Name: Cassandra Benton

Position Title: Program Coordinator


Phone: 415-274-1970 x0045

Credentials: Cassie has been working with HIFY since 2005, and since then has presented over 133 workshops, reaching over 1,550 youth. She received over 70 hours of intensive training on Health and Youth Development, Latin@s Health and Youth Development, Positive Sexuality, Working with LGBT youth, Substance Use and Youth, and Harm Reduction.

Hobbies: Reading romance novels, blowing bubbles, and catching up with friends in her spare time.

Why is she at HIFY? Cassie enjoys the works she does with youth, believing that she’s building up her community, learning new skills and making friends along the way.

Name: Elizabeth Samayoa

Position Title: Executive Director


Phone: 415-274-1970 x0021

Credentials: Elizabeth came to HIFY initially as Director of Finance and Administration in 2008. When HIFY’s Executive Director left the organization for health reasons, Ms. Samayoa ably stepped in and continues to lead the organization. Ms. Samayoa has over 21 years of Non-Profit Program Management and Finance experience at health & social services organizations.

She has held various positions including Finance and Personnel Director, Program Manager, Fiscal Officer, Director of Finance and Administration among others. She has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University at Hayward, a certificate of Non-Profit Management and a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration.

Name: Gladys Reyes

Position Title: Program Coordinator

Phone: 415-274-1970 x0028

Credentials: She holds a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences, with a concentration in Neurobiology and Behavior from Cornell University. She is bilingual in Spanish and English. She has been involved in safer sex advocacy groups for more than 5 years.

Hobbies: reading fiction, playing soccer, walking to new places, going to the theater, and watching action/rom-com/sci-fi.

Why is she at HIFY? To help youth learn about positive sexuality, safer sex practices, anatomy and physiology, and to promote social justice in and outside the classroom.

Name: Sheena Castrejon

Position Title: Bilingual Health Educator


Phone: 415-274-1970 x0020

Credentials: Sheena Joined HIFY as a Peer Health Educator in 2006. She was a Peer Health Educator at HIFY for 2 years. In 2007 she also got the opportunity to hop on board with WORLD (Women Organized to Respond to Life threatening Diseases) as one of their peer health educators. Sheena then took a maternity leave for a year, and had the opportunity to come back to HIFY as the Bilingual Health Educator. She has been here for almost 5 years.

As she returned to HIFY after her 1st child she became very interested in teen pregnancy. Sheena now is working on a curriculum for youth on pregnancy options and parenting. She is very passionate in the work that she is currently doing. She feels there is a strong need in the Latina/o community on sexual health, as well as in the young community on teen pregnancy. Sheena is also very interested in working with kids with mental, and some physical disabilities, and hopes to work with both populations at some point.

Why is she at HIFY? Sheena is at HIFY because she believes in empowering youth to make better choices than the ones she has made. She believes that adults could help youth by communicating with them in their own language, and by being open on important health topics.

Name: Leslie Minot

Position Title: Grant Writing and Reporting Consultant


Phone: 415-274-1970

Credentials: Leslie Minot has worked in the nonprofit sector for more than 20 years supporting fundraising, research and writing, and program evaluation efforts in organizations addressing health, youth development, LGBT civil and human rights, and environmental justice. This includes stints as Development Director at the then International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (now OutRight Action International) and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

Hobbies: .

Why is she at HIFY? She is here because she wants to help HIFY leverage data strenghten programs outcomes and advance HIFY’s mission.

Name: Alexander Cotton

Position Title: Program Coordinator


Phone: 415-274-1970 x0036

Credentials: Alexander has worked with Bay Area youth since 2006, at non-profits focusing on workforce development, youth empowerment, green jobs, sexual health, and college access. His background is in community organizing and political activism, and he strives to bring a social justice lens to all his professional and personal projects. He graduated in 2013 from San Francisco Sex Information’s 60-hour sex educator training course, and holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Michigan.

Hobbies: Designing and playing games, volunteeting and political activism, crafting, and exploring.

Why is he at HIFY? Alexander believes that regardless of the hurdles they face, young people who come to a healthy and self-reflective udnerstanding of their own bodies and sexuality will have more fulfilling lives. He is inspired to work together with young men to challenge our society’s understanding of masculinity and thereby to fight rape culture, sexual assault, and homo/transphobia.

Shawnsimon Name: Shawn Simon

Position Title: Health Educator / Queer Trans Youth Center Coordinator


Phone: (510) 472-6160

Credentials: Shawn uses all pronouns except for “it” and has been involved with the queer community since the age of 16. His first involvement in the queer community was as a GSA member in junior year. By senior year, they were the GSA president and a member of a student health group called “Youth Educating and Advocating for Health” (Y.E.A.H.). From there, she became a member and later president of the Housing Council “Queers and Allies” and the club “Queer Student Union” at Humboldt State University. She was also the Fiscal Coordinator for Humboldt State’s “Eric Rofes Multicultural Queer Resource Center”, “Women’s Resource Center”, and a volunteer for Humboldt Pride. While living on campus at Humboldt State, Shawn was a Living Learning Community Advisor to the Gender-Neutral Community and later became a Community Advocate for that floor, as well as two others. He has a B.A. in Political Science with an emphasis in Advocacy and Institutions and a minor in Psychology.

Hobbies: They enjoy playing video games, roleplaying games, running, going to the gym, hiking, singing, dancing, poetry, and theatre.

Why they’re at HIFY? Shawn is here to help assist the youth in their growth and to give themknowledge that they can apply to themselves and their communities. She is also here to learn and unlearn from both their coworkers and the youth.

Ochoa Name: Barbara Ochoa

Position Title: Health Educator/QT Youth Center Coordinator


Phone: 510-274-1970

Credentials: Barbara Ochoa is a kuir Guatemalan Maya boi haling from LA where their passion for queer/trans youth justice first sparked. For 6 years, they supported movements and organizations throughout the Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Bay Area addressing issues such as homelessness, immigration, and education. Barbara is a recent alumnus of the University of Utah having received two Bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Writing & Rethoric. During their time as an undergrad, they collaborated closely with the LGBT Resource Center and the Queer Students of Color group by facilitating workshops and participating in panels surrounding the intersections of gender, race, sexuality, and class. Before joining HIFY, Barbara worked in the Salt Lake City School District with middle school youth through the Dreamkeepers Project, a program that utilized performance as a medium to catalyze identity empowerment and creative expression. Their continuous commitment to work with and within communities that fight against oppresive regimes can be demonstrated throughout their work. And they hope that by cultivating intentional spaces where queer youth, people of color, and gender variant folx can find community with heighten solidarity and love for one another.

Hobbies: Discovering self care processes, playing roller derby, performing poetry and prose, supporting community, and getting lost in music.

Why they’re at HIFY? Barbara aspires to work with organizations that seek to support and respect the autonomous power of youth. As a result, joining the HIFY family has garnered them the ability to facilitate programmingthat encourages leadership, discussion, and resilency among youth.

Name: Alina Labrador

Position Title: Health Educator


Phone: 415-274-1970

Credentials: Alina is a transplant from Puerto Rico by way of North Carolina, with a diverse background in industrial design, editing, and publishing. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and is a Clinical Psychology graduate student. Alina graduated from San Francisco Sex Information’s 60-hour sex educator training in 2016 and is interested in making behavioral health and health professionals queerer, consent-oriented, and sex-positive

Hobbies: Thrift-stores, puzzle games, cooking, climbing, things that involve power tools. Likes typography and seaweed snacks. Dislikes poor research methodology.

Why is she at HIFY? Alina believes knowledge can empower youth to shape their lives, disrupt harmful narratives, promote diversity, demand better health care, and own their sexualities with autonomy and joy.

Name: Navy Bastiaans

Position Title: Health Educator


Phone: 415-274-1970

Credentials: Navy has been working with youth for over 10 years. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in health education. Her varied professional experiences include developing curriculum and teaching workshops with the goal to empower young women and facilitate school transitions. Before coming to HIFY, Navy worked in Southern Texas providing a multitude of services to unaccompanied, undocumented minors. Her experiences working with these resilient young people from South and Central America shaped her desire to advocate for justice and support marginalized immigrant groups. In the Bay Area, Navy’s work with HIV positive young adults led her interest in focusing on health education for youth in the areas of: gender identity, harm reduction, and personal empowerment. Navy is proud to be the daughter of a queer Latina mother and supports justice for all families.

Hobbies: You can always find Navy with her two dogs by her side, laughing with family and friends, cooking and creating new recipes where she draws from her Dutch/Indonesian and Mexican heritage, working on mixed media art projects and ‘awwing’ at every animal she sees.

Why is she at HIFY? Navy grew up in a rural northern California town, where sex education in schools is limited to an “abstinence only” curriculum. She saw firsthand the negative impact on health and well being that comes from a lack of information and resources. Navy was excited to find HIFY, a progressive agency that positively impacts lives by offering accurate information and opportunities to talk openly, without judgement or fear, about real life issues. She believes in HIFY’s approach in communicating honestly with youth and having genuine conversations about significant issues such as sexuality, substance use, overcoming trauma, and understanding the impacts of oppression and privilege. Navy is proud of the opportunities that HIFY has given her to expand her own knowledge and to make a difference in the social, emotional and physical health of youth and the community.

Name: Kristan Olazo

Position Title: Health Educator Intern


Phone: 415-274-1970

Credentials: Kristan is from Pittsburg, CA and has lived in Daly City/SF for the past 8 years. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Physiology from San Francisco State University. Kristan is currently back at SF State for her Master’s in Public Health.

Hobbies: self-care activities that involve eating good food, lifting weights, and spending time with her dog.

Why is she at HIFY? Kristan wants to learn the issues that youth are facing in the Bay Area and gain skills to create leadership, empowerment, and agency.

Name: Maya Peers Nitzberg

Position Title: Health Educator Intern


Phone: 415-274-1970

Credentials: Maya graduated from Middlebury College in 2017, where she graduated with a BA in Religion and spent three years working with youth and adults at a local homeless shelter. Maya is currently enrolled in San Francisco Sex Information and has spent a year learning about and working in the field of positive sexuality.

Hobbies: When she’s not working/volunteering/hanging out in/thinking about queer and sex-positive community, Maya spends her free time doing criminal justice reform work, listening to the Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast and reading and writing poetry.

Why is she at HIFY? Since relocating to the Bay Area in 2016, Maya has been lucky enough to stumble into the city’s queer and sex-positive community. As a result, she has developed a passion for creating and facilitating anti-oppression and positive-sexuality education in any capacity, and especially for youth. Maya believes that young people deserve to connect with and explore their bodies and their brains!

Name: Bryce Chiodo

Position Title: Health Educator Intern


Phone: 415-274-1970

Credentials: Bryce is from Sacramento, California and has been in the Bay Area since 2010, where he attended the University of San Francisco obtaining a BA in International Studies. Prior to coming to HIFY, Bryce worked at a health care communications agency where he collaborated in the creation of a public health campaign highlighting the disparity in Hepatitis B among Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. Bryce also has experience working at an HIV/AIDS group in India primarily with high risk populations as well as youth education in Tel Aviv.

Hobbies: Travel, day trips, urban exploring, hiking, camping and political activism.

Why is he at HIFY? As a queer man, Bryce has seen first hand the impact proper sexual health education can have on empowering a community. Bryce was also drawn to HIFY’s harm reduction model and how they look at the issue of total health through the lens of a broad matrix of interconnected health issues confronting today’s youth.

Name:  Vanessa Huynh

Position Title: Health Educator Intern


Phone: 415-274-1970

Credentials: Vanessa is a SF native and graduated from San Francisco State University with a double major in Humanities and Spanish. As a first generation college grad and eldest of six, she is a firm believer in “it takes a village” while remaining resilient through self agency. She has over five years of experience working and empowering youth as a mentor, after school programs coordinator, and community liaison.

Hobbies: dancing to cumbia, face masks, eating, studying language, yoga, impulsive solo traveling, preaching and practicing self care with her friends and family.

Why is she at HIFY? Vanessa believes in youth empowerment through healthy dialogue, creating clear boundaries, and community support. She is especially passionate about women’s rights and hopes her work will empower young POC to be our future leaders in education, health care, and political activism.

Name: Laura Thatcher

Position Title: Health Educator


Phone: 415-274-1970

Credentials: Laura has 7 years of experience community organizing in the Bay Area.

They have a background in gynecological health education, mental health support, queer/trans empowerment, and organizing against political repression, and they hold a BA from UC Davis in Art Studio and Technocultural Studies. For several summers, they’ve volunteered at Bay Area Girls Rock Camp as a screen printing instructor and band coach, facilitating youth expression and collaboration through music and creative projects. They currently organize with Survived & Punished, supporting criminalized survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Hobbies: Spending time with friends and family, playing music, drawing and painting, watching movies, making zines.

Why they’re at HIFY? They’re here to support young people in making their own informed choices to build the lives they want to live.

Name: Dylan L. Pugh

Position Title: Health Educator Trainer


Phone: 415-274-1970

Credentials: Earned a bachelors of science in health education from San Francisco State University. For the past 7 years, they have worked various jobs as a health educator teaching sexual and reproductive health education as a full spectrum doula, HIV prevention educator and sexual health pleasure educator. They are a certifed doula and HIV/HCV test counselor and harm reduction. They have worked with youth for over 10 years.

Hobbies: Making art and listening to way too many podcasts.

Why they’re at HIFY? Because they strongly believe in the organizations core values; anti-oppression, harm reduction, positive sexuality and youth development.