Global Fellows Program

Produced by the HRC Foundation

HRC Global brings established and emerging LGBTQ+ leaders and allies to Washington, D.C. as Global Fellows for short professional development opportunities and training.

Global Fellows work alongside HRC staff and LGBTQ+ and human rights activists to:

  • Gain new ideas and tools to advocate for equality back in their home countries.
  • Share news and information about their local equality movement.
  • Make meaningful connections with HRC staff who are working on programs of similar interest.

Description of HRC Global Fellow Duties

HRC will work with Global Fellows to provide professional development opportunities and training to:

  • Strengthen their program management, leadership skills, staff and other organizational capacities.
  • Facilitate networking and speaking opportunities between Global Fellows and global equality partners and supporters.
  • Provide more in-depth training opportunities for Global Fellows to learn about specific HRC programs of their interest.
  • Provide mentorship to Global Fellows to develop a project of interest.


To be eligible for the Global Fellows program, applicants must be participants in an external exchange program which provides financial and logistical support to them during their proposed stay in Washington, DC.

Applicants should have have two or more years of relevant experience in the nonprofit/NGO/social sector for LGBTQ equality, English proficiency (oral, writing, reading), be an international applicant (U.S. citizens are not eligible), and must commit to return to their home country after the Global Fellows program has ended. Global Fellows must also be able to obtain a B-1 visa for travel to the U.S.

How to Apply

Applicants should note in their external application their interest in being placed at HRC. The external organization will then approach HRC about the the possibility of being placed with us. Successful candidates will be contacted by their external organization to let them know if they have been accepted by HRC.

Global Fellows

Phong Vuong | Vietnam (2022)

Phong Vuong | Vietnam (2022)

Phong Vuong is the LGBTI Rights Program Manager at the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE), a human rights advocacy organization based in Hanoi, Vietnam. He manages programming, including implementation and evaluation, strategic planning, proposal development, fundraising, and partnership management. Vuong is also very involved in advocacy efforts - he is committed to working with and learning from an organization that promotes human rights of marginalized communities. As a Global Fellow, Vuong worked alongside HRC staff in Washington, DC for two months, sharing his experiences of the successes and challenges of LGBTQ+ movement in Vietnam.

Vuong earned his bachelor's degree in business management from Foreign Trade University

Sidita Zaja | Albania (2019)

Sidita Zaja | Albania (2019)

Sidita Zaja is an active and experienced human rights advocate, focusing on the rights of LGBTQ people since 2009. She is the executive director for United Pro LGBT, a nonprofit working to amplify the voices of LGBTQ people in Albania. Through her leadership, the organization focuses on engaging Albanian culture and media, working with communities and advocating for change by building awareness about how to improve coverage of LGBTQ-related issues. United Pro LGBT also organizes events (including Pride) and collaborates with public institutions and politicians. Lastly, it hosts the news portal, providing information about human rights in Albania.

Learn more about Sidita's work in Albania.

Learn more about Sidita's time as a Global Fellow.

Mwamba Nydanda | Tanzania (2019)

Mwamba Nydanda | Tanzania (2019)

Mwamba Nyanda is a young, transgender, African leader whose work strengthens the transgender movement in Tanzania. He is the founder and chief program officer of Tanzania Trans Initiative (T.T.I.), which works to amplify the voices of transgender people in the country. T.T.I. works to expand access to LGBTIQ-inclusive health services, educate services providers, provide peer counseling services and educate the community about those services. It also provides space for gender minorities and youth to share their experiences with others in the community and to participate directly in building the capacity of our organization.

Learn more about Mwamba's work and time as a Global Fellow.

Maurance Chuwa | Tanzania (2019)

Maurance Chuwa | Tanzania (2019)

Maurance Chuwa founded the organization Transgender Movement in Tanzania in 2015. Through his work at TMT, Chuwa focuses on transgender-specific issues and coordinates within the broader transgender movement in Tanzania. TMT works to improve the lives of transgender people in Tanzania by advocating for and raising awareness. Established in 2015, it aims to elevate the needs and voices of transgender and other gender non-conforming people in Tanzania. TMT to educate and build awareness on a variety of gender-related issues in Tanzanian society. TMT supports programs to improve the well-being of transgender people in health, education, economy and gender.

Learn more about Maurance's work and time as a Global Fellow.

Thu Le | Hanoi, Vietnam (2018)

Thu Le | Vietnam (2018)

Thu Le is an activist for LGBTIQ rights in Vietnam. She graduated with an M.A degree in Public Administration from Australian National University. Thu used to work in both the public and private sectors before becoming a staff of the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE) - a local, leading human rights organization. Since then, she has worked intensively with community and policymakers in a wide range of activities, from building capacity, increasing social awareness and acceptance, to finding evidence and advocating policies in order to promote for LGBTIQ rights. Currently, she aims at connecting communities and working for the sustainability of the movement in Vietnam. Thu served as a short-term Global Fellow under the Professional Fellows Program of American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL).

Learn more about Thu's work and time as a Global Fellow.

Ryan Danyang Law | Guangzhou, China (2017-2018)

Ryan Danyang Law | China (2017-2018)

Ryan Danyang Law joined Zhitong Guangzhou LGBT Center six years ago, where he has served as the sexual health outreach group leader and HIV-positive people support group leader. He also lead the establishment of a gay-friendly clinic by working with a local, state-owned hospital. In addition to Ryan’s experiences in public health, he has also worked with a local government education department, participating in sexuality education programs. Zhitong was one of the first LGBT organizations to be funded by UN Women to do sexuality public education programming. Ryan traveled to the U.S. for training in fundraising and development, helping to build the fundraising system for Zhitong. He has also been part of the Guangzhou city Pride since 2016, helping to organize community events with as many as 500 participants. Ryan served as a short-term Global Fellow.

Learn more about Ryan's work on HIV and AIDS programs in China.

Efe Songun | Istanbul, Turkey (2017-2018)

Efe Songun | Turkey (2017-2018)

Efe Songun is the founder of Harup, a project space that combines LGBTQ advocacy and arts that he started in 2015. Efe has seven years of professional experience and almost ten years of volunteer experience with civil society in which he has prioritized gender-based advocacy in the institutions and projects he has worked for. After finalizing his American Field Service (AFS) year in Wisconsin in 2004, he volunteered with community-based organizations in Istanbul, Turkey. After graduating with a master’s degree in Psychology from Bilkent University in 2010, Efe started working professionally with civil society, both in the field and in providing operational support with institutions such as the United Nations, AFS and Medecins du Monde. With a strong interest in LGBTQ human rights, Efe has also worked with LGBTQ organizations in Turkey and abroad like SPoD and ILGA Europe.

Denitsa Lybenova | Sofia, Bulgaria (2017)

Denitsa Lybenova | Bulgaria (2017)

Denitsa Lyubenova is a lawyer and one of the founders of the youth LGBTQ organization DEYSTVIE. At DEYSTVIE, Denitsa developed its legal defense program, which made it the first LGBTQ organization in Bulgaria having that kind of program with a team of human rights experts and lawyers. She has presented cases before local, national and international courts, including the European Commission on Human Rights and the Commission Against Discrimination to LGBTI People. Denitsa was also an LGBTI rights expert on a working group with Bulgaria's Ministry of Justice on the transposition of the Istanbul Convention on domestic violence and violence against women. Denitsa presents the issues of LGBTI before national and local governments and international organizations. She served as a short-term Global Fellow.

Learn more about Denitsa and her time as a Global Fellow.

Diego Mora | Bogotá, Colombia (2016-2017)

Diego Mora | Colombia (2016-2017)

"All people, both in their personal or professional capacities, can be agents of change if they have the correct information. HRC is the perfect space to acquire new tools for generating impact in our countries." --Diego

Diego Mora is part of The McCain Institute's Next Generation Leaders program. As part of his fellowship, Diego spent six months at HRC, acquiring tools that helped him develop professionally. Diego is a journalist and began his work in human rights more than eight years ago when he was part of the Fundación Radio Diversia team in his country. He was a member of the Bogota Rosa, a web portal that seeks to educate through communication. Diego's specific emphasis is on media coverage of HIV issues. He was also part of the Key Correspondents team for Latin America, an initiative of the International HIV / AIDS Alliance. During his time at HRC, Diego examined how the media in Latin America increases stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV by using inappropriate language when reporting on the issues impacting this community.

Ahmed Hafez | Giza, Egypt (2015-2016)

“Being an HRC fellow is an opportunity to learn about LGBT movements and how they function, it is a great opportunity for learning and taking home experiences to continue the long fight against homophobia and transphobia in the Arab world” --Ahmed

Ahmed has seven years of experience in the human rights sector in Egypt. After participating in Egypt’s 2011 revolution, he dedicated his life to advocating for human rights, which eventually led him to advocate for the LGBTQ issues in his region. His degree in Mass Communications made it easy for him to start advocating on social media and giving the LGBTQ Arabs awareness on how to be safe, healthy and protected from police raids. A.H. has worked on giving LGBTQ people in the Arab world a voice to reach out to the international community, promoting their stories through privately done investigations in both Cairo and Beirut. He was an Atlas Corps fellow serving at the Human Rights Campaign, where he gained a greater understanding of how to change conservative communities. He has yet to figure out an answer on methods of ending homophobia in the Arab world. He hopes to one day create his own Arab LGBTQ network of activists that are organized to advocate for LGBTQ rights and lobby for passing legislation that protect LGBTQ people in their countries.

Gvantsa Tsulukidze | Tbilisi, Georgia (2016)

Gvantsa Tsulukidze | Georgia (2016)

"Being a part of the HRC Global family gave me the chance to become familiar with how LGBTQ people stand together to protect their community and be the most powerful shield for each other." --Gvantsa

Gvantsa is a human rights lawyer at the Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI), an organization that defends human rights, promotes tolerance, strengthens democratic reforms, advances the rule of law and enhances transparency and accountability of public institutions in Georgia. Gvantsa graduated with an LL.M. in International and European Public Law from the Erasmus University Rotterdam (Netherlands, NUFFIC Scholarship). She is involved in various projects implemented by GDI, focusing primarily on human rights, minority rights (including LGBTI), rule of law and equality issues. Previously, she worked at Georgia’s Reforms Associates (GRASS) and took part in the preparation of the UPR shadow report on minority rights. From 2008 to 2013, she worked as a legal advisor at the High Council of Justice of Georgia and was involved in major reforms of the judiciary. She served as a short-term Global Fellow.

Adrián Gonzalez | Monterrey, Mexico (2015)

Adrián Gonzalez | Mexico (2015)

"Mexico is going through a silent marriage equality revolution. Courts in more than 20 states out of 31 have granted same-sex couples the right to marry. The challenge is to pair the legal advances with social acceptance. I am very excited to use my experience at HRC Global to generate a change in the hearts and minds of Mexicans to embrace the LGBT community." --Adrián

Adrián has had vast international experience through his work in eight different countries within Asia, Europe, Oceania, Latin America and North America. Prior to joining HRC as a Global Fellow, he earned his Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Sydney in Australia where he majored in International Business and Government and International Relations. Adrián has previously worked in the nonprofit sector developing social enterprises to alleviate pressing community issues in Nepal and Australia. Additionally, he has worked to integrate refugees from South Sudan into the Australian community. As a Global Fellow, Adrián works on strengthening the global LGBTQ equality movement through public education, advocacy, partnerships and research. Through his experiences, he has been given the ability to understand how cultural differences across and within nations affect social interactions and business transactions.

Ernesto Zelayandia | San Salvador, El Salvador (2015-2016)

Ernesto Zelayandia | El Salvador (2015-2016)

"Working with HRC has provided me a new perspective about global efforts to strengthen LGBT rights everywhere. This is an exposure I couldn't have had even working 10 years in El Salvador." --Ernesto

Ernesto Zelayandia has three years of experience in the nonprofit sector in El Salvador and earned a Bachelor's Degree of Law from the Jesuit University of Central America José Simeón Cañas in 2011. Upon graduating, he worked as a lawyer in the private sector but found his true passion for human rights activism by volunteering with El Salvador's first LGBTQ legal clinic. Ernesto partnered with several other LGBTQ organizations within the country and became a founding member of AMATE initiative: a project that aims to recover and preserve the historical narrative of the LGBTQ movement in El Salvador. He then continued on to work for Cristosal, a faith-based human rights and community development organization. As coordinator for the Global School program there, Ernesto developed field courses for international students to better understand human rights violations in his country. He was an Atlas Corps fellow with the Human Rights Campaign where he gained a greater understanding of international solidarity within the LGBTQ rights movement. Through these experiences, Ernesto has gained a working knowledge of social justice, grassroots organizations, intercultural exchange and equality advocacy. He hopes to further pursue a career in human rights advocacy and international human rights law.

Boysan Yakar | Istanbul, Turkey (2015)

Boysan Yakar | Turkey (2015)

Boysan had long been involved in public policy work after graduating from Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul, Turkey with a Bachelor of Integrated Arts degree from the Faculty of Art and Design. He served as a short-term Global Fellow while concurrently working closely with the Mayor of Sisli, a district of Istanbul. As an advisor, he constructed policies that aimed to establish an LGBTI-friendly environment as well as tangible municipal services for LGBTI citizens in his locale. Along with his team, Boysan was successful in establishing equal health services for members of his own community. He worked to implement awareness campaigns that especially engaged with municipal employers. He hoped to continue working to eliminate homophobia within his community and to create policy that deals with discrimination and lack of accessibility for minority groups in civil society. Boysan passed away in September 2015.

Jane (TJay) Wothaya Thirikwa | Nairobi, Kenya (2013-2014)

Jane (TJay) Wothaya Thirikwa | Kenya (2013-2014)

"My time as an Atlas Corps Fellow serving at the Human Rights Campaign has been exceptionally rewarding. This experience has elevated the platform from which the foundation of my social change issue is rooted, and has equipped me with relevant skills for my nonprofit social change efforts." --TJay

Jane has more than five years’ experience in the nonprofit sector. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communications and Public Relations from the Moi University, Kenya. Before joining HRC as a Global Fellow, Jane was the Programs and Communications Officer at KELEGA Youth Empowerment and Education (Gay Kenya Trust). Her main responsibilities included fundraising and building partnerships with allies committed to the cause for equality for sexual minority persons in Kenya. She has been involved in lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) organizing efforts since 2006. Previously, Jane worked at the America Association of Blood Banks, Kenya, and at the Kenya Chapter of the Africa Society for Blood Transfusion. Through these experiences, she has developed strong project management and coordination skills, with a particular interest in human rights. Jane enjoys photography, a skill she has incorporated into her advocacy work. She was an Atlas Corps fellow with the Human Rights Campaign.

Tushar Malik | New Delhi, India (2013-2014)

Tushar Malik | India (2013-2014)

"I learned a lot that is very valuable to me personally and professionally, and grown as a person, primarily because of the exposure and opportunities that I got this year by being a part of HRC." --Tushar

Tushar has four years of experience in the nonprofit sector as an LGBTQ youth activist and earned a Bachelor’s in Mechatronics Engineering from Manipal University, India. He is the co-founder of QueerCampus, India's first support group dedicated to LGBTQ youth, which was established in New Delhi in 2010, where he engaged with Queer and questioning youth as a peer educator and counselor. Prior to becoming an Atlas Corps fellow with the Human Rights Campaign, Tushar was the Operations Head for the Equal India Alliance, a nonprofit working towards increasing awareness about and acceptance for LGBTQ people in India at workplaces and universities. While at Equal India Alliance, Tushar spearheaded the "I, Ally" campaign, a media campaign that recorded messages of support from straight allies from across India. Tushar worked as an advisor to the Diversity in India Network, a collective of diversity and HR professionals of multi-national corporates based in India. He is trained in Theatre of the Oppressed, a powerful line of theatre that he uses constantly in his workshops with youth. He is also a published journalist, an award winning filmmaker and a travel buff.

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