Females of African American Legacy Empowering Self

OUR TEAM

Do you know about us? This is who we are.


Marquisha Henderson, MPH, CHES

Marquisha Henderson, MPH, CHES
Project Facilitator

Marquisha Henderson, MPH, CHES, is a Linkage to Care Specialist with St. John’s Well Child & Family Center. She received her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from the University of Southern California with a concentration in health education/promotion and health communication. She is also an American Public Health Association (APHA) selected presenter for the 2015 annual conference. During her MPH academic tenure she was a Research Assistant for the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, Hollywood, Health, & Society and a School-Based Education Intern for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. She received her Bachelor of Arts (BA) from the University of California, Berkeley where she studied Cultural Anthropology. During her time at Berkeley, she served as the Community Health Worker for the African American Theme Program through the UC Student Health Center.

As a native Angeleno, she is passionate about using her public health knowledge to improve the quality of health of those within her community, especially individuals in the African diaspora. She is especially interested in sexual and reproductive health matters that affect African American women and empowering young African American women to harness and exercise their power, worth, and self-efficacy. Before entering into public health, she worked in public policy for the City of Los Angeles, Mayor’s Office. In her spare time she enjoys improving her craft of dance, having lazy beach days, and taking in the beauty of Los Angeles.



Nina Harawa

Nina Harawa, Phd, MPH
Principal Investigator

Dr. Nina Harawa is an Associate Professor with the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and an Associate Professor Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. Her research involves understanding trends in HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and developing effective, culturally relevant interventions. She has conducted innovative research with high-risk African American men, sexually active African American and Latina women, older adults, and incarcerated and post-incarcerated men and women. Much of this work has involved partnering with local governmental and community organizations. Dr. Harawa regularly shares her knowledge and findings by presenting data to community, church, policy, and academic groups. She is co-Director of the Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research, National Coordinating Center at UCLA and has received a number of awards for her community-based research and HIV education efforts, including an Unsung Hero Award from the NAACP in 2011. In her spare time she enjoys boxing, and yoga, and has a healthy sense of irony about this as well.



Raenisha Brown, LCSW

Raenisha Brown, LCSW
Intervention Supervisor

Raenisha Brown, LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has worked in the HIV field for the past 5 years. Her most recent position was at Children's Hospital Los Angeles establishing and coordinating a linkage to care program for young adults who are HIV positive. She has over 15 years of experience in the social service field and has worked in juvenile probation, child welfare, education, health care and foster care. She currently works with geriatric patients in a health care setting providing social work services and also works independently providing individual counseling services to individuals who are HIV positive. She received her BA in Political Science from UC Irvine and her MSW from San Diego State University. In 2012 she became licensed as a Clinical Social Worker in the state of California and is currently working towards establishing and opening a private practice. Her hobbies are baking, scrapbooking and traveling.



Jason McCuller

Jason McCuller
Data Manager

Jason McCuller, M.A., is Research/ Data Manager at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, CA. He has over 10 years of experience in research and statistical analysis for both qualitative and quantitative studies. Mr. McCuller is published in numerous peer reviewed scientific journals and has presented nationally on work related to HIV/STD prevention and substance abuse related issues. His hobbies include golf, exercise, cooking and being a mentor for youth in the community.



Sam Gonzalez, MA

Sam Gonzalez, MA
St. John’s Well Child and Family Center Project Leader

Samuel Gonzalez is a Medical Anthropologist and public health professional who has served underprivileged communities in Los Angeles County for over 8 years. Samuel currently serves as the the HIV/HCV Program Manager at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center in South Los Angeles. As Program Manager, Samuel operates seven grant-funded programs and two specialty medical clinics. He is most interested in how policy and management of health care systems affect the health outcomes of individuals living in underserved communities, such as South Los Angeles

He earned has a Master’s in Medical Anthropology from the University College London and a Bachelor’s in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley. His research experience includes the distorted perception of HIV and HIV care in social media (specifically in Los Angeles, San Francisco and London, England), and improving linkage to care for newly diagnosed men who have sex with men in Los Angeles County by looking at psychosocial barriers. More recently, he has worked to develop the framework to test and treat Hepatitis C (HCV) in a community clinic setting in South Los Angeles and testified to the California State Senate and Assembly in order to reduce barriers patients face when attempting to receive medical care.

Samuel’s mission is to reduce the stigma and prevalence of HIV and HCV in underprivileged communities of Los Angeles.

Carolyn Belton

Carolyn Belton
Interviewer and Facilitator

Carolyn is a Linkage to Care Specialist with St. John’s Well Child and Family Clinic. After several years in the Financial Services industry it became apparent to her that her true passion is community service, particularly as it relates to minority women. She has volunteered in the LA community for over 15 years working with women to empower themselves to make better life choices. Carolyn says, “I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by strong women, and it is these women that have paved the way and set the groundwork to prepare me for the work that I am so excited to be able to perform in my community. I am very excited to be a part of the FemAALES team and look forward to meeting and interacting with the women that will be a part of this ground breaking study.”

She currently hold a BS in Psychology and a Masters in Human Services.



Aiwe Okungbowa

Aiwe Okungbowa
Research Project Assistant

As the research assistant on the project, Aiwe makes sure we have what we need to keep all aspects of the project running smoothly not only with participants, but also with our back end data management. She has a B.S. in Public Health and is currently working on her M.S. in Health Care Management, both from Cal State Los Angeles, where she was also a guard on the CSULA Golden Eagles basketball team.

Previously, she interned at JWCH Institute for the LAST (Los Angeles Substance Abuse Treatment) program: conducting outreach, helping coordinate group sessions, as well as doing quality assurance and coding for LODi, JWCH’s Ladies of Diversity Program helping connect HIV positive women of color to medical care.

In her spare time Aiwe spends a time skyping with her sister abroad, studies, sleeps, and hangs out with her roommates. She also talks to her mother every day.



Qiana Montazeri

Qiana Montazeri
Study Director

Qiana has a BS in Political Science and has spent her entire career working in either social services or social and health research in Los Angeles. Her research projects have included health studies of kids in juvenile detention, middle school drug and alcohol prevention programs, gay men’s risk behavior studies, and studies of refugee health. Before she did research, she helped coordinate after school enrichment programs in LA public schools, and served a year as an Americorps volunteer at Habitat for Humanity, Los Angeles.

She helps run the daily operations of the FemAALES project and makes sure things are running smoothly in the field. When she’s not working, she’s studying to receive her Master of Public Health (MPH) from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, with a dual focus on management and maternal & child health. Specifically, she’s interested in how technology and communications improve lives here in LA and in underserved communities around the world.

If she’s not studying, she spends time with her friends and family, listens to music, goes to movies, and tries to be outside enjoying LA’s beautiful weather.



Krystal Griffith, MPH

Krystal Griffith, MPH
Communications and Media Volunteer

Krystal Griffith obtained her B.S in Natural Science from Loyola Marymount University in 2010. After obtaining her undergraduate degree she worked as a research assistant for almost three years in the Geriatrics department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). During her time as a research assistant, Ms. Griffith worked on a number of studies including the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA-Stress Study), Study of Family Health, and Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS). In 2013 Ms. Griffith left her position at UCLA to work towards obtaining her Masters in Public Health with an emphasis in Health Promotion Disease Prevention at California State University Fullerton (CSUF), which she earned in 2015. While completing her graduate degree Ms. Griffith worked as a graduate research assistant at CSUF, as well as a clinical research coordinator for Southern California Oncology Research Alliance (SCORA). Currently, Ms. Griffith is the project manager of the Community Partnered Participatory Research Network (CPPRN) study at the UCLA Center for Health Services and Society.

During her spare time Krystal likes to work out, spend time with family/ friends, and watch documentaries on human injustices, disease epidemics, and inspirational biopics.



Markesha Ellerson

Markesha Ellerson
Student Volunteer

Markesha Ellerson is a FeMAALES volunteer and in the Health Care & Life Science Program at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. She is studying to become a Community Health Administrator. She is the first president of the CDU's Yoga, Health, & Fitness Club, the youngest vestry member of St.Philips Episcopal Church, and the Young Adult Community Outreach Representive for Canterbury USC Board of Trustees of Los Angeles, CA. Markesha is an avid promoter for developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. She enjoys yoga, tennis, R&B music, as well as runway, print & commercial modeling.

We wouldn’t have been able to do the work we do today without the work of our Community Advisory Board (CAB), JWCH Institute, and these members of the FemAALES family

Rae Shaw

Rae Shaw

Sergio Avina

Sergio Avina

Dr. John Williams

Dr. John Williams

Geneva Boyce

Geneva Boyce

LaNeatra De Hughes

LaNeatra De Hughes

Roxanne Lewis

Roxanne Lewis