WHO WE ARE

WHAT DOES MASAKHANE MEAN?

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.

OUR MISSION

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.

OUR GUIDING PRINCIPLES

  • 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 (she/her)

Founder/Executive Director

safranklin@masakhanecenter.org

Stephanie has a comprehensive background in sexuality education and has worked for non-profits in the US and South Africa.. While in South Africa, Stephanie decided to bring to fruition a vision of hers: to start an organization focusing on youth-driven comprehensive sexuality education in Newark, New Jersey. The concept for the center derived from a glaring lack of youth centered sex ed in Newark schools, and consequently for Newark youth (including many of her family members). With the support of her family and friends, Stephanie created Masakhane Center in 2006.

JV (she/her, they/them)

Board Member

jvalladolid@masakhanecenter.org

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.

Avery Heimann

Board Member

aheimann@masakhanecenter.org

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.

Chanta Blue

Board Member

cblue@masakhanecenter.org

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

Board Member

bethany@masakhanecenter.org

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.

Alexcia Taylor

Sexuality Educator Intern

ataylor@masakhanecenter.org

Alexcia Taylor (she/her) is a recent graduate from The University of Georgia. At The University of Georgia she majored in Psychology and Human services. During her sophomore year in college she joined an organization called the Safer Sex Educators on her campus and became passionate about human sexuality and the intersections between mental health and sexual health. In the fall she will attend graduate school to earn her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. While in graduate school, she plans on becoming AASECT certified in order to specialize in sex therapy. 

 

Alexcia is very excited to be a Sexuality Educator with the Masakhane Center this summer. She hopes to learn more about human sexuality, inclusivity, and social justice. 

Amiatta Kamara

Sexuality Educator Intern

akamara@masakhanecenter.org

Amiatta Kamara will be graduating from Rutgers University this August. She is pursuing a degree in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management, with a Minor in Social Justice. Amiatta is a part of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated. After graduating she hopes to work for a nonprofit organization that helps women and people of color. As the youngest of 11 siblings, her family is her backbone.

Angelica Aboderin

Sexuality Educator Intern

aaboderin@masakhanecenter.org

Angelica is a student at Columbia University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights. She is passionate about the arts, social justice, and seeking knowledge.

Antonio Stark (he/they)

Sexuality Educator Intern

astark@masakhanecenter.org

Antonio is a creative individual involved in the fields of media, the arts, literature and language, among other passions that fuel his drive to spread unity and care through education in the most fun and relatable styles possible! His best quality is the fact he cared enough to make zodiac charts for "The Country Bears" because Disney did not assign them birthdays.

Ashley Roan

Sexuality Educator Intern

aroan@masakhanecenter.org

My name is Ashley Roan, I use she/ her pronouns, and I am a senior Sociology major at Kennesaw State University. I am passionate about human rights, health care disparities, self love, and being an advocate for others but also putting my needs first. I also love collecting manga, Kpop, real housewives, Beyonce, and attending anime conventions.  After I graduate I want to get my masters in public health and eventually attend medical school. My end goal is to be able to open up my own non profit and be a practicing physician that serves people of color and rural communities. I wanted to become an intern for the Masakhane Center for an assortment of reasons but I think that it boils down to me wanting to delve into sexual education that is not constricted or conforming. Instead it affirms people of different shapes and sizes, backgrounds, identities, and beliefs and that also emphasizes sex as an experience that any consenting party can take part in.  I think that in the very short time I’ve been the Masakhane Center I’ve learned that its imperative to give yourself grace, its okay to be uncomfortable and sit in it , and if you want to be anti-racist, an ally, or an advocate you have to continuously educate yourself, listen, unlearn, remove yourself and your ego from the equation, and actively show up and act in ways to dismantle white supremacy, systems of oppression, and hetero-norms.

Camille LaBranche

Sexuality Educator Intern

clabranche@masakhanecenter.org

Camille (she/her) was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, but currently lives in Atlanta with plans to move to Southern California in the fall. Camille is pursuing her Master's degree in Public Health with a concentration in health promotion and behavior. In the future, Camille plans continue working with non-profit organizations to spread comprehensive, pleasure focused sexual education to all. In her free time she enjoys playing video games with friends, walking around local parks, traveling, painting and mixology. In her lifetime Camille would like to learn at least one other language as well as visit each national park across the Americas.

Cindy Reyes

Sexuality Educator Intern

creyes@masakhanecenter.org

Cindy Reyes (she/her/hers) is a recent college graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Drury University. She is passionate about tackling the myths of sexuality as well as integrating inclusivity and justice work into her career. Cindy is the daughter of immigrants from Guatemala which fuels her hope to change the conversation about sex and sexuality within the Latinx community. She is also a queer woman trying to reconnect to her Guatemalan culture. Her interests include gardening/composting, reading, playing with her Beagle, and finding new spots to hang out in her city.

 

Kaila Snider

Sexuality Educator Intern

ksnider@masakhanecenter.org

Kaila (she/her) is studying Psychology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies with plans to transfer to University of Michigan this upcoming January. She is passionate about working with marginalized communities, dismantling the patriarchy, and teaching inclusive sexuality education. Kaila hopes to pursue her dual doctoral degree in Psychology and Sexuality Studies to become a Sexuality Professor, as well as a Psychologist.

 

In Kaila’s free time, she works with a youth-ran organization called Youth Against Sexual Violence as the Assistant Director of Education. Kaila also enjoys pole dancing, hikes, and yoga! She is extremely excited to be combining her love for teaching and sexuality education during this internship!

Katrina Arjona

Sexuality Educator Intern

karjona@masakhanecenter.org

Katrina (she/they/latina/x/e) lives in the Pacific Northwest within the Greater Seattle Area (Puyallup Territory). Sex education has been a dream of theirs since 13 years old. While growing up within the Las Vegas school district as a child,  medically-based or pleasure-focused sex education was absent for her community and she oftentimes was the resident educator amongst her peers.

 

The passion from sharing knowledge has led her to pursue this path on a professional level, and this internship is the beginning of

that. She will be pursuing coursework to become a certified community health educator and would like to specialize in sexual health and wellness. Katrina would like to provide sex-ed in medical and community settings to ensure accessibility and support to folks who may not find it within their school or immediate network of people. What brings joy and is currently part of their self-care maintenance is dancing bachata, taking random adventures, breath work, and cooking brunch.

 

Kyler Wong

Sexuality Educator Intern

kwong@masakhanecenter.org

Kyler Wong (they/them) is a senior at the University of Rochester studying public health with a focus on social and behavioral determinants of health in populations of marginalized gender, sexuality, and disability identities. As an unapologetically queer, disabled, and Chinese-American young person, Kyler hopes to bring their passion about disability justice and queer liberation to their work as a sexuality educator at the Masakhane Center.

Meti Tessema

Sexuality Educator Intern

mtessema@masakhanecenter.org

Meti is a student at the University of Richmond, majoring in Sociology and minoring in Healthcare Studies. After graduating, she hopes to get a Master’s in Public Health and pursue a career in global health. She is very passionate about overcoming healthcare disparities and wants to work towards a future where everyone receives quality treatment regardless of their race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Mystkue

Sexuality Educator Intern

kwoods@masakhanecenter.org

Mystkue, (mist:ik) pronounced mystique, just as the name defines, power and mystery are exuded in her tone and overall aura.  A native of Philadelphia, Mystkue began her journey into sex education initially as a hobby. However, as time progressed, she realized that studying human interaction in terms of sexuality, gender expression, and comprehensive sexual health was more than just a past-time. In 2017, Mystkue created her platform, Mystkue where she used her creative writing to express her ideas on love, relationships, sex, and sexual health, and trauma. In 2019, Mystkue created "Integrated Erotica", which is an integration of the art modalities of creative movement, music, poetry, visual arts, drama, and storytelling to explore sexuality and gender expression through sensuality, sexuality, and sentiment (Sen•Sex•Sen) in theory and in practice. Mystkue will be attending Widener University this fall to obtain a M. ED/MPA Human Sexuality and Public Administration. 

Rachel Downing

Sexuality Educator Intern

rdowning@masakhanecenter.org

Rachel (She/Her) is currently a resident of Atlanta, GA, and has a degree in Public Health with an emphasis on Health and Fitness Wellness Coaching. Rachel became interested in becoming a sexuality educator with Masakhane to learn more about sexual health and how she can use it to help marginalized communities. She is excited to learn more and to advocate for marginalized communities' rights to equal healthcare.

 

Rachel is an alumna of Alpha Omicron Pi, an avid lover of pit bulls, coffee, and anything outdoors. In her spare time, Rachel can be found painting, hanging out with her dog Zeus, and spending time with family and friends.

Ruthchamar Jolibois

Sexuality Educator Intern

rjolibois@masakhanecenter.org

Ruthchamar (she/her/hers) is an upcoming junior at Wellesley College studying sociology and Spanish. She is so excited to join Masakhane this summer learning about more sexual health. While Ruthchamar’s primary focus is mental health, she is open to learning about different ways she can continue aiding her community and with the lack of sex positive conversations around sexual health, she decided to join us to expand her knowledge and connect it to her passion for mental health. Other than expanding her knowledge, Ruthchamar enjoys listening to music, spending time with friends, crocheting, and all things skincare!

Sasha Onyango

Sexuality Educator Intern

sonyango@masakhanecenter.org

Sasha is a senior studying Anthropology with a concentration Latin American studies. As a student at Bard College, she has experience in mentoring middle school youth and heads the TLS project, Girls Group, which emphasizes empowerment and building community, As an advocate for intersectionality, Sasha centres the importance of understanding social justice issues worldwide as a result of intertwined systems of oppression and colonization. She has two lovely kitties, Sita and Nebula, and In her free time, she enjoys binge-watching shows, starting paintings and never finishing them.

Tiana Halyard

Sexuality Educator Intern

thalyard@masakhanecenter.org

Tiana Halyard is a recent graduate from Montclair State University receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Public Health. In the fall she’s moving forward to continue her studies to become a Registered Nurse. Her hobbies include cooking, softball, and time with friends. She loves to travel and explore the world whenever possible. She is passionate about the well-being of others and women’s rights. She is happy and eager to be a part of the Masakhane Center’s intern team.

Yisbely Torres Espinal

Sexuality Educator Intern

ytorresespinal@masakhanecenter.org

Yisbely is currently finishing her bachelor's degree in Educational Studies and Psychology at Skidmore College. She is interested in sex education as a career path and looks forward to working in a public-school classroom. During her free time, she enjoys hiking, watching Netflix, and spending time with friends, and eating new foods.

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