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 persecution that LGBTQ people continue to face on a global scale, Katie realized that she had failed to speak out about her own sexual orientation in a country where she at least had that choice. Finding strength in each other, the two friends co-founded tech nonprofit AsylumConnect to build a comprehensive digital lifeline for persecuted LGBTQ people.

Our mission is to provide persecuted and marginalized LGBTQ people with the verified information and community they need to live freely. 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.


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 board members and advisors. 



We were co-founded 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, providing 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, and networks to help AsylumConnect reach its full potential.