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.
Andres Anton-Diaz joined IGLHRC in 2014 after serving the University of Southern California's development team in various roles (including tele-fundraising manager and athletics development officer). During his time at USC, he oversaw and participated in several initiatives to upgrade the university's fundraising database, as well as a number of online, direct marketing, peer-to-peer, and frontline fundraising campaigns. As both an undergraduate and graduate student of USC's film production and nonprofit administration programs, he produced LGBT short films, served as an LGBT advocate for the Greek community, and won an LGBT entrepreneurship scholarship based on a concept for a nonprofit fundraising application.
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.
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.
After serving in foreign affairs, politics and the private sector, Ashton Giese looks to expand awareness of the plight of LGBT people abroad. He advocated for LGBT rights at the US State Department, helped elect LGBT advocate, US Congressman Mark Pocan, and led cultural tours for LGBT travelers abroad. Ashton dates his work to support human rights to forming the first Amnesty International chapter in high school where he grew up outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He continued this advocacy through college at the George Washington University, work in Washington, DC and beyond. Alongside his advocacy work at IGLHRC, he continues to publish a weekly news brief to inform LGBT travelers about travel insights as well as the lives of LGBT people abroad.
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, 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.
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.
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.
Rios O’Leary-Tagiuri joined IGLHRC in June 2014 as a grant writer and development officer. She graduated from New York University in 2009 with a BA in American Studies, where she received the Clyde R. Taylor Award for Distinguished Work in African American and Africana Studies. During her time as an undergraduate, Rios became involved in many NYC based and US focused LGBTQ, anti-poverty, and arts groups including Queers for Economic Justice, GLAAD, and the MIX Experimental Film Festival. After graduating in 2009, she worked as a fundraiser for Community Resource Exchange, Manhattan Neighborhood Network, and the Boston Center for the Arts. Rios grew up between Boston and the UK, and feels a strong sense of kinship to communities both within and outside of the US. In 2013, Rios spent a year at Central Saint Martins college of art and design in London, studying Performance Design and Practice at the MA level. She is passionate about social justice for transgender people, for others who experience violence or discrimination as a result of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression, and about promoting intersectionality within the global progressive movement.
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 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 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.
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. She has 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 founding collective member of Bluestockings. 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 teaches at Columbia University.
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.
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.
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.