Our fierce, creative, and talented team in Boston (in alphabetical order): Emilia Dunham (Study Coordinator), Victoria Love (Research Assistant), Nelisa Rash (Research Associate), Mick Rehrig (Clinical Supervisor), Jackie White (Project Manager). Investigators: Matthew Mimiaga and Sari Reisner. Consultants: Athena Kahn (Facilitator Consultant), Jaisyn Melenciano (Per Diem Recruiter)
Boston LifeSkills Staff Bios
Emilia Dunham, Study Coordinator
Emilia Dunham is the Study Coordinator of the Life Skills project at The Fenway Institute, an HIV intervention study for young transgender women. Emilia has been with Fenway for 3.5 years, first as a Quality Control and Regulatory Assistant mainly involved with biomedical HIV prevention trials, before serving as the Program Associate for The Network for LGBT Health Equity, a network instrumental in many national LGBT health policy improvements. She is also involved with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, serving as a Steering Committee member and the Policy Committee Co-Chair, an organization largely responsible for the recent passage of the Trans Rights Bill. Additionally she serves as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth. Emilia received a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University. There she served as President of the LGBTQ student group where she planned programs such as Pride Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and AIDS Week. In addition, she advocated for LGBTQ inclusive policies and programming on campus such as a Gender Neutral Housing program, an LGBTQ Center and the expansion of Women’s Studies to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Recently Emilia appeared in Campus Progress’ “15 Inspiring Young Female Activists.”
Victoria Love, Research Assistant
Victoria Love is a Research Assistant on the LifeSkills project in Boston. She is young but already has a strong passion for working in the LGBT community. She started at Fenway Health as a Dental Assistant a year ago after earning her Dental Assistant Certification in June 2011. Before joining Fenway Victoria has held several volunteer positions, such as the Lead Facilitator for BAGLY (Boston’s Alliance for GLBT youth)’s weekly gender identity group. Guided by her peers and with support from her family she started her transition early. Now she is doing all she can to give back to the community that helped mold her into the young woman she is today. Her enthusiasm and dedication is unmatched, and she prides herself on working with those who are marginalized, affected by disease and those who need help. Her kind, caring, and creative nature make her a perfect fit to work with such a diverse community of wonderful people.
Nelisa Rash, Research Associate
Nelisa Rash is a 22 year old Boston native, studying journalism at Bunker Hill Community College. It wasn’t easy for Nelisa growing up in Boston as the only gay child in a house of 5 straight brothers. The LGBT community has helped Nelisa develop into the strong, courageous and mature woman she is today, and she has done more than her share to give back. For years Nelisa has been educating and providing support for LGBT youth, especially gay and African American gay and transgender people. As a volunteer at TransCEND, a project of AIDS Action Committee, Nelisa has been a wonderful role model for other transgender women and she has been a strong advocate for those looking to advance their education, those involved in sex work, and those women looking to learn more about sexual health. Nelisa comes to Fenway with unmatched enthusiasm, keen interest to improve her skills and remarkable passion to help her community.
Mick D. Rehrig, Clinical Supervisor
Mick Rehrig, LICSW has been working at the Sidney Borum, Jr. Health Center and Boston GLASS Community Center since August 2009. His work includes supporting and affirming transgender/gender nonconforming, LGBQ, and marginalized youth in exploring coming out issues, HIV/AIDS, substance use and abuse, homelessness, safe sex and sexuality, depression, anxiety, trauma, internalized transphobia and homophobia, various forms of discrimination, family support, and relationship navigation. Mick has been facilitating a gender identity group (for people who identify anywhere on the gender spectrum) for youth at Boston GLASS since September 2009, providing support and affirmation, resources, one-on-one counseling, psycho education, and assisting youth in creating a positive sense of self and pride in themselves, each other, and their community. Harm reduction, respect, humor, and authenticity are an integral part of his work with young people. He is actively involved in advocating for transgender youth and adults, attends the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference every summer, and knows way too much about local transgender resources and national issues. Mick received his MSW from Boston College in 2009.
Jackie White, Project Manager
Jackie White, MPH, is an Epidemiology Projects Manager at The Fenway Institute. Jackie completed her BA in Psychology at Boston University and went on to receive her Master of Public Health in Health Education from the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. Currently Jackie serves as study coordinator for several Fenway studies including Project IMPACT, a NIDA-funded, randomized controlled pilot intervention to reduce HIV risk behavior among HIV uninfected men who have sex with men (MSM) who abuse crystal methamphetamine and more recently, LifeSkills, a NIMH-funded primary and secondary HIV prevention intervention for young transwomen. Her research interests include HIV/AIDS epidemiology and prevention, substance abuse, LGBT health and mental health.
About the Boston Investigators
Matthew J. Mimiaga, Principal Investigator
Matthew J. Mimiaga, ScD, MPH, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and the Director of Epidemiology in the Division of Epidemiology at The Fenway Institute, Fenway Health. He completed his Post-Doctoral training in Behavioral Medicine at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital and received his Doctorate from Harvard School of Public Health, majoring in Psychiatric Epidemiology, with minors in Infectious/Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and was awarded the Harvard University Presidential Scholarship. He has been working in the area of HIV prevention and sexual health for the past 15 years.
Sari L. Reisner, Co-Investigator
Sari Reisner, ScD, M.A., is on faculty as an Associate Research Scientist at The Fenway Institute, Fenway Health. He received his Doctorate from the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at Harvard School of Public Health concentrating in social and psychiatric epidemiology, quantitative methods, and human development. Reisner’s primary research interests include: (1) developmental and social determinants of mental health across the life course; (2) implications of mental health risk and resilience for physical health outcomes, particularly HIV/AIDS and cancer; (3) application of new methodologies to study the health of marginalized populations; (4) national and global transgender health. He is a member of the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS) sexual orientation and gender working group at Children’s Hospital (PI: B. Austin). He has co-authored more than 30 peer-reviewed journal articles and has presented his research nationally and internationally at scientific conferences. Reisner earned a Master’s degree from Brandeis University and a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University.
About LifeSkills Consultants
Athena Kahn, Facilitator
Athena Khan A.K.A, Mother Bulah has been working in the community for a while now, doing volunteer work and outreach and facilitation work as well. I worked for an LGBT youth of color organization called Boston Glass for a few years, doing workshops on Coming Out, HIV/AIDs/STI Prevention, Bullying, Homophobia, Tranphobia, Racisim, and many, many more things. Ms. Khan is also known for commentating Balls in Boston, NYC and other states and cities and putting balls together big and or small. Ms. Khan is considered a Beacon of Hope in my community for youth and young adults for them to know someone who cares, and that not everyone has given up on them. Ms. Khan commentated for the LifeSkills Ball in July 2012 and joined the LifeSkills team as a Facilitator of the LifeSkills group intervention. She also advises LifeSkills on effective community outreach
Jaisyn Melenciano, Per Diem Recruiter
Jaisyn Melenciano is a Per Diem Recruiter on the LifeSkills project at The Fenway Institute, an HIV intervention study for young transgender women. Jaisyn has been heavily involved in the Greater Boston area LGBTQ and particularly transgender communities and organizations for over a decade and is a leader and organizer in the Ball scene. Before joining LifeSkills Jaisyn participated in our Community Referral Program, co-sponsored our successful Skillz Ball in July 2012 and provided us with great advice on effective outreach strategies for our study recruiting young transgender women ages 16-24. Jaisyn’s many dedicated years of service to the community include positions at the Crittenton Women’s Union, Project Hope Boston and Boston GLASS/JRI. Additionally, he recent worked with BAGLY coordinating key pieces of their programming, so his connection there will be valuable.