MISSSEY Team

Our Team

MISSSEY is comprised of individuals who are exceptionally positioned to serve our youth and raise awareness of CSE by bringing to the anti-trafficking table a wealth of experience, knowledge, and insight centered on supporting CSEC survivors and similarly disenfranchised populations. Each person on our team wholeheartedly believes that with the right opportunities and non-judgmental support, domestically trafficked youth can overcome the circumstances of their exploitation and lead fully enriched, empowered lives.

To reach a member of our team, contact her via email or call the main number, 510-251-2070.

 

 AishaPicInterim Executive Director

Aisha Mays, MD, aisha@misssey.org

Dr. Aisha Mays is a Family Medicine Physician who focuses on Adolescent Medicine. She practices in Oakland, California where her clinical work and research focuses on addressing the medical needs of youth who have been commercial sexually exploited (CSEC) . Dr. Mays designed and implemented the first school based health center screening protocol to identify youth affected by or at-risk of commercial sexual exploitation in the Alameda County public schools. As the former medical director of the Alameda County Juvenile Justice medical clinic, Dr. Mays worked with local and state CSEC serving organizations and is currently a member of the State of California CSEC Prevention and Training sub-committee, the City of Oakland CSEC Taskforce and the Oakland Unified School District CSEC Taskforce. Dr. Mays trains medical professionals throughout the country on the health implications of childhood commercial sexual exploitation. Dr. Mays is a clinical researcher at the UCSF Bixby Center of Global Reproductive Health, teaching faculty at the UC Berkeley / UCSF Joint Medical Program and has a clinical practice in the school based health centers at the La Clinica de La Raza in Oakland.

 

Senior Advisor

Holly Joshi, holly@misssey.org

Holly Joshi is an Oakland native who has been committed to the issue of commercial sexual exploitation for over a decade. As the supervisor of the Oakland Police Department’s Child Exploitation Unit, she crafted victim centered department policy, formed the city’s first joint trafficking task force with the FBI, and worked in collaboration with the Alameda County District Attorney, advocates, and survivors for the successful passage of Prop 35- California’s Anti-trafficking legislation. She served on Attorney General Kamala Harris’s Human Trafficking Task Force and has taught trafficking prevention, intervention, and response to law enforcement and service providers across the country.

Holly sees education as an important leverage point in our fight for equity. She holds a Master’s Degree in Leadership for Social Justice from St. Mary’s College and is currently a doctoral student in Educational Leadership. She believes in the resiliency and brilliance of young people and the transformative power of an informed and engaged community.

 

Director of Programs

Jakki Bedsole, jakki@misssey.org

As the Director of Programs at MISSSEY Inc., Jakki Bedsole oversees the direct services division of the organization and supports staff directly working with commercially sexually exploited children and transitional age youth. Previously, she led the development of the organization’s Transitional Age Youth program and has held other roles (including the position of case manager) within different programs for the organization.

Throughout her career, Jakki has worked with children, families and adults in the field of social work. She has served in a variety of roles and contexts including working with individuals experiencing homelessness, children in foster care and residential treatment facilities, in school systems, with domestic violence and substance overuse services as well as working directly with CSEC. Her work also includes community organizing, service coordination, management of special projects and research focused on the perceptions of best practices for serving CSEC. Jakki holds a B.A. in Sociology with an emphasis on Social Services from California State University, East Bay and a Masters of Social Work (MSW) from San Jose State University.

 

 Prevention and Outreach Manager

Jasmine Hawkins, jasmine@misssey.org

Jasmine Hawkins has been working in social services for the past seven years, with previous work experience including the Center for Young Women’s Development and Real Options for City Kids (ROCK).  Her roles have been diverse as program coordinator, community organizer, case manager, and direct services manager. These positions have prepared her for the difficult job of forming trusting relationships with exploited youth and empowering them to make their lives better. Jasmine’s wish is for all girls to have the tools to be self-sufficient.

 

Grants and Operations Associate

Learkana Chong, learkana@misssey.org

Learkana plays a key role in MISSSEY’s fundraising, grants management, and organizational development. She also helps MISSSEY’s workflow through data management, communications, administrative support, and event coordination. She received her B.A. in English with a minor in Psychology from Mills College, a liberal arts women’s college in Oakland that taught her the value of critical thinking and using an intersectional approach to examine the status quo. It was there that she also cultivated her passion for social justice and learned about the heartbreaking issue of commercial sexual exploitation. After graduating, she interned at other grassroots nonprofit organizations before landing an administrative position at MISSSEY and going on to become instrumental in supporting the organization. Learkana says she is dedicated to using her communication and organizational skills to amplify the voices of marginalized populations and effect sociopolitical change.

 

Operations and Training Manager

Liz Longfellow, liz@misssey.org

Liz oversees MISSSEY’s daily operations and Training Institute. In collaboration with other MISSSEY staff, she promotes and administers MISSSEY’s well-known Training Institute for professionals.

Liz has spent the last 20 years working in the social service field and is a certified sexual assault counselor and HIV test counselor. After her graduation from San Francisco State University, Liz worked with survivors of sexual assault, foster care youth, as well as vulnerable adults with multiple diagnostic disabilities. At Larkin Street Youth Services, Liz worked with homeless and runaway youth, many of whom were being exploited. Her skills as a trainer and a coordinator are based in a solid foundation of direct service work and strong clinical ability. Liz has facilitated trainings about marginalized youth and commercial sexual exploitation to CBO’s, educators, county child welfare workers, and community members throughout the Bay Area.

 

Drop-In Center

The drop-in center serves as a transformative safe space and after school program for CSEC, CSE-TAY, and at-risk youth. We offer a range of opportunities for youth engagement: recreational activities, educational workshops, restorative justice circles, and outlets for creative expression. Our drop-in center staff are instrumental in helping clients who are in crisis or who simply need a place where they can unconditionally be themselves.

 

Rivera_Headshot

Drop In Center Coordinator

Yanina Rivera, yanina@misssey.org

Yanina Rivera graduated with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and Critical Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. Her previous work experience includes facilitating art with formerly homeless residents of San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, community organizing with the Latin@ community in Arizona, outreach and events coordination through AmeriCorps VISTA, and using creative movement as a therapeutic tool to address behavioral challenges in youth and support children with developmental disabilities. Her passions lie within art, activism, and providing mental health/emotional support to those who may not find it accessible.

 

mari dreamwalkerDrop In Center Facilitator

Mari Vargas, mari@misssey.org

Mari Vargas has been a human rights activist in the Bay Area for 3 decades. She graduated with a Master’s in Women’s Spirituality and an MFA in Creative Inquiry from New College of California. Mari is the founder of The Cura Project, which uses Indigenous Knowledge and Transformative Arts to empower vulnerable girls and women towards deeper self-understanding and self-agency. She has developed youth programs for Oakland, Berkeley, and Denver, addressing the needs of vulnerable and transitional age youth.

 

Case Managers

MISSSEY’s Case Managers provide one-on-one direct services to children and transition age youth (ages 11-24 years old) who are on probation or within the foster care system, and are survivors or at risk of commercial sexual exploitation. Case Managers collaborate across a wide variety of systems and disciplines and are a critical part of Alameda County’s service delivery team. Through building a trusting relationship with the young people they serve, Case Managers are able to facilitate next steps for youth such as improved personal safety, school attendance, employment, housing, healthcare, and dreaming bigger. Focus is always on the recovery from the trauma of their lives and moving out of “the life.”

 

Karolina Benitez, karolina@misssey.org

Karolina Benitez has experience working with a variety of marginalized populations. Most recently, in her position as a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Advocate with Valley Crisis Center in Merced County she worked with women and families using trauma-informed care techniques to effectively empower victims of abuse. Karolina believes that all youth deserve the chance to grow and to succeed in society. She is personally committed to educate and empower young girls to live the life they want to live.

 

Connie Chung, connie@misssey.org

Dr. Connie Chung is the CSE-TAY case manager at MISSSEY. She graduated from Harvard University with a doctorate in human development and psychology. She has extensive experience working with homeless young people, specializing in sexual violence and traumatic disorder in displaced female youth. As a research associate and consultant, Dr. Chung provided policy recommendations on behavioral health in substance abusing transient populations. She has also worked with Masai tribeswomen and AIDS orphans in Kenya and Tanzania, Africa. She is concurrently earning her Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) license and works as a part-time lecturer at a college while at MISSSEY.

 

Kendall Bio PicKendall Roberts, kendall@misssey.org

Kendall Roberts has an educational background in Social Work, along with professional experience working in the mental health field and with former foster youth. Most recently, she held a position at Seneca’s Willow Rock as a Crisis Stabilization Counselor working with youth from an array of different backgrounds. While earning her bachelor’s degree, she interned at Volunteers of America (VOA) Transitional Housing for Former Foster Youth and facilitated women’s empowerment classes to young women and mothers.

 

eliza (90 of 424)_1 (1)Eliza Sherpa, eliza@misssey.org

Eliza is a Juvenile Justice Case Manager. She believes that spaces for individuals and communities to heal from harm and trauma are integral to an intersectional and inclusive social justice movement. She joins MISSSEY with a background in grassroots organizing and movement building and brings three years of experience in restorative justice practice. She is committed to work in which those most directly impacted assume leadership and has held a variety of group healing spaces with incarcerated individuals. Her personal mission emphasizes decarceration and decriminalization work so that we can build strong and resilient forms of community care.

 

briannah

Briannah Shackelford, briannah@misssey.org 

Briannah Shackelford is the Foster Youth Case Manager at MISSSEY. She received her bachelor’s degree in Child and Adolescent Development with an emphasis in Youth Work and Out of School Time from San Francisco State University. While earning her bachelor’s degree, she interned at the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center, where she gained valuable experience in providing supportive resources and services to youth and their caregivers. With a passion for youth development, she’s acquired skills in intervention, youth outreach, and case management. As an Oakland native, Briannah is committed to empowering the lives of youth while raising awareness of diversity and social justice.

Youth Engagement Specialists

MISSSEY’s Youth Engagement Specialists primarily provide direct services at the Alameda County Foster Care Assessment Center to children in the foster care system who are at-risk for commercial sexual exploitation or who have already experienced exploitation.

 

Rizpah Website PhotoRizpah Bellard, rizpah@misssey.org

Rizpah has worked extensively with marginalized populations throughout her college and professional career. While at Cornell University, she volunteered at the MacCormick Secure Center where she served as a peer mentor for incarcerated young men. She has also traveled to Cusco, Peru where she served as a bilingual peer mentor for young girls in an abused women’s shelter. Prior to working with MISSSEY, Rizpah completed a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in non-profit development. An Oakland native, Rizpah is beyond thrilled to return to her community to empower, educate, and support young girls.

 

Kirsten Johnson-Bell, kirsten@misssey.org

Kirsten gained a passion for working with youth who have similar backgrounds to her through the Sister Rising program at the Center for Young Women’s Development and as a facilitator at the Youth Development Center in Bayview. It is through her cumulative work experience with young people that she also learned about social justice, self love practices, policies affecting youth of color, and the underground street economy. For Kirsten, it is a privilege to be the go-to person in a young person’s life who can relate and give feedback, but most importantly listen to their needs and address them with love. Kirsten is working on obtaining her A.S. degree in Child Development or Social Work in hopes of one day opening a love-based home for at-risk young women.