesty International, she conducted fact-finding investigations and advocacy in relation to Iran, Kyrgyzstan, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates. Prior to working internationally, she campaigned extensively for social and economic justice in the United States for the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, the Urban Justice Center and as a co-founding collective member of Bluestockings Bookstore.  A past board member of Queers for Economic Justice, she currently serves on the board of the International Bar Association’s Committee on LGBT Rights and the Law.  Educated at the London School of Economics, she has taught graduate and law classes at Columbia University, the City University of New York (CUNY), and Universidad de los Andes.  She is frequently quoted in the media, including by Agence France PresseAl Jazeera, the Associated PressThe Guardian, and The New York Times

+1 (212) 430-6014
Brian Tofte-Schumacher, Digital Communications Manager

Brian Tofte-Schumacher joined the IGLHRC communications team in July 2011. Originally from Washington state, Brian moved to New York City after earning his Bachelor degree in Business Administration and Spanish Language & Literature from Western Washington University in June 2010. Brian is a 2011 alumnus of the New York City Civic Corps, an AmeriCorps program sponsored by NYC Service. He served for five years on the Board of Directors for the Sean Humphrey House, a non-profit HIV/AIDS adult family home in Bellingham, Washington. Brian has participated in LGBT, HIV/AIDS, anti-racism, and feminist advocacy in various capacities throughout his life and is honored to join the international LGBT movement.

+1 (212) 430-6015
Suzanne Trimel, Communications Director

Suzanne Trimel, Communications Director, is a human rights advocate and nonprofit communications leader who joined IGLHRC in 2014. Trimel has more than 20 years of experience as a specialist in communications, media relations and public affairs and has held leadership roles at Columbia University and its women’s affiliate, Barnard College, and most recently, at Amnesty International USA.

She has raised public attention to human rights and women’s concerns in more than 100 countries, and helped develop and implement campaigns that led to significant human rights victories, including adoption of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, protections for Afghan women and the lifting of unjust sentences against prisoners of conscience. She was the communications leader at Amnesty on many breakthrough projects, including the use of satellite images to expose human rights abuses in Africa and the Middle East.

At Amnesty, Trimel engaged with notable film directors, actors and musicians to help raise attention to global concerns. In higher education, she created groundbreaking marketing and communications tools to draw new institutional support. At Barnard, she helped to re-establish the college as a leading voice for womens’ achievements in science, medicine and the arts.

As a journalist early in her career, she covered economics in Washington and wrote an award-winning series on health concerns from nuclear installations that won an American Cancer Society award.

+1 (212) 430-6018
Debbie Watson, Office Administrator: Regional Office, Johannesburg

Debbie Watson brings extensive managerial, marketing, and television production experience to our team. During her tenure at The Electronic Media Network (M-Net) Debbie held roles from Executive PA to Project Coordinator to Supervising Producer and ultimately Commissioning Editor, producing shows such as Miss World, Miss SA, Red Nose Day, Face of Africa, M-Net Cares and many more. She has also worked with Wisdom Keys Group, a marketing company dealing with such clientele as SA Tourism and Eskom, and in 2007 worked with the Southern African Rail Commuter Corporation now known as PRASA.

Debbie is especially pleased to be able to turn her full-time attention to an organization with a dedicated Human Rights agenda. She firmly beliefs that the support for LGBT human rights will continue to climb and that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and have their human rights respected, no matter who they are or whom they love.