We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization currently working with an entirely volunteer staff. We were started in 2006, by our founder, Stephanie Franklin, who wanted to provide a sex positive resource for young people in Newark and its surrounding communities.


WHAT DOES MASAKHANE MEAN? LET'S BUILD OURSELVES, FOR OURSELVES. 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.




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.

avery 2_edited.JPG



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.




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. 


As a lifelong Newark resident, JV has an immense sense of gratitude to have the opportunity to help broaden dialogue surrounding sex and sexuality within her community through activism and advocacy. JV is  500 hour trauma informed yoga certified, co-founder of Down Bottom Bike Crew youth mentorship program, and is currently learning Kitchwa so that they can begin to expand on decolonized understandings of sexuality and community building.




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.




Kenyetta Clark (she/her pronouns) is our newest board member! Kenyetta is a life time native of Newark, New Jersey where she volunteered and hosted sexuality workshops. Kenyetta began her sexuality teachings at Howard University where she earned a degree in Psychology. From there, she earned her first masters degree in Human Sexuality education from Widener University and her second master degree in Social Work from Rutgers University. 

Kenyetta enjoys learning new things and having engaging conversations with people. On her spare time, Kenyetta loves to read and enjoy nature. 




Carolina Marrano is a sophomore studying Social Work at Rutgers University-Newark. 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 which 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 excited to learn a wide variety of new information and be able to meet and work with the people of Newark throughout her experience with the center. In her free time, Carolina enjoys listening to music, creating art or watching movies.




Dyna is an imminent Social Worker. She is currently a senior at the College of Saint Elizabeth, where she majors in Social Work and Psychology with a minor in Sociology. Dyna is a recipient of numerous honors awards, a member of the honors program at the College of Saint Elizabeth, and a member of the Chi Alpha Epsilon Academic Honor Society. Dyna enjoys helping others. She is a social justice advocate. She believes in the world and it’s potential. She believes that change in this world is not impossible, it is inevitable. Dyna sees that our society is deprived of efficient and effective sexuality education. Dyna values education and believes that everyone should receive the opportunity to be educated. Aside from being an advocate for change, Dyna enjoys writing poems, studying theology and engaging in abstract theological conversations.




Jazmin Simms is a recent University of Missouri graduate and community mental healthcare worker. She has a bachelors degree in Psychology and a certificate in Multicultural Studies. During her studies, she became actively involved in her school’s Queer and Trans People of Color student organization which actively creates a safe and healing space for students and faculty on campus. She was also annually involved in her school’s Women of Color Retreat in which she facilitated workshops and discussions on the challenges of having multiple marginalized identities for queer women of color and the societal pressure to prioritize those most salient to us.


Post graduation she has done work dedicated to mental healthcare for the community at large and also within psychiatric facilities. She is currently in the process of applying to graduate school for clinical psychological programs with a research focus on the sexual health and education on queer youth of color.


In her spare time she enjoys reading fanfic, singing, and scrolling through Twitter.




Lycinda is a rising senior at Rowan University pursuing a BA in sociology and minors in Psychology and International Studies. She is Ghanaian-American and a proud New Jerseyan. Lycinda is passionate about social justice, activism, and sexual health. She was the VP for her university's Planned Parenthood Generation Action chapter and women empowerment group. She wants to be an intern for Masakhane because she believes in the importance of sexual health education and wants to normalize conversations about sexuality. She hopes to find a career in the social justice field internationally cause she wants to help with social issues globally. Pronouns: She/Her/Hers




Margaret Bolanos (she/her pronouns) is currently pursuing her Master's in Social Work from Rutgers University. She has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Montclair State University. During her first year pursuing an MSW, Margaret interned at the YWCA of Union County working with individuals who have experienced interpersonal violence in Spanish and in English, both individually and in groups. She will begin interning at HiTOPS in the fall to work with LGBTQ youth. She hopes to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the future to continue to work with the Latine/Latinx community and the LGBTQ community to help address and eliminate injustices that both communities face. Margaret is excited to be interning at the Masakhane Center to learn more about sexuality education and to work with the Newark community.




Tatyana Cokley is a senior studying Psychology and Women's and Gender Studies at Kean University. She is passionate about empowering youth to explore themselves and their sexuality while they are being supported and motivated. Her interest in sexuality and youth sparked from becoming a mentor, which she has taken to Youtube and created a larger platform where she discusses these topics weekly. Tatyana hopes to continue impacting the youth in a way that allows them to be free to be themselves, and be confident in every aspect of who they are. She strongly believes that if the youth are empowered and confident, they can empower the generation that comes after them, and a domino effect of positivity, growth, and acceptance can occur. She is excited to embark on this new journey of learning more about sexuality and apply this knowledge any and everywhere that she can.




Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in the Bronx, Wyatt Perez (he/they/Wyatt) is a summer intern at Masakhane. Wyatt began his work at the University of Pennsylvania where he is majoring in Africana Studies. In tandem, Wyatt works at Penn Violence Prevention, wherein he helps organize the annual Men & Masculinities Summit. Having witnessed the educational disparities in the public-school system and the societal forces oppressing marginalized folks, Wyatt is passionate about addressing the lack of intersectionality and paucity of sexual health resources in underserved communities, especially low-income, queer people of color. In his free time, Wyatt enjoys horror movies, Brazilian funk, and stand-up. 




She is a 2020 graduate from Rutgers University in pursuit of changing the world one community at a time. She hopes to inspire others to be the change they want to see in the world. 


  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Tumblr Social Icon
  • YouTube Social  Icon



Mailing Address

PO BOX 1494 Newark, NJ 07101

Physical Address

73 Market Street Newark, NJ 07102

©2006 - 2020 by Masakhane Center. Proudly created with Wix.com