Meet the Team

Independent Contractor

She/her/hers

Danielle Schultz, LCSW

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.

Kelly Carrone

Social Work Intern

Kelly is a second year MSW student at the University at Albany, and has degrees in sociology (Brandeis University) and psychology (SUNY Albany). Across their education, Kelly has focused on sex, sexuality, gender, and social justice. She has worked in alternative education, activism, and the non-profit sector with various populations including children, families, veterans, formerly homeless people, gender and sexual minorities, and individuals with developmental disabilities. Kelly also is experienced in working with complex networks of service providers. In their free time, Kelly likes playing tabletop games, dancing, reading, cooking vegan food, being crafty, hiking, swimming, snow sports, and generally being in nature.

Alanna Yanneck

Clinical Administrator
she/her/hers

Alanna received her Bachelor of Arts in Women's Studies at Russell Sage College, spending her last semester interning at Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood in the public relations department. She hopes to obtain a Master's Degree in public policy and to be able to spend her career advocating for disadvantaged peoples in this country. In her spare time, she likes to make jewelry, sing, and cook.

Kathryn Valera

Social Work Intern
she/her/hers

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.

Halima Belhadj

Social Work Intern

Hi, my name is Halima. I am from Brooklyn, NY. I am a graduate student from UAlbany. I received my Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY. I speak Arabic fluently. I am Algerian and love Arabic food. My favorite things to do in my free time are swimming and biking in state parks. In the future, I hope to be a psychologist. I love anything that has to do with mental health. I love working with people of color and from all backgrounds and hope to make a difference in the field of psychology soon. 

Contact Rainbow Access Initiative

10 Colvin Ave #106, Albany, NY 12206, USA

518-801-2521

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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)!

Meet The Board

Experts in Competent Care

Arlene Istar Lev LCSW-R

Board President

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).

Ace Mercer, LMSW

Board Member

Jeremy Boyce, LMHC

Board Vice President

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. 

Bridge

Brian

Board Member

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)!

Kevin Barhydt

Board Member

Kevin Barhydt joined the Rainbow Access Initiative Board of Directors in July 2019.  He has 20+ years professional experience in both higher education and information technology. Kevin has served on a non-profit board in the roles of president and vice president, in addition to directing fundraising and event committees. He serves on several professional committees related to LGBTQ+ issues, as well as diversity and inclusion. Kevin has an eclectic educational background with a MS in Education, and a BA in Theater. 

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Yi Zhou, LMSW

Board Secretary

Yi is a psychotherapist at Choices Counseling & Consulting. She specializes in queer and trans-affirming sexuality, gender, and relationship therapy. Yi's graduate studies were in Women's,Gender and Sexuality Studies and Social Work at SUNY-Albany.  She happily served on the RAI board for the past three years. Yi loves karaoke, Buddhism meditation, coffee/tea with friends, and all sorts of adventures.

Faith Schlesinger, LCSW

Board Member

Marina Franchild

Board Member

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.