About Advocates for Youth

Advocates' Staff Print

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.

Management Team

Debra Hauser

Deb Hauser has been with Advocates for Youth for 23 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 colleague 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 has been at the center of numerous innovations in the field of adolescent sexual health, including: co-founding the Future of Sex Education-an initiative producing the first-ever National Sexuality Education Standards; designing an innovative HIV/AIDS prevention and testing-to-treatment program on Historically Black Colleges and Universities; expanding the Great American Condom Campaign into a ground-breaking effort to normalize condom use on more than 1,000 college campuses across the U.S.; and helping to build the infrastructure of the LGBT youth movement in the Global South. Deb is committed to a cascading style of leadership that promotes youth activists as change agents and leaders in the field.

Before coming to Advocates, Deb served as Director of Community Health Services for the City of Atlantic City where she designed, implemented, and evaluated sexuality education, HIV prevention, health promotion, teen pregnancy prevention, and teen parenting programs. Early in her career, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay, implementing child spacing, oral re-hydration, and childhood immunization programs. Deb serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the American Sexual Health Association and is a member of the CDC/HRSA Advisory Committee on HIV, Viral Hepatitis and STD Prevention and Treatment. She is proficient in Spanish and holds a Masters of Public Health in Population Planning and International Health from the University of Michigan.

Kathleen Farrell
Vice President, Finance and Administration

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 Audit 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.

Aimee Thorne-Thomsen
Vice President for Strategic Partnerships

Aimée is the Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at Advocates for Youth, where she oversees and coordinates the development, implementation, and evaluation of Advocates' strategic partnerships with youth activists and colleague organizations in allied social justice movements. She also oversees the Youth Organizing and Mobilization Team and the Policy Team. 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). She sits on the Board of Directors for SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote and RH Reality Check and is a Public Voices Fellow. She has spoken around the country at venues including the NOW National Conference, Netroots Nation, Center for American Progress, and Facing Race, and her writing and blogs have appeared on Women's e-News, Daily Kos, Feministing, Feministe, 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
Vice President, Organizational Development
Division Director, Health and Social Equity

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.


Eleanor Allen
Associate Director of Foundation Relations

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
Associate Director, International Youth Health and Rights

Urooj Arshad is the Associate director of International Youth Health and Rights at Advocates for Youth. She 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 strong advocates within their own countries and at international forums on reproductive and sexual health and rights of youth, especially young women and LGBTQ youth. She has also designed a project that seeks to address the reproductive and sexual health needs of Muslim-identified 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; International HIV/AIDS Conference 2014 in Melbourne; 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; the State Department; the National Press Club; Georgetown University and Princeton. Urooj was also the keynote speaker at the LGBTQ Symposium 2013 at American University.

Urooj has had seventeen years of experience organizing within LGBTQ communities of color, especially addressing issues of Islamophobia, violence, sexism, transphobia, and ageism. Urooj has been a member of the Center for American Progress’ Women’s Health Leadership Network and its Faith and Reproductive Justice Institute. Urooj has been a fellow with the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute and a current member of the Kalamazoo College Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership’s global advisory board and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice’s board of directors.

Urooj is the recipient of several awards including the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance’s 2012 NQAPIA Community Catalyst Award and the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition’s We Speak award. Urooj was selected to serve on the U.S delegation to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

Arlene Basilio
Web Development and Graphic Design Associate

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.

Emily Bridges
Division Director, Communications

Emily Bridges oversees Advpcates' innovative and dynamic communications strategy, including a wide array of social media properties and groundbreaking online activism campaigns. Emily manages 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.

Ariel Cerrud
Senior Manager, International Policy

For the past ten years, Ariel has been an advocate, trainer and educator of young people. Ariel’s advocacy work has been in the field of adolescent health and behavior and youth leadership development with an emphasis on working in partnership with young leaders, particularly young women and girls and LGBT youth at the global level.

As a member of Advocates’ International Youth Health and Rights and Policy Departments, Ariel manages Advocates’ International Youth Leadership Council and international policy portfolio. In this capacity, Ariel is responsible for recruiting, training and supporting a council of US-based leaders who work to educate policy makers, mobilize peers, outreach to media, and speak at international conferences and related events through their campus-based organizations in order to advance the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people in the global south. Ariel is also responsible for advancing Advocates’ global and US foreign policy priorities through lobbing, coalition work, and engagement of the International Youth Leadership Council members as advocates in these efforts. Ariel takes a lead role in advocating at the UN level and has supported Advocates’ Girl Engagement Advisory Board, a group of adolescent girl activists who advocated for girls’ rights within the new Sustainable Development Goals.

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 and leadership initiatives and provided trainings on effective youth guidance and program development, assessment and evaluation. A former Board member of Advocates for Youth and Peer Educator of its YouthResource initiative, Ariel was born in Panama and raised in Portland, Oregon where he received his BA in Political Science from Portland State University.

Nicole Cheetham
Director, International Youth Health and Rights Division

Nicole Cheetham has over 20 years of experience working in international public health and oversees Advocates' international programs in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. Nicole also provides technical assistance and training to partner organizations in sub-Saharan Africa in support of adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health and rights program design and implementation. Core areas of expertise include youth-led advocacy, community mobilization, peer education, youth-friendly services, and parent-child communication. Nicole leads Advocates' international efforts on sexuality education, with expertise in training, instructional design, and curriculum review and has recently worked with UNESCO and UNFPA to develop and pre-test a teacher training module for use in East and Southern Africa. Nicole holds a Masters of Health Sciences in International Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of American Sexuality Education, and is fluent in English, Spanish and French.

Rachel Cooke
Associate Director of Communications

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 Cromwell
Communications and Online Campaigns Coordinator

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.

Laura Davis
Division Director, Teen Pregnancy Prevention and Adolescent Sexual Health Services

Laura Davis is Director of Adolescent Sexual Health Services at Advocates for Youth. She has both international and domestic experience, including more than twenty years of program planning, teaching, training, and organizational development in the field of reproductive and sexual health. She is the former manager of a mall-based family planning clinic for teens and has worked as a consultant with International Planned Parenthood Federation and the United States Agency for International Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. She is the co-author (with Dr. Claire Brindis and Susan Pagliaro) of Communities Responding to the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (Advocates for Youth, 1998) and Protection as Prevention: Contraception for Sexually Active Teens (National Campaign, 2000).

Rosanna Dixon
Senior Manager of Social Innovation Design

Rosanna designs and builds campaign-specific websites and print materials while maintaining the visual consistency and vibrancy of Advocates' brand throughout. She is an alumni of the socially-oriented design workshop Project M and contributed to the spin-off project PieLab. Rosanna received a Bachelors of Fine Art in Graphic Design from the Corcoran College of Art + Design.

Yvonne Gaither
Associate Director, Finance and Administration

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
Director of Sexuality Education and Training

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.

Rana Holland
Executive Secretary

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
Manager, State Policy and Partnerships

Sophia Kerby is the State Policy & Partnerships Manager 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. Prior to Advocates, 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. Sophia is originally from New York and holds a B.A in Government and Politics from University of Maryland-College Park.

J. L.
Director, Information Technology

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 Marr
Reproductive Justice Law & Policy Fellow

Abbey is Advocates for Youth's 2014-15 Law Students for Reproductive Justice Law & Policy Fellow. She works to advance federal reproductive and sexual health policy, focusing heavily on the ability of young people to access and consent to the full range of reproductive health care services. Abbey recently completed her term on the Board of Directors of Law Students for Reproductive Justice and serves as a volunteer case manager for the DC Abortion Fund. She graduated in 2009 from George Washington University with a degree in Political Science and Women's Studies and is a 2014 graduate of Harvard Law School. In college, she worked with Advocates for Youth as a public policy intern and member of the International Youth Leadership Council. Between college and law school, Abbey worked for the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.

Julia Reticker-Flynn
Director, Youth Organizing & Mobilization

Julia Reticker-Flynn is the Youth Activist Network Manager at Advocates for Youth, where she works with young people across the country to advocate for cultural and policy change that supports young people’s sexual health and rights.  Since starting at Advocates in 2010 she has trained over one thousand young people on grassroots organizing skills, mobilized thousands to take action on federal policy initiatives to protect young people’s sexual health and rights, and launched the 1 in 3 campaign to destigmatize abortion and promote access to abortion services.  Julia sits on the Board of Directors of Nursing Students for Choice.  She graduated from Georgetown University Phi Beta Kappa, with a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service and certificate in Justice and Peace Studies.

Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes
Director, Public Policy

Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes is the Director of Public Policy, where she oversees Advocates' international, federal and state policy strategy and advocacy efforts on a wide range of reproductive and sexual health/rights/justice issues that affect young people. Since being at Advocates, she has managed the Cultural Advocacy and Mobilization Initiative (CAMI) where she assisted state partners and youth activists in building advocacy strategies and passing proactive sex education policies in states, including Colorado and Broward County, Florida - as well as provided intensive technical assistance for over 25 state-based organizations/coalitions in order to improve the youth reproductive sexual health/rights policy in their communities. Her expertise and work at Advocates continues to be working with coalitions, advocates and youth activists on policy analysis, policy advocacy strategy, grassroots campaigns, and youth/adult partnerships. Diana has been working in social justice movements for nearly a decade - with both grassroots and grasstops stakeholders - primarily around issues that affect women, young people, communities of color, and the LGTBQ community. Prior to Advocates, Diana worked directly with women state legislators and Members of Parliament, facilitating strategic planning sessions on women's human rights issues. Her passion lies in facilitating and creating intentional spaces for not only social justice, but also for creativity and radical 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 Women's Studies.

Jen Stark
Director of Development

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
Program Manager, School Health Equity

Mary Beth manages the School Health Equity Project within the department of Health and Social Equity. Her charge is to assist 19 State Education Agencies (SEAs), funded under the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's 1308 cooperative agreement Promoting Adolescent Health Through School-Based HIV/STD Prevention and School-Based Surveillance, to increase the provision of sexual health education within priority school districts and across their states. Mary Beth provides technical assistance and capacity building assistance to the 19 SEAs to support the identification and implementation of sexual health education curriculum, provision of professional development to teachers and increasing awareness and justification of sexual health education policies to school districts throughout their state. Mary Beth also facilitates the All Students Count Coalition whose focus is to improve LGBTQ inclusion on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) in states and municipalities across the country. In which in 2014 the sexual orientation questions were moved to the core questionnaire. With over 10 years of experience working in the educational setting at the school or district level, Mary Beth's passion is to ensure the provision of education to youth so they can make informed healthy decisions and provide adults with the training and skill development necessary to assist youth with this process. A Chicago native, while working for Chicago Public Schools, she was instrumental in passing the comprehensive Sexual Health Education policy, development of K-12 sexual health education curriculum aligned with the National Sexuality Education Standards, lead trainer for providing sex ed professional development and building collaborative partnerships. Mary Beth has a B.S in Elementary Education from the University of Iowa and a MPH in Community Health Practice from DePaul University. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist.

Wesley Thomas
Program Coordinator, LGBTQ Health and Rights

Wesley Thomas is the Program Coordinator for LGBTQ Health and Rights. He assists the Health and Social Equity department to increase the capacity of targeted local education agencies and community based partners to improve their programs, policies, and environments to meet the needs of young men of color who have sex with men. He supports and coordinates the Anti-Homophobia and Transphobia Project, as well as oversees the mobilization and training for YouthResource, Advocates’ youth leadership program for LGBTQ youth. Wesley currently holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from Temple University. A Philadelphia native, he did previous work with community based organizations conducting HIV testing and counseling for gay men of color. He also facilitated educational programs that included topics around HIV/STI, prevention techniques, stigma in the gay black community, as well as contraception and teen pregnancy.

Shomya Tripathy
Youth Activist Network Coordinator

Shomya Tripathy plays a major role coordinating the Campus Organizing Team and the 1 in 3 Campaign student activists. Prior to working at Advocates, Shomya worked at the New Organizing Institute as the Senior Organizer in Chicago, running free trainings in the city to ensure that organizing skills were more accessible to women and communities of color. She also served as the Community Manager at STAND, a student-led organization to end genocide. Shomya graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelors in Political Science and Black Studies.

Cheryl Tutt
Project Manager,Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Cheryl has more than 10 years of experience in project management/administration, training and technical assistance, education and the child welfare arena. As a former juvenile probation officer and social worker, she provided intensive case management, crisis intervention and rehabilitative services to at-risk youth and families. She has also developed curriculum on youth engagement, collaborated with state, local and federal organizations to implement policies and procedures to develop sustainability plans and provided technical assistance to help those organizations build their capacities to effectively service communities of color. She has a Master’s of Social Work degree from George Mason University and Bachelor’s of Social Work from James Madison University. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree from Argosy University in Organizational Management and Leadership.

a youth-driven communityworking for change
Apoyo para Jóvenes GLBTQ
for Spanish-speaking GLBTQ youth
by and for young women of color
by and for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth
a grassroots movement to start a new conversation about abortion
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