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 PEOPLE

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.

 

​Zeltzin Martinez

Sexuality Educator Intern

Even though Zeltzin (she/her pronouns) is still figuring out what the next thing is for her, she's now on her way to discover herself and her abilities as a sex ed facilitator; excited and nervous but can't wait to get started as this is something she wanted to do for quite some time. She is also raising her two turtles, both troublesome but cute!

Khafeeon Love

Sexuality Educator Intern

Khafeeon Love is a Newark, NJ native currently studying to become a Sexologist. She is a Gemini and loves to let everyone know! Her favorite color is pink. Khafeeon's pronouns are She/They. Khafeeon believes that Love is what makes everything flow and enjoys learning about all the ways sex education can be taught from a perspective of love while providing useful information on sexual health. Khafeeon explores the expression of her sensual, romantic, and sexual energy through burlesque dancing, and also practices polyamory. Outside of her sex education studies, she is a creative director, poet, and occasionally a model. Khafeeon says that her favorite things to do are dance, friends+family time, travel, lots of alone time, being a lover of all art forms, cooking but more than that...eating, and lastly: receiving goddess+princess treatment from her lovers! In the future Khafeeon plans to open her own wellness resort, specifically catered to the healing of the Black/aboriginal community and diaspora.

Yarelli Morales

Sexuality Educator Intern

My name is Yarelli Morales. I was born in the Dominican Republic. But, I was raised in Brooklyn NY. I am an Army veteran. I have a Bachelors in Health Information Management. Currently, working on my Masters in Public Health. I work for the Philadelphia VA as a voluntary service specialist. My children are my life and I am very passionate about helping others. I truly enjoy traveling and learning about other way of life. My dream job is to become a health educator.

Kenicia McGarrell

Sexuality Educator Intern

Kenicia (she/her/hers) loves art, soca and trying food from all corners of the world (the spicier the better!). After obtaining her B.A. in Social & Behavioral Sciences from Seton Hall University she spent several years working in education as an English teacher and college counselor in China. Having seen the impact of inadequate sex education both abroad and at home, she felt compelled to seek opportunities in which she can learn and apply her knowledge in changing the ways we discuss sex, pleasure, relationships, and our needs, especially in black and brown communities. Kenicia plans on obtaining a Master’s in Public Health and hopes to further work with marginalized communities on sexual health and maternal and child health.

Ryan Franklin

Sexuality Educator Intern

Ryan is currently working toward completing a bachelor’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in Community Health Education.  Born and bred in many of the urban communities of Central Jersey, Ryan has seen first-hand the continued need for quality health education in communities of color and has sought to be apart of the solution.  Sexuality education is something that has, as an adult, become an area of great interest for him as he has always maintained the ability to speak about the many areas of sexuality unencumbered by the stigma that surrounds speaking openly about the many facets of sexuality.  When he is not studying for his undergraduate degree, Ryan has his hands full as a husband and father of two.  He enjoys playing the drums, hiking and camping, weightlifting, and computer gaming.  Ryan is trying his hand as a sexuality educator with high hopes that it leads to a promising career.

Want to join our team?

Click here to learn more about joining our board.

Click here to learn about our internship programs.