Meet A Roddenberry Fellow
May 21, 2019
Meet Katie, a 2019 Roddenberry Fellow
Katie is the co-founder and president of AsylumConnect, a tech nonprofit providing the first ever digital platform for LGBTQ asylum. Launched in 2016, AsylumConnect’s flagship product (the “AsylumConnect catalog”) is the first and only resource website and app designed for LGBTQ asylum. LGBTQ asylum seekers and related marginalized LGBTQ populations (such as undocumented LGBTQ immigrants and homeless LGBTQ youth) use the AsylumConnect catalog as a free one-stop-shop to meet their needs in all aspects of their lives, including where it is safe to go for help with housing, legal, food, medical, mental health, community, translation, education and employment, and more. Lawyers and nonprofit direct service providers also use AsylumConnect to gather verified resource referrals for their LGBTQ clients. Since 2016, the catalog has connected over 10,000 unique users with verified LGBTQ-and immigrant-friendly services in the U.S.
Did you know it is still illegal to be gay in 70 countries? In 6 countries it is punishable by death. Every year thousands of people flee persecution based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity in their home country and seek asylum in the United States. However, upon arrival in their new home, many LGBTQ asylum seekers do not know where it is safe to go for help – fearing even “help” will discriminate. LGBTQ people continue to face discrimination in health care, shelters, and the wider social services sector. In addition to facing challenges as asylum seekers, LGBTQ asylum seekers also face unique obstacles due to their LGBTQ identity, such as prejudice from fellow asylum seekers and immigration judges. As a result, LGBTQ asylum seekers too often struggle to access local services and support which are both LGBTQ-affirming and accessible to asylum seekers. That’s where AsylumConnect comes in:
“AsylumConnect fills this information gap through providing the first and only resource website and app designed to address the holistic needs of persecuted and marginalized LGBTQ people. ” Says Katie, “When AsylumConnect reaches scale, 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.”
During the 2019 Fellowship
Throughout the Fellowship, Katie is focused on 2 new initiatives at AsylumConnect: improving and expanding the AsylumConnect resource catalog across the United States and Canada, and launching AsylumConnect’s second product (“AsylumConnect Community”). On April 30, 2019, AsylumConnect scaled its catalog to Canada. The updated catalog allows users to search for verified LGBTQ- and immigrant-friendly services in Canada as well as the U.S., and offers an improved user experience. AsylumConnect Community will add new private moderated online forums to AsylumConnect’s website and app to build a virtual community around LGBTQ asylum. This new product will offer LGBTQ asylum seekers a safe and reliable support system to help them navigate a new culture, emotional trauma, and a complex asylum system.
Together, AsylumConnect and Katie are focused on the tremendous potential of community-centric, open-source technology to bridge information gaps and help alleviate pressing social problems. They believe safe technology is not a replacement for direct in-person, however, it is a critical enhancement, and both are needed.
“AsylumConnect was borne out of the conviction that LGBTQ asylum seekers deserve access to verified safe services and support, which take into account their unique needs and obstacles. AsylumConnect alone has the technology and infrastructure necessary to build a comprehensive digital lifeline for persecuted and marginalized LGBTQ people.”
How to get involved:
Donate: To help persecuted LGBTQ people find safety www.asylumconnect.org/donate
Subscribe: Subscribe to AsylumConnect’s email list www.asylumconnect.org/follow-us-subscribe
Follow/Share: Support AsylumConnect and Katie on social media
Learn more about Katie and AsylumConnect: http://asylumconnect.org