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Justin Hilton
(He/Him)

Founder & Executive Director


An entrepreneur, writer, passionate activist, personal growth, and spiritual leader who is deeply committed to social change. Justin had a successful career in real estate that was always punctuated by social action and the support of underrepresented communities. He has spent the last 2 decades leading workshops and intensives with thought leaders like Debbie Ford and Alanis Morrisette. He also worked in India, Nepal, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Turkey, Mexico on LGBTQ+ transformational work focused on combating oppression and advocating for inclusion for over 3 years. The founding of Safe Place represented the coming together of his experience as a philanthropist, human potential leader, and passionate defender and supporter of marginalized communities.


Email
justin@safeplaceinternational.org

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Cherie Singh
(She/Her)

Director of Operations 


Cherie is an engineer-turned-development professional with 8+ years of experience in designing and implementing initiatives in gender equity and education. She has a MA in International Affairs with a dual specialization in Global Gender Policy and International Development. It is her lifelong commitment to end all forms of suffering and promote gender equity. A strong believer in the power of humanistic values, Cherie identifies herself as a critical agent of change, hope, and compassion. At Safe Place, she directs international operations, fundraising, advocacy, and research initiatives, and is constantly seeking new opportunities for partnerships.


Email
cherie@safeplaceinternational.org

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Effie Lantavou
(She/Her)

Director of Programs - Greece 

Effie is an Educational and Social Care Programs Manager with more than ten years of experience developing educational and social care programs for marginalized children and youth, their families and communities. As a Social Worker and a Special Educator, she has been working closely with some of the most vulnerable groups of people, dedicated to supporting their fundamental rights and psychosocial needs. As a meditator and as a democracy and human rights advocate, Effie is deeply committed to alleviating human suffering. She fell in love with Safe Place’s mission and is wholeheartedly offering her services to the empowerment of the LGBTQIA+ and single mothers asylum-seeking community in Greece. She aspires for their protection and safety, deep-rooted self-respect, autonomy, social integration, fearlessness, freedom of expression and full-blown creativity! 


Email

effie@safeplaceinternational.org

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Nyasha Zhakata
(She/Her)

Global Director - The Dream Academy 


Nyasha is a lesbian asylum seeker from Zimbabwe living in South Africa. She is a graduate of The Dream Academy and is now the Community Director for South Africa. Nyasha created, organized, and advocated on behalf of the Pachedu Collective, a group of over 50 African LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers in South Africa. She is also a mother, a partner, and an outspoken activist for her community.


Email
 nyasha@safeplaceinternational.org

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Lionel Momusing
(He/Him)

Community Director - Greece 


Lionel is an asylum seeker from Cameroon living in Greece. He is a graduate of The Dream Academy and is now the Community Director for the Safe Place Greece community. Lionel brings his passion for community building and empowerment to his work and coordinates all volunteers and workshops that are held at the community center along with food and donation distribution for both Moms 2 Moms and the Athens Housing Collective.  He is often the first person that many people see when first discovering Safe Place Greece and he dedicates himself to making sure that everyone feels safe, seen, and respected.  Lionel also works with The Dream Academy as a small group leader and is constantly looking for other leaders to help develop their skills to support their communities.


Email
lionel@safeplaceinternational.org

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Sulah Mawejje
(He/Him)

Community Director - Kenya 

Sulah is a gay asylum seeker from Uganda living in Nairobi, Kenya. He is a passionate health champion and queer rights advocate. He is deeply  engaged in raising awareness about HIV/AIDS. Sulah is currently working as the Finance Lead at The Nature Network, an LGBTQIA+ refugee-led community based organization in Nairobi, Kenya that aims to promote healthy quality of life for LGBTQIA+ refugees. Sulah is also a talented photographer and videographer.


Email
 sulah@safeplaceinternational.org

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Beverly Dhliwayo
(She/Her)

Community Director - Parents & Single Moms

Beverly is a Zimbabwean lesbian asylum seeker living in Cape Town, South Africa for over 14 years. She works in the hospitality industry. After graduating from the Dream Academy, Beverly was appointed as the Community Director for South Africa - a job that she loves for the chance it gives her to reach out and extend her support and care to marginalized LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers in South Africa and beyond.


Email
bev@safeplaceinternational.org

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Ananya Ramani
(She/Her)

Entrepreneurship Skills Trainer

Ananya is an international human rights lawyer with a passion for contributing to real change in the lives of everyone she encounters. With more than seven years of experience, Ananya previously focused on policy research, advocacy, and program management by working with grassroots communities; national, regional, international civil society organizations, and the judiciary. She also has  developed government policy on a range of human rights aspects. She holds a Masters in International Humanitarian Law & Human Rights from the Geneva Academy. In her role as an Entrepreneurship Skills Trainer, Ananya aims to create a global family for LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers and refugees by supporting their journey towards professional development.


Email
ananya@safeplaceinternational.org

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Matthews Maxwell
(He/Him)

Director of Development & Partnerships 


Matt is a DC-barred lawyer with experience contributing to the world of government affairs, global politics, and human rights. He earned his J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Previously, he has supported legislative oversight in South Carolina through the Office of the Attorney General. Matt has also worked on promoting good governance and the right to vote at the offices of US Senator Tim Scott, Palmetto Preference Voting, and Fair Vote. Matt was inspired to make a difference during his time at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Human Rights Protection and Monitoring Department at Tbilisi in Georgia. His passion and dedication to SPI’s mission grew with the time he spent with its refugee community in Greece, as the Partnerships and NGO Relationships Director before he took on the role of Development Director.


Email
maxwell@safeplaceinternational.org

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Dhalie Bulyaba
(They/Them)

Director - Global Family Initiative


Dhalie is a gender non-conforming asylum seeker currently living in Nairobi, Kenya. They are a trained orthopedic technician by profession, a passionate queer rights activist and a feminist. They currently work with the Foundation for LBQ womXn Refugee (FLBQR) and RefCEA, that aim at elevating and advocating for the rights and wellbeing of LGBQTIA+ refugees living in Kenya. Dhalie loves doing crafts, and they train LGBTQIA+ refugees in these skills to help them become more self-reliant. Dhalie’s great passion for LGBTQIA+ community work traces back to their own experience as an all-out queer person who had to flee 'home' to save their life from injustice.


Email
dhalie@safeplaceinternational.org

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Treasure Nabakiibi
(She/Her)

Assistant Director - Global Family Initiative


Treasure is an asylum seeker from Uganda currently living in Nairobi, Kenya. Treasure loves reading novels, swimming, and social work. Her love for social work was sparked by the unfortunate and hurtful situations she faced while in her home country which caused her to flee when she wasn't an adult. Treasure has since volunteered and helped young girls who faced similar situations like her. Her goal is to further help young girls with basic needs and education. Treasure’s dream is to go back to school and become a nurse.


Email
treasure@safeplaceinternational.org

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GG Mothai
(They/Them)

Community Director - Botswana


Gagotheko 'GG' Mothai is a non-binary community leader based in Maun, Botswana. They advocate for the rights of queer people in Maun, its surrounding villages, and across Botswana. It is GG's passion and is driven by the love and support given by their mum, before her passing. GG would love to see freedom of expression for trans and gender diverse persons in Botswana, and freedom of religion for LGBTQIA+ people of faith. GG has been working with LEGABIBO for over a year, engaging with religious, traditional and cultural leaders and other members of society. They currently serve as the Chairperson of the LGBTQIA+ collective called the Pink Triangle in Maun. They hold a Certificate in Law, which they hope to advance to a higher qualification. They did a course on HIV Testing and Counselling, which they hope to use to ensure inclusive health services for minority groups. GG also works with young queer individuals, to document their lived experiences in order to raise awareness and promote diversity.


Email
gg@safeplaceinternational.org

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Mercy Oche
(She/Her)

Administrative Assistant

 

Mercy is a Biological Scientist turned Administrative Assistant with 4+ years as an executive assistant. She loves to read, research and cook. Mercy is very passionate about justice and human rights because she believes that irrespective of gender, religion, ethnicity, and sexuality, we are all one and we deserve to be treated with respect.

Email

mercy@safeplaceinternational.org

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Elinah 
(She/Her)

Co-trainer, The Dream Academy

 

Email

elinah@safeplaceinternational.org

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Dr. Jody McBrien
(She/Her)

Human Rights Expert & Lead Researcher

 

Dr. McBrien is a professor at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus. Her research focuses on children affected by war, whether they are resettled refugee students and their families, or children and families who have returned to their home communities following war. She has explored the connection between discrimination and academic motivation in adolescent refugee girls and evaluated refugee agency programs working to create bridges between new refugees, social services, and schools. She conducted longitudinal work in Lira, Uganda on the use of arts in healing and education. Based on her work in Lira, McBrien’s co-edited book, Cold Water: Women and Girls of Lira, Uganda, was published in July 2015. She received her doctorate in Educational Studies from Emory University in May 2005. She has received numerous awards for her research on international refugee resettlement, including a 2019 Fulbright Award, 2017 USF Global Engagement Award, 2017 USF Sarasota-Manatee campus Research Award, and inaugural 2017 Research Travel Award from Wiley Publishing among many others.

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Casper Bonga
(He/Him)

Deputy Development Officer - South Africa

 

Casper Bonga is a graduate of The Dream Academy. Casper is a dynamic preacher, an apostle, a church founder of Voice of Fire International ministries, and an interdenominational leader of a spiritual movement of empowerment temple. With the encouragement and love from SPI’s team, Casper was granted an online platform to continue his ministry. Casper now leads the Dream Spiritual Academy, which acts as an extension for The Dream Academy participants who believe their identity/sexuality and their faith can live in harmony. Casper believes this is the generation that God has raised to bring change into the world. The LGBTQIA+ community carries what the world needs most: love and compassion. Casper believes the LGBTQIA+ community is the answer to our ancestors prayers and he is passionate to see the greatness in the LGBTQIA+ community being manifested.

Email

casper@safeplaceinternational.org

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Caroline Nyatsuro
(She/Her)

Community Director - Zimbabwe

 

Caroline Nyatsuro is a bi-sexual woman with a  Degree in production engineering  living in Zimbabwe. She is also a lecturer in a Tertiary college. Having a deep passion for people, she chose to develop her career skills for international standards.  After graduating with the Dream Academy  in 2022, she is now the Country Director for Zimbabwe and is currently setting up Smiley Homes for the elderly LGBTQI+ community. She deeply believes in the power of finishing well and  she is passionate about providing care just to put smiles up.

Email

carol@safeplaceinternational.org

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Gracious Ssekono
(He/Him)

Community Director - Uganda

Gracious graduated with a bachelor's of business Administration and management in 2017. He is a former graduate of dream academy (TDA) and he is passionate about uplifting others. For Gracious, in many ways  what we put out into the world is returned to us in the form of our own inner peace, happiness, contentment and well-being. He sees not only how his skills could help solve the problem within his community, but also how he can learn and grow these skills directly from the community.

Email

gracious@safeplaceinternational.org

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Ashley Avan Caeter
(They/Them)

Program Coordinator, The Dream Academy

 

Ashley is a non-binary Zimbabwean who is currently staying in Cape Town, South Africa. They are a feminist ally, and an advocate of human rights and social justice. After leaving home for fear of persecution and experiencing hardships as a queer refugee, they found Safe Place International and were able to learn self-love and heal from past traumas thanks to The Dream Academy program. Ashley is now proud to be a part of the SPI Community because it has always been their dream to work with marginalized people and to help them get on their feet and take their stand in society. They love Safe Place International for reawakening the leaders in many communities and remembering our purpose on Earth which is to be of great service and to love our neighbors. Ashley considers it is their responsibility to pay forward to others after learning all the tools they need to change the world.

Email
ashley@safeplaceinternational.org

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Quinton Antipas
(He/Him)

Community Director - South Africa

 

Antipas is a refugee coming from Zimbabwe and currently staying in South Africa. He is the Country Director for South Africa in The Dream Academy Program. He is a qualified nurse, mortician and undertaker.

Email
antipas@safeplaceinternational.org

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Doris Karimi
(She/Her)

Communication Director

Doris is an accomplished, motivated, and tech-savvy professional with experience managing communications efforts and PR functions within corporate settings. From developing communications initiatives and marketing collateral to overseeing internal and external communications strategies, she excels at generating effective and positive organizational exposure and enabling the success of overall communications efforts. Doris is excited to work at Safe Place international as their visions and missions are geared towards Understanding, accepting, and valuing differences between people including those of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, disabilities, and sexual orientations.

Email
doris@safeplaceinternational.org

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Corie Aguillon
(She/Her)

Technical Director, The Dream Academy

 

Corie was raised and educated in the United States but currently resides in Mexico. She has worked with special education needs and vulnerable cases in Mexico for the past 15 years, and has worked with the founder, Justin Hilton, for the past 10 years as his real estate business assistant. Corie is passionate about equal rights, autism awareness, and is deeply in love with the LGBTQIA+ community. She hopes and dreams to reach out to the Spanish-speaking LGBTQIA+ refugee community and lead the Dream Academy classes in Spanish. 

Email
corie@safeplaceinternational.org

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Scott Shaka Mwangi
(He/Him)

Technical Director, The Dream Academy

 

Scott is a transman living in Nairobi, Kenya. He has a Diploma in Business Management and Administration, and a certificate in web development. He also completed paralegal training, violence response training and advocacy training. Scott is a passionate queer rights activist. He is a strong believer in no situation being permanent and that change begins with him. He is currently working as a Field Officer with the Foundation For Lesbian Bisexual Queer refugees (FLBQR).
 

Email
scott@safeplaceinternational.org

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Francis Amani
(He/Him)

Technical Director, The Dream Academy


Francis is a transgender man, who grew up in Zimbabwe. He holds certificates in feminism, social justice and community leadership, which he hopes to advance to high qualifications. He has worked as a research assistant in the advocacy office for LGBTIQA+ organizations and has a background in freelance data collection and advocacy for Pachedu LGBTQIA+ Collective. Francis has a passion for activism and advocacy, particularly promoting access to healthcare and wellbeing for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. He is a vocal feminist and strives to further the visibility and understanding of transgender issues.

Email
francis@safeplaceinternational.org

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Lisa Motzig
(She/Her)

Entrepreneurship Skills Trainer (French) 

 

Lisa is a graduate student majoring in International Relations, with a special interest in the intersection of migration and gender issues. Her prior experience managing a feminist support center in France and advocating for homeless people’s rights in the U.S. made her realize that she could touch people’s hearts and bring about change in the world. Working with SPI, as a Communications Intern and as an Entrepreneurship Skills Trainer for the French Dream Academy classes has been personally fulfilling and a wonderful opportunity to get daily inspiration from the LGBTQIA+ refugee community, their resilience and their creativity.

Email

lisa@safeplaceinternational.org

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Anna-Maria Stefani
(She/Her)

Development & Partnerships Intern

 

Anna-Maria is a master's student in the UK studying International Social Welfare and Social Development with frontline experiences of working with asylum seekers and refugees in Greece, as a social worker in a refugee camp. She is really passionate about LGBTQIA+ rights, advocacy and intersectional feminism. She speaks English, French and Greek. She wants to make a positive difference by contributing towards SPI's mission through her work as Development and Partnerships Intern.

Email

anna@safeplaceinternational.org

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Maeve Smith
(She/Her)

Development & Partnerships Intern

 

Maeve is an undergraduate student at the University of South Carolina Honors College studying Political Science with an emphasis in International Affairs and National Security topics, and a minor in Public Speech and Communications. Maeve is passionate about understanding the unique challenges that doubly marginalized populations face within the international refugee community and is excited to contribute towards SPI’s mission through her work as a Development and Strategic Partnerships intern.

Email

maeve@safeplaceinternational.org

Research Intern


Chani is an undergraduate student majoring in environmental sciences and minoring in food studies. Her passions/missions are to contribute to social justice and environmental sustainability. Working with SPI has opened her heart to so many unique untold stories from the LGBTQIA+ refugee community and team members, as well as their wisdom that she is extremely grateful for.


Email
chani@safeplaceinternational.org

Chani Lieu
(She/Her)

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Research Intern


Huy is a Psychology major and a Levermore Global Scholar, with a minor in Child Development and Family Studies. Most of Huy's work at the undergraduate level focuses on the well-being of LGBTQIA+ individuals with diverse backgrounds. Joining Safe Place International as an Internal Operations Research Intern is an excellent opportunity and challenge for Huy to contribute their perspectives, experiences, and efforts to the mission of Safe Place, which is to spread the message of love, kindness, compassion, faith, and inclusion for everyone. No dream is too big and no goal is too ambitious; everyone deserves to heal, grow and reach their potential to the fullest.


Email
huy@safeplaceinternational.org

Huy Su Lam
(They/Them)

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Grants Researcher


Simran works as the grants researcher where she helps locate and apply for different funding opportunities for all of Safe Place International’s projects. She deeply cares about refugee rights issues and has prior experience working with vulnerable communities for development projects in Peru, Greece, and Papua New Guinea. She enjoys traveling, hiking, and a good Netflix binge!


Email
simran@safeplaceinternational.org

Simran Hansra
(She/Her)

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Ngan Nguyen
(She/Her)

Research Intern


Ngan is an undergraduate at Fulbright University Vietnam, majoring in Psychology. With research experience in gender-based violence support services, she is interested in studying the interplay between psychotherapy and medical treatment. She is passionate about providing individualized support for vulnerable populations, as well as advocating for mental health inclusive changes in the hospital system and public health policies. Working with SPI has offered her a chance to become more involved with the LGBTQIA+ refugee community, whose strength and kindness inspire her in so many ways.


Email
ngan@safeplaceinternational.org

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Mario Villegas
(He/Him)

Research Intern


Mario is a senior at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus studying Political Science and Economics. He plans to attend graduate school in order to focus on workers' rights and how to maximize working conditions universally.


Email
mario@safeplaceinternational.org

Research Intern


Caio is a Brazilian college student, majoring in International Relations at Adelphi University (New York), with minors in Environmental Studies and Peace Studies. Caio is also a member of the Levermore Global Scholars Program, a program of distinction that fosters global awareness and civic engagement at Adelphi University, as well as other on-campus communities.


Email
caio@safeplaceinternational.org

Caio Gomes
(He/Him)

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