The Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies (IWES) is a national non-profit organization founded in 1993 in response to the overwhelming health disparities among women of color.
IWES is dedicated to improving the physical, mental and spiritual health and quality of life of women of color and their families, especially those who are socio-economically disadvantaged.
This year the International AIDS Conference returned to the United States after 22 years of absence and was held in Washington D.C. from July 22-27. The biennial conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policymakers, people living with HIV and others committed to ending the epidemic.  Leaders from the worlds of science, diplomacy, politics, philanthropy and entertainment spoke at AIDS 2012, including:
  • Former President Bill Clinton
  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton 
  • U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius
  • UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidib�
  • NIAID Director Anthony Fauci
  • Humanitarian Elton John  
  • President & CEO of the Black AIDS Institute Phill WIlson 

23,767 participants attended the conference representing 183 countries at 200+ sessions. Follow this link to view the highlight AIDS2012 reel that was shown at the closing plenary. 


YEAH-NOLA staff members, Melanie Powers (Program Manager) and Katherine Eyster (Program Coordinator) were fortunate to have the opportunity to attend this amazing event!YEAH-NOLA Staff: (l->r) Melanie Powers & Katherine Eyster                                 They have brought back a plethora of information and resources to enhance IWES' HIV prevention work!          

On Friday, May 18th, 2012 the Louisiana Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition hosted the "Marching To Zero Talent Showcase & Film Festival" in honor of National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. The event provided an opportunity for community engagement surrounding teen pregnancy prevention and it encouraged New Orleans youth to display their talent. Over 300 youth, parents and community members came out to the Joy Theater for this "edutainment" event, which was hosted by local talent, Trazi Johnson, and featured a special musical performance by Dee-1!  




A total of 13 youth acts were showcased, including a battle of the bands, singing, poetry, dancing, live music, and a theatrical reading. Three schools participated in the battle of the bands:  






The District 2 Community Enhancement Corporation co-produced and co-sponsored the event and selected a diverse group of talented youth representing the Greater New Orleans community. Food was provided to the youth by Roly Poly and featured healthy items like turkey and veggie wraps, fruit, and granola bars.  




Over $4,000 in cash prizes were awarded to school bands, talent show participants and essay contest winners. Out of the 10 talent show acts, Aliadon Roberts Bey won 1st place for his acoustic guitar performance. Kate Middleton Elementary School Band won the Battle of the Bands competition and received a $1,000 prize for their band program. Naijha Dailey and Brandon Washington both won first place prizes for their compelling essays on Teen Pregnancy Prevention, as well.



The Louisiana Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition members include: Tulane University, Louisiana Public Health Institute, IWES, and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Office of Public Health Family Planning. The event was co-sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Adolescent Health.


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Featured IWES Film
IWES Slide Show

IWES Slide Show

This slide show is a compilation of photographs representing and capturing the work IWES has done in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, LA.

Follow the link below to check out our Iwesnola YouTube Channel to see more IWES films.


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for helpful links and resources and to get more information about our mission, staff, and programs.
Meet the MPC!-NOLA! Team! 

Stepfionne Williams, MPH MPC!-NOLA! Program Manager


Stepfionne Williams joined IWES in November 2010. Before joining IWES, Stepfionne worked at Xavier University as the Project Manager for the Healthy Communities Project. She worked closely with the Louisiana State Health Department's Chronic Disease Bureau and the East Jefferson Family YMCA to plan and design an intervention to address childhood obesity. Stepfionne is a native of North Louisiana, and moved to New Orleans in 2003 to attend Xavier University. After receiving her BS in Chemistry (2007), she continued her studies at LSU School of Public Health and received her Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology (2009). Stepfionne's areas of interest include women's and adolescent health, in particular, those in underserved, minority populations. She is committed to the empowerment and health improvement of individuals in these populations through increasing knowledge and access to healthcare.

Maya Mendez  
MPC!-NOLA! Program Coordinator 

Maya Mendez joined IWES in May 2011. Before joining IWES, Maya attended Tulane University, where she received her BA in Sociology and French. During her undergraduate years, she worked at the Tulane Community Service Office and supervised a mentoring program that served adolescents in the New Orleans area. Maya continues to work with youth through the teen pregnancy prevention program, MPC!- NOLA! She is dedicated to promoting positive youth development and youth empowerment.

Mario Jones, MHA  
MPC!-NOLA! Program Coordinator 

Mario Jones joined IWES in 2011. Before joining IWES, Mario received his Master's in Health Administration from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Mario also received a Bachelors of Science in Biology from Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA). Mario's passion for community service and giving back has led him to participate in a variety of youth mentoring and tutoring programs through his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., and other community outlets. Mario is excited to work at IWES and make a positive impact on the lives of the youth in the greater New Orleans community.

Chana Doreaux 
Director of Community Relations 

Chana M. Doreaux joined the IWES staff in October 2010. She is a graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism (2009) where she was a broadcast concentrator. Chana also holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Hampton University and Juris Doctorate from North Carolina Central School of Law. Chana practiced law for more than ten years and spent her early legal career as an advocate for prisoner rights, then as a Staff Attorney at the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals here in New Orleans. She then worked as a transactional entertainment attorney. After living and working in Atlanta, Washington D.C., and New York City, in 2010 Chana decided to return to New Orleans.  



Gabrielle "Gabby" Freels  
Program Assistant- MPC!-NOLA! & TOP 

After being a member of the Media Advocates for Prevention (MAP) program for three years, Gabby has taken on new roles within the organization. She started out as the MAP Youth Coordinator and is currently the Program Assistant for both MPC!-NOLA! and TOP. Through this new position, Gabby has taken on new roles and responsibilities, such as administrative support, event coordination, and curriculum facilitation.


She currently attends the University of New Orleans (UNO) as a Marketing major and plans on opening a marketing firm to help up and coming businesses. Gabby's passion is to continue to serve the youth of New Orleans and spread awareness and important health information.

Welcome to the Institute Of Women And Ethnic Studies' Quarterly E-Blast. Every November, February, May, and August, look out for this E-Blast to update you on our programs and events.  


Thanks for continuing to be a part of the IWES family!

Media Advocates for Prevention

MAP is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded program adapted from the evidence-based Community PROMISE model. MAP works with a core group of Peer Advocates (PAs) ages 15-18 to develop HIV prevention messages for youth in New Orleans. 


The MAP Peer Advocates wrapped up a dynamic year with a graduation in late June, presenting their accomplishments and contributions to their families over dinner. Throughout the summer, PAs have stayed engaged by conducting community and online engagement.


Peer Advocates excelled at IWES' Teen Pregnancy Prevention Essay Contest, demonstrating strong comprehension of the reproductive health issues facing New Orleans teenagers. PAs Keiandr� Hall and Happiea Martin won top prizes while Naijha Dailey won first prize!    


Happiea Martin receiving an award for her essay at the TPP Event.  


In July, MAP filmed the Role Model Story "Countdown." The short film, which is based on a true story, is about a young women's decision to protect herself after considering the possible consequences of unprotected sex.  Meanwhile, the MAP Role Model Story "A Scary Thought" has been finalized and will premiere in August; check out MAP social media sites for the LAUNCH!


MAP is in the midst of developing a social marketing campaign promoting HIV testing amongst bisexual youth of color in New Orleans. Thank you to everyone that took the time to take the Youth Sexual Health Survey, which received nearly 150 respondents! Look forward to the campaign kick-off this fall! 


MAP is currently recruiting applicants to join the 2012-2013 Peer Advocate cohort. The deadline to apply is August 31st, 2012. If you or someone you know is a 15-18 year old African American youth in the Greater New Orleans area interested in the program, please contact MAP for an application!

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 Like MAP on Facebook to keep up with MAP videos and events and to receive sexual health information and ask any sexual health questions you may have!


 If you or someone you know is a youth aged 12-18, e-mail MAP to receive a FREE MAP kit, or ASK A PA!

School-Based Health Center Engagement Project
The SBHC Engagement Project, a youth health advocacy and leadership development program to increase awareness and utilization of participating SBHCs, is implemented in partnership with the Louisiana Public Health Institute's (LPHI) School Health Connection Program. 


The IWES Community Engagement Project recently hosted two SBHC Open Houses. One Open House occurred during the Warren Easton Board meeting with representatives from the city health department. The other Open House took place at New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School, hosting Council Member-at-Large, Stacy Head, and her staff.


SBHC staff attended the National Assembly On School-Based Health Care conference in New Mexico in June. Two youth from SBHC schools, Happiea Martin (McDonogh 35 College Preparatory High School) and Bre'Aisha Warren (Warren Easton Charter High School), joined IWES staff at the meeting and were able to share their experiences with their local SBHCs and learn from youth representatives from other states.  


Congratulations to Angelita Brown, SBHC Community Engagement Program Manager, for her appointment to serve as the Advocacy Chair for the Louisiana Assembly on School Based Health Centers!


IWES would also like to recognize its newest staff member, Callie Kaplan, who recently joined the SBHC team! Callie has already made an incredible mark on the community engagement activities since her arrival. She has attended SBHC Open House activities, CAC (Community Advisory Committee) meetings, and various community meetings. Callie met both staff and students at all of the SBHCs during her short tenure, and over summer break! Her primary focus will be youth engagement activities, including implementing the SBHC Advocacy/Leadership curriculum as well as starting Youth Advisory Boards in schools where they are currently nonexistent. Callie has played a key role in the evaluation component of SBHC as well.  

Focus on Youth with Informed Parents and Children Together

FOY + ImPACT is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded 8-session evidence-based small group education program that works with youth aged 12-15 to help them develop the skills and knowledge needed to protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).   


    The FOY staff is thrilled to have wrapped up a productive summer! Building off of last year's success, FOY returned to Desire for Change, a summer camp in the Desire community whose mission is to build a stronger community through athletics, academic achievement and spiritual growth in the lives of children and youth. Between June and July, FOY conducted its first co-ed group with 12 youth participants. FOY staff also conducted 7 ImPACT sessions, which are private meetings with youth and their parents and/or guardians.


FOY also returned to Excel Star, a youth community center in Kenner. At ExcelStar FOY was implemented with a co-ed group of 10 youth, and 5 ImPACT sessions were completed.


FOY staff and participants at the Desire for Change graduation.    


FOY is currently recruiting for a fall cohort of 10-12 youth between the ages of 12-15. Please contact Melanie Powers for more details.


Making Proud Choices! - NOLA!  

IWES was one of six entities in Louisiana awarded monies to fund teen responsibility and pregnancy prevention programs through the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Adolescent Health's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative. Through this initiative, IWES has created MPC!-NOLA!, which serves youth aged 11-13 through the utilization of the 8-module evidence-based Making Proud Choices  curriculum along with two additional modules developed by Dr. Denese Shervington which focus on emotional health and resiliency.


IWES partnered with the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC) to implement MPC!-NOLA! during the 2012 summer session. This partnership led to an exciting summer where more than 150 youth were served! The youth were seen at community centers, churches, and schools throughout the Greater New Orleans area. MPC!-NOLA! served the following sites:

    • Excite All-Stars
    • Desire Street Ministries Teen Camp
    • Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Louisiana
    • Desire Street Ministries Kiddie Camp
    • Children's Defense Fund's Broad Street Freedom School
    • All Souls Episcopal Church
    • First Emanuel Baptist Church

"I got the opportunity to ask a lot of questions and the facilitators were really cool," Kendell Holmes, a 13-year-old participant from Desire Street Ministries Teen Camp exclaimed. Participants stated they would share the health information they learned in MPC!-NOLA! with their classmates during the upcoming school year.


IWES hosts graduation ceremonies at the completion of each MPC!-NOLA! cycle where students receive certificates of completion or participation, the journals they utilized to take notes and ask questions during the program, resource materials, and a financial stipend (pending eligibility). "Although we teach the kids abstinence we also want to set them up for success so we want to ensure they have the full story," said Penny Williams, the director of Excite All-Stars (a faith based summer camp) at a recent MPC!-NOLA! graduation. "The IWES staff is amazing because they are able to connect with our kids and the staff provides participants with the tools they need to make better choices."


Several MPC!-NOLA! staff members attended end of camp ceremonies and events sponsored by NORDC. "It's all about further engaging the youth we serve and I enjoy showing my support and appreciation to NORDC and the various camp sites who allowed us to implement the program," said MPC!-NOLA! Program Coordinator Mario Jones.


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Teen Outreach Program (TOP)
Through the Department of Health & Human Services' Office of Adolescent Health's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Office of Public Health Family Planning Program was awarded a grant to implement the evidence-based Teen Outreach Program (TOP�) throughout the entire state of Louisiana. IWES was selected as one of the agencies qualified to implement TOP�, making it the newest youth program at IWES.


TOP� serves youth aged 12-18 through a 9-month program that focuses on teen pregnancy prevention and academic outcomes, including drop-out and course failure rates. The curriculum includes lessons on sexual health, values, goal-setting, relationships with friends and family, and other topics relevant to youth. TOP� also includes a community service-learning component in which participants plan their own service projects, carry them out, and strategize sustainability.


TOP� has successfully completed its first year of implementation! IWES completed three TOP� clubs that met weekly over the last nine months at B.W. CooperExcel Star, and the Dryades YMCA, serving a total of 50 youth in the Greater New Orleans Area. In the closing months of the program, the clubs reflected on their experience throughout the year through community service, including projects such as assisting at the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition Marching to Zero! Talent Showcase and assembling MAP kits. The clubs also celebrated their hard work through extracurricular activities.    


 IWES is currently recruiting participants for new TOP� clubs. If you or your organization is interested in being a part of TOP�, contact Ragan Collins or Della Wright.

4 Real Health

In addition to implementing youth programs around the city, IWES also serves in a training, fidelity monitoring, and quality assurance role for the Health Education Program (HEP) component of the 4 Real Health program. 4 Real Health is one component of the Louisiana Public Health Institute's Orleans Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project, and is implemented by two partner organizations,  Communities in Schools and Job 1.    


The Health Education Program encompasses sexual health, nutrition, and physical activity utilizing the evidence-based Becoming A Responsible Teen (BART) curriculum. These courses include information on communication skills, problem solving, and negotiation, as well as exercise, healthy eating, and nutrition. 4 Real Health serves youth aged 15-18, and is currently implementing with several groups of young people.


4 Real Health finished implementing its Summer Cohort at six sites throughout the City of New Orleans. Those sites are Southern University New Orleans Upward Bound, University of New Orleans Upward Bound, Dryades YMCA, Total Community Action Westbank, Total Community Action Central City, and the Youth Empowerment Project. There are currently over 300 youth enrolled across the different sites for the summer cohort.

IWES staff conducted a training for current and newly hired health educators to prepare for the summer implementation. The training agenda included an overview of sexual and reproductive health, the BART curriculum and the Healthy Living curriculum. IWES staff also continues to provide fidelity monitoring, technical assistance and training to the 4 Real Health Program. IWES staff is planning an end of the summer training for the health educators, which will cover stress management as well as evaluation to assist IWES in developing the monitoring and training plan for future cohorts.

Youth Programs Advisory Board   

IWES staff convenes quarterly Youth Programs Advisory Board (YPAB) meetings with local youth, community stakeholders, and partners. These meetings have not only helped inform IWES youth programming, but they also serve as a place for youth advocates and supporters to come together and talk about local youth issues like juvenile justice and school food reform.  


The Youth Programs Advisory Board meetings are momentarily suspended while the board format is restructured to best serve its members and community. YPAB staff will share details of the next meeting soon and look forward to continuing the meaningful work of the YPAB!

Collective for Healthy Community
CHC is a W.K. Kellogg Foundation funded program. It was designed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to respond to the lack of spaces for community members to come together to share their stories, learn about the impact of traumatic stress, learn to practice self-care and positive thinking techniques, and participate in activities for renewal and revival. In an attempt to address the aforementioned concerns, IWES has developed several projects; namely, the HIM/Fatherhood Consortium and Community Based Listening Circles.

CHC recently launched the first of a series of three Community Based Listening Circles (CBLCs) on Tuesday, July 31st. The CBLC is comprised of 13 teachers that educate a cross-section of children, ranging from early head start to high school. It consisted of the following four consecutive sessions: 1.) Stages of Development and Attachment 2.) Transformational Leadership 3.) Existential Givens, and 4.) Putting self-reflective work to practice, "Exploring and cultivating your individual role in shaping the lives of children." Participants received an honorarium for their time and participation in the CBLC.


There will be two subsequent CBLCs, tentatively scheduled for August and September. One will engage social workers and counselors that serve youth in schools, community based organizations, and/or mental health agencies. The final CBLC of this series will engage parents. CHC will utilize the information gathered from this CBLC series to inform both policy and practice and the community-at-large.


As CHC nears a new program year, it continues to provide opportunities for community healing through projects that promote emotional resiliency.

Healing Is The Revolution 
 In June 2011, IWES was approached by the Chaka Khan Foundation and Essence Communications Inc. to embark upon a new initiative with the aim of enhancing the resiliency and overall well-being of 50 African American women in New Orleans to support their achievement of a life-enhancing goal. This year-long initiative commenced during the 2011 Essence Music Festival with a Welcome Reception featuring Chaka Khan, a private empowerment session with Ms. Khan and author/inspirational speaker Ms. Iyanla Vanzant, and a VIP experience during Chaka's performance at the Music Festival.


Over the course of the year, up until the 2012 Essence Music Festival, the fifty women participated in monthly personal development workshops as well as meetings with a mentor matched according to each woman's individual goal. In the monthly meetings they explored and developed personal strength and resiliency and with their mentors they worked on achievable steps toward their specific goals. Some examples of goals the women chose were first-time home ownership, furthering education, credit repair, and losing weight.


"Katrina wreaked havoc not only on the physical city but also on the spirits and souls of those who live here," remarked Denese Shervington. "Fifty women came together with the hope that it was possible their visions could become a reality. More than 30 trusted the yearlong process and here we are."    Superlife Grad    

On the morning of Saturday, July 7th thirty-three women crossed the Essence Empowerment Experience stage at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for the commencement ceremony of the 2011-2012 Superlife/H.I.R. Project. Before receiving their diplomas, participants received inspirational messages from IWES Founder & CEO, Denese Shervington, Essence Editor-In-Chief, Constance White, 10-time Grammy winner, Chaka Khan, and Verizon Wireless' Vice President of Corporate Communications, Marquett Smith.

Graduates were treated to a musical performance by Chaka Khan of "Super Life" and "I'm Every Woman," backed up by an all female band including Superlife graduate Sherelle Mouton!
"This experience just opened up so many doors for me," Mouton said. "It made me not be lazy and encouraged me to have faith enough in myself to get my life going."

Following the ceremony, graduates and their guests were ushered to a reception sponsored by Verizon Wireless with further inspirational words and special musical performances by Tanya & Dorese, Beverly Bond, Marvin Sapp, Kenny Lattimore, Tank, and Michelle Williams.
Tanya & Dorese entertaining graduates and guests with their incredible musical talent.


Participants were also given time to share their stories and some of their successes from being in the program.  

Annette Turner speaking about her courage to strive for a job that was more fulfilling than janitorial work, and her excitement about her current employment at City Hall.


One of the graduates, Niya Cordier, 33, said she struggled as the mother of a bipolar teenager to find the necessary support, yet the Superlife/H.I.R. program gave her access to resources she might not have found otherwise. She said her mentors also encouraged her to continue her education. Now she's enrolled in a registered nursing program so she can continue advocating for children with mental illnesses. "This was just the stepping stone I needed," she said.


To see more photos from the graduation, follow this link. For more information about the partnership, go to the Superlife Transformation website

Thanks for taking a moment to read our Quarterly E-Blast. If you ever have any questions, comments, or feedback, please feel free to email us.