2019 Roddenberry Fellow
Katie Sgarro is a social entrepreneur and LGBTQ advocate. At 22, she “came out” to co-found AsylumConnect. Her experience denying her own sexual orientation drives her to ensure all LGBTQ people live freely. Katie has led AsylumConnect for 4.5 years in establishing the first online resource catalog for LGBTQ asylum seekers in the U.S.
For her work on AsylumConnect, Katie was selected as the winner of MCC15’s Millennium Peace Prize at the UN and the Business Today Impact Challenge (2015), a finalist for the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference Pitch Competition (2017), named to the Clinton Foundation’s CGI U Alumni Honor Roll of social innovators (2017), a Mogul Influencer (2017), and a Washington Post’s WP BrandStudio Influencer (2018). She has been a featured speaker on LGBTQ rights and public good technology, and her work has appeared in numerous publications including The HuffPost, Forbes.com, The Advocate, and The Hill.
Katie is also co-founder and board member of ed-tech nonprofit UPchieve. She received a B.A. cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania and a M.S. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Co-founded by Katie Sgarro and Sayid Abdullaev at the University of Pennsylvania, AsylumConnect is a tech nonprofit on a mission to provide LGBTQ asylum seekers with the verified information and community they need to safely integrate in their new home. The AsylumConnect catalog, available on web and mobile, is the first ever online resource database for LGBTQ asylum seekers. The catalog currently helps LGBTQ asylum seekers find safe, high-quality resources during the U.S. asylum process. Nonprofits and lawyers also use the catalog to gather verified resource referrals for LGBTQ clients. Since 2016, the AsylumConnect catalog has helped over 7,000 find safe resources in the U.S. Supporters include: Clinton Foundation, United Nations (UN), U.S. Committee for Refugees & Immigrants (USCRI) and Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
AsylumConnect is now partnering with Y Combinator-backed tech nonprofit One Degree to improve and scale its resource catalog across the U.S. and to Canada (April 2019). Next, AsylumConnect will also add private moderated message boards to build community among LGBTQ asylum seekers, LGBTQ asylees (those who have successfully received asylum), and service providers.
At scale, in addition to LGBTQ asylum seekers, AsylumConnect will extend a lifeline to related marginalized LGBTQ populations, including: undocumented LGBTQ immigrants, LGBTQ DREAMers, and homeless or isolated LGBTQ youth. AsylumConnect’s work will ensure there is never a moment when someone does not know where it is safe to go for help due to their LGBTQ identity or immigration status.