Staff, Board Members, and Interns


       Tessa Benson,  Healthline Manager

Tessa trained with ACCESS in 2017 and quickly joined the Healhtline team as an intern, and she recently joined staff as the Healthline Manager. Through ACCESS, Tessa has deepened her commitment to reproductive justice and developed her political and values alignment within the movement. In addition to being a Healthline Intern, Tessa has also provided practical support to callers, was a guest speaker at college campuses with other interns, and currently represents ACCESS in a cohort of funds established through the National Network of Abortion Funds. She has worked many jobs in service, with youth, and in the housing and immigrant right’s movement, but really found her home at ACCESS. 


Tessa grew up with her grandparents and has always been a caregiver, and is thrilled to be able to contribute to her community in a more sustainable way. She’s currently in training to become a certified Sex Educator and hopes to eventually provide culturally competent and truly comprehensive sex education. If she’s not out hiking, swimming, or enjoying the sunshine, she can be found inside painting or reading horror novels.  
       Gabriela Castillo,  Healthline Program Director
Gabriela Castillo initially joined ACCESS in 2008 as a healthline intern, became a Practical Support Volunteer in 2010, joined the staff as Program Manager in 2011, took on a leadership role of Board Member in 2013, and has now returned to her former role as Program Manager in 2016.  Gaby has roots in the San Fernando Valley in the greater Los Angeles area and moved to the Bay area in 2005 to attend UC Berkeley where she obtained her degree in Interdisciplinary Studies Field.  She has experience in supporting people in domestic violence situations, juvenile justice, art, sex education, reproductive justice, parent organizing, community organizing, and political education and actions throughout the Bay Area.  Gaby is passionate about self-care, community healing, and vicarious medicine and seeks constant re-connection with her indigenous roots through traditional medicine for wellness and healing for the communities and particularly the women she crosses paths with.  Gaby currently lives in Oakland, Califas.
Rachel Coe,  Movement Building Director
Rachel joined ACCESS as the Healthline & Policy Fellow in 2015 and became the Public Policy and Trainings Director in 2016. After leaving school at 16, Rachel worked in bookstores (RIP Crown and Borders), cafes, video stores (RIP Blockbuster), and in Special Education. They attended Diablo Valley Community College before transferring to UC Berkeley. Rachel got their Masters of Social Work at the University of Michigan, with a major in Community Organizing and a minor in Social Policy and Evaluation, as part of the Community-Based Initiative. Before coming to ACCESS, she worked with American Indian Health and Family Services in Detroit, Michigan, working in both their Healthy Start and Wellbriety programs and with Homeless Action Network of Detroit, the Continuum of Care for cities in the area. They were an HIV Test Counselor focusing in street outreach and have experience with harm reduction, houslessness, and community/family wellness. 

Rooted in the Bay Area, Rachel grew up in Oakland with a complicated and love-filled family; she has been a caregiver since before she can remember. She enjoys reading, laughing with her family, and adventuring with her partner. Rachel currently lives with her partner and cats, and continuues to provide emotional and physical care for her parents.

Board of Directors

Sangita Devaskar

Sangita Devaskar is a project manager at UCSF's Innovating Education in Reproductive Health. She was integral in the design and implementation of course evaluation materials for Abortion: Quality Care and Public Health Implications, the first online academic course about abortion. The six-week course aimed to fill the gap often excluded from public health curricula. She currently manages the organization's Managing Early Pregnancy Loss initiative, an educational module to support a patient-centered approach to miscarriage management. Sangita's previous experiences include health education for the Women's Community Clinic and research for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Sangita received her MPH from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, with an emphasis in population and family health and her BA in Sociology from UC Berkeley. In her free time you can find her exploring the beautiful Bay Area, biking across the city, and frequenting farmer's markets for her next culinary adventure.


Jenna Gaarde

Jenna is originally from California's Central Valley and has lived in the Bay Area for ost of her adult life. Jenna went from having received abstinence-only education in Clovis to jumping head-first into sexuality education, public health and reproductive justice when she moved to the Bay. After her MPH program she joined Bay Area Doula Project, which led her to ACCESS. She currently works for San Francisco Department of Public Health as a health planner in Maternal, Child & Adolescent Health, and spends much of her time on racial equity efforts in the health department. Jenna loves spending time outside, crafting, and watching reality TV.


Cynthia Gutierrez

Cynthia Gutierrez is a first generation Nicaraguan Salvadorian feminist. She is a Research Analyst with Advancing New Standards for Reproductive Health (ANSIRH). Cynthia is passionate about working in the fields of access to reproductive justice, birth work, with the intersection of sexual violence trauma. Prior to working at ANSIRH, Mrs. Gutierrez has a decade of social justice community organizing experience. Cynthia holds a BA in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is pursuing her Master's in Public Health at the University of San Francisco. 

Phillip Kim

Phillip C. Kim has been fundraising and organizing to fight barriers to abortion for over 10 years. He has co-produced the sold-out concert series, Roe on the Rocks, to raise over $40,000 for Planned Parenthood of NYC. He helped grow the Planned Parenthood of NYC Volunteer Clinic Escort Program from 20 volunteers at one clinic to over 115 volunteers at three clinics with his infamous baby polar bear and kitten laden PowerPoint Presentations. He joined the New York Abortion Access Fund in 2011 and helped organize bowl-a-thon benefits which raised over $250,000 to directly fund abortions. He recently moved to Oakland with his pitbull, rabbit, and motorcycle and is looking forward to continuing the fight as a board member of ACCESS Women's Health Justice.


Sarah Layton (Chair)

Sarah Layton is the Finance Director at PL+US: Paid Leave for the United States. Previously the Director of Finance & Operations at If/When/How, she loves building scalable systems and providing a strong administrative background to justice-oriented work. Born and raised in the East Bay, Sarah enjoys spending her free time exploring the area's many parks, preferably with her rescue dog. She has been a practical support volunteer with ACCESS since 2012.


Ireri Lora

Ireri Lora is a youth Organizer at Youth Together, a non-profit organization dedicated to address the root causes of educational inequities by developing multiracial youth leaders to promote positive social change. Born in Mexico City, Ireri migrated to the United States with her family when she was eight years old. She was raised in Oakland, CA and attended UCSD where she majored in Political Science and Ethnic Studies. She began working with ACCESS as a heathline intern and continues to work as an advocate for the undocumented community with the East Bay Immigrant Youth Coalition.

Layidua Salazar                                                                                                                                                      Layidua Salazar migrated from Mexico City with her family at age five and firmly planted her Bay Area roots in Oakland. She is a first generation college graduate, with a B.A. in History & Women's Studies from San Francisco State University. A self identified movement baby, she has been actively organizing in social justice fields since she was 14.   Layidua an Abortion Storyteller with We Testify. In her spare time, you can find Layidua cooking and reading to Pretty Girl, her adorable 3 year old pit bull.



Rachel Scherrer

Rachel has been a practical support volunteer and Healthline intern since February 2017.  She came to ACCESS by way of a varied and meandering work and life experience path.  She has worked in retail, as a mail carrier, on a pig farm, as a vet tech, and as a bench scientist at a large pharmaceutical company.  She also has contributed to a large penguin DNA project, and done behavioral research with dolphins, monkeys, and rhinos.  She has long-standing interests in medicine, reproduction, and religion, and took these to graduate school where she pursued anthropological work centered on reproduction, abortion, and contraception, all grounded in a political economic framework.  It was there that she realized she was not interested in becoming an academic, and preferred on-the-ground work.  She combines this background with her own personal experiences with pregnancy, abortion, birth, and parenting, which have unfolded in two countries and across two languages.  A native midwesterner (hello, Chicago!), she still struggles to climb the Bay Area hills, but she never, ever tires of watching the ocean, and you'll often find her there during free time.


Penni Takade

Penni is a California native originally from Southern California and has lived in the Bay Area for almost a decade.  She has been vocally pro-choice all her life, having written her first essay arguing for reproductive choice in middle school.  Penni is a graduate of UC San Diego and UC Berkeley School of Law.  She has retired from the practice of law and is currently fostering kittens, planning long backpacking trips in the mountains and volunteering in the community. Penni has been a Healthline Intern at ACCESS since January 2019.


Sasha Nochimow

Although originally from Massachusetts, Sasha has been dividing her time between South America and an island off the coast of Maine for the past several of years. She has very recently moved to the Bay Area to get involved with reproductive justice via the Healthline Internship Program at ACCESS and couldn’t be more excited! After studying Anthropology & Women’s Studies at Hampshire College, Sasha lived and traveled throughout South America where she fell in love with Latinx culture. Her time there shaped her in many ways but perhaps most intensely was her experience with reproductive health access, thereby deepening her passion to work in reproductive justice. Now located in Oakland, she is eager to learn from this diverse community and immerse herself in an organization as amazing as ACCESS. Sasha is particularly passionate about abortion access, comprehensive secxuality education, and immigrant rights. When she isn’t working at ACCESS or waiting tables, you can find her writing poems, running outside, and dreaming about raising honeybees.