Director of Graduate Studies

Kristen Mark head shot

Kristen Mark

Kristen Mark is the Joycelyn Elders Endowed Chair for Sexual Health Education and Professor in Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School, as well as the Director of Graduate Studies for the MPS in Sexual Health. Her research centers around sexual well-being, specifically the maintenance of sexual and relationship satisfaction and sexual desire in long-term relationships, sexual function and dysfunction, sexual trauma, and sexual desire discrepancy. Dr. Mark holds degrees in psychology, family science, biostatistics, and public health. Her research has been published in top journals in the field and she has presented her work through hundreds of talks nationally and internationally.


Kat Arenella

Kat Arenella

Kat Arenella, PhD, did her graduate training in clinical psychology at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, where her research focused on women's health and aging. Prior to the Program in Human Sexuality, she worked as a Psychology of Women intern at the Charlie Norwood VA and Medical College of Georgia. She worked with military sexual trauma and was part of the comprehensive DBT team. Dr. Arenella's research and clinical interests are focused on sexual satisfaction and aging, especially in the context of relationships.

Headshot of Tanya Bass

Tanya Bass

Tanya Bass, PhD, founded the North Carolina Sexual Health Conference (NCSEXCON). She completed her PhD in Education at Widener University in the Center for Human Sexuality Studies. Dr. Bass is a member of American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), the NC Society for Public Health Educators (NCSOPHE), the Women of Color Sexual Health Network (WoCSHN), and the Association of Black Sexologists and Clinicians (ABSC). She is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and an AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator (CSE).

Shari Brightly-Brown wears glasses and a blue button down shirt with a tan leaf pattern. Shari is Black and has short dark brown braids combed to one side.

Shari Brightly-Brown

Shari Brightly-Brown is a recent graduate of the Clinical Psychology PhD at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow in transgender health at the Eli Coleman Institute of Sexual and Gender Health. Shari's primary clinical interests are in gender affirming care and sexual health, with a passion for working with LGBTQ+ identified people. Shari's research interests are broadly focused on resilience among LGBTQ and BIPOC people, with a particular interest in understanding how the intersection of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC identities may contribute positively to mental health.

Leonardo Candelario-Perez

Leonardo Candelario-Perez

Leonardo Candelario-Perez, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, sexual health consultant, and provider under Urology and Gynecology, as well as gender specialist for Health Partners and co-educational consultant for the National Center for Gender Spectrum Health. Dr. Candelario-Perez completed their doctoral degree at Albizu University in their home country of Puerto Rico, and completed a clinical postdoctoral program at the Program in Human Sexuality, U of M. Dr. Candelario-Perez is currently working on developing an integrative sexual health practice within the Health Partners’ system. Their clinical areas of work are in sexual dysfunction, sexual pleasure, sexual and gender identity, LGBTQI+ sexual health, STIs and sexuality, and desire discrepancy.

Taymy Caso

Taymy Caso

Taymy Josefa Caso, PhD, is the Randi and Fred Ettner Postdoctoral Fellow in Transgender Health in the Institute for Sexual and Gender Health and a researcher at the National Center for Gender Spectrum Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Dr. Caso holds degrees in counseling and clinical psychology from New York University and Columbia University, Teachers College. Their research focuses on minority health disparities, intersectionality, identity-based marginalization within LGBTQ+ BIPOC communities, gender and sexual fluidity, and social determinants of health. Their advocacy work utilizes decolonizing pedagogy to deconstruct institutional and systemic barriers to equity and develop community-based interventions for under-served communities.

Abby Girard

Abby Girard

Abby Girard is an assistant professor and coordinator of the Relationship and Sex Therapy Program. She was the second Michael E. Metz postdoctoral fellow at the Program in Human Sexuality, U of M. Her clinical training has included psychotherapy experience in community counseling centers, outpatient sexual medicine clinics, and treating individuals and couples in private practice. Dr. Girard’s areas of interest include sexual health and functioning, sexual desire discrepancy, compulsive sexual behavior, gender and sexual identity development, couples/relationship intimacy concerns, sexual trauma/abuse recovery, and social justice advocacy. She received her MA from the University of San Diego and her PsyD in  from Alliant International University, both in Marital and Family Therapy.

Stefani Goerlich sits in a pink chair at a pink desk. Stefani has pink hair in a bun, glasses, and wears a gray blazer over a yellow top.

Stefani Goerlich

Author of the award-winning The Leather Couch: Clinical Practice with Kinky Clients, as well as With Sprinkles On Top: Everything Vanilla People and Their Kinky Partners Need to Communicate, Explore, and Connect, Stefani Goerlich is a clinical and forensic social worker licensed in MI, AZ, and OH, as well as an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist and Board Certified Diplomate of Sexology. Stefani is the founder of Bound Together Counseling, which offers therapy to members of the GSRD community, their partners, and families and co-host of the Securing Sexuality Podcast & Conference. She is a frequent media voice and consultant for attorneys handling cases with elements of BDSM/kink.

Headshot of Sonya Rahders

Sonya Laddon Rahders

Sonya Laddon Rahders, JD, is a practicing attorney who provides health care compliance assistance to abortion providers across the United States. Her work focuses on expanding access for young people and integrating the needs of LGBTQ+ people in abortion care, as well as compliance with pharmacy, laboratory, and facility licensing rules. She has additional experience working in state and federal policy related to sex education, HIV and AIDS, youth rights, and LGBTQ+ health access. Sonya serves on the board of directors for SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change. She earned her JD with a concentration in social justice lawyering from University of California College of the Law, San Francisco (formerly Hastings College of the Law).

Headshot of Ben Parchem

Ben Parchem

Ben Parchem, PhD (he/him), is the Randi and Fred Ettner Fellow in Transgender Health at the Institute for Sexual and Gender Health. Dr. Parchem earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from George Washington University. He completed clinical training at Children’s National (integrated primary care, HIV mental health services, gender and autism) and Phoenix Children's Hospital (pediatric specialty care, pediatric gender health). Dr. Parchem’s research focuses on the sexual, physical, and mental health of sexual and gender diverse communities. Currently, Dr. Parchem provides assessment and therapy services to gender-diverse children, adolescents, and young adults and contributes to intersectional research projects aiming to ameliorate health disparities and promote well-being among LGBTQ+ youth, particularly youth of color.

Headshot of Jon Poquiz

Jon Poquiz

Jon Poquiz, PhD (he/him) is a licensed psychologist and assistant professor in the Institute for Sexual and Gender Health within the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Dr. Poquiz specializes in clinical work, research, and advocacy in gender-affirming care for transgender and nonbinary youth and young adults. His research broadly focuses on working toward health equity for trans and nonbinary individuals, with particular emphasis on improving access to affirming health care and fostering community and resilience. He aims to integrate social justice advocacy across his clinical and research programs. Dr. Poquiz received his PhD in clinical child psychology from the University of Kansas and completed a graduate certificate in LGBT Health Policy and Practice from George Washington University.

Nic Rider

Nic Rider

Nic Rider is assistant professor and coordinator of the Adult Transgender Health Services Program. They were the first Randi and Fred Ettner Postdoctoral Fellow at the Program in Human Sexuality. Dr. Rider’s clinical training includes psychotherapy and assessment experiences in a university counseling center, hospital settings, private practice, community clinic, residential treatment, and juvenile justice settings. Dr. Rider is interested in gender and sexual identity development, intersections of identity, discrimination and microaggressions, sexual trauma/abuse recovery, and social justice advocacy. Dr. Rider is on the executive board for the Asian American Psychological Association’s Division on LGBTQQ Issues. Dr. Rider received a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Howard University.

Michael Ross

Michael Ross

PhD, MD, MPH, MHPEd, MSt, Joycelyn Elders Chair in Sexual Health Education

Michael Ross is a faculty member in the University of Minnesota Program in Human Sexuality. He holds 11 degrees in cross-cultural health psychology, criminology, public health, and health education. Ross has studied sexuality and sexual and mental health for more than 30 years in India, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania, Uganda, and Vietnam. He has practiced as a clinical psychologist and is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the British Psychological Society. In addition to publishing more than 500 scientific papers and books, Ross was a coauthor of the Surgeon General’s 2001 Report of Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior.

Katie Spencer

Katie Spencer

Katie Spencer is an assistant professor, licensed psychologist, codirector of the National Center for Gender Spectrum Health, and director of Advocacy and Public Policy at the Program in Human Sexuality, U of M. Her clinical practice focuses on transgender and gender nonconforming adolescents and adults, women’s sexuality and sexual health, and LGBT sexuality and well-being. She trains therapists and medical providers in sexual health and transgender health care. She is the founder and chair of the Minnesota Transgender Health Insurance Taskforce. Dr. Spencer received her PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia, completed her predoctoral internship at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and was a postdoctoral fellow in human sexuality at the Program in Human Sexuality.

Jennifer Vencill

Jennifer A. Vencill

Jennifer A. Vencill, PhD, is an assistant professor, licensed psychologist and AASECT-certified sex therapist at the Mayo Clinic, where she practices in the Menopause and Women's Sexual Health and Transgender and Intersex Specialty Care clinics. Her clinical interests include sexual health and functioning, sexuality and aging, gender and sexual identity development, couples/relationship concerns, alternative relationship models, and LGBTQ mental and sexual health. Dr. Vencill’s research interests include health disparities and minority stress in marginalized sexual and gender communities, mixed orientation relationships, and sexual health. Dr. Vencill received her PhD in counseling psychology from Texas Tech University and was the first Michael E. Metz Postdoctoral Fellow in Couples' Sexual Health at the University of Minnesota’s Program in Human Sexuality.  


Margo Gray stands behind Magrath Library. They have short brown hair and are wearing a red and white striped shirt.

Margo Gray

Margo has two decades of experience in the nonprofit and arts communities and believes in building relationships between disciplines and demographics to create more equitable opportunities for learning and advancement. They served as the inaugural co-chair of CCAPS’s Inclusivity Council and have continued to serve as a Council member and co-chair of the Strategy and Measurement Committee. Margo’s previous experience includes serving as Director of Member Services at Donors Forum. Margo holds a BA from Grinnell College and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, and they were a Fulbright Fellow at the Moscow Art Theatre School. 

Margo advises for the MPS in Arts and Cultural Leadership, MPS in Civic Engagement, MPS in Sexual Health, Sex Therapy Certificate, and Transgender and Gender Diverse Health Certificate.

Steve Wicks head shot

Steve Wicks

Steve has spent the past decade in higher education within enrollment management and student affairs. He is a University Mental Health Advocate and strongly believes in a healthy work/school/life balance. Steve holds a BS in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, an MS in Human Development and Family Studies with an emphasis in marriage and family from Oregon State University, and a postgraduate certificate in Psychology from MSU, Mankato. While in graduate school Steve was the TA for an undergraduate human sexuality course and was involved with the Coalition of Graduate Employees (CGE) and Sexual Health Advisory Group (SHAG). Steve also has experience teaching undergraduate online courses for Oregon State, including human sexuality, infant and child development, and critical thinking.

Steve provides preadmission enrollment advising for the College’s 8 masters degree and 5 graduate certificates, and advises for the Human Sexuality Certificate, Leadership for Science Professionals Certificate, and Regulatory Affairs for Food Professionals Certificate.