2021 Speaker Bios

  • Tanya Bass, PhD, MEd, MS, CHES®, CSE

    Tanya Bass, PhD, MS, MEd, CHES®, CSE (she/her/hers) is the founder of the North Carolina Sexual Health Conference (NCSEXCON). She is an award-winning sexuality educator and subject matter expert in sexuality education, reproductive health, and health equity. She is unapologetically Black and committed to culturally relevant, socially just, and inclusive sexuality education.

    Dr. Bass is an alumna of North Carolina Central University’s Department of Public Health Education, where she has served as an adjunct instructor for several years. She is the lead instructor for human sexuality education. She completed her PhD in education at Widener University in the Center for Human Sexuality Studies.

    Dr. Bass remains committed to seeking professional development and is a member of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), the Association of Black Sexologists and Clinicians, the North Carolina Society for Public Health Educators, and the Women of Color Sexual Health Network (WoCSHN). She is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®), and an AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator (CSE).

    Nick Beard, PhD, Esq

    Nick has been part of The Center for Sex Education since 2017. She graduated from the University of Sussex with a PhD in law and gender studies and is admitted to the bar in New York. Nick serves on the board of directors of the Delaware Alliance Against Sexual Violence and the New York Coalition Against Sexual Assault. She volunteers as a special advocate for children in foster care and as a confidential sexual assault advocate with the YWCA of Northern New Jersey. Nick loves to bake, cheer on her beloved Philadelphia Eagles, and hike with friends in her free time.

    Terri Clark, MPH

    Terri is an accomplished public health advocate, trainer, program planner, and facilitator with nearly 30 years of experience. Her focus areas include human sexuality, specializing in LGBTQ issues, HIV prevention, sexual health, and older adult sexual expression. Terri manages a portfolio of projects that aim to improve understanding of these topics among diverse community members to reduce the knowledge gap and ensure inclusivity. Her portfolio includes projects that advance the field of sexuality and aging, including the sexual health of older adults and working with aging services providers to ensure inclusive, responsive services for LGBTQ older adult communities. Terri is co-author and co-editor of Orientation: Teaching about Identity, Attraction, and Behavior.

    Elizabeth Coulter

    Elizabeth Coulter is an advocate for gender equity and has spent her career working to advance this issue through electoral politics, healthcare and education in government, and public policy. She currently serves as the director of public health at Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey, where she leads policy work in access to care, COVID-19, gender-based violence prevention, maternal health, menstrual equity, and sex education. Elizabeth has previously held positions with members of Congress, the New Jersey Department of Health, and statewide political campaigns. She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree at Columbia School of International and Public Affairs. Outside of advocacy, Elizabeth loves musical theater, playing the piano, and spoiling her two rescue cats.

    Kirsten deFur, MPH

    Kirsten deFur is a sexuality educator, trainer, and curriculum developer specializing in using trauma-informed, sex-positive educational approaches, teaching about relationships, and preventing violence. Kirsten is the editor of The Center for Sex Education’s fourth edition of Unequal Partners: Teaching About Power, Consent, and Healthy Relationships. Kirsten also co-authored the second edition of Our Whole Lives: Grades 4-6 and the accompanying Parent Guide. She received her Master of Public Health from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in sexuality and health and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

    Diego Israel Espino

    During his tenure, Diego has served in many roles and capacities at Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and the Ohio Center for Sex Education, including community health educator, community education manager, state director of health education and outreach, and senior director of health education, outreach, and organizational development. In his current position as the vice president of community engagement, he has impacted many Planned Parenthood divisions, such as overseeing the newly formed marketing department; guiding the public affairs department during a time when lawmakers in Ohio moved to defund the organization; and engaging the community by implementing several new programs and forming new partnerships in the community.

    Justine Ang Fonte, MEd, MPH

    Justine Ang Fonte is the child of Philippine immigrants ​and a nationally recognized intersectional health educator, speaker, and consultant.​ She received her Master’s in Education in Teaching from the University of Hawai’i and her Master’s in Public Health in Sexuality from Columbia University. She was recently featured in The Atlantic, Business Insider, The New York Times, and NPR for her notable teaching career in sexuality education.

    On Instagram, she’s known as “Your Friendly Ghostwriter,” composing the texts you avoid sending about setting your boundaries. You can learn more about her career on her website (justinefonte.com) and follow her @ImJustineAF on Instagram and Twitter.

    Tracie Q. Gilbert, PhD

    Tracie Q. Gilbert, PhD (she/her/Thembi) is an educator, writer, researcher, and consultant who uses conversation to help achieve sexual wellness and healing for Black people, and racial justice in sex ed pedagogy. Using lectures, interactive workshops, and conversation series, Dr. Gilbert works to help communities unpack the mental, historical, and cultural barriers that keep us from having honest, productive conversations about sex and sexuality.

    Dr. Gilbert received her Master of Science in education at the University of Pennsylvania and her doctorate from the Center for Human Sexuality Studies at Widener University. At present, she conducts direct services through her independent agency, Thembi Anaiya, LLC.

    Bianca Mayes

    Bianca Mayes (she/ella) is the associate director of health equity at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Her expert knowledge and advocacy skills make her a dynamic facilitator on LGBTQ+, race and gender equity, and health disparities through an intersectional lens. She currently teaches human sexuality as an adjunct professor at Monmouth University. Bianca holds a Bachelor of Science in applied health and a minor in women and gender studies from William Paterson University of New Jersey. She also has a Master of Public Health degree from Montclair State University and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®).

    Katherine McLaughlin, MEd, AASECT

    Katherine McLaughlin, MEd, AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator, is the founder, CEO and lead trainer for Elevatus Training. As a national expert on sexuality and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, she trains professionals, parents and individuals to become sexual self-advocates and peer sexuality educators. She is the author of the curriculum Sexuality Education for People with Developmental Disabilities and two online courses: “Developmental Disability and Sexuality 101” and “Talking to Your Kids: Developmental Disabilities and Sexuality for parents”. Katherine has spent her 25+ year career committed to elevating the status of all people, which is why the name of her growing company is Elevatus Training.

    Cory M. Neering, MS

    Cory M. Neering, MS serves as President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central, and Southern New Jersey. A high-level thinker with more than 20 years of experience in leadership and management, Neering specializes in developing and building strong community alliances that promote local participation. Prior to his work in New Jersey, Neering worked for more than 20 years with Planned Parenthood affiliates in Florida. He began his career in 1998 as a sexual health educator, eventually rising to the roles of Director of Youth Development and Vice President of External Affairs.

    Dan Rice, MEd

    ​​As a leader in the field of sex education, Dan Rice has contributed to the writing of National Sex Education Standards, Second Edition, and co-chaired the committee that developed the Professional Learning Standards for Sex Education. He is the co-author of Foundations: Core Skills Training for Sex Education and a content expert for AMAZE.org. In addition to his work expanding national access to sex education, Mr. Rice has extensive experience working directly with youth in public and private schools, community-based organizations, foster programs, the juvenile justice system, communities of faith, teen-to-teen leadership programs, and mentoring groups. Mr. Rice’s expertise in sex education has led him to be a guest on NPR and quoted in the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and Rewire News Group. Mr. Rice is the executive director of Answer at Rutgers University and holds a Master of Education degree in curriculum and instruction from Western New England University.

    Deborah M. Roffman, MS, CSE, CFLE

    Named one of Time Magazine’s “Top Sixteen Parenting Experts for the 21st Century,” Debbie Roffman is a human sexuality educator, consultant, and author based in Baltimore, Maryland, where she has taught sexuality education in grades 3-12 at the Park School for more than 35 years. In addition to her constant writing and teaching, she’s worked with parents, teachers, counselors, and administrators at more than 400 schools and organizations across the country, and she’s published widely throughout the national media. Her newest book, The Science of Babies, for young children and their parents and teachers, will be published in early winter.

    Loretta J. Ross

    Loretta J. Ross joined the women’s movement in 1978 by working at the first rape crisis center in the country and learned about women’s human rights, reproductive justice, white supremacy, and women of color organizing. She also researched and fought hate groups such as the KKK in the 1990s, founded a national center for teaching people about their human rights, and co-founded SisterSong. Loretta wants to share what she has experienced with emerging activists in hopes that you will join the transformative human rights movement that has changed the world.

    Loretta is a principal partner with 14th Strategies Consultants, a public affairs strategic agency dedicated to helping organizations, universities, and corporations live up to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This team features experts on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), public relations and brand management, fundraising, and strategic and organizational development.

    Loretta currently teaches about the call-out culture and white supremacy as a professor at Smith College. She speaks, trains, consults, and lectures on many issues, including reproductive justice, appropriate whiteness, human rights, violence against women, and calling in the calling out culture.

    Loretta is the co-author or co-editor of Radical Reproductive Justice: Foundations, Theory, Practices, and Critique, Reproductive Justice: An Introduction, which was the number one listing in women’s studies on Amazon’s booklist in 2017, Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice, and she is the author of the forthcoming Calling In the Calling Out Culture. She joins the National Sex Ed Conference from Johannesburg, South Africa.

    Bill Taverner, MA, CSE

    Bill is the executive director of The Center for Sex Education, where he has begun his 24th year. He is the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Sexuality Education and the author or editor of more than 85 publications, including teaching manuals and curricula, college readers, journal articles, chapters, lesson plans, and other contributions in sexuality education. Bill has twice advocated for sexuality education at U.S. congressional briefings and has received national awards for his leadership in sexuality education: the Academy for Adolescent Health’s Social Justice Award for commitment to racial and social justice; the AASECT Book Award for editing the third edition of Teaching Safer Sex; AASECT’s first Schiller Prize for the best workshop using interactive strategies; the AASECT Sexuality Educator Award; Planned Parenthood’s Golden Apple Award for educational leadership; and a Sexual Intelligence award naming him named “one of the country’s pre-eminent sex educators, trainers, and sex education theorists.”

    Shemeka Thorpe, PhD

    Shemeka Thorpe, PhD, is a sexuality educator and researcher at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Thorpe is the co-founder of the award-winning platform The Minority Sex Report. Her research focuses on the sexual wellbeing of Black women using sex-positive and intimate justice frameworks.

    Ashley Townes, PhD, MPH

    Dr. Ashley Townes (she/her/hers) is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. She attended the University of Cincinnati, where she earned both her BS and MPH degrees, and she received her PhD in health behavior and epidemiology from Indiana University. Dr. Townes has experience working in local, state, and federal public health entities providing sexuality education and health resources. Dr. Townes works as an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education postdoctoral research fellow in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Townes’ research focuses on the sexual experiences of Black women, including partnered experiences, accessing health information, and utilizing sexual health services. Her career interests are aimed at improving sexual health equity through research and education.

    Christina Wright, MPH

    Christina Wright serves as the vice president of education for Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida. Mrs. Wright has been working in the public health sector for the past 13 years in a variety of capacities. She currently oversees the management and leadership work in implementing systems and program planning and development in the education department. Christina’s responsibilities include strategic planning, systems and program leadership, capacity building, and fiscal management. She assists in the oversight of the diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging committee. Mrs. Wright holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical science and a Master of Public Health degree from Florida State University.

    COVID-19 Fellowship Team

    Nicole Coello
    Nicole Coello (she/hers) is a senior at Kean University majoring in communications-public relations. Through Planned Parenthood Action Fund NJ’s COVID-19 fellowship, Nicole raised awareness in her community about the COVID-19 vaccine and reducing vaccine hesitancy. She hopes to continue to use her voice to advocate for public health, racial justice, and environmental justice.

    Chelsea Nwanne
    “My name is Chelsea Nwanne, and I am a recent HBCU graduate with a B.S in Biology. I’ve always had passion for science, public health, and health rights and am truly grateful for the opportunity to be in this space sharing bits of my passions with you all.”

    Whitney Smith
    “I graduated with my Associates in Psychology in summer 2021; I hope to continue my education and become a therapist who primarily works with women of color and the LGBT community. Working with PP has been the highlight of my summer!”

    Ashley Yovana Herrera
    “I am an undergraduate student at The College of New Jersey who is actively seeking to help our community through opportunities such as the COVID-19 fellowship.”

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