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To support and mentor the fellows on their projects, the Create Initiative brought a pool of advisors on board. The advisors come from diverse backgrounds and expertise with multiple years of experience of working around disability, sexual and gender diversity, intersex rights, art and activism. Each fellow had the opportunity to work with two advisors, along with the CREA team and other fellows, to support them throughout the fellowship. In addition to individual and collective sessions, the fellows participated in learning sessions around disability justice, decolonial approaches to sexual and gender diversities, intersex rights, and more.

Meet the Advisors & the Team!
Generally I think when you are working on something that’s a long-term project it’s nice to have a support system that is really cheering you on and really keeping you going. So, it was nice to also be able to play that role and to remind them that the work that they are doing is important and to keep going for it.
— Sonaksha Iyengar, Create Advisor 2023
Agnieszka Król
Blessol Gathoni
Gathoni Blessol
Hiker Chiu

As the Manager, Programs and Innovations, leading the Disability and Sexuality program at CREA, Agnieszka led the design, management, and implementation of CREAte Fellowships. At CREA, Agnieszka works to amplify voices of women, trans and non-binary persons with disabilities, advance advocacy and leadership by diverse persons with disabilities, and catalyze dialogue between feminist, queer and disability rights perspectives to dismantle ableism and create access. She also leads and manages CREA’s Disability, Sexuality and Rights Online Institute.

Agnieszka is a sociologist and graduated from the Jagiellonian University, Poland. Her academic research focuses on disability, reproductive justice and LGBT+ rights. In 2020, she earned a PhD in social sciences researching reproductive autonomy and motherhood experiences of women with disabilities. She has also served on ANED – European academic network strengthening development of public policies in compliance with the UN CRPD. Since 2012, she has been a part of feminist and queer disability rights initiatives and collectives fighting to advance rights of women and queer persons with disabilities.

Gathoni Blessol is an activist and a systems change strategist. She works as a movement building specialist and consults with organizations on how to tackle overlapping systems of violence and extraction. Her work is grounded in intersectional feminist perspectives and applying interdisciplinary methods, like the use of political education, art and technology to advocate for change through people’s power. Blessol has authored a number of articles including ‘White Supremacy as Cultural Cannibalism’ and ‘#DeCOALonizeKenya and #YoPrefieroElLago.” She has recently been exploring how her journeys into healing and spiritual justice can be brought more directly into her work.

Hiker Chiu is an intersex human rights activist who founded OII-Chinese in 2008. As part of their work mission, Hiker started a “Global free hugs with intersex” campaign at Taipei’s LGBT Pride Parade in 2010. In 2011 and 2012 they participated as spokesperson for Asia in the first and second International Intersex Forum. In 2015 Hiker was elected as Co-Chair of ILGA Asia and a member of the ILGA World global Board being the first intersex activist ever elected to become a member of an ILGA board. In February 2018, Hiker and fellow intersex activists founded Intersex Asia as an umbrella organization for intersex human rights activism in Asia. Hiker is currently serving as co-chair of Intersex Asia.

Niluka Gunawardena
Photo Niluka
Dr. Padma Deosthali
Shruti Chakravorty
Shruti photo

Niluka Gunawardena is an educator, researcher and disability rights advocate based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. She is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Kelaniya and a Disability Consultant and curriculum developer at the University of Colombo. She serves on the board of Women Enabled International and the disability advisory panel of HYPE Sri Lanka.


Dr. Padma Bhate-Deosthali as Program Director at CREA, provided oversight, review, and support for the design and implementation of CREAte Fellowships. Dr. Padma has extensive experience in research, training, and policy advocacy in the areas of GBV, gender in medical education, health policy research, regulation of the private health sector, and women and work, with a focus on health and human rights.

She led CEHAT as its Director for 11 years. She was a member of the Steering Group of the GDG-WHO for developing policy and clinical practice guidelines for responding to violence against women and was also a member of the National Committee under the MoHFW for drafting the “Guidelines and Protocols for medico-legal care for victims/survivors of sexual violence” in 2014. She also coordinated the setting up of Dilaasa, a public hospital-based crisis centre on domestic violence in Mumbai.

Shruti Chakravarty, PhD, (cis woman; pronouns: she, her) has 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector, as a mental health practitioner, researcher, trainer, and social worker. Her areas of engagement have been mental health, gender and sexuality, from a rights-based perspective. She has an independent therapeutic practice based in Mumbai, has in-depth experience working with LGBTQIA+ clients in the therapeutic space, and has co-authored Queer Affirmative Counseling Practice (QACP): A Resource Book for Mental Health Practitioners in India. She has completed her PhD on the subject of queer intimacies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Shruti is Chief Advisor at Mariwala Health Initiative (MHI) and also faculty at the Queer Affirmative Counseling Practice course run by MHI.

Smruti Behera
Sonaksha Iyengar
Sonaksha Iyengar

As the former CREA Program Coordinator – Sexuality and Disability | Community Radio (India), Smruti handled the coordination and implementation of CREAte Fellowships. At CREA, Smruti supported the implementation of CREA’s regional Disability, Sexuality and Rights Online Institute along with other programmatic work within the Disability and Sexuality team. Previously, Smruti worked on CREA’s India-based community programs,”Meri Panchayat Meri Shakti” and a network of women headed grassroot NGOs called “Ibtida”.

She is a postgraduate in development studies and has previously worked with organizations like PRADAN, PHRN, Save The Children and has largely worked with marginalized women collectives. Smruti has received and imparted multiple training on gender equality, power structures and hierarchy, patriarchy, domestic violence, engendering livelihood, rights and entitlements of women, leadership and psycho-social well-being of women. Smruti is currently a Senior Program Officer at Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW).

Sonaksha is a fat, queer, chronically ill and disabled illustrator, graphic recorder and book designer. They use art to participate in building social justice movements, and work with organizations defending human rights and the environment. Sonaksha is currently dreaming and drawing about disability justice, care, fat liberation and queerness while living in Bangalore, India, where they are often found in the aisles of bookstores, or eating paint. You can find their work on:, or say hi on Instagram @sonaksha or Twitter @sonakshaiyengar.