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, Project Lead - UT Austin College Health Study, Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin
  • 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, Project Manager - UT Austin College Health Study, Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin

Interns

 


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, Associate Researcher

Jennifer Yarger, PhD, is an Associate Researcher in Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Sciences. She received a doctorate in public policy and sociology (social demography concentration) from the University of Michigan, and a BA in Political Science from Wellesley College. 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. Dr. Yarger has published papers examining racial, socioeconomic, and geographic disparities in the use of family planning services and related attitudes. In her work with Dr. Harper and 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 new youth-friendly, digital materials to educate youth about the full range of contraceptive methods available to them. Other areas of interest include health insurance and access to care, confidentiality in the provision of family planning services, and the evaluation of state family planning and teen pregnancy prevention programs.


 


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.

Connie Folse, MPH, CHES, Training and Education Manager

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. As the Training and Education Manager for Beyond the Pill, she develops nationally-recognized patient education materials and resources around contraceptive options. Connie 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 Analyst

Julia (she/her) is a Program Analyst 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, Training Coordinator

Erica Somerson is the Training Coordinator for 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.

 

Dani Van Liefde, Research Coordinator

Dani 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. She has a background in global health, previously working in West and Sub-Saharan Africa coordinating malnutrition research with Washington University School of Medicine and non-profit organization Project Peanut Butter. She also has experience working for the CDC’s National HIV Behavioral Surveillance project at SFDPH. Dani received her Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

 

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 UT Austin College Health Study. 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.

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 (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 is the UT Austin College Health Study Project Manager. She is also a Research Associate at the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) of UT Austin. Irene holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Sao Paulo (USP), Brazil. She worked in Brazil for several years as a Researcher at the Laboratory for Ethnic and Race Inequality of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (LAESER-UFRJ) and as Project Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO-UN). Her research interests focus on race, racial inequality and public policies.


Interns

Sei Dojiri, Medical Student Intern

Sei (she/her) conducts research and produces visual graphics for Beyond the Pill. She is passionate about contraceptive care, transgender health, and health literacy. Prior to joining Beyond the Pill, she worked at Planned Parenthood providing reproductive health services. Sei is currently a medical student at UCSF and received her BA in Molecular and Cell Biology with a minor in Global Poverty from the University of California, Berkeley.

 

Paola Hernandez Fernandez, Undergraduate Research Intern

Paola Hernandez is a rising third year intended to major in Public Health. She is currently an intern at UCSF in the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology through the Undergraduate Research Internship. Before coming to UC Berkeley, she volunteered at Scripps Mercy Hospital in the post labor and delivery ward, where she was first exposed to Women's Health. Although she is new to the field of Reproductive Health, and research in general, she is excited to learn more about this field and to contribute by providing accessible information on contraceptive use.

 

Crystal Htwe, Undergraduate Research Intern

Crystal (she/her) is an undergraduate student intern from UC Berkeley's first cohort of Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health (MCAH) LEAP Scholars at its School of Public Health. She is a rising senior at UC Berkeley majoring in Public Health and minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. She actively participates in and leads extracurricular activities that support and advocate for marginalized communities, such as the students of color on UC Berkeley's campus as well as the unhoused populations in the East Bay. At Beyond the Pill, she is currently working on data collection for a series of educational resources centered around contraceptive use.

 
     

Ainsley Torres, Undergraduate Research Intern

Ainsley (she/her) is a student intern from UC Berkeley's Advanced LEAP Scholars at its School of Public Health. She is an incoming fourth-year undergraduate double majoring in Public Health and Integrative Biology, and minoring in Child Development. She is interested in community health and working to understand the intersection between health and advocacy to address health disparities in marginalized communities. Through her extracurriculars, she has explored this interest and learned to work with the community. As an intern, she is working on analyzing the effectiveness of educational resources on contraceptive use.

Annalisa Watson, Graduate Research Intern

Annalisa (she/her) is a Graduate Research Intern at Beyond the Pill focused on analyzing survey data from the community college randomized control trial. She is currently a Master of Public Health student at UC Berkeley in the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health program and received a BS in Psychobiology and a minor in Global Health at UCLA. Prior to graduate school, she worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator at UCSF in the Institute for Health Policy Studies, supporting research in pediatric health services. Annalisa is relatively new to the reproductive health field and is excited to apply her data analysis skills to support contraceptive access research.