HRC Foundation Introduces 2018 Global Innovators

by HRC Staff

HRC Foundation is excited to announce that our 2018 group of Global Innovators have arrived in Washington, D.C. to participate in our third annual Global Innovative Advocacy Summit.

HRC Foundation is excited to announce that our 2018 group of Global Innovators have arrived in Washington, D.C. to participate in our third annual Global Innovative Advocacy Summit. These leading global advocates for LGBTQ equality were selected from hundreds of applicants because of the creative, inspiring and impactful work they do to advance equality around the globe.

From April 9-12, the Global Innovators will take part in intense discussions with each other and HRC staff on innovative ways to advance LGBTQ equality. They will share ideas, best practices and unique approaches to effectively build movements and advocate for equality, whether that’s through family, community or across borders.

“Our 2018 Global Innovators are some of the most impressive and creative advocates for LGBTQ equality in the world. We are thrilled to have them with us in Washington, D.C. this week and we welcome them to HRC’s growing global network of equality champions,” said Jay Gilliam, HRC Foundation Senior Global Programs Officer.

Since 2016, the Global Summit has brought together nearly 100 leaders from all corners of the globe who are advancing LGBTQ equality. The 2018 Global Innovators join HRC’s growing network of advocates and partners from nearly 70 countries.

Meet Our Global Innovators:


Hazel Tshepang

Name: Hazel Tshepang
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Country: Botswana
Organization: AWOSHE
Innovation: Worked with litigants who went to the High Court in 2016 to force the Botswana government to register the country’s first LGBT organization, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO).

Irwin Iradukunda

Name: Irwin Iradukunda
Pronouns: he/him/his
Country: Burundi
Organization: MOLI
Innovation: Implements human rights advocacy and security and protection plans for the LGBT community in Burundi and partners in the implementation in Central Africa of Francophone LGBT Advocacy Initiative (FLAI).

Robel Hailu

Name: Robel Hailu
Pronouns: he/him/his
Country: Ethiopia
Organization: Ethiopian LGBTI
Innovation: Founded Ethiopian LGBTI and continues to advocate for his home community from the United States.

Richie Ankrah

Name: Richie Ankrah
Pronouns: he/him/his
Country: Ghana
Organization: Change Lives Foundation Ghana/Key Watch Ghana
Innovation: Co-founded an organization where members who own business are assigned an LGBTIQ person to train in apprenticeship or technical vocation.

Bisi Alimi

Name: Bisi Alimi
Pronouns: he/him/his
Country: Nigeria/UK
Organization: Bisi Alimi Foundation
Innovation: Continuously develops new and innovative ways to accelerate the social acceptance of LGBT people in Nigeria specifically through business and corporate engagement.


Harish Iyer

Name: Harish Iyer
Pronouns: he/him/his
Country: India
Organization: Gaydio/Queer Azaadi Mumbai/The Quint/Firstpost
Innovation: Hosts the first LGBT show on FM radio in India, works with and supports LGBT suicide survivors and children facing sexual abuse and plays a key role in the organization of the biggest pride parade in India – Queer Azaadi Mumbai.

Ryan Joseph Figueiredo

Name: Ryan Joseph Figueiredo
Pronouns: he/him/his
Country: India
Organization: APCOM Foundation
Innovation: Focuses on intersectional work through programs to increase the capacity of community organizations to prepare for, respond to and recover from adverse social, political and climatic events that disproportionately impact LGBTQ persons.

Jannat Ali

Name: Jannat Ali
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Organization: Track-T
Innovation: Uses performance art and theater to advocate for the transgender community and end stigma and discrimination.

Fumino Sugiyama

Name: Fumino Sugiyama
Pronouns: he/him/his
Country: Japan
Organization: Tokyo Rainbow Pride
Innovation: Successfully advocated the local municipality to become the first in Japan to recognize same-sex partnerships in 2015 and plays an integral role in organizing the largest annual pride parade in Japan.

Sushant Naidu

Name: Sushant Naidu
Pronouns: he/him/his
Country: India/Kuwait
Organization: N/A
Innovation: Leads trainings for New Delhi police officers to decrease the stigma and discrimination faced by LGBT people and leads workshops dedicated to helping people come out to their friends and families, discuss sexual abuse and trauma and develop ways to combat homophobia.

Nhoon Yodmung

Name: Nhoon Yodmung
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Country: Thailand
Organization: Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand
Innovation: Advocates for the legal recognition of transgender people in Thailand.


Arbri Kodra

Name: Arbri Kodra
Pronouns: he/him/his
Country: Albania
Organization: Open Mind Spectrum Albania (OMSA)
Innovation: Founded OMSA which works to educate the families of LGBT people and increase the political participation of the LGBT community.

Viktor Heumann

Name: Viktor Heumann
Pronouns: he/him/his
Country: Czech Republic
Organization: Trans*parent
Innovation: Co-founded Trans*parent, an organization that aims to advance transgender equality and create safe and supportive spaces for transgender and non-cisgender people to meet and share their experiences.

Thanos Vlachogiannis

Name: Thanos Vlachogiannis
Pronouns: he/him/his
Country: Greece
Organization: Thessaloniki Pride/OLKE - The Lesbian and Gay Community of Greece
Innovation: Worked on By Your Side, the largest LGBT project ever conducted in Greece, which aimed to address and find solutions to the discrimination that LGBT people face through a helpline and media campaign.

Mihnea Florea

Name: Mihnea Florea
Pronouns: he/him/his
Country: Romania
Organization: MozaiQ
Innovation: Campaigns against the referendum to change the Romanian Constitution in order to narrow the definition of family and ban gay marriage.

Svetlana Zakharova

Name: Svetlana Zakharova
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Country: Russia
Organization: Russian LGBT Network
Innovation: Launched the interactive documentary “Slovo” which focuses on the phenomena of hate speech in Russia.

Lana Gobec

Name: Lana Gobec
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Country: Slovenia
Organization: Legebitra
Innovation: Utilizes campaigns and awareness raising methods to advocate for the equality of LGBT people in Slovenia.

Yuri Yoursky

Name: Yuri Yoursky
Pronouns: he/him/his
Country: Ukraine
Organization: Eurasian Coalition on Male Health
Innovation: Advocates for the equality of LGBT people through theater, art and music.


Gabriel Alves de Faria

Name: Gabriel Alves de Faria
Pronouns: he/him/his
Country: Brazil
Organization: Not Only Voices
Innovation: Founded Not Only Voices that aims to connect human rights activists with one another and advocate for human rights and law through unconventional ways like filmmaking and storytelling.

Alba Lucia Reyes Arenas

Name: Alba Lucia Reyes Arenas
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Country: Colombia
Organization: Fundacion Sergio Urrego
Innovation: Founded the Fundacion Sergio Urrego to educate people on the issues of discrimination, bullying and suicide following the death of her son.

Rosanna Marzan

Name: Rosanna Marzan
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Country: Dominican Republic
Organization: Diversidad Dominicana
Innovation: Works towards equality through her foundation Diversidad Dominicana by increasing political participation and positive visibility of LGBT people as well as working on projects such as promoting the first Dominican school geared towards LGBT leadership.

Danilo Manzano Navas

Name: Danilo Manzano Navas
Pronouns: he/him/his
Country: Ecuador
Organization: Fundación Esquel Ecuador/Dialogando Ando/Ecuador sal del Closet
Innovation: Through various organizations, advocates for the LGBT community in Ecuador and other societies.


Hasan Kilani

Name: Hasan Kilani
Pronouns: he/him/his
Country: Jordan
Innovation: Co-founded the first LGBT organization in Jordan and the first NGO in the Middle East and North Africa that provides direct services such as shelter and other basic necessities to LGBT people.

Nidal Azhary

Name: Nidal Azhary
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Country: Morocco
Organization: L'Union Féministe Libre (UFL)
Innovation: Co-founded L’Union Féministe Libre (UFL), an organization intended to fight for LGBT and human rights.

Efe Songun

Name: Efe Songun
Pronouns: they/them/theirs
Country: Turkey
Organization: Harup
Innovation: Founder of Harup, a platform that is founded to-advance knowledge, creativity and dialogue among queer cultural experiences through documenting, collecting and exhibiting LGBT and Queer art and artworks around the world.


Zhanar Sekerbayeva

Name: Zhanar Sekerbayeva
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Country: Kazakhstan
Organization: Kazakhstan Feminist Initiative "Feminita"
Innovation: Conducted a needs assessment of LBQ women in Kazakhstan to develop an evidence-based and cooperative program for the empowerment and protection of lesbian, bisexual and queer women.