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Meet the Team

Our team strives to be on the forefront of trauma informed LGBTQQIP2SA+ care

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Dr. Megan O'Meara
LMFT, Master CASAC, PhD

Director
she/they

Megan is a sex-positive, trauma informed, queer clinician who specializes in working with gender, sexuality, trauma, anxiety, body image/diet trauma, internalized capitalism, fat positive & pleasure positive sex therapy, mood disorders, family and romantic partnerships, substance use, and has worked extensively with adolescents. She believes in a client-centered, empowering, integrative approach to therapy that focuses on safety and the deconstruction and decolonization of the parts of therapy that have been historically harmful to clients of marginalized identities. Her style is inclusive of trauma-focused modalities, queer and feminist theories, and focuses on exploration of social structures of oppression and inequality. Megan has received additional training in trauma, gender & sexuality, and substance use & behavioral addictions. She is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Master CASAC, and is a certified equine therapist. 

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Rich Cali

Mental Health Counselor-LP
he/him

Rich believes that everyone experiences struggles unique to them and that therapy can provide a safe space to discuss and explore these difficulties. Human connection is a foundational part of our lives and he seeks to build trust with his clients and provide a non-judgmental, safe space to explore their challenges. His goal is to empower individuals to build up their strengths and help them utilize their pre-existing tools to manage the difficulties they face. He is passionate about the importance of mental health and believes therapy can help everyone. He cares deeply about the issues surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community and works to provide that safe space for growth, exploration, and overcoming.

Rich wants to work with individuals to help untangle the influence that societal and familial structures have on their lives so that they can live more fully and feel more free. He specializes in working with depression, anxiety, gender dysphoria/identity issues, and the struggles and stressors of everyday life. He works collaboratively with individuals and utilizes techniques from CBT, DBT, and Motivational Interviewing in order to help individuals gain awareness and develop skills to improve their well-being.

Rich is a graduate of the Counseling and Community Psychology program at the Russell Sage College in Albany. He received his Master’s Degree in Psychology from the State University of New York at New Paltz in 2015 but decided he wanted to return to school for a second Master’s to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in 2020. Additionally, he is interested in taking a trauma-informed approach, attempting to carefully understand the ways that trauma influences individuals on multiple levels. In his free time, he loves competing at Magic: the Gathering tournaments, spending time with friends and family, and listening to podcasts.

Rich has immediate openings on his caseload & accepts CDPHP.

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Rion Heroux
MA, CASAC-T

Independent Contractor

he/him

       Rion is a graduate of Concordia University, St. Paul where he earned his Master of Arts degree in Forensic Behavioral Health. Before graduate school, Rion attended SUNY Empire State College and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services with a concentration in Criminology. Rion attended Harvard Business School where he earned an academic certificate in the specialized areas of Management and Leadership. Currently, Rion is a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor Trainee (CASAC-T) and working toward the completion of his CASAC credential.

        Rion has 10+ years of experience working in the mental health and substance abuse fields. His employment history consists of providing individual and group therapy for an intensive, outpatient substance abuse recovery center; a mental health clinician for a nonprofit organization; and manager of an Intimate Partner and Family Violence Program. Rion uses evidence-based treatment modalities inclusive of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), solution-focused brief therapy, and positive psychology. His foci are advocacy, equality, and diversity for marginalized populations specific to LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and Latinx communities. 

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Avvri Rathsack

LMSW

they/them

Avvri is a Trans, Genderfluid, Bisexual (please read the 1990 Bisexual manifesto) therapist that enjoys working with their community at any level.  They have been an advocate, volunteer, a community member, an educator on various community panels, and have led workshops in various settings including one on gender models at Creating Change 2015.  Since their graduation in 2013 from MSU Denver with their Master of Social Work degree, they have worked in community mental health, private practice, harm reduction, HIV care, substance use disorder treatment, and acute psychiatric care.  Their bread and butter is working with clients from the Queer community, providing space where one doesn't have to explain themselves and can explore who they are and how to flourish with life's ever changing sense of stability.  In their spare time, Avvri enjoys studying astrology, raising their twins, and cheering on their wife working on her doctorate.

 

Avvri has immediate openings on their caseload & accepts CDPHP.

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Meet Our Interns

Supervised by Dr. O'Meara, our interns are committed to serving the LGBTQQIP2SA+ community.

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Julian Ramis

Marriage & Family Therapy Intern

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Julian is a third-year graduate student at Syracuse University who specializes in working with relationship issues, trauma, anxiety, depression, identity, and loss. He is particularly interested in the ways that shame, fear, and grief impact our lives and relationships. Julian is passionate about Rainbow Access Initiative’s mission of expanding access to high quality mental health care to the LGBTQIA+ community and is dedicated to making his sessions a safe space where all of his clients can be heard, seen and understood. Working from a trauma-informed, sex-positive, anti-oppressive stance he seeks to meet his clients where they are while creating an environment of warmth, connection, and curiosity in his sessions. Julian draws from a number of therapeutic modalities depending on his client’s needs, but his approach always centers on his belief in the importance of a strong therapeutic relationship and his attention to the ways in which larger social structures shape our experience of day-to-day life. In his free time Julian enjoys hiking, cooking and going to the movies.

 

Julian has openings on his caseload for those interested in couple, partner, and family therapy. 

Julian is not accepting individual clients at this time.

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Kiara Maher

Mental Health Counselor Intern

she/her

Kiara believes that therapy is a way to help people on their journey to living a more fulfilling and authentic life. She aims to create a safe and non-judgmental space for every person she works with by listening to people's lived experiences and validating their stories. Her work in therapy is rooted in understanding the different systems that impact people's lives and looking at ways to empower her clients. She has an interest in working with LGBTQQIP2SA+ folx in individual and group settings and providing care that is culturally responsive as well as trauma-informed.

Kiara uses different theoretical modalities but her main approach is validating clients and building a positive therapeutic alliance that allows for collaboration and open communication. Kiara believes in meeting clients where they are at and working with clients to help them with the challenges life throws at them. 

Kiara is a third-year graduate student in the Counseling and Community Psychology program at Russell Sage College. She is also part of the Forensic Mental Health program. Before attending graduate school, Kiara received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in Women & Gender Studies from SUNY Geneseo. During her free time, Kiara enjoys reading, traveling, spending time with friends and family, and listening to music.

 

Kiara has openings on her caseload. 

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Stephanie Hertel

Social Work Intern

she/her

Stephanie is currently finishing her Master’s Degree in Social Work at the University at Albany, specializing in supporting clients with their sexuality, identity, relationships, and connection to self / others. She has an affinity for working with individuals feeling afflicted by societal / familial expectations and has a particular passion for supporting individuals around relational issues- including communication skills, intimacy, sex and sexuality, kink, non-traditional relationships, familial strains, and coping with symptoms of anxiety. With attention to social structures of oppression and inequality, Stephanie is committed to inclusive, trauma-informed, patient-centered therapy, and social justice advocacy. Identifying as queer herself, she is dedicated to serving the LGBTQIA+ community and is excited to be a part of the RAI team. She creates a warm, judgment-free environment where her clients feel seen, empowered, and can safely explore / gain insight. Believing in a collaborative process, Stephanie’s approach is based on transparency, curiosity, compassion, and trust. In her free time, some of the things she enjoys are gardening, sailing, roller skating, and live music. 

 

Stephanie has openings on her caseload. 

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Anders Iaconelli

Social Work Intern

they/them

Therapy should be a welcoming and safe space for all and I hope to maintain that. As an agender trans-guy, I have had the unfortunate experience of having a therapist dismiss my identity and had another argue about my pronouns, so I know first-hand how harmful to the client that behavior is. LGBTQIA+ identity should be celebrated, and I hope to help you find queer joy and gender euphoria no matter the current political landscape. 

 

Currently I am a graduate student at the master’s level in the University at Albany’s School of Social Welfare program, being drawn to social work in particular because it includes the impact of our social environment and it’s hierarchical structure of which we reside into our mental health. Our society places a great burden on the shoulders of marginalized peoples that need to be taken into account in the therapeutic process to have a chance to assist.  

 

I am particularly interested in working with narrative therapy through a feminist lens. My space is safe for people with alternative identities as well as those in consensual non-monogamous relationships. I believe deeply in the healing abilities of nature that can be found in our interactions with the world around us as well as what can be discovered about ourselves through self-expression in art. Nature can help root us to the very present, improve our self-awareness and our ability to focus after a long day, as well as a greater appreciation of the flowers that manage to bloom from sidewalk cracks.  "

Anders has openings on their caseload.

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Cy Valdez

Marriage & Family Therapy Intern

she/her

As a Queer Afro-indigenous individual who practices therapy from a radically authentic lens, Cy utilizes over ten years of experience working with communities of color into her therapeutic approach. Her strong understanding of gender, socioeconomics, sexuality, and trauma has prepared Cy to analyze your unique challenges with a systems lens; taking into consideration both your environmental circumstances and personal history that influence your identity today. Her goal is to listen to your needs and highlight your options based on your values and proximity to resources. She knows that this process is not linear and as a result designs a safe space for you to collaboratively work through the journey. 

She understands that having intersecting identities and working through life issues can lead to compounding experiences that come with various emotions. As a result, she is interested in understanding your 'personal language', emotions and perspective to address your concerns. Her therapeutic style represents affirming a positive self-identity that compliments a strength-based approach, encouraging her clients to enforce their personal agency and trust their inner voice.  

Cy is prepared to work with clients around sex/work, alternative relationships, body image and boundary setting. After office hours, Cy enjoys expressing herself through the art of burlesque and large-scale painting. 

Cy has openings on her caseload and works with partners, couples, and families.

Cy has openings for individuals for clients who have experience sexual assault, engage in sex work, BIPoc trans individuals, and mothers of biracial children.

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Meet the Board of Directors

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Acey Mercer, LMSW

Board President
he/him

Acey A. Mercer, LMSW is a graduate of the University at Albany School of Social Welfare, where he obtained his Master’s in Social Work. Prior to graduate school Acey studied at Radboud University in the Netherlands where his academic focus was in Gender and Sexuality Studies. These foci ignited Acey’s passion to further explore and examine human behavior, relationships and the dynamics of class, race, ability, gender and sexuality. These motivating factors drew Acey to pursue social work and ultimately to become a licensed psychotherapist and educator. Acey is a Clinician at Choices Counseling & Consulting in Albany, NY and works primarily with youth and their families as they navigate questions and challenges related to the social, legal and medical aspects of gender transition. Acey’s clinical lens gives a strong compliment to the professional education services he delivers as Senior Consultant of the Training Institute for Gender, Relationships, Identity, and Sexuality (TIGRIS). Acey specializes in providing clinical training and policy development as it relates to best serving transgender and nonbinary populations in medical, mental health and educational institutions. Acey is also a lecturer at the University at Albany for Counseling Psychology and Social Welfare graduate students. Acey is excited to be on the Board of Directors and to utilize his professional background to contribute to the charitable and educational mission and vision of RAI!

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Marina Franchild

Board Treasurer
she/her

Marina Franchild worked as a Mechanical Engineer and Deputy Project Manager. For the past ten years she has provided strategic financial planning for a small business, and has tutored high school mathematics, physics and chemistry, the latter also on an advance placement college level. In addition, Marina has worked as a volunteer mentor for: Schenectady Working Group on Girls; and as a volunteer pre-college math instructor/tutor at Greene Correctional Facility. Since 2005 Marina has been the Co-Commissioner of a citizens’ group overseeing Park District #2 in Niskayuna to maintain an 8 acre green space.

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Bree (Brianna) Gaddy, MSW

Board Member
they/she

Bree is a macro social worker who is deeply curious about how we can create and maintain alternative structures and systems that better care for our communities. Bree’s professional experience ranges from working in affordable housing and family shelters to economic security to reproductive justice. They specialize in organizational development and facilitation. Currently, Bree co-directs a technical assistance department at the National Network of Abortion Funds, where they support abortion funds with growing and tending to their organizations. They take a healing justice and liberation approach, including centering pro-Black, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, abolitionist, and radical feminist principles in all of their work. 

Bree's heart work is facilitation and mutual aid. They've helped to open a community free store and co-facilitated political education spaces for social workers. Bree enjoys checking out the library for magic realism, developing their ceramics practice, traveling to see family and friends, and visiting the ocean.

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Arlene Istar Lev, LCSW-R,
CASAC II, CSTS

Board Vice President
she/her

Arlene (Ari) Istar Lev LCSW-R, CASAC, CST is a social worker, family therapist, educator, and activist who has been serving the LGBTQ community for over 30 years. She is the Founder and Board President for Rainbow Access Initiative, Inc., and also serves as the Clinical Supervisor for our interns. She is committed to providing accessible, affordable, culturally sensitive therapy for LGBTQ individuals, families and communities. Ari is an international lecturer on issues related to sex and gender, and has taught in many colleges and universities, including the University at Albany, School of Social Welfare where she is the Project Director of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Project (SOGI). She has served as a committee member of World Professional Association for Transgender 7th revision the Standards of Care which has revolutionized the medical and mental health treatment of transgender people worldwide. She is also a Credentialed Alcoholism Counselor and a Certified Sex Therapist (ASSECT). Ari has been writing about LGBTQ health for many years, and has authored three books: The Complete Lesbian and Gay Parenting Guide, Transgender Emergence: Therapeutic Guidelines for Working with Gender-Variant People and their Families, winner of the APA (Division 44) Distinguished Book Award, 2006, and the brand new Families in Transition: Parent Perspectives on Raising Gender Diverse Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults (with Andrew Gottlieb, Ed).

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Brian Farr, CASAC, M.S. Ed.

Board Member
he/him

Brian Farr is employed as a Professor/Coordinator of the Chemical Dependency Program at Hudson Valley Community College and is the owner of First Step Counseling and Consultation. Previously he worked as a Per Diem CASAC/Group Counselor at St. Peter’s Addiction and Recovery Center (SPARC). Brian has extensive experience working as a substance abuse counselor and advocating for changes in existing laws around medical access and care for all.

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Dr. Nicole Bromley, PsyD

Board Member
she/her

Nicole is a psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Albany Med Health System. There she provides individual therapy to adults with a range of psychological struggles, as well as support for gender affirming treatments. Nicole works to be an ally to the LGBTQQIP2SA+ community, as well as other marginalized groups, especially within a healthcare system. In addition to her clinical role, Nicole provides education and supervision to the next generation of health professionals around cultural humility and culturally competent treatment. She strives to provide a safe, affirming, and inclusive environment for her patients, colleagues, and trainees so that they may evolve into the best version of themselves.

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Jeremy Boyce, LMHC

Board Secretary
he/him

Jeremy Boyce is a licensed psychotherapist, with a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from the University at Albany, and a Bachelor’s in Biology and Psychology from SUNY Geneseo. Jeremy has worked in various settings within the mental health, substance use, and healthcare industries, including a counselor at an elementary school, clinician and teacher at a community mental health program for adults with severe mental illness, living skills trainer at a home care practice with individuals with traumatic brain injuries, and various outpatient clinics. For the past several years, Jeremy has worked at CDPHP, a local health insurance company, where he provides suicide prevention and crisis intervention trainings, and oversees the Behavioral Health Access Center, which assists members in locating mental health and substance use providers and resources.  In his clinical work, Jeremy specializes in children, families, and trauma-informed care, and holds a certificate as a Child and Adolescent Trauma Professional through the International Trauma Training Institute. Jeremy joined the Rainbow Access Initiative Board of Directives in the Summer of 2019, and is excited to assist in its ongoing growth. Jeremy enjoys running, traveling, cooking (and eating) food, and playing piano. 

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Teri Wilhelm

Board Member
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For the past eleven years and currently, Teri Wilhelm has held the adjunct position of Mathematics Instructor at SUNY Adirondack College and, until recently, for five years had been a member of the diversity committee, a co-adviser for the student PRIDE/SAGA club and the college transgender liaison with the Hudson/Mohawk Planned Parenthood Center. All throughout that time, Teri had the pleasure of working with young adults in various situations concerning academics, personal health and development, and adjusting to many challenges of living as a Trans/GNCNB or a LGBQ person within the larger cisgender, heterosexual community. Teri has lifelong experience as an activist/advocate for Union representation, political action and advocacy for acceptance, self-esteem and the long-deserved respect of transgender students and adults through her association with GLSEN Upstate, Equality NY and her employment with the Albany Damien Center, MPower Program as the TGNC Employment Navigator.

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Kitty McLeod

Board Member
she/her

Kitty  is a self-described blerd. She facilitates organizational culture change management as the President of the Inclusion Plus Institute, guided by data to coach organizations to maximize inclusive and creative collaboration.

In 2021, she founded Illumine Wellness (@illumine.wellness) to support others as they integrate safety and joy in their bodies through body awareness, play, and sound healing.

Kitty is also a choreographer and dance/yoga instructor (200 Hr YTT). Her style is influenced by movement forms from Hip Hop to Circus Arts, as well as her training as a Dance major at Ursinus College and her current study in Dance Movement Therapy at Rider University.

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Taylor Edelmann

Board Member
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Taylor has worked in community health for the last decade, providing direct service, managing communications, and facilitating trainings on various LGB/TGNCNBI+ health topics. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, children, and three spoiled cats. 

 

He has been featured in USA Today, Out Magazine, Outsports, and the Us & Them podcast, to share his experience as one of the first out NCAA trans athletes in the country. This has helped give his work a unique perspective and trajectory to increase awareness of trans bodies and the community's varying needs. 

Taylor oversees the Lighthouse Learning Collective, a program within the National Harm Reduction Coalition (NHRC) focused on supporting the work of queer harm reductionists and LGB/TGNCNBI folks who use drugs and/or engage in sex work. 

 

Additionally, Taylor is a trainer for the NHRC. He engages frontline staff to think about the foundations and intersections of harm reduction, safer drug use, sexual & reproductive health, and queer identities to create a world where everyone can live more authentically.

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