Hannah joined IWES in September of 2018 as a BY-LA program coordinator. She received her B.A.S in Anthropology from Georgia State University in 2013 and her MPH from Tulane University in May of 2018 in International Health and Development, accompanied by a Methods in Monitoring and Evaluation certificate. Additionally, she received the Carroll Behrhorst International Health Award for her work in her mother’s home country with the Philippine Red Cross Youth, evaluating and redeveloping their previous HIV/AIDS Peer Education Program. Notably, she was published under the Philippine Red Cross for contributing to the redevelopment of the program manual with topics ranging from reproductive health, teen pregnancy and HIV/AIDS education. During her time at Tulane, she worked as a research assistant for a CDC-funded randomized control trial aimed at reducing risk for child maltreatment through brief parenting interventions and for projects working with the Global Fund, International Organization of Migration and UNICEF-funded integrated biological behavioral survey reports. Prior to moving to New Orleans, she worked in China as an English teacher and spent her off days volunteering with children with special needs. Before this, she worked at the Feminist Woman’s Health Center in Atlanta as a quality care team lead, health advocate and assistant to the clinic director. It was here where she taught sex education to adults, gained experience in HIV rapid testing, and counseled on birth control options. The culmination of her previous work has lead her here to IWES because this space fulfills her interests in reproductive and sexual health and teaching, and her need to positively impact youth.
Jamie Balthazar | Chief of Staff
Jamie joined IWES as Executive Assistant in May of 2017. After a 25-year career as a television/film producer, she decided to leave L.A. and begin a new chapter of her life. Previously, Jamie served as president of Ruby Red, Inc., overseeing television and film program development, production and post-production. She has produced numerous shows for TV networks, including OWN, Black Entertainment Television, BBC America and TV One as well as feature length docs and narratives. Jamie is a New Orleans native who loves all the things that make her city amazing – from the genuine warmth of the people to the amazing delicacies they whip up in the kitchen. She’s happy to be back in that special place called – HOME.
Angelita Brown, MS | HIV Testing and Prevention Program Manager
Angelita re-joined the IWES team in July 2017 in the capacity of HIV Testing and Prevention Program Manager. Angelita received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Dillard University, a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from Texas A&M - Commerce and currently is a PhD (ABD) student in Health Psychology at Walden University. Her experience in the public health arena, particularly in the HIV field spans over a 20 year period. Angelita was a transplant from Minnesota over 30 years ago and has proudly become an adopted daughter of New Orleans whose passionate work has focused on the well-being of women, children and youth in this community and beyond. Conquering disparities and ensuring reproductive health and justice are the fundamental driving forces behind her passion for the work she has done over the years.
Lucy joined IWES in September 2018. A longstanding interest in sexual health equity and comprehensive sexuality education led her to pursue a BA in Gender and Sexuality Studies and American Studies with a minor in Global Health from Northwestern University. Her senior thesis there focused on how communities whose health is often ignored or actively compromised by the state disseminate their own health information and services. After working in New Orleans for two years as Case Management Triage for a community-based HIV service provider and then as a union organizer, she is very excited to join IWES as a BY-LA Coordinator. She strives to live by bell hooks' words: "the practice of love is the most powerful antidote to the politics of domination." Outside the office, she enjoys learning more about the history of Bulbancha, advocating for Palestinian rights, and practicing her wildflower identification skills.
Kaelyn Charbonnet | BY-LA Program Coordinator
NOLA girl at heart, Kaelyn Charbonnet, joined IWES in August 2017. In May 2016, she graduated from Loyola University New Orleans. Her Bachelor's Degree features a major in Mass Communication, with a focus in Journalism, and a minor in Psychology. She has experience in broadcast & print journalism, as well as production realms. As a freelance journalist, she is capable of writing, editing, and shooting a variety of content, including: video news packages, print web portions, and still photos. Charbonnet has published work as a contributing writer to NOLA.com and Loyola University. Also, Charbonnet has previous experience in working with Essence Music Festival. There, she practiced assisting in social media and show production. Recently, she has transitioned into a role focusing on the mentorship of youth through adolescent mental & sexual health via BY-LA and CATS (Creating A Truer Self) programs. The commonality intertwining the two realms all come down to a passion for impacting the community in a positive light. As a part of the IWES team, Charbonnet is dedicated to ensuring the youth not only obtain factual information of overall health, but have relatable & realistic pillars of the community to idolize. Charbonnet is also committed to contributing creative content, as well as coordinating, supporting all things media. She is humbled to gain experience and evolve in a new sphere like IWES.
Keeanya E. Chenier, MPA | Chief Administrative Officer
Keeanya joined IWES in 2015 after serving over 20 years in the New Orleans Public Education and the State of Louisiana Higher Education systems. Prior to joining IWES she was the Director of Finance and Operations (2009-2015) for the New Orleans Charter Schools Foundation, which operated McDonogh City Park Academy, an open enrollment public charter school. While with the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, she was the Senior Department Administrator for the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery (2007-2009) and the Assistant Department Administrator in the Department of Pediatric Surgery (2001-2007) which operates public and private clinics throughout the state, often times being the sole provider of care for economically disadvantaged patients. She was also member of the Orleans Parish School Board’s Budget and Finance Departments (1995-2001). Keeanya received her Master of Public Administration from the University of New Orleans in 2011 and her Bachelor of Science in Management in 1993, also from the University of New Orleans. She is excited to have joined a community centered organization that is committed to the overall well-being of women of color and their families. A native of Los Angeles, California she has called New Orleans home for the past 35 years.
Airian Collins is a New Orleans native who joined IWES as an Administrative Assistant in June 2018. She obtained her Bachelors degree at Southern University A&M College in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Business Management and is pursuing her Masters degree in Theatre with Regent University. Airian recently returned to her hometown from Los Angeles, CA and worked in the digital marketing and project management industries. She is determined to become a changing force for the creative youth in her community. She is passionate about Performing Arts and Media and works to help develop and motivate young artists and performers. She prides herself on being of service to all mankind and always wants to be the change in the world that she wants to see.
Sheryl-Amber B. Edmondson, MSEd | WISE/CrAFT Manager
Sheryl-Amber joined IWES in September 2017 as the Program Coordinator for Working to Institutionalize Sex Education (WISE) and Creating A Future Together (CrAFT). Sheryl-Amber hails from Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. In pursuit of her dreams to be a driving force in true educational equity, Sheryl-Amber first attended The Pennsylvania State University. There she studied Sociology, Spanish and Education Policy while also being a McNair Scholar and Schreyer Honors Scholar. During her time at Penn State, Sheryl-Amber founded a prominent student organization; The Penn State Section of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc.— leading, developing, and advocating for women of African descent. Additionally, she organized a series of protests against police brutality; and engaged with university staff, administration, community members and police officers on improving relations between law enforcement and students of color. Upon graduation, Sheryl-Amber joined Teach For America— where she taught sixth and eighth grade English in Philadelphia while earning her M.S.Ed in Urban Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her academic career culminated in a capstone project on the impacts and implications of a teachers’ language and student disciplinary outcomes. Sheryl-Amber made the decision to relocate to New Orleans after completing the Urban Leaders Fellowship, where she worked with a team of fellows on school board policy related to the unification of OPSB and RSD. Sheryl-Amber will continue to work alongside communities and policymakers as a means to more equitable outcomes and experiences for Black and Brown students.
Jason Foster joined the IWES staff as Production Coordinator in August 2017. He is a graduate of Georgia Southwestern State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica and has lived the majority of his life in the South. His nomadic lifestyle has contributed to his ability to tell stories and connect with people across all walks of life. Shortly after moving to New Orleans in 2010, Jason met David Bear and soon thereafter they started FosterBear Films in the fall of 2011. Since their inception, FosterBear Films has produced over twenty short documentaries, short narrative films, music videos and promotional videos. Their work has been featured in the New York Times, Shadow and Act, Indiewire, TruthOut, and Okayplayer, and has been screened at the Retroperspective Film Festival and Alternate ROOTS. Jason is a 2015 New Orleans Film Society Emerging Voices Fellow and has received numerous New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation Community Partnership grants for his work documenting Louisiana artists. He has taught filmmaking classes in conjunction with the New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC) and with Project Excel. He has also served as Program Director for the New Orleans Afrikan Film Fest which specializes in screening films from the African Diaspora.
Gabrielle joined the IWES team in 2006 as a participant of the Media Advocates for Prevention (MAP) program. During her time at IWES, Gabrielle has held various roles in the organization including MAP Youth Coordinator and MPC!-NOLA! and TOP Program Assistant. She is now a Program Facilitator with IWES' Believe in Youth Louisiana (BY-LA) program. Through those positions she has gained immense knowledge and experience through new roles and responsibilities, providing administrative support, event coordination, and curriculum facilitation. In 2014, she received her Bachelor's degree in Business and Urban Studies from the University of New Orleans. As a New Orleans native, her cumulative experience and passion has translated into her dedication and commitment to providing quality health education, positive youth development and empowerment to local youth.
akevia joined IWES in August 2015. In 2011, she earned an interdisciplinary BA in Medicine, Health, & Society from Vanderbilt University. Later that year, she moved to New Orleans to attend the Tulane School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, where she earned an MPH in Epidemiology and also received the Outstanding Student Service Award in 2013. Upon completion of her schooling, she remained at Tulane and served as the Senior Program Coordinator of a federally-funded randomized control trial designed to evaluate the efficacy of an Internet-based pregnancy prevention intervention. Jakevia brings years of experience in academic research and knowledge and skills in data management and analysis. Her interests include reproductive justice, unintended pregnancy prevention, HIV/STI awareness and prevention, expansion and promotion of comprehensive sexuality education, and youth advocacy.
Yohonna joined IWES in 2018 as a BY-LA program coordinator after graduating with a Master’s in Public Health in Global Health Management and Policy: Health Systems Management from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. She obtained her Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies in Health & Society from Michigan State University in 2016. Yohonna’s roots trace back to Michigan’s Detroit metro area where she was heavily involved in public health issues affecting her community. She served as the president of Michigan State University’s Safer Sex Research Lab, where she coordinated HIV/AIDS testing events in partnership with the Lansing Area Aids network. She also planned and executed a State Capitol Lead Education Day with the Michigan Alliance for Lead Safe Homes during the Flint water crisis. During her undergraduate career she spent time studying global health issues through multiple study abroad trips in Belize, China, and New Zealand. Her passion for public health continued once she moved to New Orleans in 2016 with her volunteer work with CrescentCare’s special events committee, participation with IWES as a member of HIV Testing and Prevention Community Advisory Board, and studies of the Cuban health system during her graduate studies at Tulane University. Yohonna is excited to continue her journey at IWES and foster growth in her body of knowledge on her specific areas of interest including adolescent sexual health, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, and mental health and wellness.
Christina Illarmo, LMSW | Program Coordinator
Christina is a CHamoru-Ilocano social worker born and raised on Guahan, the US Territory of Guam, where inafa’maolek or making harmony through social support and reciprocity is the cornerstone of the culture. After completing her MSW program at Wheelock College, Boston in 2011, Christina moved to New Orleans and has since worked in local substance abuse residential programs as a Child Development Specialist, Family Therapist, and Admissions Counselor, as well as, a volunteer facilitator for a women’s support group for survivors of sexual assault. She joined the IWES team in June 2018 to explore ways in which IWES can become involved in using a trauma informed lens to therapeutically support women with substance use disorders, as well as, their children. Her special interests include birth work, positive youth development, decolonization, indigenous sovereignty, counter military recruitment, and the demilitarization of Oceania.
Sheetal joined IWES in the Summer of 2018. Although she is American by birth and Punjabi by blood, she considers herself a citizen of the world and has moved to New Orleans after working in several different capacities. She graduated with her Bachelor’s from Emory University in 2011. After gaining experience in the healthcare side of corporate America, she ran to her roots in India to volunteer. Then, she went on to complete her Masters in Science in Global Mental Health from King’s College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Upon graduation in 2015, she began working for Sangath, a NGO based in Goa, India as the Manager of the Addictions Research Group (ARG). From there, she traveled around India by motorbike from Goa to the Himalayas and ultimately landed in the Himachal Pradesh where she helped run a guesthouse in the Kullu-Manali Valley. Seeking clinical experience, she got offered a position in a rehab in Thailand. Due to her love for India, she was brought back and began working as Researcher at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh, North India. Currently, she is enrolled in an International diploma in Mental Health, Human Rights and Law. Sheetal’s research interests are addiction, child and adolescent mental health, trauma & abuse, sex education and scaling up mental healthcare in communities. She also enjoys teaching tennis, yoga & Ayurveda and participating in dancing, music and film making.
Jen joined IWES in July 2018. A native Texan, she moved to New Orleans in 2009 having completed her Bachelor of Science at Santa Clara University in Biomedical Sciences, committing focus to International Wellness and Community Action. Following a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in support of people living with HIV/AIDS, she enrolled with Tulane School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine. Jen earned her Masters Summa Cum Laude as well as the Elizabeth A. Bennett Award for Excellence in Maternal and Child Health in 2012. Upon completion of her schooling, she remained at Tulane a Field Research Analyst with a federally-funded randomized control trial designed to evaluate the efficacy of an Internet-based pregnancy prevention intervention. Prior to joining IWES, Jen worked as a full time public health practitioner with ReNEW Accelerated High School, applying a holistic lens to student wellness through direct instruction, targeted case management, and full student population interventions. Her professional interests include reproductive and sexual health justice, supporting adolescent development-especially of critical consciousness, and pursuing equity across education, health, and wellness spaces. Her personal passions include dance, exploring culture and cuisine, and being a dog mom.
Fay Love joined IWES in August 2017 as the Administrative Manager. Faye studied Business Administration at Southern University at New Orleans and has over 25 years of experience in the field of Human Resources and Administration. Prior to coming to IWES, she worked in the legal field and is looking forward to working in the non-profit sector. Fay is a native New Orleanian and is excited about joining and working with the IWES team.
Affectionately known as ‘Momma Nikki’, is a 2008 graduate of Southern University at New Orleans. Under the tutelage of extraordinary professors, she had the opportunity to earn a dual Bachelor of Science in English and History, and worked on extensive campaigns Post- Hurricane Katrina in the education and political arena. As an educator and sexual health advocate, she works tirelessly fighting for education equity, social justice, and healthy sexual in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 2016, she launched a campaign for young girls entitled. ‘The Sacredness of Safe Intimacy’, primarily to empower, encourage, and educate young women to affirm the beauty of their existence. Since 2016, the campaign has grown into a workshops, emphasizing the spiritual and physical connection of sex, teenage pregnancy, sex trafficking, and providing Black mothers with the tools to assist their daughters in creating healthy sexual health decisions. For the past fifteen years, Nikkisha has dedicated her time and as an HIV Testing and Linkage to Care Coordinator, to ending the epidemic on HIV, and unapologetically focusing on Black women and Women of Color. As a former educator, she volunteers her service to high school juniors and seniors, assisting them with scholarship and college applications. Additionally, as a poet and spoken word artist, she has served as a panelist/presenter on numerous education, health, and women's conferences, addressing HIV testing, prevention, and stigma in the African American community.
Kala Rachal | MPH Research Coordinator
Kala joined IWES in 2018 as a Research Coordinator and is a recent graduate of Tulane University with an MPH in International Health and Development and a certificate in Disaster Studies. She obtained her Bachelor’s of Science from Dillard University in Community Health. Prior to her educational pursuit, Kala worked as patient administrator/medical evacuation coordinator in South Korea and Afghanistan while in the Army. As a student she centered her focus on health education and working with at risk youth both domestically and internationally. She has worked in rural areas of Peru, Kenya, and South Korea counseling and testing for Malaria and HIV, conducting outreach, teaching community-based health and wellness programs, and relief efforts. As a river parish native who has lived by the mustard seed faith concept, Kala has dedicated herself to working with underserved populations both domestically and internationally. She is dedicated to impacting her local community through community-health based work that involves sexual health, disaster preparedness, health education, and positive youth development.
After spending nearly 10 years living in Houston, TX following Hurricane Katrina, Tara returned to beloved New Orleans in August 2017. Prior to joining IWES in September 2018, she worked as the Behavioral Health Program Manager for the Louisiana Public Health Institute where she managed local, regional and statewide mental health and education based projects. Tara obtained a Bachelor of Social Work from Southern University at New Orleans, a Master of Social Work in Administration & Planning from the University of Houston and state licensure in both Texas and Louisiana. She also holds a Master of Business Administration degree with a focus in Project Management from Texas Woman’s University. Tara has more than a decade of combined work experience in such areas as clinical social work, case management, health education, program development and project management. She is extremely passionate about working to diminish variability in the quality of such social care services as education and healthcare among poor and minority populations both locally and abroad. An avid Saints fan since childhood, Tara is excited to be back among the true Who Dat Nation!!
Lisa Richardson, PhD | Chief Impact Officer
Lisa Richardson rejoined the IWES staff in July 2013. Prior to this, she served as the National Director of Southern Access Project for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a consultant, program director, and evaluator for a variety of organizations including Emory University, the Carter Presidential Center, and the New Orleans-based education program, Students at the Center. Lisa was a Visiting Professor at Florida State University in the Urban and Regional Planning department, and an Assistant Professor at California State University Northridge in the Urban Studies and Pan-African Studies Departments. She received her Ph.D. in 2002 at the University of New Orleans as a Board of Regents Fellow, and her Master of Science in 1996 from Georgia State University. Her interests include community development, analyzing social determinants of health, sexual health education and advocacy (particularly for women of color and youth), and participatory action research. After leaving New Orleans for academia, Lisa returned to her adopted home in 2005 to serve as the Interim Executive Director of IWES in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Rheneisha M. Robertson, MPH | Chief Programs Officer
Rheneisha Robertson joined IWES in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina and became the Executive Director of the organization in 2007. Prior to this, she served as Director of Care Services for a local HIV/ AIDS serving non-profit organization, providing oversight of HIV/AIDS primary medical care and case management services, and as lead counselor with the Teen Parent Services program, an Illinois Department of Health program to assist teen parents through the provision of social services and support. Rheneisha has prior experience with IWES, serving as a Program Coordinator of adolescent health programs from 2000-2002. She received a Master of Public Health in Health Education/ Communication and Maternal Child Health from the Tulane University School of Public Health (2001) and her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Xavier University of Louisiana (1999). Rheneisha returned to New Orleans post-Katrina with a commitment to engage in community-centered and driven recovery efforts that reflect and address issues impacting women and youth, particularly among women and youth of color and disenfranchised communities. She is a proud native of New Orleans, wife, and mother of two.
Gabriella Roude | Senior Research & Evaluation Associate
Gabriella joined IWES in February 2015 as an Administrative Assistant. Gabby’s academic training is in Social Anthropology, in which she completed a B.A. with a minor in Global Studies from Florida Gulf Coast University. Gabby has extensive international experience, volunteering in Haiti with the Rotary Club of the Upper Keys, COHEF (Children of Haiti Enhancement Foundation) and Zanmi Beni. In addition, throughout her undergraduate career Gabby participated in short semester programs to Brazil, Guatemala and the Galapagos, all experiences where she conducted community level social research, which has assuredly heightened her interests in non-profit work. Prior to moving to New Orleans, Gabby completed a postgraduate diploma in Social Science Methodology at Stellenbosch University as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to Stellenbosch, South Africa. While abroad and with hopes to apply the methods she was learning at university, Gabby interned at a local nonprofit, Women on Farms Project, where she helped collect personal narratives on the topic of household food security as experienced in the farming communities. Her professional values are collaboration, the importance of a holistic approach and ultimately, utilizing data to improve the lives of individuals in the application of social research. Her passions are: anthropology of development, the relationship between NGOs and the State, program evaluation and research methodology.
Cardinal joined the staff as CHC Program Coordinator in 2018. She received her B.S. in World Religions with a Music Minor from Loyola University of New Orleans in 2013, and her master's in Social Work from Southern University in New Orleans, May 2018. Her passion for community development and trauma-informed work stems from years of working with youth in New Orleans through after-school programs, directing summer camps, and mentoring young girls. She hopes to use her role as a Social Worker to influence policies and decision makers to provide better services and funding for under-resourced communities. Originally from the Gulf Coast of Alabama - her passion for music first brought her to New Orleans, but her love for the people kept her here.
Iman Shervington, MFA | Director of Media and Communications
Iman joined IWES in 2008 as a Media Consultant, became a Program Coordinator in 2009, the Director of Media & Social Marketing in 2010 and is now the Director of Media & Communications. She received her BA from the University of Southern California in International Relations (2005) and her Masters of Fine Arts in Directing from Columbia University (2010) with a concentration in Directing and Screenwriting. Through IWES, Iman utilizes her script development, cinematography, directing, producing, and editing skills and has created over 50 short films and PSAs, a web-series, a feature-length documentary, two feature-length narrative films and an award-winning podcast. These films have been screened at numerous local, national and international film festivals, and she presents regularly at conferences to showcase her work. Iman was a Program Coordinator for IWES’ Media Advocates for Prevention (MAP) program and Social marketing Technology Outreach Program (STOP). In 2016, Iman was chosen as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader in their inaugural cohort to promote a culture of health in her community. That year she also received the award for Changemaker in the New Orleans-based Millennial Awards and received executive training through Spitfire’s Executive Leadership Program. Through her training in social marketing, Iman led the development of two social marketing campaigns and most recently, a public will campaign to advocate for more Trauma Informed Care services for youth in New Orleans, In That Number. Iman has also been trained in multiple teen pregnancy prevention interventions and implemented EBIs such as Making Proud Choices with youth in local schools. In leading the Communications Team, Iman oversees IWES’ social media presence and all external organizational communications. Iman has further experience in graphic design, photography, curriculum development, focus group facilitation, positive youth development, participatory action research, and media literacy.
Chenier received her Bachelor of Arts from Emory University. A native of New Orleans, she returned home after working in New York and Atlanta in Communications and Marketing disciplines. While in New York Chenier concentrated her efforts in the Social Media and Public Relations arenas working to develop strategy and launch social channels for clients across categories including personal care, health, travel, retail, consumer packaged goods and corporate. While in Atlanta she had the opportunity to work in Publishing and local Public Safety. Chenier is currently working with the IWES Communications Department to maintain the social media pages of IWES and its programs, helping to educate the community about the various programs and resources available. She is excited to be back home and to be working with the community.
Gabriella joined IWES in September 2018 as a BY-LA Program Coordinator. Gabriella moved to New Orleans in the summer of 2018 after falling in love with the city eight years prior. While her roots are in the near south side of Chicago, she is excited to teach sex education to youth. She received both her Bachelor’s degree in Gender and Women’s Studies in May 2016 and Masters in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago in May 2018. For the past three years, she has served as a medical advocate in the emergency room for survivors of sexual assault. Some of her most fulfilling work includes working as a bereavement counselor in hospice and working with survivors of human trafficking. Gabriella is a trained doula and her passion lies in advocating for pregnant people and their families.