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Mailing Address

PO BOX 1494 Newark, NJ 07101

©2006 - 2020 by Masakhane Center. Proudly created with


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 sector 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 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,, geared towards sex toys, accessibility, and social justice.



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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.




Julia Rosenbaum (she/her) is a recent graduate based in Brooklyn, New York. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Cello Performance from the Eastman School of Music with an academic concentration in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies from the University of Rochester.    Following her studies, Julia has been committed to empowering individuals through sexuality education and reproductive justice. Her experience as a Clinic Defense and Research Intern at the National Abortion Federation in Washington, D.C., in particular, fostered this passion.  Since relocating to Brooklyn, Julia has completed training to become a volunteer advocate for sexual assault survivors in emergency room settings and was recently accepted into the Planned Parenthood of Greater New York’s Activist Council.    Julia is very excited to join the Masakhane team and support the Newark community through comprehensive sexuality education!




Lateisha Exi is a fourth-year college student at Montclair State University. She is a Public Health major with a minor in African-American Studies. She is active with different organizations both on and off campus involving her culture, leadership, and mentoring. With being a Public Health student, this has helped shape her passion for health education in all entities. Her goal is to help lift the stigmas associated with sexuality that may be experienced with culture and society. She hopes to make a difference with the youth she works with as this is a population she loves working with. She keeps with her that youth are the leaders of tomorrow. Anything taught to them now can make a positive difference. She wants to continue to make that difference.




RJ Effinger is a senior at William Paterson University studying Public Health Education with a minor in Legal Studies. He enjoys helping others understand and learn more about sexuality and sexual health. He grew up in South Jersey which meant he had to deal with conservative views on sexuality which increased his desire to educate those around him on those topics. He believes that by immersing youth in sexuality education will allow them to make more informed decisions in their lives that will benefit their futures immensely. He hopes to make a difference in the community by removing the taboo associated with sexuality education.