Project AFFIRM
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ATL

 

Project AFFIRM is a study of vulnerability, risk, and resilience in the context of transgender identity development.

Project AFFIRM - ATL is part of the Department of Counseling and Human Development Services at The University of Georgia. If you have questions, you can email us at atl.affirm@gmail.com or call us at (404) 969-6029.

 

 

 
 

Meet our staff

 

Advisory Board

 

Roan Coughtry

Roan Coughtry, MSW, is a freelance writer, educator, artist, and healer living in Atlanta, GA. With roots originating from the rural farmlands of New York, they have traveled extensively for both work and pleasure, fostering a background in psychology, the arts, social justice organizing, alternative healing, and radical sex positivity along the way. From 2006-2009 they served as the Coordinator of Outpatient Programs at Walden Behavioral Care, and in 2011 they received their Masters in Social Work from Smith College. They’ve worked with grassroots organizations nationally and internationally to advocate for racial, sexual, gender, and economic justice, and in 2012 they co-founded the Transgender Advocates of the Capital Region in Albany, NY. They continue to raise awareness around issues of diversity through trainings, presentations, and workshops. A co-leader and founding member of the Sexual Liberation Collective, they are passionate about kindling the connection between desire, spirituality, healing, and social change.

 
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Holiday Simmons

Holiday Simmons, MSW is a Black Cherokee transmasculine two-spirit activist, athlete, and lover of babies, soccer, and the ocean. He has a background in Social Work, Education, and Performing Arts & Activism. Simmons has worked with youth in foster care, taught GED, has managed education initiatives, and has facilitated numerous creative writing and spoken word workshops with groups of youth, queer and trans* people, women, and Africana and Latino communities both in the U.S. and abroad. Holiday is currently the Director of Community Education and Advocacy at Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of LGBT people and people with HIV. At Lambda Legal he focuses on transgender rights, dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, police misconduct, and amplifying the voices of LGBT Native Americans and two-spirit people.

 

Jamie Roberts

Jamie Roberts was born in Griffin, Georgia and is a lifelong resident. She began her gender transition in 1999, the same year she graduated from law school at the University of Georgia and began her law practice. The same year also saw her volunteer for Atlanta Gender Explorations, Atlanta’s oldest continuous support group for trans and gender non-conforming individuals. She was a member of the Georgia HIV Community Planning Group from 2001 to 2003, a volunteer and employee of LaGender, Inc. from 2002 to 2006, and was a Board Member of Georgia Equality from 2008 to 2013, Currently she volunteers with Trans Housing Atlanta Program, Inc., whose Mission is to ensure that trans and gender-nonconforming Georgians find safe and accessible emergency, intermediate-term, and long-term housing.

 

Ms. Tori Cooper

Ms. Tori Cooper most recently served as Trans Health Coordinator for a with a local HIV and advocacy agency where she headed the REAL T program. REAL T stands for Reaching Empowering and Advocating in the Lives of Transpeople. The cornerstone of the program was the REAL T Empowerment Group which aimed to empower those living the “trans experience” to live more productive lives through education and advocacy.
She holds a B.A. in Human Services and is currently pursuing her Masters of Public Health. Ms. Cooper is a gifted speaker and educator. She has collaborated on several research and literary projects and she has had several articles, blog contributions, poems and prose published in national periodicals and other media outlets. She has been a part of two doctoral research studies including one on the link between HIV and faith. Her extensive resume includes a number of awards and certifications and she believes that education is the key to true empowerment. She is a cancer survivor and faithfully attends Tabernacle Baptist Church under the pastorate of Dr. Dennis A. Meredith. She is currently working on a number of projects intended to better the plight of the African American, transgender and HIV communities. She strongly believes that every opportunity is another chance to learn and to educate others. Ms. Tori Cooper can be reached at MsToriCooper@yahoo.com.

 

Evelyn Olansky, M.P.H.

Evelyn Olansky is a public health researcher and a member of the transgender community, receiving her master’s degree in public health (MPH) in Spring of 2015. Her academic background includes psychology, linguistics and anthropology, with a public health specialization in epidemiology. Her thesis research examined differences in the risk behaviors and geographic attributes of social networks, dependent on their location in or out of zones of high HIV endemicity. Her most recent work focuses on the transgender community, serving as lead interviewer on a study of stigma, trauma and stress in transgender women, as an ethnographer in ongoing formative research on the inclusion of transgender populations in widespread HIV behavioral surveillance instruments, and conducting a systematic analysis of available methods for measuring gender identity.

 

Antonio Garza

Antonio  started his community work with the Atlanta Radical Faeries, a queer community of friends that would do giving back projects from time to time. This later found him having a calling to go into the nun life with the Atlanta chapter of the infamous Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a non-profit group dedicated to spreading joy throughout the community through their unique artistic expression, charitable acts, community service, HIV education, and fundraising. While active with the Sisters, Antonio also worked with the MISTER Center of Positive Impact as a bilingual HIV testing counselor. He was also a founding board member of the Atlanta chapter of Mr. Friendly, an organization dedicated to eliminating the stigma of HIV.

 

Research staff

 

Nat Truszczynski, M.P.H.

Nat is the Project Coordinator for Project AFFIRM in Atlanta. She completed her master’s in public health at the University of Kentucky, concentrating in Health Behavior. Her research interested include understanding the mental health effects of multiple traumas, preventing retraumatization, and building resiliency specifically in LGBT communities. Nat’s work experiences range from working on research projects focusing on violence and trauma, to providing on-call medical advocacy services for survivors, as well as training healthcare providers on how to better serve LGBT patients. Nat is the Project Coordinator for AFFIRM Atlanta.

 

Emily S. Pingel, M.P.H.

Emily is a PhD student in the Sociology at Emory University.  Her research interests include LGBTQ wellness, social determinants of health, and community-based participatory research.   She is committed to mixed-methods approaches and has conducted research in Colombia and in the United States. She received her Master’s in Public Health from the University of Michigan in 2009 and a BA from Tufts University in 2003.  Emily was Managing Director of the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities (SexLab) at the University of Michigan from 2009-2015 before coming to Atlanta to pursue doctoral study.

 

Stephanie Spaid Miedema, M.A. 

Stephanie is a PhD student in the Sociology Department at Emory University. Her doctoral research focuses on the connections between gender, sexuality and adverse life experiences among women and men in the Asia-Pacific region. Prior to doctoral study, Stephanie served as a technical research advisor to non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies on gender equality and gender-based violence prevention across South and South-east Asia. Stephanie received her Masters in International Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in 2010 and a BA from Mount Holyoke College in 2007. Stephanie is an RYT-200 trauma-sensitive therapeutic yoga instructor.    

 

Alyssa Green

Alyssa is a research assistant for Project AFFIRM in Atlanta. She is currently pursuing her master’s in public administration at the University of Georgia, concentrating in nonprofit and public management. Her research interests include social movements, access to higher education, racial justice, and LGBTQ discrimination. Alyssa's work experience encompasses capacity building for nonprofit organizations, LGBTQ and HIV advocacy, as well as local government services.

 

investigators

 

Anneliese A. Singh, Ph.D.

Anneliese A. Singh is an Associate Professor at The University of Georgia and co-founder of the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition and Trans Resilience Project. Her research, practice, and advocacy has centered on the resilience of transgender people, transgender people of color, transgender youth, survivors of trauma, immigrants, South Asian survivors of child sexual abuse, and social justice and empowerment training. Dr. Singh is the Program Coordinator for the Counseling and Student Personnel Services, Ph.D. Program (Gwinnett), and she teaches in the School Counseling and Professional Counseling, M.Ed. Programs. Dr. Singh has worked on several national competencies and guidelines projects for the American Counseling Association and American Psychological Association (e.g., ACA Transgender Counseling Competencies, ACA LGBQQIA Competencies, ACA Multicultural and Social Justice Competencies, ASGW Multicultural and Social Justice Principles for Group Work, APA Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Guidelines, APA Prevention Science Guidelines). She is the co-author of two books (Qualitative Inquiry in Clinical and Educational Settings, and Social justice in group work: Practical interventions for change), and the upcoming Handbook of Transgender Affirmative Counseling and Psychological Practice. Dr. Singh is the Past-President of the Southern Association of Counselor Education and Supervision and the Past-President of the Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues (ALGBTIC).