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Institute Presenters

Ericka Burns, PhD

Pronouns: she / her

Dr. Ericka Burns (she/her) is an AASECT Certified Sex Educator and the Founder and Executive Director of Sacramento Peers on Prevention (SacPOP), a non-profit organization dedicated to educating youth about sexual health and reproductive justice.

 Dr. Burns began conducting research on the effectiveness of peer-to-peer interventions in 2009 and by 2011, created a Youth Peer Educator HIV Training program. This program was created to effectively train youth on how to become risk-reduction counselors in both clinical and outreach settings and this was also a way to measure increased knowledge and healthy behavior changes. Since 2011, Dr. Burns has continued to implement this program with the SacPOP Youth Peer Educator program. By 2013, Dr. Burns founded SacPOP and became a recognized non-profit organization in 2015. 

Dr. Burns’ educational history includes a Bachelor of Arts in Government (CSU, Sacramento), Master in Public Health (Benedictine University), and has earned their Ph.D. in Human Sexuality at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Dr. Burns’ dissertation is titled, I’m not coming out; you’re just coming in: Examining Black sexual identity formation in sexual fluidity research. This research investigated how Black queer and non-queer identifying people use language to identify their sexuality through capturing sexual histories and perceptions of media depictions of Black sexuality via semi-structured interviews.

Dr. Burns is also a community activist and focuses their work on creating anti-racist sex education, advocating for the rights of marginalized folks, and specializes in reproductive justice, sexual health, HIV/STI prevention, peer education, and sexual pleasure.

Dr. Zelaika Hepworth Clarke Carnagie

Pronouns: zie / zir; they / them; doctor

Dr. Zelaika Hepworth Clarke Carnagie is the first Jamerican (Jamaican-American) to receive three degrees in sexuality studies from accredited universities in the USA: Bachelors of Arts from NYU in Sexuality, Culture and Oppression (2007); Masters of Education in Human Sexuality(2012) and Doctorate of Philosophy in Human Sexuality (2015) from the Center for Human Sexuality Studies at Widener University. Dr.Clarke is also a graduate of the International School of Transnational Decolonial Black Feminism in Cachoeira, Brazil, and from Decolonizing Knowledge and Power Summer School in Barcelona, Catalonia. Dr.Clarke cofounded an anti-racist sexuality studies program at Goddard College and co-created with Dr. Herukhuti the Decolonial Sexual Attitude Restructuring/ Reassessment (D-SAR). The D-SAR is a unique and innovative sexuality training program that assists participants understand the impact of settler-colonialism, imperialism, white supremacy, capitalism, and cisheterpatriarchy on their and other’s relationships to sex, gender, sexuality, and relationships. Dr.Clarke is an anti-colonial sexuality educator, African-centered social worker, co-liberator, loveologist, decolonial eroticologist, sexosopher, autoethnographer, clinical and cultural sexologist, & sexual epistemologist.

Dr. Clarissa Francis, CSE 

Pronouns: she / her / serenity / doctor

Dr. Clarissa Francis is a Hot Girl Movement scholar-activist, AASECT certified sexuality educator, and Black Sexual Liberation educational consultant who focuses her work primarily on Black women’s sexual liberation. She has collaborated with colleges, organizations, and community groundbreakers to bring awareness and healing to Black women and youth. Her academic background includes a BA in Africana Studies (Bowling Green State University), MA in Africana Women’s Studies (Clark Atlanta University), and PhD in Human Sexuality (California Institute of Integral Studies). Her dissertation titled, “A Real Hot Girl Movement: A Social History of Pleasure Activism in Atlanta, Georgia” uncovers the ways in which Pleasure Activism and Megan Thee Stallion’s Hot Girl Summer reflects Black women’s movement towards sexual liberation. Dr. Francis feels called to develop safe spaces for Black women to participate in unrestricted dialogue unpacking and celebrating their bodies and diverse sexualities.

In 2022, Dr. Francis launched a coaching program to equip Black sexuality professionals, and the aspiring sexually liberated, to recognize and utilize multi-disciplinary approaches to discussing Pleasure Activism as a tool for Black Sexual Liberation. Currently, she sits on AASECT’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee and a member of the Leadership Collective of Women of Color Sexual Health Network (WoCSHN).

Dr. Francis offers coaching, workshops, training, and event planning on Black sexual liberation, peer education, pleasure, and various topics concerning the Africana Diaspora & sexualities. She looks forward to collaborating with scholars, practitioners, and activists on future publications, interventions, and advocacy efforts!

Mx. Chels Morgan

Pronouns: they / them and xe / xem

Chels Morgan is a Black, Afro-Latinx, Queer and Neuroexpansive sexuality & justice educator, cultural competency specialist, and intimacy director & coordinator. Their work specializes in topics under the umbrella of BDSM & Kink, LGBTQ+ intimacy, non-monogamy, trauma responsiveness and social justice and is guided by the intersectional, disability justice and transformative justice frameworks developed by black women and black trans scholars who have come before xem. They are specifically focused on how the work can serve to provide better representation and more equitable resources for members of the global majority in media.

Chels is an AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator (CSE) as well as a Certified Holistic Sexuality Educator (CHSE) via the Institute for Sexuality Education and Enlightenment (ISEE) and is also certified by the ANTE UP! Virtual Freedom Professional Development School for Justice Workers in the history, implementation, and troubleshooting of various justice frameworks related to the sexuality field. In service of their greater goal to curate trauma-responsive educational and theatrical spaces, they have gained a wealth of training in psychological & physical responses to trauma as well as in the processing of emotional information. Their training includes certifications from Johns Hopkins University in Psychological First Aid (PFA), the National Council for Mental Wellbeing in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), and they have also completed a Transformative Justice & Community Safety self-study led by Spring Up. They have used this training to develop curricula and praxis for fostering greater inclusivity for the global majority members of their communities. They also recently published an academic essay in the Journal of Consent-Based Performance critiquing consent-based models for performance and education and imagining ways they can be more inclusive of racial justice, disability justice and transformative justice principles and are developing curricula for incorporating transformative accountability and healing justice principles into sexuality education and consent-based performance work.

H. “Herukhuti” Sharif Williams, PhD, MEd

Pronouns: All

H. “Herukhuti” Sharif Williams, PhD, MEd, is a liberatory/decolonizing sociologist, cultural studies scholar, sex educator, playwright, director, poet, filmmaker, and author. They studied sex research, sexology, and sexual health related to HIV at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University through a National Institute of Mental Health-funded graduate research assistantship. She has held a playwriting fellowship at Lambda Literary Foundation, a National Endowment of the Humanities fellowship in the Black aesthetics and African-Centered cultural expressions at Emory University, and a filmmaking fellowship at Third World Newsreel. He is a member of the editorial boards of Journal of Bisexuality and Journal of Black Sexuality and Relationships. He co-edited Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Men and Sexuality, Religion, and the Sacred: Bisexual, Pansexual, and Polysexual Perspectives. They are a recipient of the PFLAG Brenda Howard Memorial Award for his bisexual public policy advocacy and activism. He is executive producer and co-director of the forthcoming documentary film, “No Homo | No Hetero: Sexual Fluidity and Manhood in Black America.”

He is currently a faculty member in the undergraduate programs of Goddard College and the graduate program in applied theatre at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. At Goddard College, he co-founded the world’s first sexuality studies program dedicated to promoting decolonizing sexuality and challenging the whiteness and Eurocentricity of the field. Dr. Herukhuti is the author of the newly released poetry collection, Race. Resistance. Love. published by CCSS Publications.

Susy Zepeda, PhD

Pronouns: she / they / ella

Susy Zepeda, Ph.D. is a queer Xicana Indígena, currently an associate professor in the Chicana/o Studies department at the University of California, Davis (Patwin land). She was born on Tongva territory in Monterey Park, California to Adela and Armando Zepeda, Mexican migrants from El Limon, Jalisco and Chínipas, Chihuahua. Raised primarily by her mother, tias and tios, cousins, and with her two sisters, Zulma and Nisy. Susy remembers often climbing el cerro (the mountain) as a child and visiting el rio (river) in her mother’s hometown following the guidance and prayer of her abuelita, Rosario. She received a BA in Sociology and Women’s Studies from CSU Long Beach and a PhD in Sociology (Feminist Studies and Latin American & Latino Studies) from UC Santa Cruz. From 2013-2014, Zepeda was a Visiting Assistant Professor with the Social Justice Initiative at UC Davis.

Her scholarly work is intentionally transdisciplinary, decolonial, and feminist in a community-centered and grounded way. Susy’s research and teaching focus on: Xicana Indígena spirit work, decolonization, critical feminist of color collaborative methodologies, oral and visual storytelling, and intergenerational healing. She established two courses at UC Davis, Decolonizing Spirit and Food Justice. Dr. Zepeda’s writing appears in the 2019 anthology, Voices from the Ancestors: Xicanx and Latinx Spiritual Expressions and Healing Practices, and in 2020 published the essay, “Decolonizing Xicana/x Studies: Healing the Susto of De-indigenization” in Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies as part of the Dossier: Fifty Years of Chicana Feminist Praxis, Theory, and Resistance. Susy’s first book, Queering Mesoamerican Diasporas: Remembering Xicana Indígena Ancestries, was recently published by the University of Illinois Press, as part of the Transformations: Womanist, Feminist, and Indigenous Studies book series.

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