Advocates' staff is a vibrant and diverse team of youth-serving professionals and youth activists. Staff come from a variety of backgrounds, including public health, law, social work, political science, international affairs, sociology, finance/administration and research, and are dedicated to improving adolescent reproductive and sexual health, securing young people’s rights, and realizing the Rights. Respect.Responsibility.® vision.
Debra Hauser, President, has 30 years of experience in adolescent reproductive and sexual health and extensive front-line program development and operations experience in the areas of family planning, health education, and health care service delivery. She has been with Advocates for Youth for more than 20 years, first as Director of the Support Center for School-based Health Care, then as Executive Vice President. In January 2012, Deb became the organization’s fourth President and Executive Director, representing Advocates with the media, funders and colleagues organizations and speaking nationally and internationally about young people’s rights to honest sexual health information, confidential sexual health services and equitable social and economic opportunities. She is committed to a cascading style of leadership that promotes youth activists as change agents and leaders in the field. Deb previously served as Director of Community Health Services for the City of Atlantic City where she designed, implemented, and evaluated sexuality education, health promotion, teen pregnancy prevention, and youth parenting programs for an urban population. Deb also authored two family planning teaching manuals and was the founder and co-owner of CondomRageous, a condom retail store in Washington, DC. Early in her career, Deb served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay, implementing child spacing, oral re-hydration, and childhood immunization programs. Deb holds a Masters of Public Health in Population Planning and International Health from the University of Michigan, a BA from the George Washington University and is the author of numerous publications in the area of adolescent reproductive and sexual health.
Kathleen Farrell, Vice President of Finance and Administration, oversees the organization’s financial management/controls. She prepares the organizational budget, works with program staff to develop proposals and financial reports for Advocates’ funders, and works closely with the Board of Directors’ Finance and Board Leadership Committees. She has spent the vast majority of her career working in various program and management capacities for Advocates for Youth. Kathy holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the College of William and Mary.
Kate Stewart is a public opinion research and communications specialist who has worked with a wide-range of advocacy and non-profit organizations on communications, policy, and public affairs. Most recently she was a partner in the research and strategic communications firm, Belden Russonello & Stewart, LLC. Kate has created communications and public relations strategies for clients on topics such as civil liberties, public education, reproductive health, and reproductive justice. Her work has advanced the goals of many organizations, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Ford Foundation, the ACLU, Wisconsin Education Association, the Illinois Education Association, the Center for Reproductive Rights and many others. Kate has been an adjunct professor at American University, where she taught public communication research and has served on the Governing Council of the American Association for Public Opinion Research. Kate has served on the Advocates for Youth Board and for the last three years was Board Chair. Kate received a BA with high honors in history from Haverford College and her MS in survey methodology from the University of Maryland.
Aimée Thorne-Thomsen has an extensive background in communications, movement-building, and leadership development across various social justice movements. Prior to joining the staff at Advocates, she served as the Interim Executive Director for the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and the Executive Director of the Pro-Choice Public Education Project (PEP). Aimée has also held senior management positions in the non-profit and private sectors. She sits on the Board of Directors for Reproductive Health Technologies Project, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote and RH Reality Check. She is a member of the Women’s Media Center’s She Source and also volunteers as a Leader for the LiveStrong Foundation. She has spoken around the country at venues including Netroots Nation, Center for American Progress, and WE ACT Advancing Climate Justice Conference, and her writing and blogs have appeared on Daily Kos, Feministing, and RH Reality Check among others. Aimée earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University and a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College, City University of New York.
Jennifer Augustine is the Director of the HIV/STI Prevention Division at Advocates for Youth. She oversees the provision of technical assistance and training to national and community-based organizations serving high-risk youth. Jennifer has 14 years of experience in adolescent sexual and reproductive health. She received a Master’s in Public Health from the George Washington University and is a certified health education specialist.
Colin is a recent graduate of Yale University, where he studied Psychology and Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies. While an undergraduate, he served as a Co-Coordinator of Community Health Educators, directed Sex Week at Yale, and penned a biweekly relationship column in The Yale Herald. Colin has collaborated with renowned sexual health educators to develop programs for college students and adolescents. After graduating, Colin developed the online sexual health and relationship resource, Hooking Up& Staying Hooked, geared specifically for high school aged boys. Additionally, Colin has spent the last two years as a NYC Program Associate for Peer Health Exchange, and has most recently joined Trojan’s Sexual Health Advisory Council.
Eleanor has an extensive background as a strategic researcher and versatile writer for high-profile campaigns and national nonprofit organizations, along with a proven track record in foundation relations and grants management. She is responsible for contributing to the success of Advocates for Youth’s development program raising approximately $6.5M annually, including foundation strategy, prospect identification, proposal development, grant reporting and grants administration. Eleanor previously coordinated all aspects of foundation relationships, including drafting successful grant documents, for the National Partnership for Women & Families, a well-respected advocacy organization with a complex policy portfolio and having an annual budget of $8 million. She received her BA from Syracuse University and her JD from American University’s Washington College of Law. She serves on the community advisory board of the Teen Alliance for Prepared Parenting Program (TAPP) in Washington D.C.
Urooj Arshad manages a project of the International Division that builds the capacity of youth-driven organizations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean to empower young people as powerful advocates within their own countries and at international forums on reproductive and sexual health and rights of youth, especially young women and GLBTQ youth. Previously, Urooj provided capacity building services to community based organizations working with youth of color around reproductive and sexual health. Urooj has presented about her work at several domestic and international conferences including the International HIV/AIDS Conference 2010 in Vienna, Austria; the Youth Pre-conference to the International HIV/AIDS Conference 2012 in Washington, DC; the European Science Foundation’s conference on Religion, Gender and Human Rights 2011 in Linkoping, Sweden; the LGBT Pride and Heritage Event hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and at the State Department. Urooj has had fourteen years of experience organizing within GLBTQ communities of color especially addressing issues of Islamophobia, violence, sexism, transphobia and ageism. Urooj was a member of the Center for American Progress’ Women’s Health Leadership Network and a current member of it’s Faith and Reproductive Justice Institute. Urooj was also a fellow with the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute.
Arlene designs and develops day-to-day operations of Advocates’ organizational websites. She manages the distribution of e-mail newsletters, action alerts, and records site metrics. She graduated from George Mason University with a Bachelors of Arts in Graphic Design.
Deborah Billings, PhD
Dr. Billings earned her doctorate in Sociology from the University of Michigan and worked as Senior Research and Evaluation Associate with Ipas, collaborating with youth, women's and feminist organizations as well as health systems in Africa and Latin America to improve sexual and reproductive health services. Her work has focused on abortion, gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice in these regions. In South Carolina, Dr. Billings collaborates with initiatives that aim to meet sexual and reproductive health needs and demands of Latino and Latina immigrant community members and the CenteringPregnancy program. She has served as a TellThem Ambassador since 2008 and is a co-Chair of the South Carolina State Alliance for Adolescent Sexual Health (SAASH). Dr. Billings has served as a consultant to various global organizations including the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Oak Foundation, UN Women, and UNFPA.
Dr. Suzette E. Brann has more than 20 years of program management and implementation, sustainability planning, and organizational development in the fields of juvenile justice and public health. She has provided training and technical assistance to state and local social service, juvenile justice and mental health programs in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Europe on issues ranging from creating evidence-based, gender-informed and culturally proficient substance abuse treatment, and criminal/juvenile justice systems for women, to improving access to services for women of color, at-risk youth and African American men. She has a doctorate in Human Services specializing in Criminal Justice, a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Baltimore’s School of Law and both a Master in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Howard University.
Emily Bridges oversees the content of Advocates' web sites, including www.advocatesforyouth.org and www.amplifyyourvoice.org, finalizes materials for publication, develops fact sheets and other educational materials, and assists staff, Advocates' partners, and the public with research. Emily has a Master's in Library Science from the University of Maryland and a BA in English from Towson University. She has been with Advocates since 2006.
Angel Brown is a native Washingtonian, who has been active in the non-profit social justice, social change arena for the past sixteen years. Over the years Angel has served in the capacity as a trainer, organizer, educator, artistic director, performer and advocate in the fight against HIV/AIDS and social stigma. Her work began as an HIV prevention peer educator and she has been going full steam ahead ever since. She is actively involved in the youth, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
Angel is passionate about youth and their right to live safe, healthy, powerful lives. In her career, she has committed herself to ensuring that adults have all the tools they need to effectively support and be of service to young people. She has been featured in many publications, such as DC’s local GBLTQ newspaper The Washington Blade and The Advocate magazine featuring her efforts as an advocate for the GLBTQ community. She continues to be active as an advocate for continued HIV/AIDS education, community accountability and mobilization, public policy and accessible HIV treatment, among the many other human adversaries that afflict her communities.
For the past eight years, Ariel has been an advocate, trainer & educator of young people. Ariel’s advocacy work has been in the field of adolescent health & behavior and youth leadership development with an emphasis on working with young people of color and LGBT youth. Prior to joining Advocates, Ariel was a Unit Director with Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland where he successfully provided leadership, direction and administrative oversight or the organizations youth development and academic programs. Ariel led the design, development and delivery of several mentoring & leadership initiatives and provided trainings on effective youth guidance and program development, assessment and evaluation. A former Board member of Advocates and Peer Educator of YouthResource, Ariel was born in Panama and raised in Portland, Oregon where he received his BA in Political Science from Portland State University.
Nicole Cheetham is the Director of the International Youth Health and Rights Division of Advocates for Youth, where she has worked for over ten years. In this capacity she provides leadership in setting international programmatic priorities and supports the implementation of initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean focused on youth-led advocacy for sexual and reproductive health and rights; community mobilization, peer education, and youth-friendly services programming; and global and US-based advocacy to advance youth sexual and reproductive health and rights. Nicole started her career in international public health working on maternal and child health and nutrition issues at the American Public Health Association, the Pan American Health Organization, and the Manoff Group. Nicole holds a Masters of Health Sciences in International Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. She currently serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of American Sexuality Education.
Rachel works directly with the media to add the voice of young people in the conversation about adolescent reproductive sexual health; promotes the organization, its programs and campaigns; leads media trainings; and engages external audiences with Advocates' various social media properties. A native Washingtonian, Rachel graduated from The George Washington University with a bachelor's degree in Sociology and Communications. Prior to joining Advocates she was a Senior Account Executive at GolinHarris, a global PR agency, was the Communications Assistant at the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, and worked at Strauss Radio Strategies and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Annie promotes Advocates’ programs and campaigns through the implementation of their social media strategy and texting initiative. She also assists in the distribution of email Action Alerts. Prior to joining Advocates she was a Communications Associate at the Consumer Federation of America. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in Communications and a focus in Public Relations.
Yvonne Gaither has been Advocates for Youth’s Office Administrator since 1994. Yvonne has over 14 years of corporate bookkeeping and accounting experience and has worked with nonprofits for over 19 years. Yvonne has also participated in volunteer work at D.C. General Hospital and Columbia Hospital for Women.
Nora Gelperin is the Director of Sexuality Education and Training at Advocates for Youth. Nora is one of the national technical assistance providers on the Working to Institutionalize Sex Ed (WISE) initiative and has been a member of the Future of Sex Education (FoSE) initiative since it's founding. She has more than twenty years of experience providing sexuality education to youth and professional development to school health and education professionals. Prior to joining Advocates she was the Director of Training at Answer where she founded the Training Institute in Sexual Health Education (TISHE) and Answer's online professional development workshops. She was a community educator with Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey. Nora holds a Masters in School Health Education from Temple University was awarded a Mary Lee Tatum Award from Planned Parenthood Leaders in Education (APPLE) and has been named a 2014 Fellow of the American School Health Association.
Jeryl Hayes, JD, LL.M. joins Advocates for Youth’s policy team as our Domestic Policy Analyst. Jeryl is a lawyer and strong progressive reproductive health and justice advocate. Most recently, Jeryl was the Reproductive Justice Law and Policy Fellow at the Black Women’s Health Imperative, where she advocated for the health and wellness needs of Black women, girls and families. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Denison University, her law degree from Washington University School of Law and her Masters of Law from American University Washington College of Law. During law school, Jeryl worked as a Student Attorney and Guardian ad Litem through the Civil Justice Clinic where she witnessed first-hand how the intersection of class, race and gender impact the reproductive rights of young people.
Rana Holland has been at Advocates for Youth since July 1987. After nine months on the front desk, she became the Executive Secretary. Until 1992, she worked for Judith Senderowitz, our founding Executive Director/President who currently serves on the Board of Directors. She also worked for the two executive director/presidents who served between Judy and our current CEO, Debra Hauser.
Sophia Kerby is the State Policy & Partnerships Coordinator at Advocates for Youth. She works with local and state-based organizations and youth activists across the country to advocate for cultural and policy changes that improve and value young people's sexual and reproductive health and rights. Sophia is a advocate for civil and human rights. Most recently, she was the Policy Associate at the Brennan Center, where she worked on racial and criminal justice advocacy and reform, voting rights, and ex-felon enfranchisement. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Sophia worked at the Center for American Progress where her work focused on communities of color, women and their socioeconomic intersections. Sophia is originally from New York and holds a Bachelors degree in Government and Politics from University of Maryland-College Park.
Amanda Keifer, MPH, serves as Advocates' International Policy Analyst. Keifer comes to Advocates from Ipas, where she worked as a consultant analyzing U.S. foreign policy and advocating policies to promote reproductive health and rights, including abortion access, for women and girls in developing countries. She received her Masters of Public Health from George Washington University, focusing her studies on global health policy and federal funding for international family planning and reproductive health. Keifer also worked at the Public Health Institute, where she advocated for young people's access to sexual and reproductive rights and health both on the Hill and through United Nations processes.
J. has worked in the information technology field for more than a decade and has been Manager of Information Technology at Advocates for Youth since 2006.
Abbey is Advocates for Youth’s 2014-15 Law Students for Reproductive Justice Fellow. She previously worked with Advocates for Youth as a public policy intern, blogger, and member of the International Youth Leadership Council. Abbey is a 2014 graduate of Harvard Law School and the Harvard-Berkeley Law School Exchange program, where she focused on the intersection of gender and economic justice issues as well as integrating reproductive justice issues into the legal curriculum. She graduated in 2009 from George Washington University with a degree in Political Science and Women’s Studies. Between college and law school, Abbey worked for the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division-Educational Opportunities Section and served as a volunteer case manager for the DC Abortion Fund.
Januari McKay is the Program Coordinator for Health and Social Equity. Januari received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in Health Education from North Carolina Central University. She has worked with various non-profit organizations implementing group-level youth development interventions and conducting HIV testing and counseling services. From 2011-2013 Januari served as a Young Women of Color Leadership Council member. She served on the DC Community Coalition Youth Core where she assisted in planning events for the 2012 International Conference on AIDS. Because of her exemplary commitment to HIV/AIDS education and prevention through volunteerism and service in the District of Columbia, Januari was selected as the 2012 Mayor’s Community Service Award recipient for The Advocate Award for HIV/AIDS. She currently serves as co-chair for the Women’s Health Policy Network with the Women’s Information Network (WIN).
Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes
Diana has been working on social justice issues for nearly a decade, primarily around issues that affect women, young people, people of color and the LGTBQ community. She has vast experience in program management, grassroots advocacy and state policy strategy. She previously worked with the Center for Women Policy Studies and assisted in coordinating educational and strategic planning programs for women state legislators and international Members of Parliament on womens human rights issues. She is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada, where she was actively involved in grassroots activism, as well as the local arts community. Her passion lies in facilitating and creating intentional spaces for not only social justice, but also for creativity and self-expression. She holds an M.A. from George Washington University in Public Policy with a concentration in Women's Studies, as well as a B.A. from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Sociology and Womens Studies.
Jen is a fundraiser and organizational management specialist whose mantra is "no money, no mission." In her past three years at Advocates, she has diversified the organization's fundraising by adding a corporate philanthropy program, piloting a Youth Fundraising Advisory Board Corporate, deepening and expanding foundation prospecting and cultivation efforts and beginning to build a base of individual donors through engagement of the Board of Directors to invest in Advocates' necessary, urgent and unique programs to put youth at the center. Prior to her work at Advocates, she managed multi-million dollar fundraising efforts for the American Red Cross where she led the team at the heart of the Red Cross' ability to have the funds needed to respond quickly and decisively to catastrophic events like the earthquakes in Japan and Haiti. In response to the Haiti earthquake alone, her team helped raise more than $350 million, including the launch of a mobile giving campaign which earned an unprecedented $31+ million, more than 1 million online transactions totaling $100+ million, and approximately $20 million in corporate support. At the age of 28, she was the Senior Vice President & Director of Development at the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA). At NARAL Pro-Choice America, she managed the logistics and finances of the 2004 March for Women's Lives, which brought more than a million supporters to Washington, DC. Jen is a proud alum of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in Economics and Political Science.
Mary Beth Szydlowski