Our Story

AsylumConnect co-founders Sayid Abdullaev and Katie Sgarro met at the University of Pennsylvania in 2013.  As Sayid shared his personal experiences seeking LGBTQ asylum in the U.S. and explained the struggles that LGBTQ people continue to face on a global scale, Katie realized that she had failed to speak out about her own identity in a country where she at least had that choice. Finding strength in each other, the two friends joined their collective experiences to co-found AsylumConnect.

Sayid and Katie firmly believe in AsylumConnect’s potential to streamline the safe integration of LGBTQ asylum seekers in the U.S. By unfolding and changing the stories of LGBTQ asylum seekers in the U.S., AsylumConnect is fighting to give them the safety to finally live authentically.


 Sayid Abdullaev and Katie Sgarro, AsylumConnect co-founders (2015).

Sayid Abdullaev and Katie Sgarro, AsylumConnect co-founders (2015).

Our Core Values


In September 2016, our team officially set AsylumConnect's core values. The following seven values reflect what we care most about at AsylumConnect.

  1. Be accountable

  2. Scale responsibly

  3. Build for sustainability

  4. Take the initiative

  5. Do no harm

  6. Default to open

  7. Ask and listen



Our Team


By clicking on the photos below, you can learn more about our co-founders, directors and associates. If you're interested in joining the team, check out our open positions! Scroll down the page to learn more about our advisors. 



We were co-founded by a gay asylum seeker and lesbian in 2014 at the University of Pennsylvania.



Directors are the leadership team of AsylumConnect. They oversee our day-to-day operations and manage our associates.



Associates work to support our directors and are invaluable to the continued growth of our organization. Our associate positions allow individuals with specialized skill sets to make a meaningful contribution to AsylumConnect. 



Our Advisors

Click on the photos below, to learn more about members of our Board of Directors and Advisory Council.  

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, and provides oversight and guidance. Ultimately, our board works to steer AsylumConnect towards a bright and sustainable future. 


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, networks, and resources to help ensure AsylumConnect reaches its full potential.