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.

OUR TEAM

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.

Want to join our team?

Click here to learn more about joining our board.

Click here to learn about our internship programs.