Gizachew Emiru, Esq. - Executive Director
Gizachew Emiru is from Ethiopia, where torture is a fact of life under the current repressive and dictatorial regime. Gizachew joined TASSC in 2012 as its Executive Director. He graduated from the University Of Kansas School Of Law with a Juris Doctor (JD) degree and is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Gizachew also holds an LL.B. degree from Addis Ababa University and an LL.M. degree from the University of the Western Cape in South Africa and American University Washington College of Law. Gizachew has several years of legal experience both in Ethiopia and the US. As Executive Director, Gizachew provides leadership in the development, implementation, delivery, and evaluation of the various programs in the organization. He is also responsible for developing and implementing long-range strategies to achieve the organization’s missions and objectives.
Kelsey Fisher, MPA - Operations Manager
Kelsey joined TASSC as the Operations Manager in November 2015. Before TASSC, Kelsey worked at Human Rights Watch as the West Africa Associate. Additionally, she has over three years of experience providing project management and operations support at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, and has a long history of volunteering with nonprofits in the US and abroad. Kelsey received her Bachelor’s of Communication Studies from California Polytechnic University and a Master’s in Public Administration from San Jose State University. She is passionate about social justice and international human rights.
Andrea Barron - Advocacy and Outreach Consultant
Andrea Barron has been Advocacy and Outreach Consultant at TASSC since November 2013. She works with torture survivors and "Friends of TASSC" to educate policymakers and the broader American public about U.S. human rights policy toward countries where survivors have fled, and on issues affecting survivors in the U.S. such as the asylum backlog. Andrea also coordinates TASSC’s Truth Speakers program. Before coming to TASSC, Andrea was Senior Program Manager for Civic Engagement at The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, where she organized volunteer and advocacy projects for college students, global women's rights, Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Homelessness, the environment and domestic violence. For many years she has been an interfaith leader in the Washington DC area focusing on Jewish-Muslim cooperation and combatting Islamophobia.
Mary Harding, Ph.D
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. Mary also serves as the secretary on the Board of Directors.
Sheetal Patel, PhD. - Health and Psychological Wellness Program Coordinator
Dr. Sheetal Patel joined TASSC as the Licensed Psychologist and Coordinator of Mental Health Services in June 2015. Before TASSC, she served as the Clinical Director at Advocates for Survivors of Torture and Trauma since 2008, where she provided mental health services to survivors of torture, as well as education and training to clinical and other service providers in Maryland, DC and Virginia. Dr. Patel is licensed in Washington, DC and Maryland, and currently serves as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland Department of Psychology and Georgetown University Law School. Sheetal received a Bachelor's of Arts in Psychology (with Honors), a Bachelor’s of Arts in Women's Studies, a Master’s of Arts, and a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her areas of interest are in immigration and trauma.
Alysha Tagert, MSW, LICSW. - Social Services Program Coordinator (SSPC)
Alysha Tagert brings seven years of experience in program development, including three years of experience in designing programs for torture survivors. In 2013, she graduated with her Master’s in Social Work with a clinical focus from The Catholic University of America. During her first year of graduate school in 2011-2012, Alysha interned at TASSC where she was humbled and in awe of the human spirit within the survivors at TASSC. Prior to graduate school, Alysha worked in direct services with survivors of human trafficking and sexual assault. Additionally, she received her Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice and Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology - both with honors from Olivet Nazarene University in 2008. Alysha joined the TASSC team in June 2013 as the Social Services Program Coordinator. She believes in working with and for survivors and is honored to be a part of their journey.
Jennifer Isely, MSW, LGSW - Clinical Case Manager
Jennifer completed her Master’s of Social Work with a clinical concentration from Catholic University in June 2015. During the first year of her graduate program, Jennifer interned at TASSC, where she was incredibly inspired by the survivors she worked with. Before starting her graduate work, Jennifer spent over two years serving in the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan working with local women to develop a crisis center for survivors of domestic violence and bride kidnapping. Post-Peace Corps, Jennifer worked for a local nonprofit in the Washington, DC area supporting survivors of human trafficking, and has additional experience counseling survivors of sexual assault. Jennifer is passionate about working with immigrants in the United States and is honored to be back at TASSC.
Shanta Kingham - Clinical Case Manager
Shanta joined TASSC as a clinical case manager in May 2015. Before that, she worked at the Advocates for Survivors of Torture and Trauma, providing case management services for torture survivors. Shanta has a passion for working with people from different cultures and backgrounds. Beginning in the mid 90’s, she spent many years overseas providing direct services to marginalized populations. She has worked with people with leprosy and HIV/AIDS in Ghana for 4 years, with Burmese refugees living on the Thai-Burma border for 2 years, and with street children in India for 2 years. Shanta also lived in Burma for 3 years and served as a project coordinator for a local charity organization, where she delivered a range of services to under-served members of the community, including orphans and abandoned elderly. Shanta received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from James Madison University in Virginia.
Joshua Rigney, Esq. - Staff Attorney, Pro Bono Asylum Program
Josh Rigney became the Staff Attorney at TASSC in June 2015. Before joining TASSC’s staff, Josh worked with the Pro Bono Asylum Program (PBAP) as a volunteer attorney since September 2013. He has been working with torture survivors seeking asylum since May 2012. Josh received a Bachelor’s of Science in Economics and a Bachelor’s of Philosophy in Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008. He also holds a Master’s in International Relations and a Juris Doctor from American University. He is a member of the Virginia State Bar.
Sr. Denise Curry - Employment Counselor
Sr. Denise joined TASSC in 2007 after retiring from teaching. She has been a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur for more than 50 years, and she has spent time in Mexico, Peru and Nigeria with the sisters for different international missions aimed at changing lives for the better. At TASSC, Sr. Denise works with survivors who are looking for their first job in the US. She also helps rewrite resumes and find English classes and specialized job training, including Computer Software and IT areas.