Current members of the International Steering Committee (ISC) of Red Umbrella Fund:
Phelister Abdalla is the National Coordinator of the Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA). She was born in Mombasa, Kenya, but currently resides in Nairobi. She is a single mother of three, and an active sex worker living with HIV for the last 11 years. When KESWA was formed, Phelister acted as the regional coordinator in Mombasa. When the organization faced instability, Phelister used her vision and passion for sex workers’ rights to move to Nairobi to rejuvenate the organization in 2012. Since then, KESWA has become a network to over 60 sex worker led organizations, built strong partnerships, strengthened access to legal, health and human rights services, and worked with members to develop a strategic plan with a new vision, mission and goals. Throughout her life, Phelister has focused her energy toward the inclusive participation of sex workers in planning, decision making and implementation of programs.
Luca Stevenson is a Belgium-based sex worker and sex workers’ rights activist with 15 years experience in community-building, policy and advocacy for sex workers and marginalised communities. Co-founder of the Sex Worker Open University (now SWARM, UK) and member of the french union of sex workers STRASS, Luca was also, between 2013 and 2021, the Cordinator of the European Sex Workers Rights Alliance a network of more than 100 organisations working with or led by sex workers in Europe and Central Asia. Luca has worked extensively across Europe with sex workers from various backgrounds including migrant and LGBT sex workers and had led a mutli-disciplneray team advocating for sex workers’ rights within European institutions. He is also currently Head of Mission for ‘Jasmine’, a project of Medecins du Monde France which aims to address and reduce violence against sex workers.
Marina Avramenko lives and works in the center of Russia. By education – a lawyer. Since 2014, she has been active in the field of protection and advocacy of the rights of sex workers. She is a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Russian Federation, which oversees the implementation of grants from the Global Fund for HIV Prevention in Russia. In 2019, she became one of the activists who resumed the work of the Forum of Sex Workers in Russia in a new format, in partnership with the Global Fund and UNAIDS. She considers her achievements to be the strengthening of the sex worker community, the creation and maintenance of a sex worker education system online, and the provision of legal aid to sex workers who have been victims of crime.
Javid Syed is the director of AJWS’s Sexual Health and Rights department. He came to AJWS with a decade of experience in helping communities develop their capacity to pursue social justice. Most recently, Javid worked as the TB/HIV project director at the Treatment Action Group. Javid has contributed to community organizing efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of color. He helped found the Audre Lorde Project, a center for community organizing for queer people of color in New York, and volunteered with the South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association of New York and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and the NY Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Javid has a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University. He hopes that his passion for politics, arts and activism comes through in the work he engages in. Javid is originally from Bombay, India, and has lived in the United States since 1989.
Ankit Gupta is a queer feminist and sex worker activist passionate about sexual and reproductive health and rights, especially for people from marginalized communities, including queer and trans people and sex workers. Ankit is passionate about working with funders and supporting organizations, especially in Global South who are advancing human rights of marginalized populations. Ankit works as the Program Officer for Global Fund for Women and previously served on the Program Advisory Committee (PAC) of Red Umbrella Fund. They were a member of Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YCSRR) and served on the Board of Directors of Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) – USA, a social justice network dedicated to fundamental human rights of people involved in the sex trade. They serve on the Advisory Group to The Guttmacher-Lancet Commission on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.
Kay Thi Win works for the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) as a Regional Coordinator. Before joining to APNSW, she worked as a Senior Program Manager of the Targeted Outreach Program in Population Services International in Myanmar for 9 years. Kay Thi has over 14 years of experiences establishing comprehensive nationwide HIV prevention, care and support services for male, female and transgender sex workers in Asia and Pacific. She is also the founder and technical adviser of Aye Myanmar Association (AMA), the country-wide Sex Worker Network in Myanmar. Kay Thi volunteers for the Global Network of Sex Workers project (NSWP) as Vice President and Association Women Rights in development (AWID) as a Board Member. Furthermore, she has extensive experience working with HIV stakeholders, including governments, civil society organizations, and policy makers in health sectors for key populations.
Hassna Uwingabe Murenzi is a queer feminist and human rights activists. They have been a part of the Rwandan sex workers’ and LGBTIQ movement for the last 12 years. In 2007 they became Vice President in the LGBTIQ organization HOCA (Horizon Community Association), which was part of the successful campaign against the criminalization of LGBTIQ people in the Rwandan penal code. The strengthening of the sex workers’ community and improved coordination between “key population” groups is among the successes during this time. As the Executive Director of FADA (Feminist Action Development Alliance), they were able to create a clear vision for the organization and strengthen the engagement with the sex worker and LBTQ communities. FADA also engages in policy and law advocacy to improve health and livelihoods for sex workers and LBTQ people and combat gender based violence and discrimination. Hassna is Vice Chair in the board of ASWA (African Sex Workers Alliance).
Coco Jervis is Director of Programmes at Mama Cash, the host organisation of Red Umbrella Fund. Coco most recently served as the campaign and communications manager at the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) based in Amsterdam. Coco has broad experience in community organizing and human rights law with a specific focus on advocacy and activism on behalf of racial, sexual and gender minorities, immigrants, sex workers, drug users, incarcerated individuals and other populations disproportionately criminalized and affected by state sponsored violence.
Georgina Orellano is a Feminist sex worker. She is the National General Secretary of AMMAR, Argentina’s sex workers’ union, which has 6500 members throughout the country. She began her social activism for the defence of human and labour rights of sex workers in 2009, when she allied herself with a group of colleagues in Ammar because of police persecution and bribery and the harassment of a group of neighbours who wanted to expel them from the work area. From 2010 to date she has participated in many national and international forums, congresses, symposia and talks on sex work, feminism, human rights and trade unionism. As a leader of the sex workers’ movement, she has made visible the precariousness and institutional violence experienced by the sector and has promoted alliances with multiple organisations to improve the quality of life of sex workers. In 2018, the Paris Bar Association awarded her with a prize/recognition for his struggle in the defence of human rights, which AMMAR is carrying out.
Denise Carr is the Executive Director of DCF SUCOS and a former sex worker for more than 20 years in Suriname. Her advocacy journey started in 2015 when she was elected by sex workers in the community to leadership positions. Since then, Denise was elected to represent the sex worker community in Suriname on the Country Coordinating Mechanism. Denise has worked on projects regarding women empowerment and built partnerships with LGBTIQ organisations and civil society networks to raise awareness on and challenge harmful policies and laws that negatively impact sex workers.
Neha Sardana works as a Program Associate in Women’s Rights at the Wellspring Philanthropic Fund. Prior to this, she was a Program Associate at the International Women’s Health Coalition where she worked to further sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) at the UN and led programs to train and support young feminists from the Global South in their SRHR advocacy. She has also worked as a social services specialist working with formerly homeless individuals residing in permanent housing. Neha is originally from the Washington, D.C. area and moved to New York in 2013 to attend New York University, from where she graduated with a BA in Psychology in 2016. She enjoys cooking and yoga and speaks Hindi, Spanish, and Punjabi.
We remain extremely grateful to our former ISC members!
- Ana Luz Mamani Silva, Peru
- Patrick Fotso, Cameroon
- John Mathenge, Kenya
- Pontso Mafethe, United Kingdom
- Rani Ravudi, Fiji
- Miriam Edwards, Guyana
- Chantawipa Apisuk, Thailand
- Ruth Morgan Thomas, UK
- Anne Gathumbi, United States of America
- Marieke van Doornick, Netherlands
- Sebastian Köhn, United States of America
- Tishauna Edwards, Guyana
- Tara Burns, United States of America
- Nataliia Isaieva, Ukraine
- Heather Benjamin, United States of America
- Stacey-Leigh Manuel, United States of America