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Planned Parenthood of New York City Staff Trainers

Elizabeth Adams is the Public Policy and Government Relations Manager at PPNYC, working with partner organizations and elected officials to advance progressive legislation in New York City and New York State. Since joining the organization in 2012, she has worked to develop its community partnerships with justice-based organizations, and advocate for proactive health equity legislation at both the grassroots and grass-tops levels. Ms. Adams has a background in education and legislative and electoral campaigns.  

Veronica Aveis is Political Director at PPNYC, and works with NYC elected officials on a legislative agenda impacting the lives of PPNYC patients, advocates, and staff at the city and state level. She also oversees PPNYC Action Fund and Planned Parenthood NYC Votes’ political work, including the Activist Council’s Political Action group, and advises on regional electoral work (including Long Island and the Hudson Valley). Ms. Aveis has a background in federal community and  legislative work with the US House of Representatives, and electoral campaign and PAC organizing. 

Michele Bayley, M.P.H., is the Associate Vice President of Education and Training at PPNYC.  She supervises director-level staff in the Education and Training Department and assists the Vice President of Education and Training in select duties related to strategic planning and overseeing the department operations.  She has extensive experience in training professionals on sexual health issues and has directed both international and domestic adolescent and women’s health programs. 

Alice Berger, R.N., M.P.H., is the Vice President of Health Care Planning at PPNYC. Ms. Berger has more than 20 years of experience working in the policy and program areas of public insurance, health care reform, and family and reproductive health. She directed a large New York City PCAP program and comprehensive primary care identification-and-tracking program for at-risk infants. Ms. Berger currently chairs a citywide Adolescent Health Committee and has been instrumental in the process of implementing health care reform in New York State. She is on the Board of the National Family Planning Reproductive Health Association and the National Advisory Board of Merger Watch. She was recently appointed to two New York State Department of Health committees: the Regional Advisory Committee, which will advise about implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and the Promoting Healthy Women, Infants, and Children Committee, which will define the scope of the priority area and identify best practices for action and indicators to track progress. 

Carmina Bernardo, M.A., M.P.H., is the Director of Health Care Planning and the New York City Training Coordinator for the Family Planning Benefit Program (FPBP) at PPNYC. In her role as FPBP Coordinator, Carmina provides training workshops and technical assistance on public health insurance programs with a focus on FPBP thoughout the five boroughs of New York City, all with the goal of maximizing access to family planning services. Across PPNYC’s five health centers, she also oversees PPNYC’s Financial Counseling Services.  Finally, Carmina works across departments to monitor, analyze, and implement components of New York State’s Medicaid Redesign and other health reform initiatives. Ms. Bernardo has been a PPNYC staff member since September 2000 and volunteered as a PPNYC Center Escort for six years. She has Master’s degrees in both Public Health and Sociology.

Lisa Colarossi, Ph.D., LCSW is the Vice President of Research and Evaluation at Planned Parenthood of New York City. She is a developmental psychologist and a licensed clinical social worker, receiving her degrees from the University of Michigan.  Her training and background is in interdisciplinary research collaborations between social science, medical and legal systems.  She conducts research using a variety of methods from program evaluation to longitudinal surveys and qualitative exploratory research.  She has expertise in statistical and qualitative analysis, and program monitoring and development. Research foci include violence against women, sexual and reproductive health, and adolescent and adult psychosocial development. She has been a fellow of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Society of Family Planning, and the Interdisciplinary Center for Research on Women and Gender at The University of Michigan.

Alexandra Cerda is the Adult Role Models Program Coordinator at PPNYC.  In this role she is responsible for recruiting, training and supervising the team of Adult Role Models (Parent Peer Educators) and organizing workshops in the community. Prior to working at PPNYC, Ms. Cerda was a Health Educator Technician at Harlem Dowling-West Side Center for Children and Family Services, she facilitated HIV prevention workshops and conducted one-on-one counseling for both youth and adults.  While completing her degree in Health Education at Lehman College, Ms. Cerda conducted internships at various High Schools in New York City, creating and implementing lesson plans, workshops and assessments on Sexual and Reproductive health. 

Randa Dean, M.P.H., is the Director of Adult and Professional Programs at PPNYC.  She spearheads PPNYC’s work helping organizations around the city to become more “Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH)-Ready,” as well as the PPNYC Training Institute.  Ms. Dean also oversees our adult programs, including the Adult Role Models program and the Promotores de Salud program. Previously, she worked with International Planned Parenthood Federation and Partners in Health in Haiti.  Prior to coming to PPNYC, she conducted outreach to and HIV education for homeless youth and adults in Sacramento, facilitated HIV education sessions for staff at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, and led HIV education workshops abroad.  Ms. Dean has an M.P.H. in Sexuality and Health from Columbia University.

Stephanie Demmons is Director of Community Organizing at PPNYC, working with and engaging supporters, activists, patient advocates, and community partners around PPNYC’s mission and legislative priorities. She oversees the Public Affairs team’s organizing, outreach, and mobilizing efforts, including the work of the Activist Council, Health Center Advocacy, and Planned Parenthood Generation Action student organizing. Ms. Demmons has a background in recruiting, training, and developing leadership within social justice movements and legislative and electoral campaigns.  

Ema Eyasmin is a Sexuality Educator for PPNYC’s Youth Programs. She has been with Planned Parenthood of New York City since 2007, starting as a Bronx Teen Advocate. As a Teen Advocate, she facilitated sexual health workshops and skits for her peers and adults.  After four years as a Teen Advocate, Ms. Eyasmin became a part-time Sexuality Educator. She facilitates evidence-based programming in school health classes and community organizations throughout New York City.  Ms. Eyasmin has a B.A. from Brooklyn College in Sociology and Psychology.

Judith Gomez is a Sexuality Educator for PPNYC’s Youth Programs. She facilitates a number of curriculums including Taking Care of You, All of Us, Be Proud, Be Responsible, and Making Proud Choices in high schools and community based organizations throughout New York City. Previously, Ms. Gomez served as the PPNYC Teen Advocate Program Assistant and as a Teen Advocate. As a program assistant, she also worked as the Global Youth Ambassador, where she linked global and local reproductive health work. Currently, as a Sexuality Educator, she hopes to incorporate inclusive material in the curricula she facilitates.

Kathy Hounnake is the CAPP Project Coordinator at PPNYC responsible for providing evidence-based curricula and youth development workshops (for example, Be Proud Be Responsible, Making Proud Choices & the Healthy Living Toolkit) for  young people in public schools and community organizations throughout the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.  She also facilitates sex education workshops and trainings for youth service providers and conducts community outreach in order to raise awareness of PPNYC’s broad range of services and to link clients to services.  Ms. Hounnake graduated from Hunter College with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Sociology.  She has more than eight years of experience in the human and social services field, including working as a case manager serving pregnant and parenting teens in Brooklyn. 

Corbin Knight-Dixon, M.S., is the Professional Programs Manager for Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC). Corbin helps support PPNYC’s Organizational Capacity Building work, helping organizations strengthen their ability to address their clients’ sexual and reproductive health needs through policy development, education and training, and health care referrals. He also helps oversee PPNYC’s Training Institute, which provides trainings and resources to professionals who want to stay up-to-date on sexual and reproductive health topics. Additionally, Corbin is an adjunct instructor at Montclair State University, where he teaches human sexuality. He is also the Attendee Interactive Chair for the 2016 National Sex Ed Conference. Prior to his work at PPNYC, Corbin oversaw the sexual health and youth leadership program at Harlem RBI, based in East Harlem. An Illinois native, Corbin began his work as a sexuality educator at Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPILWhile at PPIL he managedseveral high school peer education programs and college advocacy groups. Corbin graduated with his Masters of Science in in Health Communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Louise Marchena, M.S.W., is the Senior Director of Youth Programs at PPNYC. She oversees PPNYC’s sexuality education programs targeted at youth, including community-based and citywide initiatives.  She received her Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from Fordham University in 2002.  Ms. Marchena has more than 16 years of experience working in the mental health field, specializing in children and family therapy.  Prior to joining PPNYC, Ms. Marchena developed and implemented multifaceted after-school programming for children suffering from serious emotional disturbances and designed programs to provide support to their families.

Karen Ortiz is the Senior Sexuality Educator / Trainer at PPNYC. In her current role, she provides education and linkage to care support for Brooklyn and Queens residents who are underserved and in need of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. Formerly, as a part of the Promotores de Salud community health worker program, Karen and her team acted as a bridge to PPNYC services by providing culturally sensitive information on SRH topics in areas in the Bronx and Queens where large population of immigrant Latinas and their families live. Through outreach, education, and community partnerships; she assisted the community with Spanish language workshops and navigating the health care system for them and their families. As a first generation American and native New Yorker, she is passionate about advocating to strengthen and empower immigrant communities and foster nurturing, healthy relationships.

Dolores Polanco is a Sexuality Educator/Trainer at PPNYC.  Ms. Polanco began her career at Bronx Aids Services as a peer educator and later became one of PPNYC's Bronx Teen Advocates. She attends New York City College of Technology, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.  Ms. Polanco conducts workshops for youth about sexual and reproductive health in schools and community organizations throughout Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Manhattan with the aim of helping them to make better decisions. She teaches the “Making Proud Choices” evidence-based curriculum as well as other curricula. She has attended trainings herself to become a certified Trainer of Trainers on breastfeeding and on evidence-based curricula.

Lauren Porsch, M.P.H., is the Program Director for Clinical Training, Research, and Special Projects at PPNYC.  She collaborates in the planning and delivery of PPNYC's training and education programs for physicians, advanced practice clinicians, and medical students, and in the implementation of clinical research projects at the agency’s health centers.  Her areas of expertise are contraception, abortion, HIV risk reduction counseling, and the provision of LGBT-sensitive reproductive and sexual health education and services.   

Francisco Ramirez , MPH, is the Vice President of Education and Training at PPNYC. For 20 years, Francisco has dedicated his career to responding to the sexual health and public health needs of diverse communities worldwide. He has led multi-lingual training, education and research efforts for organizations including: the United Nations (UNICEF, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations), MTV, Durex, Hetrick-Martin Institute, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York Academy of Medicine, and the NAACP. Francisco has also served as a prominent voice in the media on sexual health issues including as on-camera host and producer MTV and host at National Public Radio. At PPNYC, Francisco oversees the department’s youth programs as well as education and training programming for adults and professionals.

Jessica Rivera is the Associate Director of Youth Programs at PPNYC.  Ms. Rivera previously coordinated PPNYC's Teen Advocate Program for both the Bronx and Lower East Side sites. She currently contributes to the development and implementation of youth programs in various communities across New York City. Prior to joining PPNYC, Ms. Rivera was the Outreach Specialist at the Adolescent AIDS Program at Montefiore Medical Center.  Ms. Rivera has also presented at Ryan White conferences and at the National Youth Advocacy Coalition's Annual Youth Conference.  Through education and outreach efforts, she has empowered youth to get tested, obtain information, and better understand their rights to sexual and reproductive health care.  

Carissa Rountree, CLC, is the Training Institute (TI) Coordinator at PPNYC, where she collaborates with trainers to develop and deliver professional trainings on a wide variety of sexual and reproductive health topics and coordinates the TI’s daily operations. Before coming to PPNYC, Ms. Rountree conducted workshops for children and trainings for adults about recognizing and responding to child abuse in all five boroughs of New York City. Her background is in Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies.

Nelson Santana is a Sexuality Educator/Trainer at PPNYC. Mr. Santana began his career as one of PPNYC's Lower East Side Teen Advocates and later became a part-time Sexuality Educator in the Lower East Side office.  Now working full-time as a Sexuality Educator, he also attends Bronx Community College and is majoring in Radiology, but weighing other majors.  Mr. Santana conducts workshops for youth and adults on sexual health topics that affect their everyday lives such as HIV, STIs, contraception, healthy relationships, abstinence, and more.  He has also taught the "Making Proud Choices!" curriculum.  

Peter Serrano is the Associate Director of Youth Programs at PPNYC.  He began his career in community health education 18 years ago with PPNYC’s Parent Education Program. Mr. Serrano currently assists the Youth Programs Director in overseeing the Education Department’s youth programs including The Taking Care of You workshops series and PPNYC’s Male Outreach Initiative.  In addition, he also coordinates PPNYC’s LGBT and “Making Proud Choices!” programs.

Diane Smith joined the Adult Role Models (ARM) program in 2007 and has been facilitating workshops, presenting on panels, and doing outreach in her community ever since. As a facilitator, she encourages parents to focus less on “the big talk” and more on continuous dialogue with their children, and to feel secure that there will always be an opportunity to reframe and refresh important information.  Ms. Smith believes that with children being bombarded with many confusing messages in the media and from their peers, it is crucial for Adult Role Models to empower parents to analyze those messages and teach their children to be self-aware about them.  Her work as an ARM served as a catalyst in helping her to decide to go back to school. She is currently pursuing a degree in Christian Counseling. In addition to being a member of the ARM team, Ms. Smith is an established leader in her church in Brooklyn where she serves as chairperson of the Parenting Ministry. When she’s not working in corporate America or facilitating ARM workshops, she spends time with her husband, 25-year-old son, and 20-year-old daughter. The Smith family knows that continuous communication is an essential foundation that upholds the strength of a healthy family. 

Alex Stevens, M.P.H., is the Associate Director of Adult and Professional Programs at PPNYC. In this role, she helps organizations build their capacity to share healthy sexuality messages with clients and provide essential health referrals. Ms. Stevens also oversees PPNYC’s Training Institute and adult education programs, including the Adult Role Models program and the Promotores de Salud program. Prior to working at PPNYC, she conducted weekly sexuality education classes and counseling sessions for middle and high school students in the Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program.  Ms. Stevens has also led education, training, and research efforts at the Young Men's Health Clinic, Columbia University’s Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She has extensive experience in curriculum development, sexual education, and training for adolescents, college students, parents, and professionals. Ms. Stevens has an M.P.H. in Sexuality and Health from Columbia University.

Larissa Vasquez is the Adult Programs Manager at PPNYC. She oversees the adult programs that provide training, outreach, and support to adults in the communities served by PPNYC.  Prior to joining PPNYC, she worked as a bilingual reproductive health educator at New York Presbyterian Hospital's family planning clinic. Ms. Vasquez studied Biological Sciences at Connecticut College and has extensive public health training and experience in birth control and options counseling.


Recent Guest Trainers and Presenters

Sasha Alexander is non binary trans mixed race black/asian facilitator, educator, multi-media artist, healer, and community organizer with close to 20 years experience organizing in social justice movements. In 2013 after teaching at the intersections of youth media and social justice for over a decade, and called to action by the murder of 21 year old Islan Nettles, Sasha founded and launched Black Trans Media committed to addressing the intersections of racism and transphobia by shifting and reframing the value and worth of black trans lives #blacktranseverything. Sasha is Membership Director and Co-Director of the Movement Building Team at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) a collective organization working to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine their gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination, or violence; Sasha works to strengthen the leadership of trans, gender non conforming, and intersex (TGNCI) people specifically TGNCI people who are low income, formerly incarcerated, immigrants, differently able, and people of color.  Sasha uses the pronouns he/she/they and insists that you mix it up. 

Karen B.K. Chan is a sex and emotional literacy educator in Toronto, Canada. She has taught sex education and emotional literacy for 18+ years. Karen (aka BK) is dedicated to sex education that is plainly spoken, emotionally honest, and grounded in justice. BK works with children, youth, parents, and professionals, integrating training content into stories, and theory into practice. Her 5-minute YouTube video "Jam" is used as a teaching resource internationally, and her chapter on sex and creative play was part of the AASECT Book of the Year in 2014. BK's writing has appeared in publications like Sexology International, the Tete-a-Tete, SimplySxy.com, and national education manuals. In 2014, BK was named "Service Provider of the Year" by Planned Parenthood of Toronto for her work in sexual health.

Ilene Richman (LMSW, FAE) has been a Fertility Awareness Educator since 2001. As the proprietor of the Fertility Awareness Center, she teaches women and couples how to use Fertility Awareness for pregnancy prevention, pregnancy achievement, and empowerment around their reproductive and sexual well-being. In 2014, Ilene headed the re-launch of the Association of Fertility Awareness Professionals, an international membership organization for trained professionals teaching Fertility Awareness in a secular context, and now serves as its director Ilene is a Licensed Master of Social Work with a specialty in organizational development and leadership. She serves as a member of the Human Rights Committee at AHRC NYC, which supports people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities, and is active in a number of community organizations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where she resides. 

Jenna Weintraub is a sexuality educator and a certified yoga instructor. With eight years experience in sexuality education, she is in the process of creating a sex ed teaching resource around body image and sexuality. Jenna has worked with a variety of groups informing them on topics such sexuality, consent, LGBTQI issues, contraceptive methods, sexually transmitted infections, safer sex, and body image. Jenna is available as a consultant to work within organizations and community groups to provide sex education and facilitation. In her work at Connect & Breathe, Jenna developed a 30+ hour training for volunteers to support callers on an after abortion support talkline. As the founder of ROC Body Love, she works to reduce and end weight-based prejudice and discrimination. She brings this work with her to Trillium Health, where she serves as a board member, supporting the work Trillium does in meeting patients and clients in a healing and affirming environment where they can feel supported, cared for, and cared about.