Who We Are

Beyond the Pill is administered by an outstanding team of physicians, experts in public health and research, and reproductive health advocates.

The Beyond the Pill team includes:

Faculty and Investigators

Research and Training Team

Research Collaborators

  • Alison El Ayadi, ScD, MPH, Assistant Professor - Departments of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences and Epidemiology & Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco
  • Kristine Hopkins, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator, REACH Youth Study, Population Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Sophie M. Morse, PhD, MPP, Postdoctoral Scholar - Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco
  • Jennifer Robinson, MS, WHNP-BC, CNM, Director of Clinical Training - LARC Mentoring Program, University of New Mexico, School of Medicine, Division of Adolescent Medicine
  • Corinne Rocca, PhD, MPH, Professor and Epidemiologist - Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco
  • Irene Rossetto, PhD, EdSHARe Project Director-Director of Special Operations, Population Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Audrey Sanchez, Research Program Coordinator, REACH Youth Study, Population Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Faculty and Investigators

Cynthia Harper

Cynthia Harper, PhD, Professor and Director

Cynthia C. Harper, PhD, is a Professor in Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Sciences and a faculty of the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. She received her master’s in international and public affairs from Columbia University, doctorate in demography and public policy from Princeton University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research aims to improve family planning policies and service delivery through streamlined access to care. She has worked to remove unnecessary procedures in contraceptive care, including the pelvic examination for hormonal contraception and lengthy protocols for long-acting contraceptives. Her research has supported expanded roles of nursing and pharmacy professions in contraceptive delivery, including over-the-counter access. She has conducted research in emergency contraception that helped to transform clinical practice and policy, and led to the FDA approval of over-the-counter status of levonorgestrel emergency contraception and the removal of the age restriction. Dr. Harper completed a national cluster randomized trial on long-acting contraceptives in 40 Planned Parenthood health centers demonstrating the effectiveness of the UCSF Bixby Beyond the Pill Program's provider training curriculum in reducing unintended pregnancy among family planning clients. Her research team is conducting implementation science with provider training and patient education initiatives in a variety of clinic settings in addition to Planned Parenthoods, including departments of health, hospitals, and primary care. She also heads an initiative to bring contraceptive training and education to community colleges.

Dr. Harper has worked together with investigators in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, including a multi-center NIH study on physicians’ and nurses’ attitudes and clinical practices in HIV prevention and contraception. She has measured the impact of unsafe abortion on maternal morbidity and mortality in developing regions, and has evaluated the impact of policy changes on the safety of services. Dr. Harper is the 2013 recipient of Guttmacher Institute’s Darroch Award in Excellence in Sexual and Reproductive Health Research.

Areas of Interest: access to contraception, long-acting reversible contraception, provider training and clinical practices, emergency contraception, adolescent contraception, adolescent contraception, family planning policies, HIV/STI prevention. 

Alison B. Comfort, PhD, Assistant Professor

Alison B. Comfort, PhD, is a health economist who received her doctorate in Health Policy (Economics concentration) from Harvard University and her BA in Economics and Spanish from Amherst College. Her research has focused on evaluating interventions to improve reproductive, maternal and child health, both in the United States and in developing countries. She has worked on several randomized controlled trials, including an impact evaluation to assess the effect of providing community health workers with free pregnancy tests for distribution to improve provision of hormonal contraceptives and uptake of antenatal care counseling in Madagascar. She has also evaluated the long-term effects of in-utero conditions on maternal survival later in a woman’s life using secondary data from several African countries and conducted several studies related to malaria, including an impact evaluation assessing the effect of price on demand for anti-malarial bednets. In the United States, she is conducting implementation science research on provider training and patient education in clinic settings to increase contraceptive provision, including through school based health centers. She speaks French, Spanish and Malagasy and previously served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Madagascar.

Suzan Goodman, MD, MPH, National Training Director

Dr. Goodman serves as National Training Director for the UCSF Bixby Beyond the Pill Program. She has worked to streamline and remove unnecessary procedures in contraceptive care. She has implemented training programs for thousands of reproductive and primary health care providers within clinics, public health agencies, colleges, and hospitals. Additionally, she serves as an Associate Clinical Professor at UCSF Department of Family and Community Medicine, and provides reproductive health care and emergency medicine. Dr. Goodman was a Co-Founder, Curriculum and Program Director of the TEACH Program which cultivates the next generation of reproductive health champions through training, curriculum, advocacy, and leadership development. She served on the Planned Parenthood National Medical Committee (2010-2016), and has provided technical assistance and consulting for Ipas, PPFA, ARMS, ARHP, DOW, IMC, and Center for International Reproductive Health Training in domestic and international settings.

Jennifer Yarger

Jennifer Yarger, PhD, Assistant Professor

Jennifer Yarger, PhD, is an Assistant Professor with joint appointments in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics and the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. Her work focuses on improving access to sexual and reproductive health information and services and reducing disparities in reproductive health outcomes, particularly among adolescents and young adults in the United States. In her work with Beyond the Pill, she is conducting a cluster randomized trial to test an intervention to increase awareness of and access to contraception among students aged 18-25 in community colleges. She is also engaged in developing and testing innovative new educational materials and tools to support reproductive autonomy. She holds a doctorate in Public Policy and Sociology (social demography concentration) from the University of Michigan and a BA in Political Science from Wellesley College.

Yasaman Zia, PhD, Assistant Professional Researcher

Yasaman Zia, PhD is a social epidemiologist conducting multidisciplinary research on global gender issues, with an emphasis on contraception and abortion outcomes. She received her doctorate in Epidemiology from the University of Washington, where she was awarded NIH F31 funding for her research on the impact of empowerment, stigma, and structural factors on adolescent girls and young women. Her work seeks to improve reproductive equity by building conscientious and data-driven narratives that uplift individuals and serve communities most affected by structural barriers.


Research and Training Team

Alejandra Alvarez, MPH, Research Analyst

Alejandra (she/her) is a Research Analyst for Beyond the Pill. She has a broad background in global health, with experience in data management for clinical trials in Rwanda and Zambia as well as experience with a youth health education program in the Dominican Republic. Before joining the Beyond the Pill team, she was working as a database manager for the San Francisco Department of Public Health with the COVID response Epi Team. She completed her Master’s in Public Health in 2020 in Epidemiology where she focused on global health and infectious diseases

Stephanie Andaya, CCMA, Contraceptive Training Specialist

Stephanie (she/her) is a Contraceptive Training Specialist for Beyond the Pill, facilitating in-person and virtual trainings with contraceptive providers, educators, and counselors across the nation. She has worked in reproductive health care provision for over ten years in front office, patient intake, and administrative capacities. Prior to working at Beyond the Pill, Stephanie was a Training Specialist for the Planned Parenthood Northern California affiliate, supporting the onboarding and training process for clinical support staff across 15 health centers. Notably, Stephanie helped implement the Epic electronic health record system for PPNorCal, the first Planned Parenthood on the west coast to transition to this system. Stephanie received her BA in Religious Studies at Humboldt State University and is a California Certified Medical Assistant. She is passionate about reproductive health as it relates to nonjudgmental, culturally relevant person-centered care and considers herself a lifelong learner in this process. She is also partial to naps, climbing, and goldenberries.

Maya Blum

Maya Blum, MPH, Associate Director

Maya directs and manages operations for Beyond the Pill, including finances, contracts and human resources, and contributes to program policy, strategy and partnerships. She also provides technical direction to research projects and the national training program. Her work focuses on promoting reproductive health through innovation and rigorous research. She has extensive experience implementing high-quality studies in the US and globally, including in Nepal, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Maya received her MPH in Maternal and Child Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa.

Julia Duray, MSt, Education and Communications Coordinator

Julia (she/her) is the Education and Communications Coordinator for Beyond the Pill, working across the team to support overall program communications for BTP. She also works closely with the training team to develop educational resources and programs on contraceptive care. Previously, she was the Digital Communications Assistant and Conference Coordinator for The Global Health Network at the University of Oxford. Prior to working in public health, she spent many years in the creative industries developing films and theatre productions geared toward social change and has also worked as an educator for youth and adults. She is passionate about reproductive autonomy and justice, public communications, education, and utilizing creative media for social and political change. Julia holds a master’s in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from the University of Oxford and a bachelor’s in English and Theatre from Northwestern University.

Connie Folse, MPH, CHES, Senior Manager, Training Quality & Curriculum

Connie is a Certified Health Education Specialist and has provided reproductive health education and counseling in diverse settings, including Title X clinics, STD/HIV clinics, school-based health centers, middle and high schools classrooms and on college campuses. Since earning her Master’s in Public Health in 2005, she has been providing direct services as well as training medical providers and allied health professionals to talk with both youth and adults about sexuality and contraceptive decision-making. Connie develops nationally-recognized patient education materials and resources around contraceptive options. She also leads our team of expert health education trainers and manages the accreditation of our national training curriculum.

Hannah Hecht, MPH, Research Data Analyst

Hannah (she/her) is a Research Data Analyst for Beyond the Pill. She is analyzing data from a randomized control trial of community college students. Hannah received an MPH in Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health from UC Berkeley and a BA in Psychology from Pomona College. She has a background in mental and maternal health research. Previously, she has worked on projects related to telemedicine in perinatal care and the experiences of doulas during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hannah is committed to leveraging data to advance reproductive health equity and justice.

Julia Mercer, Program Coordinator

Julia Mercer (she/her) is the Program Coordinator at Beyond the Pill, focused on providing administrative support to the program’s training and research teams. Previously, she provided direct sexual and reproductive health services for patients at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte as a Health Services Specialist, as well as clinic administrative support as Center Administrative Support Coordinator. Julia received her BA in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies, and Environmental Studies from Dickinson College, and is deeply passionate about both reproductive and environmental justice.

Lavanya Rao

Erica Somerson, MSc, Manager, Training & Technical Assistance

Erica Somerson is the Training & Technical Assistance Manager at Beyond the Pill, overseeing the implementation of the national training program. Prior to joining BTP, Erica worked in sexual and gender-based violence prevention across spheres of community education, research, and evaluation. She is a mentor to girls and gender expansive youth at Sadie Nash Leadership Project, and an advocate for reproductive justice, queer liberation, and sex workers’ rights. Erica received her master’s in International Social and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and her bachelor’s in Integrated Studies — with foci in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies — from Ball State University.


Luisa Alejandra Tello Perez, MGPS, Research Coordinator

Alejandra is a Research Coordinator for Beyond the Pill, working on a randomized control trial to increase awareness of and access to contraception among college students. Previously, she was Project Manager at the Self-Managed Abortion Needs Assessment Project (Project SANA). She has implemented and evaluated poverty alleviation policies in Latin America, North America, Europe, and Africa in cooperation with the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit at UNCTAD Switzerland, the World Bank, and the Colombian Presidential Office. She holds a BA in Economics from Universidad Santo Tomás and a Master’s in Global Policy Studies (MGPS) with a specialization in evaluation and data analysis from the University of Texas at Austin. Her research and interest areas include reproductive health, education, poverty alleviation policies, and Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E).

Iris Wong, Research Assistant

Iris (she/her) is a Research Assistant at Beyond the Pill. She is analyzing a cluster randomized trial on contraceptive usage among young adults throughout California. As a former Health Services Specialist and Colposcopy Coordinator at Planned Parenthood, Iris has experience working with marginalized communities, demystifying taboos surrounding sexual and reproductive health. She is passionate about reproductive freedom, advancing health equity and policy. Iris received her BA in International Studies-Political Science from the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego.


Research Collaborators

Kristine Hopkins, PhD

Kristine Hopkins, PhD, (she/her) is co-principal investigator of the Texas arm of the REACH Youth Study at the Population Research Center, UT Austin. Kristine is a social demographer with expertise in both qualitative and quantitative research and evaluation methods and proficiency in research conducted in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Her research focuses on the impact of reproductive health policies on the availability of contraception among women in the postpartum period, access to health services among women in community colleges, health care organizations' ability to provide family planning services, and access to abortion. Previous work focused on the impact of contraceptive availability among Mexican origin women on the US-Mexico border, the determinants of teen pregnancy in Texas, the overuse of cesarean section in Brazil and Mexico, the childbirth and contraceptive experiences of HIV-positive women in Brazil, and the demand for sterilization among seropositive and seronegative women in Brazil.

Sophie M. Morse, PhD, MPP

Sophie M. Morse, PhD, MPP, (she/her) is a postdoctoral scholar on the Beyond the Pill team and at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. Her research focuses on women's health policy and she is specifically interested in the implementation of policies and delivery of services for women across various contexts. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, she has worked on projects ranging from HIV prevention in Uganda to migrant women’s health and well-being in Costa Rica to postpartum access to health care for low-income women in Texas. In 2022-2023, she was a Fulbright-Hays DDRA grantee in Mexico where she conducted research on the implementation of health policies that address intimate partner violence for her dissertation. Sophie has consulted for the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization on projects related to sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, and health systems. Previously, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uganda and conducted research on the health provider response to sexual violence in Colombia on a Fulbright-U.S. student award. Sophie received her BA in International Studies from Middlebury College, her MPP from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and her PhD in Public Policy from the University of Texas at Austin.

Jennifer Robinson, MS, WHNP-BC, CNM

Jen Robinson, MS, WHNP-BC, CNM, (she/her) serves as the Director of Clinical Training for the University of New Mexico LARC Mentoring Program. Jen has worked in New Mexico for over eleven years as a dual board-certified women’s health NP and nurse midwife. She has specialized in contraceptive care and adolescent gynecology for the past seven years. Jen is also a clinician trainer for the Beyond the Pill program from the University of California-San Francisco Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology Postpartum Contraceptive Access Initiative Program. Jen serves as a clinical preceptor for pediatric residents and medical students, nurse midwife and nurse practitioner students, and community providers. In her spare time, Jen enjoys taking care of her two young children, walking along the arroyos in her neighborhood with her chihuahua, keeping her growing houseplant forest alive, and also loves eating anything smothered in green chile and cheese.

Corinne Rocca, PhD, MPH, Professor

Corinne Rocca, PhD, MPH, (she/her) is Professor in UCSF’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, and faculty at the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) program. An epidemiologist by training, her work brings rigorous scientific evidence to the improvement of policies and clinical practice around contraception and abortion. Her research focuses on investigating pregnancy desires and reproductive well-being within the context of people’s relationships and lives. She employs advanced psychometric techniques, including item response modeling, to improve the measurement of latent social and attitudinal variables to better understand how they shape contraceptive and pregnancy decisions. For instance, her work is advancing how researchers conceptualize and measure pregnancy preferences, allowing for ambivalence and uncertainty. Dr. Rocca is leading the ADAPT Study, a longitudinal study examining pregnancy decision-making and care seeking, and the consequences of less desired pregnancy for people’s well-being. She has an MPH from Columbia University and a PhD from UC Berkeley and is a former NICHD Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) scholar.

Irene Rossetto, PhD

Irene Rossetto, PhD, is a consultant on the REACH Youth Study. She is also the Project Director – Director of Special Operations for Education Studies for Healthy Aging Research (EdSHARe) at the Population Research Center, UT Austin. Prior to her current position, Dr. Rossetto served as the Project Manager for the REACH Youth Study. Irene holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Sao Paulo (USP), Brazil. Her research interests focus on racial and gender equity and public policy implementation.

Headshot of Audrey Sanchez

Audrey Sanchez

Audrey Sanchez is the Research Program Coordinator for the Texas arm of the REACH Youth Study at the Population Research Center, UT Austin. Audrey holds a BA in Health and Society from UT Austin, where she gained research experience in a study of bilingual children’s experiences translating for their parents and as an integral part of the UT Austin College Health Study team. A U.S. Navy veteran, Audrey is committed to advancing the goals of reproductive justice for people in her home state of Texas. With a focus on leveraging research to advocate for equitable access to reproductive health resources and services, Audrey is dedicated to fostering inclusive research environments and empowering local marginalized communities to advocate for their rights and well-being.