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.
Caleigh Balsamo, LMSW | Research Coordinator
Caleigh joined IWES in April of 2019 as a Research Coordinator. A Virginia girl raised by a loyal saints fan and lover of all foods spicy, Caleigh’s heart has always longed to call New Orleans her home. Upon receiving her bachelor's degree in Social Work from James Madison University in May of 2018, Caleigh took a leap and applied to Tulane’s School of Social Work, leaving her Virginian roots behind to begin her next adventure. While pursuing her MSW at Tulane, Caleigh’s research focused on the school-to-prison pipeline, a phenomena she has grown passionate about dismantling. During this time, Caleigh worked as a social work intern at the Louisiana Center for Children’s rights, the juvenile public defender's office in Orleans Parish, where her interest in social justice collided with her passion for working with young people. Utilizing an empowerment-focused, strengths-based approach, Caleigh is committed to working alongside the New Orleans community against injustice and providing youth with the tools, knowledge, and education to live fully satisfying and healthy lives. A self-proclaimed foodie and lover of human connection, Caleigh has continued to fall in love with this beautiful city, finding comfort in its music filled streets and community oriented nature. Considering herself a lifelong learner, she looks forward to growing through her work at IWES and holds strong to her belief in reciprocity, knowing very well that each student she meets will have much to offer her as she has to offer them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Earnis Collier is a Mississippi native, who joined IWES as a Program Coordinator in March 2019. With an educational background in Information Technology, Earnis was led to the public health field in 2015 after participating in various local public health studies in Mississippi. Working hands on with the communities that HIV impacts led to great passion and dedication to the work. In early 2017, he promptly relocated to New Orleans to work as a Prevention Navigator with a local community based organization, providing HIV/STI testing, linkage to medical care, and case management. A Mississippi “Country Boy”, with a big heart, Earnis is dedicated to continually addressing issues around HIV, mental health, and overall stigma in the African American community. Additionally, his personal pleasures include music, food, sightseeing, and reading/research.
Airian Collins | Administrative Assistant
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 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.
Jakevia Green, MPH | Director of Research & Evaluation
Jakevia 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.