Presenter Bios

(Alphabetical Order by Last Name)

Ray Auxais has toured Southern California schools as an actor-educator with Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre for over 14 years. After touring with the department’s conflict management program, Ray joined the STD prevention team in 2007 where he has performed for over half a million high school students, facilitated over a hundred Q & A sessions and answered thousands of sexual-health-related questions. An experienced actor with a BFA in Acting and minor in Dance, Ray has appeared on numerous television shows like: Bones, Parenthood, CSI- NY, Hanna Montana, Entourage and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Jessica Beltran received her Bachelor's degree in Latin American Studies from SDSU. At SDSU, Jessica gained interest in reproductive health during her internship experience in Tijuana, where she provided reproductive health education at Fronteras Unidas Pro Salud to marginalized communities. Jessica is also a chapter member of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice. She currently works as a Reproductive Health Educator at San Ysidro Health's Health Promotion department.

Ra’Niesha Bratton, MPH, MHFA, Mandated Reporter is a Community Health Educator for youth through the Riverside Community Health Foundation. Her mission is to provide preventative health care resources and health education to the youth population of east Riverside. She obtained her Bachelor degree from California State University, Fresno in community health with a minor in food science and nutrition. She also received her Master in Public Health from Grand Canyon University in health education. During her Interim between degrees she worked in the Nutrition Department for Rancho Springs Medical Center where she regulated all patient diets according to diagnosed illnesses, and medications, while volunteer with the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC), as a health educator.

Lashea Brown manages the Get Smart B4U Get Sexy program which provides comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education sessions, outreach, and referrals, emphasizing the importance of reproductive life planning for youth. After receiving her bachelors degree in Pan African Studies from California State University of Los Angeles, Lashea realized that her heart and focus was always around youth development and leadership skills, particularly youth of color. For two years prior to her current position at Black Women for Wellness, Lashea worked for a non-profit organization named Media Done Responsibly, facilitating 50 minute, interactive, and media awareness workshops for teens in middle, high school, and after-school programs in Los Angeles County.

Jaci Nicole Cortez is part of the LA RHEP Youth Advisory Board. She is going to graduate from East LA College in Summer 2019 with her Associates Degree in Transfer Communication. She is an active and passionate community organizer for foster youth and LGBTQ.

Brittany Cropper is a Community Health Educator who works with youth, parents, and professionals to grow their sexual health knowledge and skills. She empowers her community to make informed decisions about health, sexuality, and relationships. Brittany believes that promoting a culture of consent and a positive perspective on sexuality can make the world a happier, healthier place. Brittany has developed and implemented sex education programs throughout the San Gabriel Valley. She is the co-advisor for the youth leadership program, Peer Advocates of Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley. Brittany holds a BS in Public Health from Tulane University.

Robert DePriest, PharmD, MBA, AAHIVP is a clinical pharmacist experienced in HIV and hepatitis treatment. Formerly the Chair of the Ryan White Needs Assessment committee in Tennessee, his current focus is on providing HIV prevention treatments and education for underserved populations in San Diego County. He earned his Doctor of Pharmacy from Butler University, MBA from Louisiana State University, and completed post-graduate training in HIV pharmacotherapy through University at Buffalo.

Allison Diamant, MD, MSHS is an Internal Medicine physician, educator and health services researcher and professor at UCLA. She is committed to providing high quality care for adult LGBTQ individuals, including the provision of preventive care, and evaluation and treatment for acute and chronic medical conditions. She developed the modules for 1st year medical students for taking a sexual history and an overview of LGBTQ health issues. She also provides residency, faculty and community training on LGBTQ care. She is part of the UCLA Equitable Care Committee on LGBTQ issues. Dr. Diamant is the author and co-author of peer reviewed articles, book chapters and policy briefs on LGBTQ health issues.

Dr. Bobbie Emetu, PhD, MPH, MLS is an Assistant Professor of Public Health Education at the Department of Health Sciences. Dr. Emetu has taught courses focused on human sexuality, qualitative & research methods, intervention design, program planning, health disparities, health behavior theory, and evaluation methods. Her research focus is in sexual transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS risk behaviors predominately among college-aged individuals and men who have sex with men (MSM). Bobbie”s research interests include condom use errors and application, innovative methods for STI testing, HIV-related stigma, and the association between sexual abuse and sexual risk behaviors. Dr. Emetu continues to conduct applied research within the areas of health education, disease prevention, and sexual health with the goal of contributing to multidisciplinary strategies for improving public health-related problems in this field.

Gerald Garth currently serves as Manager of Program Operations with the AMAAD Institute (Arming Minorities Against Addiction and Disease) and previously served as Manager of Prevention & Care with the Black AIDS Institute. Garth leads “Your Story, Your Words,” a writing and storytelling initiative for young Black gay and bisexual men. He also serves as editor in chief of Chill Magazine, a print and digital brand designed for millennial men of color. He is proud and humbled to have given dozens of presentations across the country highlighting his work with youth, women, people living with HIV, faith community and others.

Natalie Gillard is the creator of FACTUALITY, a facilitated dialogue, crash course, and board game, all in one, that explores structural inequality based on national statistics, in America. FACTUALITY has supported the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives of Fortune 500 company, Lockheed Martin, Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs, American Heart Association, the College Board, Bill Gates Millennium Scholars, and The University of Arizona, where author and civil rights activist, bell hooks participated. FACTUALITY has reached over 4000 participants and has been featured in Baltimore Magazine, the Afro American Newspapers, Boston Voyager, and is listed in the Kellogg Foundation's Racial and Equity Resource Guide.

Amanda Goad is the Audrey Irmas Director of the LGBTQ, Gender & Reproductive Justice Project at the ACLU of Southern California, based in the Los Angeles office. She fights for the rights and civil liberties of LGBTQ people through litigation and policy advocacy. Previously, Amanda worked on the LGBT & HIV Project of the National ACLU, for a housing justice organization, and in New York City government. Amanda is an alum of Harvard Law School, Rice University, and Teach for America. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network.

With a background in HIV/AIDS prevention education, arts education, administration, and theatre stage management, Emily Goodall has spent the last 10 years working in the Los Angeles nonprofit sector. She brings her varied experience to her work with Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre's STD Prevention Program, finding creative ways to bring innovative sexual health education to areas of high need and resistance in Southern California.

Maria Jose Gullett is a Health Educator for the Riverside Community Health Foundation. She is part of the F.A.C.T.S. team which stand for Fueling Adolescent Communities with Truth and Strategies. She graduated from the University of Northern Iowa Health Promotion major with an emphasis in Global Health Disparities and Humanitarian Assistance. Prior to working in California she worked for the Black Hawk County Health Department in Iowa where she assisted Hispanic speaking minorities and Burma refugees with breast, cervical, and colon cancer via educational programming. She represented UNI as a member of a three-student team which won National Health Education Case Study Competition in 2017, in Denver, Colorado and was recognized as 2017 Outstanding Health Education Undergraduate of the Year by the Society for Public Health Education.

Since 2006, Gerry Farrell has served as the director or Kaiser Permanente Southern California Educational Theatre. Educational Theatre inspires children and adults to make healthier choices and build strong communities. Each year the department reaches over 225,000 students and adults with performances and workshop on the health issues of literacy promotion, conflict management, bullying awareness and STD prevention. Gerry received a Master’s degree in Organizational Management a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Maynard Hearns represents a collaborative team of academic and community-based partners from UCLA, APLA Health and the AMAAD Institute. He delivers an intervention focused on serving black sexual minority men in Los Angeles County. In his current position, he has had the opportunity to dedicate time and effort to creating a community of emotionally and sexually literate Black men. Maynard graduated from U.C. Santa Cruz in 2015, and has maintained a blog on race, faith, and sexuality for the past 10 years.

Alondra Hernandez received her Bachelor's degree from the University of California Irvine in Public Health Policy with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. As an undergraduate she educated youth about sexual health through the non-profit organization Women and Youth Supporting Each Other (WYSE) and volunteered as a sexual health peer educator for UCI's Student Wellness and Health Promotion Center. Through her experiences she noticed a lack of knowledge regarding sexual health and found a passion for making this information more accessible. Now she has begun her career at Vista Community Clinic working with at-risk youth as one of the Youth Development Programs Health Educator hoping to continue her passion.

At National Center for Youth Law, Lesli LeGras Morris directs the LA Reproductive Health Equity Project for Foster Youth, a collective impact campaign with the audacious goal of dismantling systemic barriers that prevent LA's foster youth from taking ownership of their reproductive decisions. A graduate of UCLA, Lesli's focus on galvanizing collective commitment to promoting equity for vulnerable young people is driven by her lived experiences as a Black womxn, mother, and born-and-bred resident of South LA.

Joseph Luciani-Cervantes is a Restorative Justice Practitioner at the California Conference for Equality and Justice (CCEJ). After having spent five years leading the implementation of restorative justice practices at Augustus F. Hawkins High School in South Los Angeles, Joseph is now working as the Long Beach/South Bay Case Manager for the Restorative Practices in Communities (RPIC) Department at CCEJ. He is passionate about social justice and dedicates his work towards interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline. Joseph received his Master of Arts Degree in Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding from the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University, as well as a master’s degree in International Relations from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. Born and raised in Belgium, Joseph is fluent in French, Spanish and English and now lives in Los Angeles with his family.

Jovana Martinez received her Bachelor's Degree from the California State University San Marcos, with a double Major in Criminology and Justice Studies as well as Sociology. She began working with youth at the age of 19 working with the Migrant Education Program. Through her work with Migrant Education youth, as well as her experience working with Foster Youth she realized her passion of working with at-risk youth. Through her education she was introduced to the Vista Community Clinic where she volunteered for her internship. After a few months of volunteering she began her career in Vista Community Clinic where she is now one of the Youth Development Programs Health Educator.

Dianna Polanco is also a Field Interviewer, currently enrolling for the UCLA ATN CARES project. She received her Bachelor’s in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley and has worked with at risk youth for several year. She has experience and training in HIV and STD/STI testing, as well as linking youth to sexual health resources. In addition she also works with sexual assault survivors by guiding them through any crisis, accompanying them to medical exams if necessary, and connecting them to counseling resources.

Ariana Rodriguez is a legal fellow at the ACLU of Southern California, based in the San Bernardino office, where she works with both the Education Equity and LGBTQ, Gender & Reproductive Justice teams to further access to education, reproductive justice, gender equity, and LGBTQ rights. Her work primarily focuses on ensuring student access to comprehensive and inclusive sex education as required by the California Healthy Youth Act, and upholding the student rights of LGBTQ and other marginalized youth. Ariana holds her Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School.

Adriana Romero-Espinoza is a Field Interviewer, currently enrolling for an NIH/ATN-funded project (CARES) designed to support youth engaging in high risk sexual behaviors as well as youth living with HIV. The goal is to explore how regular STI/HIV testing, text messaging, peer support, and tailored coaching may improve youth (aged 12-24) sexual health outcomes. Ms. Espinoza received her Master’s of Public Health from the University of California, Los Angeles with a specialization in population & reproductive health and health promotion & education. She has several years of reproductive and sexual healthcare experience in various public affairs, education, and clinical roles.

Mayra A. Serna is the Training Specialist in the Restorative Practices in Communities (RPIC) department at the California Conference for Equality and Justice, where she supports the day-to-day operations and implementation of CCEJ’s Restorative Practices Training and Technical Assistance program for community based organizations and agencies. Additionally, Mayra is developing and implementing CCEJ’s Raising FUTUREs program, a restorative caregiving education program for parents/caregivers of youth involved in and/or targeted by the juvenile justice system. Mayra has over ten years of experience working in nonprofit organizational leadership, coordinating programs and services, developing curriculum and training, as well as organizing with Youth of Color and their families. Mayra’s research, advocacy and organizing work focuses on amplifying the voices and stories of Communities of Color, particularly Youth and Women of Color, to resist structural and institutional injustices and champion women and young people’s rights to bodily autonomy and self-determination.

Sharla E. Smith, MPH, is the Comprehensive Sexual Health Education Consultant with the California Department of Education, ensuring that the California Education Code regarding comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education is implemented in accordance with the law. She has provided consultation, training, and technical assistance on matters relating to the primary prevention of STDs and community health education. Sharla began her career in public health in 1989 and has implemented health education projects in the area of sexual and reproductive health with a special interest in adolescents and young adults.

Melissa Strype is the Director of Community Education and Social Media at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles (PPLA). She began her career with PPLA in 2010 facilitating high school Peer Advocate groups and now has the privilege to work with an amazing team of educators who oversee the Peer Advocate program, classroom sexual health education, teacher training, and social media work. Utilizing dynamic and theater-based methodologies, Melissa and her team train 70 high school students each year to be resources for sexual health information for over 15,000 people each year. PPLA’s educators also reach over 5,000 students annually with sexual health information. Alongside input from the young people PPLA works with, Melissa’s team uses theater-based techniques and video to create educational tools to help young people understand and exercise their rights in relationships. Melissa graduated from Skidmore College in 2010 and majored in women’s studies and Spanish.

Autumn Taylor, former foster youth, currently serves on the Youth Advisory Board for the Los Angeles Reproductive Health Equity Project for Foster Youth (LA RHEP), where she shares experiences and provides feedback on sexual and reproductive health as it relates to youth in LA’s foster care system. Taylor is also a Youth Leader with the Los Angeles Opportunity Youth Collaborative. She currently a filmmaker with Real to Reel. She enjoys being part of projects that turn trauma into triumph. She is grateful and ready to become inspired as well as inspire others. Taylor’s goal is to become a Physician's Assistant.

Daniela E. Torres, MPH, is the School Health Education & Surveillance Consultant with the California Department of Education, where she oversees the statewide Youth Risk Behavior and School Health Profiles surveillance systems, in addition to supporting California’s schools and local education agencies with health-related requirements. Most of her public health training and experience has focused on reproductive and sexual health, and she brings a true passion of working with and for LGBTQ youth. Daniela began her career in public health in 1998 and her work includes policy development, advocacy, training, and program administration.

Jennifer Torres is the Peer Advocate Specialist at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles (PPLA). She facilities the Peer Advocate program at several schools and serves as an adult ally for the Peer Advocates while they serve as a resource in their community. She also helps run the Peer Advocate Social media pages. Jennifer is a former Peer Advocate from King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science. She earned her BA from Pitzer College in Community Health this past May and has been working at PPLA since June. Jennifer is passionate about accessible health care for all communities as well as empowering youth and young adults to take charge of their sexual health.

Danielle Tyson is a Reproductive Health Educator for San Ysidro Center’s Adolescent Services. She serves as a community educator and part of the social media marketing team. Danielle is originally from Charleston, South Carolina where she attended college at Coastal Carolina University (CCU) and graduated with a bachelor’s of science in Public Health. While at CCU she was involved with various internships in public health and health education, such as The Women’s Resource Center where she served as a peer educator to students on campus and linked them to health services. She was a research assistant and went on to publish research in the American Journal of Health Studies. Danielle also provided health education and linked individuals in marginalized communities to HIV care services. Danielle believes in giving youth the tools empower themselves.

Stacey Urauchi works closely with Ms. Espinoza and Ms. Polanco as a Coach with the UCLA ATN CARES research study. She provides strength-based coaching to high risk youth in order to accomplish individual goals and improve health outcomes. She has a BS in Public Health Sciences from Santa Clara University and specialized in systems of violence. She has worked in Sexual Health for the past 6 years, as a peer advocate, health educator and case manager. Stacey specializes in work with formerly/currently incarcerated individuals, and transitional aged youth.

Emily Wasson is the Adolescent Health Program Manager at Essential Access Health. She graduated in 2013 with a Masters of Public Health from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bixby Certificate on Population and Reproductive Health. She currently manages the digital programs at Essential Access Health including websites, social media platforms, blogs, and text messaging programs. Prior to her work at Essential Access, Emily worked with youth in a variety of settings including classrooms, school-based centers, extracurricular programs, and online.

Shelby Wentz is the Operations Program Manager for Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest (PPPSW) and has worked at this affiliate for over twelve years. As Operations Program Manager, she has established a comprehensive PrEP and nPEP Program by developing tools, resources, and community partnerships needed to provide efficient and timely care for PrEP and nPEP patients. Prior to working in operations administration, she provided direct patient care for eight years at PPPSW health centers across San Diego County.