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Masakhane (ˌmasaˈkanɪ) is a Xhosa word that means "let's build ourselves, for ourselves, together". We want to make sexuality education a community experience. Bringing it to young people, as well as adults. Providing workshops in schools, youth organizations, parent groups, shelters, and lots of other places.


Masakhane is a youth driven organization providing community-based sexuality education in and around Newark, NJ. Masakhane’s anti-racist, pro-queer & pro-trans approach to sex-positive programming seeks to promote sexual liberation, including the right to pleasure, for marginalized communities.


  • Masakhane believes everyone has the right to accurate, non-judgmental information on all sexuality topics.

  • Masakhane uses a sex-positive, pleasure-focused lens to help participants build supportive relationships and experiences grounded in communication and consent.

  • Masakhane workshops honor the rights of young people to make their own decisions.

  • Masakhane provides resources that encourage folks to incorporate sexual wellness into their lives, if they so choose.

  • Masakhane's programs represent the experiences of those marginalized for their gender identity and/or sexual orientation.

  • Masakhane's programs are actively anti-racist. Masakhane works to dismantle the racism and anti-Blackness that is ingrained within traditional sexuality education.

  • Masakhane is a reproductive justice organization. Reproductive justice, as defined by SisterSong, is the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.

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Stephanie Franklin, Executive Director 



Stephanie has a comprehensive background in sexual and reproductive health education and has worked for non-profits in the US and South Africa. Her career in the non-profit world started in 2002 when she began working for CHOICE, a sexual and reproductive health organization in Philadelphia. She started as a part-time Outreach Worker and rose to the position of Youth Education Coordinator. In October 2004, Stephanie accepted a volunteer sex education position with Restless Development (formally Students Partnership Worldwide). Stephanie volunteered with their South Africa program and departed for her work in January 2005. For the next 9 months Stephanie lived and worked in a rural community in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.


While in South Africa, Stephanie decided to bring to fruition a vision of hers: to start an organization focusing on comprehensive sexuality education in Newark, New Jersey. The concept for the center derived from a noticeable lack of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education in Newark schools, and consequently for Newark youth (including many of her family members). With the support of her family and friends, Stephanie created the Masakhane Center.

Jessica Valladolid (she/her, they/them, JV) has worked with Masakhane since 2011 - first as a Sexuality Educator Intern and now as a member of the board. JV is in charge of fundraising efforts and is Masakhane’s resident host for Sex Ed Bingo. JV studied Sociology as an undergraduate and has received a Sexuality Education Certification from the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. As an intern, they filmed and published 'Coming Out Stories' - an online series documenting the varying experiences of Newark resident's "coming out". In 2015, JV worked with Drexel University's School of Public Health, serving as a research assistant for a project entitled 'Piloting a Needs Assessment Survey to a Cluster of LGBTQIA Racial Minority Young Adults in Philadelphia, PA'. JV has served as a Program Coordinator for a 21st Century Learning Center after school program for a North Ward middle school in Newark and is actively involved in neighborhood revitalization efforts in the East Ward of Newark, lifting awareness regarding environmental racism and housing justice. Jessica is now working in New York, throughout all 5 boroughs, as a Senior Adult Sexuality Educator for English and Spanish speaking adults. 


Chanta Blue, Board Member



Bethany, Board Member


Chanta is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Certified School Social Worker in the state of New Jersey.  She has a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Child Development from Spelman College in Atlanta, G.A.  Chanta also has her Masters of Social Work from Rutgers University and her Masters of Education in Human Sexuality from Widener University. Chanta has been providing psychotherapy to adolescents and adults for the past 10 years in various settings, including schools, community mental health agencies, and HIV/AIDS prevention organizations. For the last eight years she has been a mental health counselor in a public high school where she is also the co-advisor for a comprehensive sexual health program called Teen PEP.  Chanta is also an adjunct professor at Bloomfield College, teaching courses related to general, social, and developmental psychology as well as human sexuality.  In addition, Chanta is the co-founder and lead sex & relationship therapist at Blue Counseling and Wellness Center in Montclair, NJ.

Bethany (she/her) is a Board Member and Sexuality Educator. She started with us in summer '18 as an intern and has loved every moment since. She holds a bachelor's degree in public health from Rutgers University and graduated with a minor in women's and gender studies and certificate in health disparities. She would like to go back to school eventually to earn a master's degree in public health or human sexuality - once she figures out to how fund it, of course. Her interests in the field of sexuality education include reproductive justice, pleasure, and the sexual liberation of marginalized communities, especially that of youth and folks of color who were socialized as women. In addition to her work with youth in Newark, Bethany has experience facilitating sex ed for youth in Paterson and Jersey City and has received training in support for survivors of domestic violence and youth suicide prevention. In her spare time, she enjoys collecting books she might never get to, buying herself flowers and way too many candles, and scrolling anti-capitalist Twitter. You can connect with her on Instagram at @celestialvulva.

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Avery Heimann, Board Member



Carolina Marrano, Volunteer


Avery Heimann (they/them pronouns) has been teaching sexuality education for 12 years with Masakhane.  Avery has their Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Gender and Sexuality and a Master’s Degree in Sex Education from Widener University.  Avery was a counselor for Trans and Gender Non-Conforming individuals at The NJ Center for Sex Therapy in Chester, NJ.  They provide lectures, talks, and teach workshops up and down the East Coast.  Avery created a psychoeducational Health and Wellness group for a major rehabilitation organization for five years.  Avery is an AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists) member and is working towards their certification in counseling.  They are a certified trainer with the Transgender Training Institute and is a member of both the Triota Honor Society as well as Gamma Eta Rho Honor Society for Gender and Sexuality.  Avery has been published in the first edition of the Trans Sex Zine and has spoken on sex-positivity in The Conscious Consumer Network’s “For the Love of Learning” Podcast. Avery is attending the Rutgers School of Social Work to pursue their MSW with a focus on LBGTQ communities.  Avery is also interning for HiTops in Princeton, NJ working with LGBTQ youth and they work as a Patient Service Representative for PROUD Family Health at RWJBH Somerset Hospital.  They run a blog, ThePalimpsex.com, geared towards sex toys, accessibility, and social justice.

Carolina is a junior at Rutgers University studying Sociology and LGBTQ+ Studies. She has a passion for spreading knowledge and awareness of the issues revolving around sexual and reproductive justice. Her interest in sexuality education emerged after taking a sociology course that focused on sexuality and reproduction that opened her eyes to how much is missing from what is usually provided in schools and how young people should be receiving more information which is provided in an inclusive way without any judgment. Carolina hopes to make a difference by fighting the stigmas surrounding sexuality and painting it in a positive light so that people are able to have conversations about it and not be ashamed by who they are. She is passionate about social justice issues and advocating for what’s right. She wants to pursue a career in nonprofit work to create change and help better the communities around her. She loves interning with Masakhane and is so grateful for everything she has learned and experienced through them. In her free time, Carolina enjoys listening to music, creating art, or watching movies.


Ally Knopf

Sexuality Educator Intern



Aryanah Solano

Sexuality Educator Intern


Aryanah Solano is a third-year undergrad at Rutgers-Newark, pursuing her Bachelors's degree in Psychology and Women and Gender Studies. She is passionate about psychology, activism, and social equity. Aryanah values spreading knowledge and fighting against the stigma surrounding mental health and counseling. Post-graduation she plans to apply to graduate school for a master's in clinical psychology. Aryanah is very excited to be apart of the Masakhane team, learn about all aspects of sexuality, and have the ability to spread this knowledge to others.

Ally Knopf (she/they) is currently a resident of Buffalo, NY, and has a degree in Visual Art from Oberlin College in Ohio. While studying art and theater at Oberlin, Ally also became involved as a leadership member and emcee of OBurlesque, Oberlin’s student burlesque organization. Taking courses in feminism and gender studies only furthered their interest in sexuality education as a means to destigmatize expressions of sexuality (including and especially in performative and artistic spaces like burlesque!)


In her spare time, Ally can be found hanging out with her dog, listening to true crime podcasts, and trying to draw the perfect raccoon.


Bianchi Villacres

Sexuality Educator Intern



Catherine Miller

Sexuality Educator Intern


Catherine Miller (she/her) is a graduate of Vassar College where she received her BA in Drama and a correlate in History. It was the need for more non-judgmental spaces in sexuality education that prompted her to intern as an educator at the Masakhane Center. She strongly believes that everyone deserves a comfortable space to navigate their boundaries and explore their curiosities. Catherine hopes to attend graduate school for social work and/or counseling psychology with an emphasis on sexual wellness, trauma and how these themes can intersect with spirituality/religion.


Catherine is also learning German where she currently operates at the upper-intermediate level. Her other hobbies include baking, singing, analyzing her favourite TV shows and scrolling through Twitter.

Bia (she/her/hers) is a recent college graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Television and Digital Media with a minor in Public Health. She plans to pursue her Master’s Degree in Human Sexuality in 2021. Her interest to become a sexuality educator started during her senior year of college. However, a complete lack of proper sex education throughout her years in high school proved to be a huge motivator to go into the field. She is incredibly excited to be working with Masakhane and she hopes to apply an abolitionist framework through her teachings as a sexuality educator.


She enjoys making new friends, learning new things, and picking up new hobbies. In her free time, she loves listening to music, dancing, and watching movies.


LaRelle John

Sexuality Educator Intern



Rea Fleming

Sexuality Educator Intern


An Androgynous cloud of love and light from Brooklyn, NY. Pronouns are she/her for now and identifies as bisexual and polyamorous. She loves animals, trees, movies, and anything out of the ordinary. In her free time she likes to draw, paint, bake, crochet, dance (badly), sing (like an angel), and watch movies. My favorite topics include: sexual pleasure, hygiene, fetishes, and the deterioration of a world run by white men.

LaRelle (she/her) is a Sexuality Educator Intern. She developed her love for writing after taking a "Words About Music" creative writing class at Rutgers University in Spring 2018. LaRelle first began her blog, "www.anearformusic8.wordpress.com, as a place to write about music and her love for music. But as time progressed, her blog blossomed into something more vulnerable and personal. One of her most popular blogs was written about how it was for her to come out to her friends and family.


LaRelle hopes to use her voice as a way to support, encourage, and inspire LGBTQIA BIPOC. She wants to use her own personal experiences as a way to educate and inform people of both the beauties and struggles of being a Black queer woman in the United States.


Tahiyat Chowdhury

Sexuality Educator Intern



Samantha Getze

Sexuality Educator Intern


Tahiyat Chowdhury (she/her) is a college junior with lots of enthusiasm and dedication for social justice. Through Masakhane, she seeks to deepen her understanding of social justice in order to help herself and those who are marginalized.


Ella Kennedy

Sexuality Educator Intern


Samantha Getze (she/her) is currently a sophomore at the University of California, Irvine pursuing her BS in Public Health Sciences. She is passionate about changing the conversation surrounding sex/sexuality and hopes for a future in which individuals are continually encouraged to be more comfortable with and confident in themselves, whatever that may look like. She also believes in providing a more inclusive and accurate sex education for youth than what is most common in the U.S.. This can be achieved by providing information tailored to and considerate of all communities, as well as teaching a healthier view of sex. Samantha is excited to be able to do both these things as a Masakhane Sexuality Educator Intern, as well as hopefully plant a seed of positivity and acceptance in youth. In her free time, she enjoys reading romance novels, watching the sunset, and playing soccer.

Ella is a recent graduate from the University of San Francisco. They are on their journey to discover more about themselves, learn from others, and create connections with others. They want to learn, explore, and deepen their understanding of what it means to be part of a queer community and how to better utilize their skills, knowledge, and interests in order to create a more open and supportive society.


Sylvie Wilson

Sexuality Educator Intern




Sexuality Educator Intern

Sylvie Wilson (she/her) is a current senior at Pitzer College studying neuroscience with an emphasis on neuropharmacology. She is passionate about reproductive justice, social justice, empathy and sex positivity. She has a vast history of teaching, and is excited to work to connect her passions for education and justice through sexuality education. She hopes to help create a space where individuals can find comfort within themselves to grow and educate others. Her other hobbies include dancing, gardening, cooking, yoga, and hanging out with friends.

Anna (she/her/hers) is a senior at Brandeis University pursuing her BA in International Relations and Anthropology. Anna sings a capella with her group Rather Be Giraffes and is a peer supporter at Student Sexuality Information Service at Brandeis. Anna hopes to go into the nonprofit industry to help empower underserved communities. She grew up in China, but is Korean-American and speaks English, Korean, and Mandarin.


Kami Winter

Sexuality Educator Intern


Kami Winter (she/her) is currently a senior at the University of San Francisco where is she is perusing a Bachelors degree in Theology, Ethics, and Social Justice with minors in Public Service and Community Engagement and Jewish Studies. Kami believes that honest, healthy, and productive conversations about sex and sexuality are not incompatible with religion and wants to highlight and contribute to feminist and queer liberation theology. She cannot wait to learn more about sexuality and inclusivity from the Masakhane Center.


Gianna Silva

Sexuality Educator Intern



Trevor Hall

Sexuality Educator Intern


Trevor Hall has a passion for writing. He believes that there is no coincidence in the sacral chakra being home to both creativity and sexuality.  The two are deeply entwined for him. He hopes to help others express their own individual sexuality with love, joy, and understanding, as well as help create a more nurturing society for all.

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Emily Orona

Sexuality Educator Intern


Pronouns: She/her


Emily is a senior at Northern Arizona University studying Public Health and Nutrition. She is a passionate advocate for sexual and reproductive health and social justice. Emily loves meeting new people, making music, dancing, and taking care of her plants!


Post-graduation Emily plans to travel and work for an organization like Planned Parenthood where she can help people attain their highest level of wellness. She is excited to work with Masakhane Center to provide sex positive education for our youth and further her knowledge.

Gianna Silva (she/her) is a senior at Rutgers University with a major in public health. Her goal is to become a health educator and possibly purse a masters in health education. She is very passionate about reproductive and social justice, as well as advocating for reducing the stigmas around sex & sexuality. She believes that sexual education in this country needs to be reworked to become more inclusive and accurate, especially for BIPOC LGBTQ+. Gianna is very excited for her upcoming months at Masakhane, not only as an educator intern but as a student as well. She believes you can never stop learning and looks forward to hopefully making an impact. In her free time, Gianna likes to listen to music, play video games, and hang out with her friends (virtually)!


Katherine Tinoco

Sexuality Educator Intern


Katherine Tinoco (She/Her) is a NJCU Honors student studying Environmental Science with a minor in public health. She is extremely passionate about Social Justice, Environmental Justice, Sex Positivity, amongst other issues. She hopes to highlight the intersectionality of Environmental Justice and Marginalized People. Katherine’s goal is to continue down this path with a focus of human sexuality, public health, while still incorporating the idea of environmental rights amongst BIPOC communities.


Maggie Cullina

Sexuality Educator Intern


Maggie (they/them) is a senior at Georgetown University majoring in Women’s and Gender Studies and minoring in Philosophy. They are passionate about centering communication and pleasure in sex education and they are also interested in the narratives surrounding sex in the university environment.


Maggie was a part of the Title IX for New Generation Initiative at Georgetown, where they designed curriculum and served as a Peer Mentor/Teaching Assistant.


Maggie also founded and runs the Instagram account @LaNouvelleSexe.


In their free time, Maggie enjoys backpacking, rock climbing, reading, knitting, and playing board games!



Sexuality Educator Intern



Martina Ibrahim

Sexuality Educator Intern


Martina Ibrahim (she/her) is a current first-year student at the University of San Francisco majoring in Sociology and minoring in Middle Eastern Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies on the Premed track. Her interests lie heavily within the intricacies of social systems, medicine, global politics, humanitarian aid, spirituality, and the sciences, all while conjuring sex-positive conversation.


Having recently come into her own power as an Arab-Italian womxn, Martina hopes to evoke open communication regarding sexuality and pleasure within her native Lebanese society and refugee camps by utilizing the knowledge gained from this Masakhane internship. She is always appreciative of a good lentil and can either be found wandering in the woods, protesting, or climbing.

Parsons (he/him) was born and raised in Auburn, Alabama where he still lives and works today. During his time as an undergraduate at Auburn University majoring in psychology, Parsons developed an interest in using research to investigate issues of inequality and social justice with a specific focus on trans and queer individuals and mental health. After graduation, Parsons has continued to assist in psychological and human science research examining health disparities and social determinants of health and health behaviors. He believes in the importance of understanding others with nuance and complexity and the power of listening to others lived experiences. Parsons intends to further explore how messages regarding sex and sexuality from family, peers, and romantic partners can shape an individual’s well-being and self-love. In his free time, Parsons enjoys playing guitar, writing songs, soy lattes, bad movies, and memes.

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