Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Research Consultants
Beginning in July 2021, the HMP Youth Advisory Board (YAB) and the iTech Youth Advisory Council (YAC) merged and was renamed the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Research Consultants (DEI RC). This conglomerate comprises twelve individuals living across the United States with varying levels of education, professional, and lived experiences. The DEI RC are part-time UNC-Chapel Hill employees. The group convenes virtually once a month and checks in weekly via a messaging application for business. This workgroup receives mentorship, professional development, and valuable working experience in the research field.
We would like to acknowledge the former staff members who led and facilitated the Youth Advisory Board (YAB) and Youth Advisory Council (YAC) at various points from 2016 – 2021 before the DEI RC merge. Thank you to Karina Soni, Drew McGee, Afua Osei, and Skye Wilson. We sincerely thank them for their exemplary service.
The DEI RC’s Role
The DEI RC provides consultation on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, research materials and processes, and social media trends within various studies in the Behavior and Technology Lab (BATLab) at UNC-Chapel Hill. Additionally, members have the flexibility to create audio, visual, and written content that is available to participants in different research studies, and they assist with participant engagement in forums.
The short-term goals are to continue expanding content creation and dissemination efforts, increasing group diversity, building and strengthening community partnerships, and maintaining consistent advisement on study designs.
The formation of this group is unique in that many, if any, research institutions have not yet progressed in utilizing this approach. The BATLab has sought out and hired young professionals that reflect the target demographic of the studies, which, in turn, enhances the projects and cultivates a reciprocal working relationship for folx from marginalized backgrounds.
Meet the DEI RC
Adrian Williams (they/them)
The DEI RC is supervised and managed by Adrian Williams, M.S. (they/them). Adrian earned their B.A. in Sociology and M.S. in Counseling Psychology. In addition to their role in the BATLab, Adrian, owns a small business, Cabrera-Williams Consulting Inc. Adrian is in the process of becoming a licensed therapist and received hours towards licensure by counseling at the LGBTQ Center OC in Orange County, California, and in the Val Verde Unified School District in Perris, California. Additionally, Adrian has worked in a Womxn’s Center and as a Title IX administrator. Adrian has expertise in the following subjects: diversity, equity, and inclusion, counseling, LGBTQ+ populations, womxn, project management, and workplace harassment and discrimination.
Adrian’s professional and educational background demonstrate their commitment to creating positive societal change. They have earned certificates in Diversity and Inclusion, Inclusive Excellence, Women’s Leadership, and Interprofessional Education and have training in mental health, trauma-informed practices, and racial equity. Adrian has public speaking experience and has spoken at many prestigious conferences and universities. In whatever capacity they serve, they aim to make everyone around them better and inspire folx to pursue the evolution of their best self holistically.
Sandra Agola (she/her)
My name is Sandra Agola, and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I currently reside in Houston, Texas, although originally born in Nairobi, Kenya. I am a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Research Consultants team, Adolescence Trail Network-Youth Experts and Advocates of Health (YEAH), and part of the YAB here in Houston. I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Healthcare Wellness and Navigation to help adolescents living with HIV/AIDS and promote education to minimize the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. In my leisure time, I enjoy listening to true crime podcasts, DIY projects, and enjoying time with people that I love. I am excited to be part of this team and look forward to the impact that we will have.
David Collins (he/him)
David is a passionate creative who currently works with small businesses around the Greater New Orleans area to increase online engagement and brand awareness as a Freelance Social Media Marketer and Brand Manager. He obtained his B.A. in Mass Communication and Public Relations from Loyola University New Orleans. During his time at Loyola University New Orleans, he served in a variety of diversity leadership roles. David was the President of PLUS+ (LGBTQIA+ Organization), Social Media Coordinator of The Black Student Union, Programming and Marketing Coordinator for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and founding the Food Insecurity and Food Stamp Workshop to help address food insecurity on campus. David is also a New Orleans Native. Some interesting facts about David: He was in the Marching Band for 15 years of his life! He is a foodie! His birthday is on May 17th. #TaurusGang
Joshua Espada (they/them)
Hello there! My name is Joshua Espada, and I am a Queer Rican living in New York City. I use they/them pronouns. My background has been centered around public health research and policy in NYC and abroad, specifically in Cairo, Egypt, and Amman, Jordan. Abroad, I researched public health policy concerning migrants/refugees within the Middle East and how to make health care units more equitable and better tailored for women and children in rural areas. Here at home, I’ve also done more on-the-ground work like tenant and housing rights and even helping out in needle exchanges to increase harm reduction in underserved populations. Currently, I am a Case Manager at a queer health clinic helping queer and or low-income patients navigate HIV prevention/treatment, gender-affirming surgery, and other health-related services.
Alex Fernandez (he/him)
Alex has a background in health as he completed a Bachelor of Science in Public Health at the University of South Florida. Currently, he is a graduate student with the University working on a Masters in Healthcare Organizations and Management while working on a grant for Occupational Safety and Health. Alex enjoys playing video games and reading books with some occasional art in his spare time.
Kendrick Forte (he/him)
Diagnosed as poz in 2012, Kendrick Forté has used his medical condition to participate in research opportunities with UNC since his diagnosis. From technology to trials, “The Forté” has considered research as a fundamental tool as a meaningful way to help the future generation. Kendrick is an HBCU graduate who works as a tax auditor full-time, still allowing his time to be dedicated to his family, friends, HIV research, and destigmatizing the disease and the ballroom scene.
Dionte Gill (he/she)
Dionté Gill (he/she) is a recent University of the Arts graduate who studied film production and music business. With this background, Dionté participates on various community advisory boards to provide feedback & insight into how to market to & include queer youth in an inclusive and affirming way. He’s also a content creator whose music and videos aim to represent young Black queer creatives positively.
Abraham Johnson (he/him)
Abraham Johnson is a public health educator and HIV/AIDS Advocate whose experience in the community health arena spans six years. Abraham currently works at Treatment Action Group as the HIV Community Engagement Officer, where he supports the community engagement efforts for the HIV project. He has a strong theoretical background in public health education and practical experience both inside and outside academic and rural settings. Abraham is passionate and committed to ending HIV/AIDS in marginalized communities, especially among Black gay men. He enjoys traveling, trying different restaurants, and listening to his favorite artists during his free time.
Milik Kashad (he/him)
Milik Kashad is an award-winning multidisciplinary artist and social advocate. Over the years, he has collaborated with numerous organizations to create work that addresses social issues ranging from climate change to lack of accessibility to proper healthcare. He hopes to continue this work with the DEI RC.
Xavier Ramos (he/him)
Hello! I’m Xavier. I grew up and currently reside in Chicago, Illinois. I am a young professional trying to make my mark on the world. I work at Chase Bank as a teller in Woodridge, Illinois. I have always been actively engaged in my community, so I knew the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Research Consultant team would be another great way to promote unity and open-mindedness within the community. My favorite hobby is volleyball and volunteering at my local YMCA.
Tia Sadler (she/her)
I joined HMP’s advisory board because people often told me to do what I loved when I was younger. Since graduating from Philadelphia University in 2016 with an international business degree, I’ve traveled the world from Quebec to Tokyo, searching for a purposeful career. When I was an interpreter in Japan, I got to learn many new perspectives through linguistics. While working as a research assistant at The University of Pennsylvania, I’ve engaged in the cutting edge of social, behavioral science related to next-generation HIV prevention technology and its acceptability amongst sexually and gender diverse (SGD) youth. When I was younger, having a resource like the HealthMpowerment app’s articles and forums would have provided an immeasurable improvement in my ability to navigate my gay and trans experiences. It has also helped me realize my passion for creative writing and journalism, galvanizing conversations about sexual health education, relationships, trauma, healing, and perseverance. I also enjoy contributing to research about SGD people’s lived experiences that can someday help achieve full equitable treatment under the law, academia, and society.
Liam Warner-Shifflett (he/him)
Liam is an undergraduate premedical student at Northwestern University, where he is studying social policy, biology, and data science. He is specifically interested in work at the intersection of medicine and policy. Liam has experience with pediatric and HIV/AIDS mHealth initiatives, youth health education research, and digital public health infrastructure legislation. He is an advocate for research inclusive of diverse family dynamics – especially LGBTQ+ families and single fatherhood. In his free time, Liam enjoys playing piano and kayaking.
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