Staff

Name: Cassandra Benton

Position Title: Program Coordinator

Email: benton@hi4youth.org

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

Email: samayoa@hi4youth.org

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 22 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

Email: castrejon@hi4youth.org

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

Email: Minot@hi4youth.org

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

Email: cotton@hi4youth.org

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 understanding 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.

Name: Rob Strawder

Position Title: Health Educator

Email: Strawder@hi4youth.org

Phone: 415-274-1970

Credentials: Robert has worked with California Youth since 1990 when he first got into community outreach working as an after-school peer counselor in high school which inspired him to start a similar group at his church. Graduating from FIDM lead him to successful but dissatisfying career in fashion and he felt the need for purpose and was drawn to Social work. He got a counseling position in 2010 at Larkin Street Youth Services in SF’s Tenderloin at the Lark Inn, their dedicated Emergency Shelter and later moved to Lead Counselor of the G-House Transitional Living Program. He developed varied but interconnected programs such as Life Skills; to budgeting courses; to Cooking and kitchen safety classes; but always some fun is needed so he started a D&D gaming group night at both shelters. His life’s journey was thrown off course in 2012 he survived a house fire that caused 75% burns across his body and put him into a 6 week coma; when he awoke he had a new respect the preciousness of today. This lead to him working as a Burn Survivor group facilitator in 2014 with the Phoenix Society of Burn Survivors; where he continues to volunteer. Returning to higher education he completed his AA in History and Education from CCSF and has he heads on his path getting his teaching credentials from SFSU he stays appreciative of the life he is lucky enough to still enjoy. He brings his unique life experiences and inner city upbringing to help build up the youth he teaches to learn ways to value personal surviving trauma and how doing so develops inner strength. He often says “It gets better. That doesn’t mean it get easier.

Hobbies: Rob enjoys dancing, listening, and making, beats and rhymes. He also likes playing D&D and other co-op games with friends. Finding solace on his path to physical recovery he regularly works out at and does kinesiology and he can be found riding his 10 speed bike through the hills of SF.

Why is he at HIFY? Robert understands the value of self-worth and that achieving an identity that a person can be proud to claim is a different journey for everyone but that the goal is always the same- be a better you tomorrow than who you are today. He is inspired to help all youth but has a dedicated focus on helping young men to critically ponder aspects of our nation’s notions of masculinity and by doing he helps dismantle rape culture, prevent sexual assault, and end homo/transphobia, and the power of an inclusive community.

Name: Lena Murphy

Position Title: Health Educator

Email: Murphy@hi4youth.org

Phone: 415-274-1970

Credentials: Lena moved from Maryland to the Bay Area in 2019 after completing her B.A. in Media and Communications. She worked as an Inclusion Support Staff for youth for several years before going to school at University of Maryland- Baltimore County.  While in college she served as a Peer Health Educator and has continued to volunteer as a peer counselor and peer group facilitator. After years of working in retail management, Lena rediscovered her purpose of doing social justice work as a career- this led her to HIFY. She is passionate about working with LGBTQ+ youth..

Hobbies: Volunteering, participating in peer support groups, fiber arts (weaving crocheting, knitting), shopping second-hand and anything fashion related.

Why is he at HIFY? RLena is passionate about sharing her knowledge with youth so that they can make informed decisions for themselves. She aims to uphold HIFY’s 4 guiding philosophies in her personal and professional life.

Name: Erica Rosenberg

Position Title: Health Educator

Email: Rosenberg@hi4youth.org

Phone: 415-274-1970

Credentials: Erica has been working with youth for over 10 years, having taught sex education, preschool, and working at various camps. She received her BA in Sociology and Women Gender Studies from Sonoma State University, a Certificate of Sexual Health Education from City College of San Francisco and is currently working towards her Masters in Sexuality Studies at San Francisco State.

Hobbies: Running, going to concerts, spending time at the beach, and reading.

Why is he at HIFY? Erica loves to help others and teach. She believes that giving youth the autonomy and tools to make the best and safest decisions for themselves will ultimately lead to a better and safer community for all.