Sebastian Maguire, Esq.

President & FOUNDER

I owe the foundation of SAFE to Anthony Reindhardt.  I had been practicing immigration law for a few years when my pastor asked me to help Anthony apply for asylum.  Anthony ended up winning his case and eventually graduating from college. He came back to me and told me I had inspired him to apply to law school.  He wanted to be an immigration lawyer! Anthony then asked me to help him found SAFE. How could I say no?

The stories I have heard are harrowing but also many times
inspiring. When the immigration bureaucracy frustrates me, which it often
does, I get a boost of energy thinking about the amazing people I work
with.  With one foot in queer activism and the other in immigration, I am
acutely aware of the disconnect between these two issues. I hope SAFE can help bridge the gap for the benefit of our city and our country.

I really love learning about different cultures.  I have been
fortunate enough to have lived in Asia and Africa and now call New York City home.  I have been in Queens for most of that time because of the
outstanding food, colorful art, and fascinating neighbors.


Neal A. Stone

Board member, Co-FOUNDER

Neal A. Stone, MCIP, AICP is a Senior Urban & Regional Community Planner for the Town of North Hempstead, Nassau County, Long Island. Mr. Stone has lived in New York City for the last two decades, having worked for two planning consultancies, as well as local and county government. A native of Kamsack, Saskatchewan whose alma mater is the University of Manitoba (Winnipeg), Mr. Stone originally departed the Canadian Prairies for the Republic of the Philippines in 1997 to provide volunteer human rights and environmental education service overseas. His urban planning expertise has included project management in affordable housing, major transportation system management, state and city environmental impact preparation, and open space preservation/resource protection initiatives in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Neal is currently contributing to a medium-term cultural planning initiative for the Caguayo Foundation in Santiago de Cuba. He is a member in good standing of the Canadian Institute of Planners (International) and American Institute of Certified Planners since 2000. Mr. Stone serves on Boards of Directors for "Seeking Asylum Finding Empowerment (SAFE)"; "Damayan Migrant Workers Association"; "Queens Pride Lions Club"; and is Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee of the American Planning Association's Divisions Council (national). 

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Michael Schreiber, Esq.

Board Member, Co-FOUNDER

Michael Schreiber is a former immigration attorney.  His specialization included immigration law and appellate advocacy. He is familiar with and has represented a diverse group of clients in the areas of permanent residence, naturalization, removal defense, detention, asylum and visas.  He has appeared within many Immigration Court venues throughout the country and is familiar with appeals and motions before USCIS, BIA, as well as other Federal Courts. Mr. Schreiber graduated from Binghamton University with a degree in Political Science.  He received his JD from the George Washington School of Law.  Prior to practicing immigration law, Mr. Schreiber worked in Taiwan and Hong Kong as a corporate attorney. Mr. Schreiber is a former co-chair of the Asylum committee within the Immigration subcommittee at the New York City Bar Association.  He has worked on a pro bono basis with Immigration Equality and RUSA LGBT. He is a New York native and is conversational in Mandarin.


Tom Smith

Board Member, Co-FOUNDER

Tom has been a Registered Nurse since 1978, and a home care nurse for 35 years. A few of the organizations and projects worked for and on are:

  • Stonewall Democratic Club (SDC): board member and former President.

  • Former spokesperson for the Coalition for Lesbian & Gay Rights (CLGR) the organization that passed the NYC Human Rights Bill in 1986; CLGR gave first two thousand dollars to organize the 1987 March on Washington.

  • CLGR held first hearings on homeless PWA’s in NYC; CLGR persuaded the City & State to hold the first hearings on homeless PWA’s.

  • CLGR held hearings called “Why Shouldn’t We Boycott Channel 13,” which helped get “In the Life” on the air.

  • Co-founder of Family Diversity Coalition which wrote & introduced the first City & State Domestic Partnership bills in 1987 & 1988 – one of the first in the nation. The coalition was a major force in persuading Mayor Dinkins to write the first executive order establishing Domestic Partnerships.

  • Co-founder of AllOutArts1992, an LGBT arts not-for-profit; AllOutArts runs the annual Fresh Fruit Festival.

  • Co-founder of the Stonewall Business Association 1991

  • Co-founder of The Wall Street Project and in 1993 did the first survey on the Fortune 500 on LGBT employee rights in US history. Alan Hevesi, at the urging of The Wall Street Project, introduced the first shareholder resolution in the history of the United States requiring that the Cracker Barrel Old Time Restaurant Corp. have a written policy protecting its Lesbian & Gay employees against discrimination.

  • Co-founded Equality Project, a not-for-profit, and co-authored the Equality Principles on Corporate Responsibility (Ten principles on corporate conduct and behavior); the Equality Principles which became the bases of the HRC Corporate Index.

  • Co-authored the NYC Bias-Related Violence Law 1993

  • Founding President of the Brooklyn Community Pride Center 2008-2011

  • Founding President Stonewall Community Development Corp 2013 and current board member not for profit to create affordable housing for the lgbt Seniors of NYC. We believe that seniors of the Stonewall generation often were paid less than their counterparts and have a higher need for affordable housing, and services that understand the psycho/social and health needs of the LGBT Senior. We are launching a survey of needs as well as working with developers to create housing and services in all 5 boroughs.


David Karopkin, Esq.

Board Member, Co-FOUNDER

The great-grandchild of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe to Brooklyn, NY, David has been driven by a deep-rooted belief in pursuing social justice work and guided by a spiritual connection to vulnerable and wrongly maligned people and animals. David earned his activist stripes fighting for animal rights in NYC, as the founder of a wildlife protection group, GooseWatch NYC, leading and organizing efforts to oppose and document the secretive government roundups of Canada geese. Through GooseWatch's stealth efforts the all-volunteer group successfully created and publicized never-seen-before videos and images of the USDA's (allegedly "humane") goose roundups and slaughters in NYC parks. Through his work with GooseWatch, David has also been involved with numerous efforts and campaigns to protect threatened wildlife living in NYC through legislation and policy, notably including Canada geese, mute swans, deer and turkeys on Staten Island, and has advocated for coyotes, raccoons, squirrels, even pigeons and rats. David's advocacy for "nuisance" wildlife has brought him towards contributions within a range of other social justice contexts, including various pro-immigrant and LGBT rights, and anti-incarceration work. While working as an aide to NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm and Sebastian Maguire, David assisted with a number of pieces of legislation to protect immigrant and LGBT communities, including bills requiring gender-neutral bathrooms and expanding voting rights for non-citizens. David has also served as Legislative Director for New York State Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, and Assistant Law Clerk to the Hon. Justice Katherine A. Levine in the New York State Supreme Court.


Denis Ryabokonov

Board Member

Denis has more than 15 years of journalistic, PR and social media management experience. For the past five years, Denis worked for the second biggest airline in Russia, building social media and focusing on key opinion leaders and celebrities. Denis also launched his own PR agency and successfully completed several projects with international airlines and tech companies. Denis has extensive journalistic experience in the leading business media. as the hi-tech observer for Forbes and Business Week. When Denis immigrated to the US in 2018, he keenly felt how vulnerable recent immigrants can be and how important to help them with all the possible support in the beginning of their way to the new happier lives in their new home country. Denis is excited about using his expertise to help strengthen SAFE's communications.

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Denis Simonov

Board Member

With more than 15 years of general management and entrepreneurial experience, Denis is a visionary and results-driven executive. He has advanced capabilities in strategic planning and execution, negotiations, coaching, change management, training and development, with a proven ability to stimulate sustainable organizational growth. Denis is an innovative and passionate leader, possessing strong philanthropic roots and leadership skills. Denis graduated from Stockholm School of Economics (EMBA) and Harvard Business School (General Management Program). Denis is a co-founder of Water Is Life, a social entrepreneurship company helping farmers in Asia improve their agricultural effectiveness via access to technologies and markets. Denis moved to New York from Moscow, and his own experience as an immigrant has encouraged him to help other immigrants in need.



Suzanne Scoggins

Board Member

Suzanne is an assistant professor of political science at Clark University. Her work focuses on policing in reform-era China and explores themes of local governance, bureaucratic policies, and authoritarian control. Her academic articles have appeared in the China QuarterlyAsian Survey, and PS: Political Science and Politics. More digestible bits of her research have also appeared in The EconomistThe Diplomat, and Business Insider. She received her PhD in political science from UC Berkeley in 2016, and is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Policing in the Shadow of Protest.


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Ed Hung, Esq. 

Board Member

Ed is an attorney in general practice representing the Chinese community in greater Boston and Northern California. He is a volunteer adult education tutor at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center. Ed has previously volunteered through Lawyers in the Library, providing free consultation and referrals on a wide variety of legal issues and Community Education Partnerships, a tutoring program for homeless children in the San Francisco Bay Area. His representative asylum cases include ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ community in Asia.  


Oleg Jelezniakov


Oleg Jelezniakov has been a long-time passionate advocate of LGBT rights. Since the early 2010s he began participating in and co-organizing events with RUSA-LGBT that were focused on LGBT rights in Russia and former USSR republics. He was one the first Russian LGBT immigrants to talk publicly on the Voice of America about personal experience of getting political asylum based on sexual orientation.  Oleg actively worked with New York LGBT activists, including such groups as ACT UP, to help stage public rallies against Putin’s anti-LGBT policies. In addition, Oleg was asked by GLAAD to talk about gay rights in Russia on Arise News TV before the 2013 G20 Summit in St. Petersburg. Three years in a row, he organized Russian-speaking LGBT immigrants' groups to participate in the annual AIDS WALK. His collaboration with VNSNY,  North America's largest visiting nurse service organization, helped them unroll an initiative for elderly LGBT New Yorkers to who needed medical services at home. He also organized VNSNY's first participation in the LGBT Pride March in 2017.  Oleg has a master's degree in linguistics from Vyatka State University in Russia and post-graduate diploma from Cesar Ritz hospitality college in Switzerland.