Pride for Youth Nassau & Queens Staff

Tawni J. Engel – PFY PROJECT DIRECTOR

She/Her Pronouns

Tawni serves as the PFY Project Director, where she is in charge of all administrative aspects of programming. She is also responsible for program development and grant writing, in addition to overseeing contract reporting. She supervises multiple staff and interns, and coordinates the day-to-day operations of the agency. Tawni is also a trained counselor on Long Island Crisis Center’s crisis intervention hotline.

Tawni is a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and has a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from CW Post/Long Island University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Hunter College. Tawni has been a lifelong ally of the LGBTQ+ community, and has been working with Long Island Crisis Center since 2008.
Contact Tawni: TEngel@longislandcrisiscenter.org or 516-679-9000, ext. 12

Contact Tawni: TEngel@longislandcrisiscenter.org or 516-679-9000, ext. 12

Jamie Peeler – YMSM SERVICES COORDINATOR

He/Him Pronouns

Jamie supervises the HIV Testing Program for our Nassau county location and also supervises the Nassau and Queens PrEP/PEP programs. He also facilitates GSAs and conducts LGBTQ specific workshops for students in the Roosevelt and Hempstead school districts. As the facilitator of Mpower+, Jamie provides a safe, supportive, and educational space for gay, bisexual and queer men & Trans individuals living with HIV and their allies. In addition to this, Jamie carries a caseload of LGBTQ identified individual clients.

Jamie received a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from York College in Queens, and plans to receive his Master’s Degree in Social Work. Jamie had fond memories of attending Pride for Youth as a teenager, and returned in 2013 as an intern and then volunteer before taking on a role as a permanent staff member.

Contact Jamie: JPeeler@longislandcrisiscenter.org or 516-679-9000, ext. 22

Aiden Jay Kaplan – LGBTQ YOUTH SERVICES MANAGER

He/Him Pronouns

Aiden oversees all administrative aspects of LGBTQ programming at Pride for Youth, including Coffeehouse, TransAction, YAAS, Queer Connect, and Community Education. Aiden facilitates the monthly “Pride for Parents Night,” and carries a caseload of individuals and families. He is available to conduct trainings on LGBTQ Cultural Competency to other professionals who work with youth, as well as provide Community Education on the topics of Understanding Homophobia and Understanding Transphobia in school and agency based settings across Long Island. Aiden is also a trained counselor on Long Island Crisis Center’s crisis intervention hotline.

Aiden graduated from Stony Brook University where he earned his Master’s Degree in Social Work. There he was awarded the LGBTQ Advocacy Award. In 2018 Aiden was accepted as a member of New York State’s TGNCNB Leadership Collective. Aiden is an active member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, the Educational Materials Advisory Council of Planned Parenthood Nassau County, and the Trans & Gender Non-Conforming Advisory Committee of the New York State LGBT Health & Human Services Network. On behalf of Pride for Youth, Aiden also attends monthly meetings as a member of the Community Advisory Board for Northwell Health’s Center for Transgender Care. Aiden has prior experience working with survivors of domestic violence, children who are survivors of sexual abuse and individuals with physical and developmental disabilities.

Contact Aiden: AKaplan@longislandcrisiscenter.org or 516-679-9000, ext. 16

Nicholas Dantuono – ASSISTANT YMSM SERVICES COORDINATOR

He/Him Pronouns

Nick provides community-based outreach to young gay, bisexual and transgender individuals throughout Long Island, with a focus on YMSM (Young Men having Sex with Men) of color, to connect them to the Coffeehouse and Mpowerment programs. Outreach is done through various means including social media, apps, bars/clubs, and schools. Along with outreach, Nick facilitates Popular Opinion Leader, a community-level prevention and intervention program that attempts to change social norms and reduce the risk of HIV infection, along with other sexually transmitted infections. He is also responsible for facilitating and hosting our successful bi-monthly Club Nights for YMSM. Nick can be found at Mpowerment on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 4:00- 8:00pm, as well as weekend Club Nights, which take place every other month. Nick is also available for drop-in counseling.

Among his many interests, Nick’s eclectic taste in music is at the forefront. From Country to Pop and House, he has a strong passion for all varieties. Additionally, Nick finds great fulfillment in leading his peers, and is consistently connecting with the LGBTQ community all over Long Island and Queens. After struggling with body image in his early years, he is an avid supporter of body positivity. Nick finds gratification in empowering his peers by helping them find their own personal strengths. Nick has also attended college at the University of Albany.

Contact Nick: NDantuono@longislandcrisiscenter.org or 516-679-9000, ext. 19

Vincent Maltese – PROGRAM ASSISTANT

He/Him Pronouns

Vincent is in charge of managing the office during evening hours. He provides clerical support to staff, and helps to keep PFY’s programs and events running smoothly. Additionally, Vincent is available to provide transportation for various programs and services on an as-needed basis.

Vincent received his Associates degree from Nassau Community College. There, he realized his passion for hairstyling, and is planning to attend school in order to obtain his license in cosmetology. He is a firm believer in the importance of physical health, and is most happy when he is exercising or dancing. One of Vincent’s biggest role models is Britney Spears, who has inspired him to be fearless, work hard, and most importantly to overcome the hardest times in life.

Contact Vincent: VMaltese@longislandcrisiscenter.org or 516-679-9000, ext. 10

Eric Thompson – HIV SERVICES NAVIGATOR

He/Him Pronouns

Eric is in charge of ensuring that new and current clients are connected with HIV preventive services, including HIV testing and PrEP/PEP. He also coordinates care for clients who are newly diagnosed with HIV or who have been living with HIV. In addition, Eric coordinates linkages for clients for Project PUSH, our collaboration with Northwell Health, to provide extensive HIV/STI testing and sexual health medical services here at PFY.

Eric has worked with Pride for youth for six years having several different positions and responsibilities. He is grateful to have such an impactful position. Pride for Youth, along with dynamic life experiences have truly shaped Eric to be the person that he is today. Outside of work Eric loves planning trips, traveling, trying new restaurants, and going to the gym.

Contact Eric: EThompson@longislandcrisiscenter.org or 516-679-9000, ext. 20

Maria Demauro– LGBTQ YOUTH SERVICES COORDINATOR

She/Her Pronouns

Maria oversees all aspects of the Coffeehouse program, TransAction program, Queer Connect program, Young Adults After School (YAAS) program and LUSH program. As Head Community Educator, Maria facilitates workshops in middle schools, high schools and colleges across Long Island and Queens through Pride for Youth’s renowned Community Education program. She is available to present on the topics of Understanding Homophobia and Understanding Transphobia, which help to create safe spaces in an ever-increasing number of school and agency settings. Additionally, Maria oversees the Counseling Department and carries a caseload of individuals and families.

Maria graduated from the University of Hartford, where she studied Psychology. She is currently attending Stony Brook University where she is working towards a Masters degree in Social Work with a specialization in Integrated Health. Maria has prior experience working with survivors of domestic violence.

Contact Maria: mdemauro@longislandcrisiscenter.org  or call 516-679-9000 ex.16

Charlie Arrowood – COMMUNITY MOBILIZATION COORDINATOR

They/Them Pronouns

Charlie Arrowood, Esq. is the Community Mobilization Coordinator at Pride for Youth. They oversee the Long Island ETE Project, which aims to end the HIV epidemic in this region. Charlie organizes community events, multimedia campaigns, and coalition building efforts to spread the U=U message and educate the community. They sit as a Co-Chair on the Nassau County Ending the Epidemic Committee, which was established by Governor Cuomo to end HIV in New York by 2020. The Committee works to do this through increasing access to HIV testing, linking people living with HIV to comprehensive and sustained care, and providing access to PrEP/PEP (HIV prevention medications). Charlie is also available to provide a variety of trainings to professionals in educational, health & human service, and medical provider settings. Additionally, they oversee quality improvement projects and program evaluation at the agency.

Charlie is a graduate of Tulane University (BA, History) and New York Law School, and is admitted to practice law in New York State. In addition to their role at Pride for Youth, Charlie is the Director of Name & Gender Recognition at Transcend Legal, where they assist transgender New Yorkers in need of name and gender designation changes, and Of Counsel to Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy. Charlie is also a founding member of the LGBTQ Committee of the Nassau County Bar Association and Northwell Health Center for Transgender Care Community Advisory Board.

Contact Charlie: carrowood@longislandcrisiscenter.org  or 516-679-9000 ex. 17

San Aryaan – PROGRAM ASSISTANT

He/Him Pronouns

San is the daytime Program Assistant at the Pride for Youth. He is in charge of managing the office, providing clerical support to all staff, and works hard to keep PFY’S programs and events running smoothly.

San received his associates degree in business from Queens. Although he comes from a law enforcement background, San has always been more inspired by philanthropic work, as well as his strong motivation to give back to the LGBTQ+ community. His favorite hobbies are weight lifting and watching foreign films.

Contact San: saryaan@longislandcrisiscenter.org  or  (516) 679-9000 ext. 10 

Ashton Wei – DATA ENTRY SPECIALIST

He/Him or They/Them Pronouns

Ashton is in charge of collecting and entering all data for Pride for Youth’s Nassau, Suffolk and Queens Programming.

Ashton graduated from Adelphi University where he majored in Psychology and minored in Studio Arts and Peace Studies. He is currently studying at Stony Brook University, working towards a Master’s degree in Social Work with a specialization in Community and Political Action. He is passionate about expanding LGBTQ+ rights, racial equity, and women’s rights. His favorite hobbies include art, music, video games, and anime/manga.

Contact Ashton: Awei@longislandcrisiscenter.org  or  (516) 679-9000 ext. 10 

Denise Gutierrez – YMSM SERVICES NAVIGATOR

She/Her/Hers Pronouns

¡Hablo Español!

Denise provides confidential HIV testing at Pride for Youth for gay/bi/queer men and transgender individuals up to the age of 45. As an HIV Services Navigator, Denise offers initial PrEP/PEP screenings, linkages to HIV medical services and STI linkages. Denise is the lead facilitator for MpowerVIDA in Nassau, a Latinx social group for Spanish speaking and bilingual LGBTQ identified peoples ages 18-45. She is also available to provide light case management work with Latinx individuals who may be in the process of seeking asylum, transitioning and/or need support in getting connected to further supportive services. While Denise spends the majority of her time in Nassau County, you can also find her co-facilitating MpowerVIDA in Suffolk County as well. In addition to the above, Denise also conducts community and social media outreach for these services with a particular focus on engaging young gay/bi/queer men and transgender individuals of color. All of the services Denise offers are conducted in both English and Spanish!

Denise studied Communications and Public Relations for 2.5 years at the Universidad Tecnologica del El Salvador. Since moving to the states from El Salvador, Denise has spent the last 4 years doing community work focused on improving the lives of LGBTQ Latino immigrants on Long Island. Denise’s decision to leave El Salvador and come to New York was in response to her life being in danger due to her sexual orientation and gender identity. Through Denise’s own personal experiences in engaging in supportive services that have helped her through the roughest of times, she has found the strength and enthusiasm to work passionately with the Latino LGBTQ community on Long Island in the hopes of giving back to her community the same life-saving supportive services she received years ago. Denise hopes to continue her studies and prepare herself professionally to further help her Latino LGBTQ community.

Contact Denise: DGutierrez@longislandcrisiscenter.org  or  (516) 679-9000 ext. 29 

Christopher Beach  – PrEP/PEP OUTREACH SPECIALIST

He/Him/His Pronouns

Christopher is our PrEP/PEP Outreach Specialist, focusing on communities of color in the Northern Queens area. Christopher is tasked with establishing relationships with organizations and agencies located within his targeted areas in order to get new clients connected with PrEP/PEP. He also provides clients with the vital and impactful knowledge of the services Pride for Youth has to offer that are geared to protecting their sexual health. In addition, he serves as the direct linkage between new or existing clients and our partners at Northwell Health in Jackson Heights.

Christopher has worked in the Public Health field for 5 years. He enjoys giving back to his community and providing care for everyone. His goal is to be an inspirational figure in the community as well.

Contact Christopher: CBeach@longislandcrisiscenter.org  or  (929) 326-4113 

Travis Semexant   – PrEP/PEP OUTREACH SPECIALIST 

He/Him/His Pronouns

Travis provides community-based outreach to young gay, bisexual and transgender individuals throughout Queens. His work primarily focuses on young men of color and connecting them to PrEP/PEP services with our community partner Damian Center. Outreach is done through various means including social media, apps, bars/clubs, and schools. Travis’s outreach cuts across various communities throughout Queens. In addition, Travis provides ongoing sexual health education and adherence counseling to all PrEP/PEP enrolled clients.

Travis is currently studying Practical Nursing along with Holistic Medicine. Prior to working for Pride for Youth, he worked as vocalist, lyricist and performer. Travis’s goal is to one day make an impact on the world by becoming a Holistic Doctor.

Contact Travis: tsemexant@longislandcrisiscenter.org  or  (646) 726-2677 

Matthew Palmer  – YHA COORDINATOR

He/Him/His Pronouns

Matt provides personalized counseling to individual clients. He also supervises our Peer Navigators, who deliver community education and outreach under the Youth Health Advocate program. In addition, he provides clinical support at Coffeehouse, and is available for drop-in counseling the third Friday night of every month.

Matt obtained a Bachelor of Science with a minor in Sociology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Farmingdale State College. He has previous experience teaching life skills and coping skills to adolescents in a group home setting. He also has a particular passion for transgender rights.

Contact Matt: mpalmer@longislandcrisiscenter.org  or  (516) 679-9000 ext. 15 

Dervis Pulgar – HIV SERVICES NAVIGATOR

He/Him/His Pronouns

¡Hablo Español!

Dervis provides confidential HIV testing at Pride for Youth for gay/bi/queer men and transgender individuals up to the age of 45. As an HIV Services Navigator, Dervis offers initial PrEP/PEP screenings, linkages to HIV medical services and STI linkages. Dervis is also a facilitator for MpowerVIDA in Nassau, a Latinx social group for Spanish speaking and bilingual LGBTQ identified peoples ages 18-45. He is also available to provide light case management work with Latinx individuals who may be in the process of seeking asylum, transitioning and/or need support in getting connected to further supportive services. In addition to the above, Dervis also conducts community and social media outreach for these services with a particular focus on engaging young gay/bi/queer men and transgender individuals of color. All of the services Dervis offers are conducted in both English and Spanish!

Dervis graduated with a degree in Computer Engineering while living in his home country of Venezuela. Since coming to New York in 2015, Dervis has had a strong desire and passion to work with LGBTQ immigrants providing sexual health education around HIV/AIDS and STIs. Dervis considers his work with Pride for Youth a way to give back to his community, helping those in need, while also helping give back to a state that has given him so much since he’s been here. Dervis considers himself a great person with good values, a lover of animals and desire to keep learning and helping those with humility to make the world a better place to live.

Contact Dervis: Dpulgar@longislandcrisiscenter.org  or  (516) 679-9000 ext. 29