Meet Our Teams

Diverse group of LGBTQ+ people holding pride flags and standing together.

The FLASH Network Core Teams are dedicated to shining a light on queer health.

Our FLASH advisors work with our Board of Directors and researchers to co-design public health initiatives and share crucial sexual health facts and data to better the lives of young queer folks in Florida.

The Best Executive Director Award Goes To…

J.J. (he/him)
Executive Director

JJ earned his Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, is a Board Certified Nationally Certified Counselor, and a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor in Maryland and the District of Columbia. He works at the intersection of public & mental health and believes the key to change is transparency, representation, and congruence. JJ is an avid tennis player, compulsive book purchaser, and full time butterfly. He aspires to open up a private practice that provides non and medical case management & psychotherapy to predominately Black and Brown boys.

Outreach Core Team

Hannah (she/they)
Outreach Team Lead

Hannah is a college student and passionate issues-based communicator, and she believes that communication is the key to societal change, especially when it comes to LGBTQ+ youth health and activism. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s in public relations & interdisciplinary social sciences and working to open her own art store.

Michaela (she/her)
Head of FLASH Forum

Michaela recently graduated with her Bachelor’s in psychology and is passionate about all things behavioral health. Michaela believes that science, healthcare, and activism serve society the best when these fields are inclusive, and she is particularly interested in uplifting sexual and gender minority voices in conversations surrounding public health and sex education.

Jordan (she/her)
Head of FLASHPoints Newsletter

Jordan is a writer & educator who is passionate about sexual health, reproductive justice, and LGBTQ+ rights. She takes an intersectional approach to her work, exploring how multiple marginalized identities influence the way young people build relationships, seek community resources, and navigate social stigma. Jordan recently graduated with honors from Vanderbilt University with her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies. In her free time, Jordan likes to watch animé, host game nights with friends, and explore the city that she calls home. 

Research Core Team

Kayla (they/them)
Research Team Lead

Kayla advocates for housing & tenants rights in Orlando, FL. They have been a FLASH advisor for 2 years where they work to uplift the concerns of BIPOC & LGBTQ+ communities related to systematic inequalities & health disparities. Their work aims to ensure the end of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, specifically from Black & Brown LGBTQ+ youth. In their free time, they enjoy cooking luxurious meals for friends & family.

Andy (they/them)
Research Advisor

Andy is a Certified Health Education Specialist in Tampa, FL, where they currently work at a sexual health clinic for adolescents & young adults. They’re passionate about addressing the health disparities faced by marginalized peoples, especially queer & trans youth of color, and they earned their Master of Public Health in 2020. In their free time, they garden, read, and play Pokémon.

Michaela (she/her)
Research Advisor

Education Core Team

Ari (he/him)
Education Team Lea

Ari Varona earned his Bachelor’s in Public Relations and is passionate about minority representation, mental health & financial independence. His work with organizations that specialize in LGBTQ+ youth care has inclined him to continue working in the sexual & mental health fields.

Joseph (he/him)
Education Advisor

Joseph recently earned his Bachelor’s in Sociology from Florida Gulf Coast University. He is passionate about uncovering the truth and and listening to underrepresented voices. He hopes to earn his Master’s in Sociology someday and focus his career on academic based research.

Jordan (she/her)
Education Advisor

Advocacy Core Team

Andy (they/them)
Advocacy Team Lead

Munesh (he/him)
Advocacy Advisor

Munesh is college student working in the hospitality field. Since coming out, he has discovered more about himself and works as a FLASH Advisor to provide that same opportunity for self-discovery to others. His greatest goal is to create an environment where everyone feels included and appreciated, regardless of their sexual orientation or ethnicity.

Kayla (they/them)
Advocacy Advisor

Board of Directors

Michael J. Barton, Chair
Ana Puga, MD, Vice Chair
Joseph Wolf, Secretary/Treasurer
Herek Clack, PhD, Member

Avery George (he/him)
CTBSi Liaison

Our Partnerships

Scale it Up Florida! (SIU-FL)

We partner with SIU-FL to co-design research materials involved in local public health planning processes within the state of Florida. Some of our activities include co-analyzing bioethics and iREP research studies.

Center for Behavioral and Translational Science (CTBS)

CTBS works to promote public health and health equity using a sustainable team science approach in order to develop interventions reaching diverse and underserved populations in local communities and beyond. CTBS is housed within Florida State University. FLASH works with CTBS and FSU on a regular basis, accounting for several of our current demonstration projects.

Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions (ATN)

We partner with the ATN through SIU-FL to provide community-wide dissemination of research studies, findings, and opportunities for research participation. The ATN research program aims to defeat the HIV epidemic among adolescents and young adults in the U.S.

Florida Department of Health & Scale it Up Florida!

We partner with the Florida Department of Health for one of our projects centered on fortifying linkage to housing for youth and young adults living with HIV who live in unstable housing. Our efforts involved designing recruitment and engagement materials, providing outreach tactics for youth, and providing feedback on current processes. &

Florida Healthy Youth Alliance

The Florida Healthy Youth Alliance is a collective of interdisciplinary professionals (e.g. academia, research, mental health) who seek to promote inclusive sexual health education and curricula within Florida schools. FLASH participates in these meetings to provide a young adult perspective on feasibility and providing feedback.

Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network (JASMYN)

JASMYN supports and empowers LGBTQ+ young people by creating safe spaces, providing health and wholeness services, and offering youth development opportunities while bring people and resources together to promote equality and human rights.