Board of Directors
Janice Christensen, President
Janice Christensen is a lifelong human rights activist. She had a twelve-year career working with Amnesty International in a number of roles including five years as the Director of Campaigns. Since her departure from Amnesty in 2001, she has worked consulting with diverse non-profits including the Campaign for Tibet, World Wildlife Fund, Peace Parks South Africa, and others. Janice has volunteered with TASSC International since 2001 and focuses her volunteer time fundraising for the organization. She has been on the TASSC Board of Directors since 2008. Janice currently lives in Miami Beach, Florida and Chilmark, Massachusetts.
Mary Harding, Ph.D., Secretary
Mary Harding was born and brought up in a small town in Massachusetts. She entered the Maryknoll Sisters, where she was assigned to travel to Bolivia in 1959. Mary worked teaching elementary school children. The enormous class differences in the country, with the Catholic Church hierarchy upholding the Bolivian upper class while working people and the poor lived in poverty, convinced her in 1970 to leave Maryknoll and join the National Liberation Army. Arrested in 1972, she was held for six weeks and learned the meaning of torture. Deported in 1973, she became active in the labor movement and eventually found her way to TASSC. She is happy to work in the Truth Speakers Program and is humbled by the day-to-day contact with our survivor community.
Elshafei Dafalla, MFA
Elshafei is an award winning sculptor, photographer, painter, and installation artist with a special interest in sound and video. His work is noted for its political engagement with different world cultures. It has been celebrated for its capacity to create solidarity among communities and peoples across political, cultural, and racial differences. Elshafei has participated in more than sixty exhibits worldwide; his work is part of public and private collections internationally. He continues to exhibit his work by holding artist residencies, participating in community building activities, and creating performative installation events internationally. He also holds lectures. Elshaffei won different awards including the Martin Luther King Spirit Award in 2007 and the Golden Paintbrush Award in 2008. Elshafie received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan. For more information about his artwork please visit www.shafeiart.com.
Pat Davis is a writer and human rights activist. Former Communications Director and Interim Executive Director at the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA, she is co-author with Sister Dianna Ortiz of The Blindfold’s Eyes: My Journey from Torture to Truth. She is author of a book of poems and several plays including Alternative Methods, produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and Cleared, presented at the Kennedy Center. Her writing has appeared in Counterpunch, Foreign Policy in Focus, Hispanic, and The Nation. Her involvement with TASSC goes back to its early days, when it operated under the auspices of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission.
Mesfin K. Erko
Mesfin K. Erko is from Ethiopia. He received his BA degree in Theater Arts from Addis Ababa University. Mesfin worked as an English teacher. He also wrote, directed, and acted in many short television dramas while he was in Ethiopia. Mesfin translated different books from English to Amharic language. He contributed different articles to local newspapers, magazines, and radio shows. The focus of his articles was on human rights and social justice issues. Immediately after his arrival to the US, Mesfin joined TASSC international and volunteered in different activities including in the TASSC Advocacy and Truth Speakers Programs. In October 2013 he traveled to New York representing TASSC and participated in the UN High Level Dialogue. Mesfin was elected as one of TASSC’s Board of Directors in 2014.
Mary Fabri, Ph.D.
Dr. Mary Fabri is a clinical psychologist who has worked with torture survivors for more than twenty-five years. She was Senior Director of Torture Treatment Services and International Training at Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center in Chicago for twelve years, where community-based integrated care is provided. She served as President of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs for five years and has been on the TASSC Board of Directors since 2005, currently serving as the Chair. Dr. Fabri now works as an independent consultant working internationally on mental health issues related to trauma, gender-based violence, and HIV.
Kate Sugarman, MD, Vice President
Dr. Kate Sugarman has a medical license in the District of Columbia and practices as a family doctor in Washington, D.C. at Unity Health Care. Dr. Kate Sugarman received a B.A. cum laude in general studies from Harvard College in 1983. She earned an M.D. from Jefferson Medical College in 1988. Dr. Sugarman received a Diploma from the National Board of Medical Examiners and from the American Board of Family Practice. In the past, Dr. Sugarman served as a family doctor at the Lighthouse AIDS Clinic in Rehovot, Israel, where a majority of the patients were from Africa. She also served at Community of Hope in Washington, D.C. serving the poor and the underserved. Dr. Sugarman has worked for many years in cooperation with the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, Advocates for Survivors of Torture and Trauma, and the Center for Multicultural Human Services. As a result of this partnership and collaboration, she has been treating a growing number of torture survivors for many years from TASSC International and other organizations in the DC metro area.
Anthony Ibeagha, Treasurer
Anthony is a Nigerian, whose family fled to Cameroon from the Nigerian civil war. He returned to Nigeria 19 years later and completed undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Literature and Business Administration. Anthony ran a foreign radio language and music program that afforded him an opportunity to criticize torture; he also took part in environmental and anti-discrimination activities protesting the brutal military regimes. Anthony is a member of TASSC International and has given presentations on and against worldwide torture at different events including schools, universities, and medical practitioners’ conferences throughout the United States. Anthony is currently a finance manager at a real estate company and has been the financial secretary of the TASSC Board Of Directors for the last 3 terms.
Khayal Guliyev, Ph.D.
Dr. Khayal Guliyev is a seasoned activist who focuses on LGBT rights, inclusion, and the abolition of torture. He received a Ph.D.-equivalent from Cairo Demographic Center in 2003, where he wrote his dissertation on gender violence and discrimination in developing countries. Khayal has done work for a decade advocating for human rights and minority inclusion through numerous relevant networks both in Washington, D.C. and globally. In his native Azerbaijan, Khayal was the Training Director for the U.S. Peace Corps. He designed curricula and trained nearly one thousand American volunteers on various topics such as support of both LGBT volunteers and LGBT individuals in local communities, as well as HIV/AIDS prevention. Khayal currently designs and manages project evaluations related to LGBT rights, human rights, and gender equality issues.
A. Legesse, Ph.D.
Dr. A. Legeese is an Ethiopian torture survivor and TASSC member who has over ten years of experience in research, development, and advocacy of human rights. He received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Ethiopia and attained his Ph.D. degree in Germany. He came to the United States in 2014 and is currently a Researcher and Lecturer. He volunteers with many institutions in DC, including TASSC International, Bread for the City, the DC Mayor’s Office on African Affairs, and the World Bank Group.
David Cheng-Kai Yu
David was on the TASSC Board of Directors from 2005 until 2008 serving as the Chair of Executive and Fundraising Committees. He was reelected in 2016, bringing his extensive experience with fundraising, donor relations, corporate relations, board leadership, and crisis management to the TASSC Board. David has nearly twenty years of experience in progressive management positions with major non-profits that include Amnesty International, the Foundation for AIDS Research, and Human Rights Campaign. In the past, David has revitalized programs, secured donors, built international systems, and improved efficacy of organizations. His passion for human rights, women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights stem from his experiences with his own family, who have dealt with the difficulties of war, abuse, oppression, and marginalization.