Sisonke Board of Directors
Keith Adrian Mienies
Sisonke, Board Chairperson
Keith Mienies specializes in HIV management and governance for key populations. With more than 11 years’ experience in grant management, strategy formulation, research, concept note development and public policy analysis, Keith practices as an independent consultant providing technical assistance to governments, donors, civil society organisations and the private sector. Keith first engaged Sisonke during his tenure as Grants Specialist at the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC). In this role, Keith designed and implemented SANAC’s civil society grant management system which was inclusive of civil society capacity strengthening to contribute towards sustainability and improved organisational management.
Keith holds a Masters degree from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. His dissertation focused on identifying the barriers that sex workers experience to participate in HIV-related policy formulation and subsequent programming in the Johannesburg area. Currently, Keith is pursuing his PhD Candidate through Utrecht University where he is researching the intersection between marginalization and HIV-related health outcomes of key populations, including sex workers. The anticipated output from this project is to produce a re-engineered community engagement model which is cognizant of social exclusion as a key barrier to meaningful participate in policy-making, resource allocation and program monitoring.
Keith spends his free time travelling with his husband Thomas, diving, skiing or lazing about in a sunny spot in the park near his house.
Ms May is a legal practitioner at the Women’s Legal Centre in Cape Town, South Africa. She holds an LLB Degree from the University of the Western Cape and is an admitted attorney. Ms May’s work at the centre focuses on women’s rights in relationships and their rights at work. She completed her articles on community service at the Legal Resources Centre. She has been with the centre for eleven years and contributed on litigating to advance the rights of poor and marginalised individuals and communities. Her work has largely been focused on women’s rights and realizing the right to equality and non-discrimination for women and vulnerable groups within South African society. Ms May has authored a number of publications on gender and women’s rights as well as the law pertaining to non-profit organisations. She is also an individual member of the International Network for Economic Social and Cultural Rights where she serves on the Advisory Committee for the Women’s Working Group. She currently serves on the Management Board of Sisonke an organisation based in South Africa advocating for the rights of sex workers and the decriminalisation of sex work.
Naledi Ramokone originally from Ladybrand is now based in Bethlehem and has been in the sex work industry since 2011. She started as a Peer Educator, Assistant Coordinator and now is the HTS and Linkage Officer.
With her activism and a passion for fighting for human rights, she joined Sisonke as a member in 2014. In 2017, she joined the movement’s board. Naledi is vocal on fighting stigma, discrimination and exclusion of sex workers in accessing human rights and public health care. Her motto resonates with Sisonke- Nothing about Us, Without Us.
Leigh Ann van Der Merwe
Leigh Ann van der Merwe is a transgendered woman born in Eastern Cape, South Africa. She founded Social, Health and Empowerment Feminist Collective of Transgender Women of Africa, and has conceptualized projects such as the African Transformative Feminist Leadership Institute and has co-authored the Transilience Research Report on violence against transgender women in South Africa. She is versed in the human rights instruments of the United Nations. She considers herself an “intersectional” feminist. She holds a certificate in Community Journalism from UNISA and a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health from UWC. She holds positions on various executive and advisory boards. Leigh Ann was recognized as a Women’s Human Rights Defender in December 2012 and is also recognized as a woman of courage by Women have Wings. Leigh Ann has been co-principal investigator on studies conducted with transgender women. She also authored and co-authored research outputs published in peer reviewed journals. She is currently pursuing Masters Degree in Public Health with the University of South Africa.
Gift Mbuyiselo Thingane, was born and bred in the Vereeniging in the South of Johannesburg. He is a community activist and matriculated at Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College, Mazimbu, Morogoro, Tanzania. He has a B.Tech Degree in Cost &Management Account at Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2003 and Honours degree in Business Administration at Southern Business School, Johannesburg. Mr. Thingane joined Sisonke as a board member 2017.
Clara Singende was born in Zimbabwe, moved to South Africa 2006, and got a House Keeper job in the hospitality industry only to be evicted from the staff quarters when she fell pregnant. She then joined Sisonke in 2011 and has since worked her way up doing photography workshops through African Centre for Migration and Society. Clara has also attended media training via Sex Workers Education & Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT). Subsequently in 2014 was chosen to be Izwi Lethu Our Voice reporter, a Sisonke newsletter coordinated by sex workers themselves. Her call in peer education started at Oasis Greenlight in 2015 and currently works for Lifeline, Johannesburg as a Team Leader, Peer Education. In 2014, Clara was nominated to the Sisonke board has not looked back since. She also serves on the board of Lifeline.
Kelly Kgobane oozes brightness and happiness in her life. Born in North West, Ms Kgobane wears many hats including modelling which has seen winning the Bojanala Socialite Award under Dore Agency. As an activist, Kelly is usually on radio discussing issues Transgendered living and LGBTQI. She has also done a short documentary on transgender life with the South African Broadcasting Corporation. Kelly who has been a Sisonke board member since 2014 is working a Peer Educator at TB HIV Care, Bojanala district.
Born in Free State, Xholiswa Pampiri started as a sex worker in 2003. With passion for gender equality and fighting for the marginalised, in 2014 Ms Pampiri through a project ran by Red Umbrella through Lifeline she was introduced to Sisonke.
The mother to a 17-year-old in 2017, Ms Pampiri joined the movement’s board and has not looked back since.