Empowering youth, families and communities with gender affirming services, training and research.



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Matt Amore

Group Facilitator

Matt Amore (M.Ed., M.A) is an elementary school teacher for the New York City Department of Education. He has taught a range from 2nd to 7th graders (general and special education) during his nine years in the classroom. He has taught primarily in progressive schools, currently at The Neighborhood School in the East Village. In addition to teaching the core subjects, Matt is dedicated to guiding students in work around understanding their identity and incorporating social justice themes throughout the curriculum. He is preparing to transition out of the classroom and into school administration within the next couple of years. Matt lives in Brooklyn with his husband and their dog, Duncan.

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Nicole Avallone

Training & Capacity Building Associate

Nicole Avallone, LCSW, is a clinical social worker, trainer and educator with nearly 20 years of direct practice and management experience in LGBTQ and youth settings. Her most recent roles include serving as Director of Youth Services, and later Deputy Director of Programs and Policy, at the NYC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center. She now provides psychotherapy in private practice, as well as consultation on a range of progressive causes. Nicole has trained thousands of people on best practices in working with LGBTQ communities, with a focus on providing core training on gender identity and expression, as well as strategies for more effectively engaging family support.

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Marcelo Dedini

Program Assistant

Marcelo Dedini, AKA Cello, is the Program Assistant for the Ackerman Institute’s Gender & Family Project. Cello has a Master’s degree in Business Administration at Fundação Instituto de Administração in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and a diverse background with small business entrepreneurship. When he moved to New York in 2013, he began volunteering with nonprofits related to transgender and gender expansive causes, and with gender conferences in New Jersey and New York City. Since Gender Conference East in 2017, he has been developing mentoring skills with transgender youth, and ultimately decided to switch careers to work directly with the LGBTQ+ community. Cello is also interested in returning to school for a second degree in Psychology.

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Alexis Diaz

Director of Services

Alexis Diaz, LMSW, has been a social worker since 2011 and has experience working in youth development and school-based programs from early childhood through college. Alexis’s prior experience with adults includes work in street homelessness, incarceration, and mental health in primary care settings.

They’re particularly passionate about working within communities of color and queer communities to elevate our voices, make visible our strengths, and celebrate our beauty and complexity. Alexis is also a trainee at the Ackerman Institute in the Clinical Externship Program in Family Therapy.

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Kristina Garcia Bonhomme

Group Facilitator

Kristina Garcia Bonhomme received her Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science from the Inter American University and her MSW from Hunter College. She completed an internship with the Ackerman Institute’s Social Work and Diversity Program and after graduation completed Ackerman’s Live Clinical Supervision program. Kristina currently works at NYU Langone as a School Behavioral Therapist in a High School in Brooklyn. In her role, she provides ongoing therapy to students in her caseload.

Kristina moved from Puerto Rico to New York after she finished her Bachelor Degree. In New York, she met her partner, got married, and together they are raising their three children.

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Derrick T. Jordan

Family Therapist & Group Facilitator

Derrick T. Jordan, M.Div, LMSW, is a classically trained musician who earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education, cum laude, from Virginia Commonwealth University as well as a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary, and a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University. For years, Derrick has led spiritually-based educational initiatives while serving in various ministerial capacities at nationally recognized faith organizations. Derrick’s pastoral care and counseling experience helps guide his clinical work; navigating the complexities of faith and spirituality at the intersection of race, ethnicity, culture, gender identity/expression, and sexuality.

Derrick trained with Ackerman Institute’s Social Work and Diversity Program, Gender & Family Project: Unity Project in Family Engagement and Acceptance, The Minuchin Center for the Family, and has experience as a therapist working with those impacted by the child welfare system. The lens through which Derrick’s work is informed is one that celebrates the richness of diversity and culture to create a greater sense of wholeness and wellbeing. Derrick is currently a family therapist and group facilitator at the Ackerman Institute for the Family’s, Gender & Family Project. In his leisure time, Derrick is a long-distance runner, avid reader, foodie and music enthusiast.

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Rodney Lin

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Coordinator of Research & Dissemination

Rodney is the Coordinator of Research & Dissemination at the Gender and Family Project. They received their Bachelor's Degree in Applied Psychology and Global Public Health at New York University. Prior to their work on the Gender and Family Project, Rodney served as the project coordinator for the Transgender Identity Formation Study (TIFS), a qualitative study focused on the narratives of 27 transgender individuals in New York City. They were also the lab manager for the Chinese Families Lab (CFL), which examined gender narratives from two longitudinal studies of children and adolescents from Nanjing, China. Rodney is determined to work towards a world where diverse gender identities are celebrated across all settings.

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Pamela Mendelsohn

Group Facilitator

Pamela Mendelsohn is a clinical social worker who has worked with young people in NYC in a variety of school-based and after-school settings since 2005. Some of her favorite professional moments include launching a Gender and Sexuality Alliance for students at a public high school, co-leading week-long camping and boating trips for adolescents, leading elementary school cooking classes, organizing a feminist mentorship program for teens, and creating and facilitating an LGBTQ-affirmative parenting workshop for incarcerated mothers. She currently works as a psychotherapist at MytherapyNYC, specializing in work with LGBTQ individuals and couples.

Pamela earned her MSW from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College in 2012 with a focus on Community Organizing and Group Work. She has since completed postgraduate clinical training in Gestalt Therapy at the Gestalt Center for Psychotherapy and Training. Pamela lives with her wife and one-year-old in Brooklyn. As a queer parent herself, working with LGBTQ families is close to her heart.

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Anjali Menon

Clinical Social Work Intern

Anjali is a Clinicial Social Work intern with the GFP as well as the DSW program at the Ackerman Institute. She is from South India by way of Bangkok and Detroit. Anjali’s clinical work with children, adolescents, couples, and families is grounded in a gender liberation and abolitionist politic and she is excited to develop resources, build relationships, and facilitate programming for young people and their communities.

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Renee Reopell

Group Facilitator

Renée Reopell (they/ them), is a gender-free New YoRican advocating for intentional mental resilience and well-being for TGNC/NB folx. Renée received their master's in social work at New York University, and has been privileged to support young adults at Hetrick Martin Institute and Trinity Place Shelter. Renée also launched Montefiore Hospital's first LGBTQ youth program, the Umbrella Program serving youth & families, through the Adolescent AIDS Program. Currently, Renée is the Mental Health Therapist and Montefiore's Adult AIDS Center and group clinician at the Ackerman Institute.They also work in private practice from a health equity framework.


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Nat Roberts

Group Facilitator

Nat Roberts is a Ed.M student in the Counseling Psychology at Teachers College of Columbia University. After completing their Bachelors in English Literature, Nat spent four years working as a community organizer before returning to academia. Currently, their research focuses on the intersection of gender and racial identity development for trans and gender non-conforming POC and the development of accessible alternatives to traditional counseling.

Nat dreams a world where trans and gender non-conforming folks can live safely and authentically. Their hobbies include dance, puppet making, reading psychology articles and breaking the gender binary.

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Ariel Roland-Waring

Group Facilitator

Ariel Roland-Waring, LCAT in-progress, is from Queens, New York. They completed their BA in Forensic Psychology at John Jay College. In May 2019, they graduated from School of Visual Arts with a MPS in Art Therapy. Ariel’s prior experience includes youth development in after-school programming, family therapy for domestic violence survivors and their children, and anti-oppressive art therapy for LGBTQ+ youth experiencing street homelessness.

They are interested in building systems of care outside of the medical model and providing culturally-relevant mental health services for trans youth of color. Their pastimes include embroidery, painting, and gender anarchy.

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Futaba Shioda

Social Media Consultant

Futaba Shioda (he/him/his) invests his energy and care into advocating for transgender and gender expansive folks, communities of color, and youth. He has been involved with Gender Conference NYC and New York Transgender Advocacy Group and has been a consultant on numerous writings, including work in The New York Times and with Penguin Random House. Futaba’s activism extends into the arts world, where he works as an actor, a script and program consultant, and an advocate to uplift marginalized voices in the film and theatre communities. He is constantly inspired by the next generation and strives to create a safer, freer world for them and for all of us. futabashioda.com