Afelia immigrated to the United States at the age of 14. During her high school years, she volunteered at La Clinica de La Raza and Planned Parenthood. She later earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology where she found her interest in quantitative research and data analysis. As one of her senior projects, she focused her quantitative research to the effects of historical residential segregation on socio-economic and racial inequality. Afelia is excited to serve the LGBTQ+ community by providing her research and data analysis skills. She believes data is an important tool to provide insight and drive action towards the endless battle of the LGBTQ+ community.
Ali Michael Cannon
Associate Director of Adult Programs and Training
Ali Michael Cannon (he/him) grew up in the San Fernando Valley outside of Los Angeles, CA. Throughout his education management career and in his social justice activist life, he’s been a bold and courageous leader fighting for the rights and dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folx. He earned a B.A. and an M.A. in Feminist Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz and San Francisco State respectively.
He has spent much of his career in the field of youth education. Prior to coming onboard with Rainbow CC, he worked as an Equity and Expansion Strategic Consultant partnering with nationally and regionally recognized organizations to support clients to create institutional change including working with partners to advance their LGBTQ+ equity lens.
Prior to his consulting work, he served San Leandro Unified as a School District Administrator, managing state and federal grants that improved the lives of youth without equal access to education. In that role he served as the Homeless and Foster Youth Liaison and led the district in re-visioning its Safe Schools LGBTQ+ work. For over 20 years, he worked as a nonprofit education manager serving youth and adults throughout the region.
Cannon is an expert in building strategic partnerships engaging a wide variety of cross-sector stakeholders. His work as a courageous visionary has transformed organizations both as staff and seasoned Board Member. He has served on the Board of local and national non-profits stewarding organizations to fulfill mission and vision. He currently serves on the Emeritus Board of Our Family Coalition, the governing Board of Kehilla Community Synagogue, and is a founding Board member and Treasurer for The Clifton House.
Ali is a writer, organizer, activist, and public speaker and a recognized leader in the transgender community. For the past 35 years, he has been invited to speak on various panels and organized numerous conferences and events for the LGBTQI+ community. A proud husband and father, he lives in Oakland with his wife, an OUSD principal, and their teenage son. Chosen family is a vital part of his relationship to building and sustaining queer community.
Junior Youth Outreach Coordinator
Bianca is chicanx, non-binary and bisexual individual. They went to Walnut Creek Intermediate where they started the GSA club. That’s where their love for helping others and trying to make the world a better place started. They began coming to youth group in March 2016. Then in 2017 they started the Rainbow Youth Leadership Project for three months along with some other resilient individuals. They spoke on panels and facilitated some workshops at the Welcoming Schools and Committees Summit/ Rainbow High. That was just a taste of all the lovely things they wanted to do. Bianca knew, from the first day of youth group when they were making tea and flower crowns, that they were going to work there one day. This was their dream job at age 13 and they are beyond excited for the endless opportunities at Rainbow when it comes to understanding their community and their needs. As a freshman, they were a representative of Latinos Unidos; as a sophomore, they were treasurer; and as a junior and senior year, they became president and changed the name to Latinx Unidos.
Carol Osmer Newhouse, LCSW
Carol (she/her Pronouns) identifies as Lesbian and Queer, and. comes to Rainbow with over 30 years of clinical experience. She has worked as a Therapist in Private Practice and in agency settings as Program Director, Training Director, and Clinical Director of a community based Mental Health Agencies. Currently Carol provides Clinical Supervision of Psychology students, and therapists in training for Licensure: Clinical Social workers, Licensed Professional Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists. She has worked in this capacity at John F. Kennedy University, Pacific Center for Human Growth, and Rainbow Community Center. Carol assists therapists in finding their clinical confidence, expertise, and particular skill in working with the LGBT+ community, and other marginalized populations. She works from a place of authenticity, presence and mutual empowerment.
HIV Prevention Manager
Christian was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico. He immigrated to the United States when he was 12 and eventually attended Alhambra High School. After graduating, he earned Makeup Artist and Hair certifications from NY Makeup Academy in San Jose, CA.
As a teenager Christian discovered the Rainbow Community Center (RCC) Youth Program, where he gained the strength and confidence to be himself. Christian always valued giving back to his community, so he became a volunteer at the RCC for over a year. While participating and volunteering at the RCC, Christian became passionate about LGBTQ+ sex education and HIV prevention.
While at the RCC, Christian went on to work as an HIV Prevention Specialist and Youth Outreach Counselor. In addition, he now has the opportunity to coordinate the HIV prevention program at the RCC as the HIV Program Manager. As the HIV Program Manager, he focuses on group facilitation, HIV/STD testing, social media outreach, community events, and fundraising.
Christian believes that the “personal is political” and has been involved in several non-profit organizations around the Bay Area that focus on helping LGBTQ+ and undocumented folks such as Si a la Vida in San Francisco and The Sanctuary in Berkeley.
You might even find yourself at an event such as Drag Queen Story Hour at a local library or a Pride Stage in the Bay Area, where Christian’s drag queen persona, Bella Aldama performs. As always, remember to take a picture with Bella if you see her, she loves interacting with the community and being in front of the cameras!
Older Adults Program Manager
Christopher received his Bachelor of Science at Boston’s Northeastern University and an addition graphic arts degree at Epping Forest College, London, England. His most recent work experience was as a Program Coordinator for 140+ disabled/formerly homeless seniors in a supportive housing setting. Prior to that, Christopher lived in Zurich, Switzerland for 7 years and traveled extensively through Europe and Asia and taught English in Dharamsala, India.
Courtney Watson, MA, LMFT
Courtney Watson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist offering psychotherapy in her Oakland private practice. Courtney has 2 master's degrees, one in Human Sexuality and the other in Marriage and Family Therapy and she is completing her PhD in Human Sexuality. In 2018 Courtney expanded her solo private practice, Doorway Therapeutic Services, into a group practice of predominantly Queer, predominantly Black, 100% BIPOC therapists of color addressing the mental health needs of Black Indigenous People of Color, LGBQ, trans, non-binary, 2 spirit, otherwise gender expansive individuals and allies. There are 4 sex therapists in the group practice. Among other marginalized experiences, Doorway Therapeutic Services also offers a safe space for folks in non-monogamous relationships, kinky folks and sex workers. Folks that do not hold any of the above identities are also fully welcomed at Doorways! Courtney believes the field of psychology has done a disservice to people of color and it is essential that therapists of color provide psychotherapy that addresses the cultural complexity often missed in mainstream psychology. More recently Courtney has followed the direction of her ancestors to incorporate psychedelic assisted therapy to the services her group practice offers and emphasizes the importance of Black, BIPOC and Queer providers doing this work. When she's not watching Paw Patrol with her youngest child or doing art with her oldest child, she is kinda working on her dissertation and quite possibly taking a nap.
Cristina is the Volunteer Coordinator for the Rainbow Community Center. Her past endeavors range from being a bike messenger to earning an FCC License and broadcasting in Top Forty Radio. Raised in San Francisco, Cristina was also very much inspired by and always gravitated towards the Cultural Arts. The Mission Cultural Center housed a space of Arts, Dance and Music. There, Cristina was a student of Capoeira, silkscreening and Dance. "La Danza Azteka allowed me to give back to the community in a very spiritual way." The well being of Mind Body and Soul are very important to Cristina and has always felt a need to help others balance and navigate through tough times. Having moved from City to City in the last five years, Cristina has found herself in the East Bay helping the most marginalized such as the Rainbow Spectrum and would very much like to use her past experiences and skills for the greater good! "At this point in my life and the times that we are going through, it is Paramount that we invest in each others wellbeing."
Ginger Jule-Frost, LMFT
Ginger (she/her pronouns) is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who provided clinical services at Rainbow from 2014-2018, first as an MFT intern, then moving on to become Lead Clinician and School-Based Services Coordinator before taking a full time position with Contra Costa County Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health. Out of commitment to this community and to the work of this agency, she has returned to Rainbow offering support for the counseling team as a clinical supervisor. She hopes to empower newer clinicians to find their groove, increase their skills and confidence, and to empower the clients they serve. Identifying as queer herself, Ginger has focused her clinical experience within the LGBTQIA+ community, with particular concentration on transgender and gender expansive people. She recognizes the privilege in which she is situated in many respects as a Cis-White woman, and is a fierce advocate for social justice and human rights. Issues of diversity, intersectionality and social equity have always been of concern to Ginger, who strives to approach her role(s) with a culturally humble and trauma-informed lens. She has spent many years working with and advocating for youth, beginning in her previous career in Special Education, and places special emphasis on helping survivors of trauma and abuse. Ginger approaches her work with a collaborative spirit, from a perspective of resilience, strength and growth, and with respect for the powerful role of human connection. She views her own journey as one in progress and remains open to growth and learning. Ginger’s free time is spent with her beloved partner of almost 30 years and friends, appreciating nature, music and the arts. She is an animal lover, creative spirit, and activist.
Jessie Melina Garcia Gutiérrez
Clinical Case Manager Intern
Jessie (she/they) is a proud transgender Chicanx woman from Salinas, CA and is a second year student in the Master of Public Health/Master of Social Welfare concurrent degree program at UC Berkeley. After graduating from UCLA in 2018, she worked as the Trans* Empower Workforce Development Program Manager at a community clinic in South Central Los Angeles. In that role she assisted transgender patients with job readiness skills, job placement, legal gender and name change paperwork, and trained employers in Los Angeles on transgender competency to best support transgender workers. Her research interests include how institutions, systems, and organizations affect the mental health of transgender people of color. She aims to gain work experience working with LGBT+ individuals of color and their mental health in the hopes of becoming a therapist for transgender clients after she graduates.
Kadeth DarkStar, MA, MFTA
Kadeth (pronouns he/him and Sir) is a queer trans masculine artist and composer who fuses mythology, magic, shamanic arts and feminist theory with traditional psychotherapy to inform and guide his work. He is a Reiki Master Teacher and shamanic practitioner.
Kadeth received his Master in psychology from JFK University where he focused on neuropsychology, feminist perspective and mental health care for the transgender, non binary and BDSM community. His prior work includes school based domestic violence education and intervention, grassroots reproductive rights support and many years in the veterinary community focusing on emergency and critical care anesthesia.
Kadeth be found found in his glass studio liquefying and spinning colored glass into artwork with very large amounts of fire. He reads research papers on medicine, biology, psychology and astrophysics for fun.
“The good of the many outweigh the good of the few, or the one...and starts with the action of the one.”
Kiku, he/him pronouns, is an intersectional queer trans man originally hailing from Michigan and has been living and thriving with his partner in Oakland, CA since 2004. Kiku is an educator, trainer, and consultant engaging his human centered design thinking, with a visual arts background focused on diversity, equity, and expansion. Kiku has 30 years of experience with youth development and responsive community program design, outreach, implementation, impact, evaluation, and advocacy through a social justice lens. Kiku is independently and collaboratively adept at creating culturally and trauma-informed, accessible, affirming approaches and content for a wide variety of intersectional communities including LGBTQI+, People of Color, youth, and adults working across sectors including juvenile justice, education, mental health, community-based, and faith-based organizations. He has traveled the country educating on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Affirming Approach and Expansive Practices connected with the CDC funded handbook he authored that is open source. Kiku is a Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy, Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, Supporting LGBTQ Youth Program Fellow. He loves being in community with all folx with a special affection for the cat community. Kiku loves teaching mediums for expression like stained glass construction and is fascinated with how things work and embodying MacGyver at every opportunity! He's writing a book about his life journey through trauma and as a man of trans experience. Most importantly, Kiku knows liberation is found every time he gets on the dance floor!
Training and Curriculum Manager
Laura is a queer femme educator who brings 25 years of working with youth and their families through a healing centered, regionally informed, intersectional lens. She has trained cross-sector nationally, and developed curriculum to support educators, administrators, facilitators, and youth workers in providing restorative practices in their setting with a particular focus on serving LGBTQ+ youth. She most recently taught for 10 years where she was the Athletic Director, 8th grade advisor, and Social Emotional Learning curriculum writer and teacher. She also was the adult advisor to the GSA. Before teaching, Laura worked in the non-profit sector serving youth in Detroit, and later working to empower athletes of all abilities as the Vice President of Regional Sports at Special Olympics Northern California. In her free time she loves to swim, cook up new recipes in the kitchen, and explore the Bay Area with her amazing partner!
Letitia Bush is a proud mother who was born and raised in the East Bay. She brings with her more than 5 years’ experience in medical office management and mental health billing. In 2015 after graduating from Heald Business College, she started her career with Positive Results as a Billing Specialist and was quickly promoted to Senior Billing Specialist. Her background includes medical billing, mental health billing, and Office Administration. After 2 years of working at Mount Diablo Solano Oncology Group, she then went to work as a Mental Health Billing Specialist for REACH Project, and she’s currently working for Rainbow Community Center, where she truly enjoys working with the environment and community. Ms. Bush values understanding and supporting the community at Rainbow Community Center, and she is very passionate about helping others and bringing change to marginalized communities.
Housing and Youth Care Manager
Marcel is an active ally in the LGBTQ Community, Community Advocate, Restorative Justice Organizer, and Holistic Entrepreneur. He has professional and “lived-experience” in the Mental Health and Non-Profit industries as a Supervisor, Lead Trainer, Coordinator, Job Developer, and Start-up Co-Founder. Marcel embraces active listening, education, empathy, and empowerment in his current roles as Housing Youth Care Manager and Food Pantry Manager with Rainbow Community Center.
Youth Outreach Coordinator
Niq Muldrow is an unapologetic queer trans guy who lives for Social Justice. A freshman at Diablo Valley College, he is double majoring in social work and social justice. He is a 2017 recipient of the eQuality Scholarship for his activism in school as well as his work with GSA Network. They were a youth council member at GSA Network as well as represented Northern California at GSA Network’s National Gathering gathering in Columbus Ohio in August 2017. He will be receiving a Youth Activist Award in October from Queer LifeSpace for his work uplifting trans and queer people of color.
Parisa is a non-binary, mixed race queer from the Bay Area. They grew up attending LGBTQ+ youth groups in the South Bay, which inspired a continued commitment to social justice and healing work in the LGBTQ+ community. Parisa has experience working with college access nonprofits for low-income, first-generation students, as well as experience in school social work and mental health care for LGBTQ+ youth and adults. They graduated with a Masters' in Social Work from UC Berkeley and have a Master of Arts in Women’s History form Sarah Lawrence College, where they focused primarily on gender and sexuality studies. Parisa believes in the power of baking and cooking as healing tools for individuals and communities and is working on integrating these into their activist and mental health practices.
Philp Baker, MA, AMFT
Philip is a proud biracial gay man who grew up in Contra Costa and used to attend the Rainbow Center's youth group as a teenager. He attended UC Santa Cruz for his undergraduate degree before getting his master's degree in counseling at John F. Kennedy University. He loves the chance to support the mental health of LGBTQ+ teens, adults, and families in area, especially around working through trauma that many in the community experience. When he's not working, you can find him singing, cooking, dancing, or spending time with his dog, Iris.
Rae Messer, ASW
Rae is excited to serve the LGBTQIA+ community in Contra Costa County, where she grew up. Rae got her Masters of Social Work at Hunter University in New York, and is committed to supporting the mental health of LGBTQIA+ youth, adults, and families, including gender-expansive folx. Rae offers individual, couples and family counseling, as well as supports the Parents of Trans and Gender Nonconforming Children's Group. When Rae is not working, she enjoys sunshine, dancing, and dad jokes.
Raquel Stratton, CCC
Development and Communications Manager
Raquel comes to Rainbow with over 13 years of non profit experience. She loves connecting with donors and supporters, especially for Rainbow. Raquel also is a certified community coach and trained in all Stott Pilates apparatus. She comes to Rainbow with a variety of experiences and skills that helps her meet the many demands of role. Raquel loves exploring good music, food, Pilates, camping, hiking, film production, and having fun! She joined the Rainbow team in June 2019.
Associate Director of Housing and Youth Programs
Rasheedah has been an ally for the LGBTQ community for over 20 years and has worked in social services and social justice for over 25 years. Her work has focused on homeless adults, domestic violence and community mental health. Rasheedah has been a fierce advocate for housing homeless youth and adults, she spent over 10 years working in San Francisco shelters and Community Mental Health Services. Her advocacy in community mental health has been fighting for more mental health services like therapy and supportive employment. She holds a Masters Degree from New College of San Francisco in Women's Studies: Emphasis on Sexual Violence in Prostitution. Rasheedah has lived in the Bay Area for 35 years and moved from Santa Cruz to pursue work at Highland Hospital in County Mental Health. In her leisure time, she likes to ride bikes, walks on the beach and baking sweet potato pies and spinach lasagna. She has been an avid Bay to Breakers runner with three races under her belt and also has enjoyed bodybuilding in the past, and now enjoys kickboxing, pilates and walks in nature. She joined the Rainbow Community Center in February 2019 as Director of Youth Emergency Housing.
Rebecca (she/her pronouns) graduated from Mills college with a BA in Psychology, and a minor in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies, and from John F. Kennedy University with a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology. She identifies as pansexual, has a long history of working with non-profit organizations and LGBTQ+ activism, and specializes in alternative relationships and sexualities, such as polyamory and BDSM. She guides people through exploring gender, sexuality, and relationships, so they can feel safe and empowered to create the life they want. Rebecca is committed to serving our community through supportive clinical work, activism, and living a fully authentic life.
Ruby was born in Purepero, Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. when she was a year old. She was raised in Ceres, California and eventually went to school in Stanislaus University for three years. She studied abroad for a semester at Linneaus University in Växjö, Sweden where she met a diverse group of people that she grew close to. She then transferred to San Jose State University where she received her Bachelors degree in Advertising. She loves designing and hopes to use it to reach the LGBT+ community.
Sean Stefon Bell, AMFT
Sean Stefon Bell (he, him, they) is a visual artist and queer urban sci-fi novelist with 9+ years of experience in the mental health field prior to graduating from the Expressive Arts Therapy program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2018. As an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, Sean Stefon is currently working with queer, trans, and POC clients focusing on experiences at the intersection of race/ethnicity, gender, power, sexuality, sex, and expression. Clinically, Sean Stefon utilizes an eclectic range of frameworks from Trauma-Informed Care, Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory, Womanism, Afrocentrism, Liberation Psychology, and Social Constructionism. Furthermore, no matter the art form or intervention, Sean Stefon believes the magic can begin through the therapeutic relationship and when we work creatively in the metaphor.
As of the Fall of 2019, Sean Stefon has begun his doctoral studies in Human Sexuality at CIIS in order to expand knowledge around power, gender role strain, non-heteronormative sexualities, creative outlets for expression, self-care, liberation from an intersectional lens, and to build a practice as a sex therapist.