Meet the Team

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Danielle Schultz, LCSW

Independent Contractor
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Danielle specializes in working with people who are affected by mental health disorders, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, trauma, domestic violence, perinatal mood disorders, grief and loss as well as families in crisis. She is also passionate about providing services for people who identify as LGBTQI seeking support to navigate their sexual and/or gender identity.

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Rion Heroux, MA, CASAC-T

Independent Contractor

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       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.

       Outside of work, Rion loves spending time with his wife and his 16-year-old, 4-legged fur baby named Lily (Maine Coon). He enjoys the company of close friends and meeting new people. In his downtime, Rion works on crossword puzzles and sudoku watches college and NFL football, and reads psychological thrillers/crime novels (Dean Koontz, James Patterson, John Sanford, Patricia Cornwell, Jonathan Kellerman, John Grisham, etc.).

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Kayla Angelini

Social Work Intern
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 Kayla is an MSW student and intern studying at Simmons University located in Boston, Massachusetts. She currently resides in Rhode Island and is working as a Behavioral Health Specialist on an adolescent psychiatric unit where the majority of patients often fall somewhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Kayla is in her second year of her master’s degree and has hopes of graduating and pursuing a career as a school social worker. Her passion lies in working with behavioral teenagers but also has a range of experience working with individuals of all ages and backgrounds. 

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Rich Cali

Graduate Student Intern
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Rich is a graduate student in 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. He has a passion for working with LGBTQIA+ individuals and seeks to work with people, in individual or group settings, and explore the ways that societal and familial structures influence individuals’ mental health. 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.

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Kelly Carrone, LMSW

Independent Contractor
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Kelly specializes in working with gender, sexuality, trauma, anxiety, mood disorders, personality disorders, parents, couples/polycules, developmental disabilities, and complex medical and/or mental health needs. She takes a collaborative, customized approach that includes CBT, DBT, trauma-focused therapies, and more. Kelly has received additional training in trauma, anxiety, OCD, gender/sexuality, and is in the process of becoming a Gottman certified couples therapist. In their free time, Kelly likes playing board games, dancing, spinning poi, reading sci-fi and rationalist fiction, cooking vegan food, crafting, hiking, swimming, snow sports, and playing with her dog. They are a Licensed Master Social Worker and additionally have degrees in sociology (Brandeis University) and psychology (SUNY Albany).

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Kathryn Valera

Social Work Intern
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Kathryn is an Advanced Standing student at the University at Albany, School of Social Welfare and is an Alumni of the University at Albany after receiving her bachelor’s degree in May 2021. Throughout her academic career, Kathryn has been very interested in learning more about gender and sexuality, oppressions surrounding women, child welfare and familial dynamics. She has worked closely with the youth in the Albany community while promoting an inclusive environment for all. In times of leisure, Kathryn enjoys dancing, relaxing near bodies of water, and binge watching her favorite shows.

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Janine Rabinovich

Social Work Intern
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 Janine is a graduate student at Ohio State University, working towards her master’s in social work with an area of emphasis in mental health and substance misuse. Janine received her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the State University of New York College at Oneonta. She has worked as a residential youth counselor in Albany for a couple of years. She is currently employed at Heritage Home for women in Schenectady as a resident support specialist. Throughout her academic career, she has been interested in learning more about trauma, mental health, and poverty. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and doing outdoor activities.  

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Brooke Porter

Social Work Intern

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Brooke is a second-year graduate student at The Ohio State University pursuing her Masters of Social Work with an area of emphasis in Mental Health and Substance Abuse. Brooke holds a Bachelor's degree from Southern New Hampshire University in Human Services with a concentration in Child and Family Services. She has focused her professional career working in the healthcare field, striving for a profession in Social Work as she has a passion for helping others. In her spare time she enjoys traveling with her family, a good book, or binge watching her favorite tv shows. 

 

Meet The Board of Directors

Experts in Competent Care

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Courtney D'Allaird MBA

Treasurer

They, Them, Theirs

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Yi Zhou MSW

Secretary

She Her Hers

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Acey Mercer LMSW

He. Him, His


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Dr. Jennifer Castellani

She, Her, Hers


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 Universiteit 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 currently Practice Manager at Choices Counseling & Consulting in Albany, NY where he oversees clinical referrals and is responsible for the overall daily operations. He is also a Clinician at Choices and counsels clients exploring gender identity and expression. He 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 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 Rainbow Access Initiative (RAI)!

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Acey Mercer, LMSW

Board President

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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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Jeremy Boyce, LMHC

Board Secretary

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

Board Vice President

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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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Marina Franchild

Board Treasurer

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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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Faith Schlesinger, LCSW

Board Member

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Faith Schlesinger is a licensed clinical social worker with a Master’s degree from the University at Albany, School of Social Welfare. Faith has worked with healthcare organizations providing a range of services including clinical therapy, healthcare administration, consulting, and policy and program development. She has focused her career on bridging the gap between medical and behavioral health services working with hospitals, clinics and medical systems. Faith worked with the New York State Department of Health on Medicaid Redesign and was a lead architect in the development of health and behavioral health policies for the administration of Children’s Home and Community Based Services. She also served as the Project Director of the State Opioid Response Grant. Currently, Faith is the Program Manager of Medicaid Operations, Implementation at MVP Health Care. She seeks to continue supporting her community as a board member of RAI and is eager to contribute to the expansion of the organization and its commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.    

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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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Brian Farr, CASAC, M.S. Ed.

Board Member

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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.