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.
Anthony Ibeagha, Treasurer
Anthony is a survivor from Nigeria who, along with his 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 in Port Harcout, which afforded him an opportunity to criticize torture. In 2000, Anthony fled to England where he continued speaking out against torture by military regimes. In 2001, Anthony was granted asylum in the United States. Anthony is a member of TASSC International and has given presentations on and against torture at various events throughout the world. Anthony has testified before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and addressed congress on several other occasions. Together with Amnesty International, Anthony worked assiduously to get the McCain amendment bill on torture passed by visiting and talking to representatives and senators. Anthony has been the Treasurer on TASSC's board of directors for over five years, and has played a huge role in building the organization's strong financial foundation.
Khayal Guliyev, Vice Chair
Dr. Khayal Guliyev is a survivor and seasoned activist on torture abolition and LGBTI rights. He has a decade of experience advocating for human rights and minority inclusion through numerous relevant networks both in the DC area and globally. Khayal currently designs and manages project evaluations related to LGBT rights and gender equality issues. In the US, he has worked tirelessly to advocate on sex trafficking rights through the design of training curricula for law enforcement on how to address the needs of sex workers as trafficking victims rather than as criminals. Khayal also worked for the DC Center for LGBT Community in Washington DC and the Youth First Texas/LGBT Resource Center in Dallas, Texas. In his native Azerbaijan, Khayal was the Training Director for the US Peace Corps. He designed curricula and trained nearly one thousand American volunteers on various topics such as HIV/AIDS prevention, support for LGBT volunteers and LGBT individuals in local communities. Khayal also served as the Sexual Assault Response Liaison, ensuring the safety of American Volunteers, as well as survivor support. Khayal's dissertation was on Gender Violence and Discrimination in Developing Countries, and in 2003, he received his Ph.D. - equivalent from the Cairo Demographic Center.
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.
David Cheng-Kai Yu
David Cheng-Kai Yu has been involved in activism and fundraising for more than 20 years with prominent organizations including Amnesty International USA; amfAR, The Foundations for AIDS Research; and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Currently he is Senior Major Gifts Officer at HRC, the United States’ largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality. In this work with non-profits, he has experienced success in revitalizing programs, securing and stewarding donors, building internal systems, and developing the overall efficacy of organizations through assessment, strategic planning, effective marketing, and implementation. Born in Malaysia and the son of immigrant parents who experienced atrocities of war in their native China, David was drawn to advocating for the rights and civil liberties for people everywhere. David was previously Board member of TASSC International from 2005 – 2008 where he was Chair of the Executive Committee and Fundraising Committees. He holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Yale University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Carnegie Mellon University.
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.
Legesse is a torture survivor from Ethiopia with 10 years of research, development and human rights advocacy experience. He completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Haramaya University in Ethiopia, followed by the completion of his Ph.D. in Economics in Germany. Legesse has worked as a socioeconomic researcher, lecturer, rural development steering committee coordinator and consultant at national and international institutes. His research has been published in national and international scientific journals as well as in peer reviewed proceedinsgs. He moved to the US in December 2014 and currently lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. He has served as a volunteer for different institutions in DC like Bread for the City, the DC Mayor's Office on African Affairs and the World Bank. He was recently hired as a researcher and lecturer at the Univeristy of North Carolina A&T Universty.
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.