Kate Kroeger | Executive Director

Kate joined Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights as Executive Director in 2012, fulfilling a lifelong dream of pursuing her feminist activism at an organization dedicated to supporting women’s human rights defenders around the world. Kate is a seasoned advocate, grantmaker and strategist, bringing two decades of experience with grassroots human rights work and social justice philanthropy to her leadership of UAF.

Kate learned about grassroots activism in India, where she was a fellow with the Aga Khan Foundation Canada in rural Rajasthan and later worked in the Tansa Valley of Maharashtra.  She then moved to New York City, where she spent twelve years funding human rights and social justice work globally, at NetAid (now part of Mercy Corps) and American Jewish World Service (AJWS), where she oversaw grants to over 450 grassroots organizations in 36 countries. Under her leadership, AJWS deepened its commitment to funding women’s rights activism, including support to young women, LBT women, indigenous women and ethnic and racial minorities. In an earlier incarnation as a policy wonk in the US government, Kate worked in the Department of Health and Human Services, and in the House of Representatives, where she focused on U.S. foreign policy in Asia and the Pacific.

Kate has earned degrees from McGill University, the London School of Economics, and New York University, and most recently received her Master’s in International Human Rights Law with Distinction from the University of Oxford.  A board member of Prospera (the international network of women’s funds) and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, she speaks French and Hindi.  She is a proud Canadian, and watches her country closely through rose colo(u)red binoculars, from her perch south of its border.


Shalini Eddens | Deputy Executive Director

Shalini’s passion for women’s health and rights is grounded in her deep belief for justice and equity.  Shalini’s African American/India heritage and her strong sense of community and family are the compass by which she approaches her work. She has an extensive background in women’s health and rights, with over 20 years of leadership experience in the grassroots public health sector providing direct services, training, education and advocacy for women living with and affected by HIV. Previously, Shalini served as a Program Officer for the UN Foundation in Washington, D.C. where she oversaw a portfolio focused on advocacy and reproductive health. Shalini has spent most of her career working with HIV/AIDS civil society organizations domestically including; Project Inform, where she developed a curriculum for faith-based leaders on HIV Science and Treatment and Women Organized to Respond to Life-Threatening Diseases, she developed a national peer education and training program for women living with HIV that was replicated in domestically and globally. Shalini has expertise in training and capacity building, program monitoring and evaluation, and curriculum design. She has worked with women’s organizations globally in India, South Africa, and Mozambique to provide technical assistance on women-centered HIV/AIDS programming. She holds a bachelor’s in sociology with a minor in African American studies from the University of California Davis and an M.P.H. from Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.


Theary Chan | Director of Partnerships

Theary (pronounced: terry) has been in fundraising and philanthropy for social change since 2000. Prior to joining UAF, she worked for or consulted a wide portfolio of social change & social justice organizations, including the (formerly) Grassroots Fundraising Institute, Heritage of Pride – NYC Pride, The Urban Justice Center’s Sex Workers Project, Tides Foundation & others. Most recently, she served as the Director of Philanthropic Services at Horizons Foundation, an LGBTQ Community Foundation.

Theary grew up in Long Beach, CA as a first-generation immigrant and refugee of Cambodian/Khmer heritage. She has spent a lifetime reconciling the injustices within a historical perspective of genocide and the intergenerational trauma of its aftermath with a passionate belief in the best of humanity’s efforts towards resilience and kindness through philanthropy. Her guiding principles are rooted in upholding equity & justice through the active embrace of economic, racial, and gender justice values.

She lives in San Francisco, CA with her little dog who thinks he’s a big dog, Milo.


Otibho Obianwu| Director of Programs

Otibho brings her rich lived experience and deep passion for and commitment to justice, equity, health and well-being, and movement building, to resourcing social justice movements. Prior to joining UAF, she served as a Program Officer on the Grantmaking team at the International Women’s Health Coalition where she resourced and supported feminist and women-led groups advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

Otibho has extensive experience advocating for the SRHR of women, adolescents and young people, and LGBTQI persons. She organized as part of the founding leadership at the Women’s Health and Equal Rights Initiative, a feminist organization focused on advancing the rights, health, and well-being of lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ) women in Nigeria. She has implemented programming to help prevent HIV infection in men who have sex with men and persons who use drugs, which contributed to the design and implementation of more effective programs to support these communities.  Her work in collaboration with others to identify and center the various SRHR vulnerabilities facing adolescents and young people helped inform Nigeria’s first national HIV strategy for adolescents and young people as well as guidelines on the age of consent for access to SRH services and participation in research. She has led research that examined the shift from traditional to medicalized female genital mutilation/cutting and assessed the health sector’s response to the practice. Additionally, she has also served in various advisory capacities including being a member of Astraea and Mama Cash’s LBQ Women’s Funding Project’s Activist Advisory Committee, and FRIDA the Young Feminist Fund’s Change Team.

Otibho holds an MD from Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and an MPH from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


Nathalie.Margie.bioNathalie Margi | Senior Advocacy Officer

Born in France of Lebanese and Polish parents, Nathalie is passionate about supporting the leadership of intersectional feminist movements worldwide. Prior to leading UAF’s advocacy work, she engaged in feminist advocacy for reproductive and economic justice, managed projects on LGBTQI rights and gender justice in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and in Lebanon in the context of the Syrian crisis, worked with UN Special Procedures, taught a course on the UN, and helped organize workshops in the DRC to implement UN Security Council Resolutions. She earned an LLM in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law from the University of Essex and an MA in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University. Nathalie often reflects on how to practice social justice values as the parent of two young boys and she manages an online community for feminist parents and caregivers.


Huong.bioHuong Nguyen | Senior Learning & Impact Officer

Huong brings over 15 years of experience in community economic development, sexual and reproductive health, gender and philanthropy. Deeply influenced by her bi-cultural upbringing in the suburbs of New Orleans, Huong’s passion for social, economic and gender equality was shaped through the lens of growing up as a political refugee and immigrant from Vietnam within the complexities of local Louisiana politics. From experiencing first-hand the difficulties in a new country as a refugee to tutoring female prisoners in New Orleans as an undergrad student volunteer, these experiences inflamed her desire to work on gender and social justice issues. Huong has worked with different communities in the US and globally, including supporting Vietnamese refugees and immigrants in Boston to achieve economic self-sufficiency, partnering with grantees in South Asia to increase access to reproductive health and family planning and providing access to funding to local women’s groups to advance women’s rights. She has worked at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation as a Research Associate and Global Fund for Women as a Program Officer. Huong holds two graduate degrees from Boston University School of Public Health and the London School of Economics.


Raisa Borshchigova | Senior Program Officer

Raisa, a Chechen born and raised human rights activist is hugely passionate, dedicated, and committed to working towards women’s safety, security, empowerment, and liberation from violence, persecution, and harm. Prior to joining UAF, Raisa worked for the North Caucasus’s largest civil society project, the Young Women’s Development Group,  providing education to teenage girls. In 2016, she was awarded the Galina Starovoitova Fellowship at the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute in Washington, DC, where she took residence. There, she began to synthesize years of work on women’s and girl’s rights and LGBT rights as she embarked on transforming her first-hand experiences into academic research

Her teenage years coincided with two devastating wars that hit the Chechen region in 1994 and 1999. She studied French language and literature at the Chechen State University. As a student, she helped coordinate foreign journalists’ news coverage throughout Chechnya. In 2009, Raisa obtained her Master’s degree in Journalism from the Centre de Formation des Journalistes ( Center for Journalism Studies) in Paris, France. In 2010 Raisa campaigned to stop attacks on women who were shot with rubber bullets and paintball guns by local armed men in Grozny, Chechnya’s capital, for not wearing headscarves, falling victim to such attacks herself. During this time, she also wrote articles about women’s rights in the North Caucasus for the publication Open Democracy, a UK-based online media outlet.

Raisa has conducted various training sessions on integrated security for activists in the Northern Caucasus covering all aspects of defender security, devising strategies, and emergency grant application. She is focused on fighting for adolescent girls’ protection and empowerment; international advocacy on violence against women and girls and providing direct assistance as it pertains to women’s safety and security.


Elsa Saade | Program Officer

Elsa Saade is a Lebanese cultural and social activist, aspiring historian, political artist, and mobilizer based in New York City.

She holds a Masters’ Degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, focused on the concept of silenced histories and the case of the disappeared in post civil war Beirut. In parallel to her day to day work, Elsa’s interests and skills surround the fields of feminist Human Rights, Digital Security, Advocacy, Middle Eastern History Politics and Activism, Artivism, Philanthropy and Justice.

Elsa grew up in Lebanon, and moved to New York to pursue her studies, all the while holding her dream for strategic and collective change in her region by and through local communities.


Belguun “Bella” Bat-Erdene | Grants Officer

Belguun’s passion for human rights and feminism is deeply influenced by the strong women in her life. From a young age, she learned great life lessons from her grandmother’s and her single mother’s experience and became committed to advocating for economic, political, and social equality for women all over the world.  Belguun’s immigrant and minority women identity drives her to create sustainable social change where women and girls have the right to self-determination. She dreams of creating a safe space for women in Mongolia and advancing gender equality.

Prior to joining the UAF, Belguun worked as a program manager for the largest ethnic chamber of commerce in California, the CalAsian Chamber of Commerce. She advocated for policies and legislation that support the minority communities and women-owned enterprises. She interned at the Consulate General of Mongolia, San Francisco researching strategies of economic and political development.

Belguun earned her M.A. in International Studies, focusing on Human Development from the University of San Francisco and B.A. in International Relations, focusing on Peace Keeping and Security from the University of California, Davis.


Keishla Gonzalez-Quiles | Communication Coordinator

Keishla is the Communication Coordinator that brings over 7 years of experience in developing communication strategies and inspiring others by identifying compelling stories, facts, and outcomes. She follows her passion to activate and engage groups and individuals towards empowerment and solidarity with social justice holding a special place in her heart.

While at St. John’s University completing her Master’s Degree in International Communication, Keishla worked in Cuba and India strengthening and fostering interdisciplinary relationships on a global scale. In Cuba, Keishla was a lecturer at Centro Cultural Padre Felix Varela in Havana, Cuba leading workshops on entrepreneurship, marketing & communication strategies, leadership, and networking. Keishla spent time in Goa, India co-collaborating with fellows from St. Xavier College on Sustainable Development and Economic Growth in the region of Divar. After completing her degree, Keishla worked at La Casa de Don Pedro in Newark, NJ to engage residents, stakeholders, and other local organizations in the area towards the self-sufficiency and empowerment of the community.

Keishla enjoys exploring and escaping the hectic city every chance she gets, snowboarding at the first sights of snow, and archery when she’s not sharing the incredible stories of Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights’ brave defenders of social justice.


Danielle Pointdujour | Human Resources Officer

Danielle has spent over ten years working as a human resources professional at non-profits, where she happily served those dedicated to serving others and fighting the good fight. She holds an M.S. in Organizational Leadership from Mercy College in New York and joins Urgent Action Fund to continue supporting those who fight for social justice. When she’s not doing her part to make UAF an even more amazing place to work, you can find her off on a global adventure making international friends, taking culinary classes, and working on her tan.


Shareka Thomas | Finance Associate

Shareka brings over ten years of experience in accounting and finance, in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Her passion lies in using her love for numbers to support and grow organizations that seek to help those often overlooked.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics & Business from Agnes Scott College. Her studies of economics developed her curiosity in researching a wide array of topics across a global spectrum. Her attendance at a women’s college that “educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times,” uniquely mirrors the values of the Urgent Action Fund.


Allison S. | Operations & Systems Officer

Allison is passionate about women’s human rights, digital privacy, and organizational efficiency.  She has 12 years of experience developing helpful and people-friendly systems that enable non-profits and teams to do their best work. She studied environmental science and has a master’s of business administration. Allison lives in the Bay Area with thriving perennial collard green plants in her garden, a multitude of succulents, and her hummingbird friends.