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Staff

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Erika Castellanos

Interim Executive Director / Director of Programs

Erika (she/her) is a transgender HIV positive woman from Belize residing in the Netherlands. A social worker by profession, Erika joined GATE in April 2017 as Director of Programs and has held the role of Interim Executive Director since February 2022.

Erika plays an important role in the participation of trans people in global key decision-making platforms such as the Communities Delegation to the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and the Communities, Rights and Gender Advisory Group where she is a member representing GATE. As of 1 June 2018, Erika is the first openly transgender advocate become appointed as a Member of the Board of the Global Fund.

Erika is fluent in English and Spanish and is currently learning Dutch.

Cori Zaccagnino

Director of Finance and Operations

Cori (she/her), based in New York, joined GATE in November 2012 as an Executive Assistant and became Director of Finance and Operations in 2016. Cori has a Degree in Business, a Masters in Global Affairs and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

In her spare time, she is a trainer of movement and mobility.

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Naomhán O'Connor

Communications Manager

Naomhán (he/him) is an Irish trans man and non-profit/NGO communications specialist. He joined GATE in September 2017. He holds a BA in International Media and Communication Studies from the University of Nottingham and is currently studying for an MSc in Marketing at Ulster University.

Naomhán’s previous experience includes social media communications and campaign filmmaking and photography for various NGOs and arts festivals. As a trans activist, he collaboratively founded and ran the European Trans and Intersex Summer Camp, founded Non-Binary Northern Ireland, co-led the Northern Irish gender recognition campaign to reform the UK Gender Recognition Act, co-founded Transgender NI and collaborated with TENI in their work to introduce non-binary legal gender recognition to the Republic of Ireland.

In his spare time, he can be found exploring the Northern Irish countryside.

Press Queries: press@gate.ngo

Max Appenroth

Research & Community Sexual Health Officer

Max Appenroth (they/he) is a Germany-based trans activist, diversity consultant, and in the final year of their PhD at the Institute of Public Health at the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany. For GATE Max works as the Research & Community Sexual Health Officer. They are an internationally recognized expert on STI and HIV prevention and care in trans & gender diverse communities and they provide support through their expertise for various research projects and to different organizations. In the past years Max has collaborated in research and consultancies with WHO, UNAIDS, CDC, ECDC, other key population networks, local and international health research institutions and pharma companies.

Max’s favourite self-care strategy is cooking some good food for himself and for others and to discover new food, when travelling. They are fluent in English and German, and know some basic Spanish, French, and Hebrew.

Levan Berianidze

Gender Movement Program Officer
Levan Berianidze (they/them/theirs) is a queer feminist activist from the Republic of Georgia.  They are a graduate of the Social Justice and Human Rights MA program at Arizona State University and the Gender Studies MA program at Central European University. Levan has vast experience in LGBTQI and feminist movements in the Eurasia region, which spans over nine years. As an executive director at Equality Movement, Levan managed to evolve the organization into the largest and the most influential LGBTQI organization in the Caucasian region over a period of four years. As part of their activism, Levan has won strategic cases in the European Court of Human Rights and the Georgian Constitutional Court against the Georgian government for violating the public assembly rights of the LGBTQI community and for discriminatory laws against the LGBTQI community; Levan has organized the largest and the first-ever LGBTQI public demonstrations (IDAHOT) in Tbilisi. After the last homophobic attack on their partner, Levan, and three transgender women, Levan organized an international campaign with HRC and AllOut and pushed the Georgian government to establish a human rights department within the police forces. Moreover, being aware and critical of the challenges caused by NGO-ization of activism, in collaboration with activist friends, Levan started organizing a series of queer events – HOROOM – which has opened up pathways to forming an independent, non-formal, and nonhierarchical queer community in Georgia. With up to 1000 attendees per event, the party series has become one of the most important safe spaces for mobilization, education, and empowerment of the LGBTQI community in Georgia.

Kira Xonorika

Communications Assistant

Kira Xonorika (she/they) is a non-binary writer, artist, and researcher based in Asunción, Paraguay. Kira joined GATE in January 2021 as our Communications Assistant.

Kira has worked in communications and has advocated for economic justice and access to technology for trans people in the Global South. She has been a guest lecturer in various universities and institutions, including Cambridge and the United Nations. In her academic work, she discusses the politics surrounding the representation of trans bodies in visual arts and media. 

She is an Outright Beijing +25 Fellow and holds a Degree in Visual Arts.

Kira speaks fluent English and Spanish and has an advanced understanding of Portuguese. They’re currently learning German and code.

Vidda Guzzo

Intersex Program Officer

Vidda Guzzo (she/her) is an intersex transgender woman and LGBTI rights advocate based in Brasília, Brazil. Vidda has worked on SOGIESC issues and international human rights law, in seven years of combined experience as a researcher, professional and human rights defender, at national State institutions, international, national, and local organizations, and diverse research and civil society groups. Vidda has acted in operational and programmatic positions on sex variations and intersex issues especially focused on fundraising, campaign and project management, research, and community-building. She is currently an international consultant working with the Brazilian Intersex Association and a counselor sitting at the Brazilian National LGBTI Popular Council. She holds a scholarship position as a master’s student in Political Science at the University of Brasilia, where she also finished her bachelor’s degree in International Relations. Before joining GATE, Vidda’s professional background in human rights matters includes experiences working for the Brazilian Ministry of Justice’s Amnesty Commission; the Department of Human Rights and Citizenship of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the Communications and Representation team at UNODC in Brasília. She is an OutRight United Nations Religion Fellow. Vidda’s biggest professional aspiration is to create an intersex Latin American and Caribbean organization to foster a regional human rights advocacy strategy for intersex-led organizations in the region.

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Mahri Bahati

HIV Program Officer

Mahri Bahati, MPH (she/her) is a creative and passionate public health professional with extensive experience in LGBTQ+ health advocacy, program management, and community engaged research. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area in the United States. In addition to her role at GATE, Mahri Bahati also serves as the Senior Community Engagement Specialist at PRIDEnet based at Stanford University School of Medicine. Mahri earned a Master of Public Health in 2013 with a focus in Epidemiology.

Prior to coming to GATE Mahri also worked at MPact Global Action and Innovative Response Globally for Trans Women and HIV (IRGT) to train leaders of trans-led organizations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America on topics related organizational development, advocacy, and implementing designing HIV and STI programming for trans and gender expansive individuals.  She hopes to use her skills in capacity building, program planning, and community mobilization to build self-sustainability and empowerment in local trans and gender diverse communities around the globe. In her spare time she enjoys socializing, learning to play the piano, and documenting her culinary pursuits on social media.

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