Leadership

Desert Star Institute for Family Planning is a Black Woman founded and led organization that is intentional with its partnerships and programming with an aim to lift up and partner with organizations led by people of color, organizations whose work centers the lived experiences of people of color, and organizations that show a commitment to having people of color as planners and decision-makers in their organization.

DESHAWN TAYLOR, MD, MSC, FACOG

Founder and President/CEOinfo@desertstarfp.org480-448-6753

Dr. DeShawn Taylor (she/her) is a Board-Certified Gynecologist, Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Family Planning Specialist, and Reproductive Justice Advocate deeply committed to preserving and advancing access to family planning for people who experience pregnancy regardless of circumstance or zip code. She provides clinical women’s health care, abortion services, gender affirming care, and sexual health services for women and men and is the main trainer for the Next Generation of Abortion Providers Program. In 2020, Dr. Taylor was awarded the Maricopa County NAACP Trailblazer Award and received the Champion of Choice award from the National Institute for Reproductive Health in 2022.

Dr. Taylor was conferred the Doctor of Medicine degree from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. After completing post graduate training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Martin Luther King Jr./Charles Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, she completed the Fellowship in Family Planning at the University of Southern California where she was also conferred a Master of Science Degree in Clinical and Biomedical Investigations. Dr. Taylor lends her expertise to various national, state, and local boards, committees, and programs.

MICHELLE I PONCE

Deputy Directorinfo@desertstarfp.org480-448-6753

Michelle Ivette Ponce (she/her) is a reproductive justice advocate, community organizer, and arts management consultant in Arizona. Michelle serves as the Co-Director of Arizona Birthworkers of Color (AZBOC), an organization of Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) who support and provide services to birthing families in Arizona, since 2016. She is also the CEO of Sana Pueblo Consulting, LLC, a storyteller, and performance artist. Michelle works collaboratively with other grassroots groups and non-profit organizations, with the guidance of Black families and people of color, to empower an Arizona that is free to exercise autonomy over our own bodies and lives.

TAYLOR MCDOWELL

Program Managerinfo@desertstarfp.org480-448-6753

Taylor McDowell (she/her) started as a volunteer with Desert Star Institute for Family Planning in 2018 when she was completing her undergraduate clinical internship at our sister clinic Desert Star Family Planning. Taylor worked as a Medical Assistant for our sister clinic for two and a half years helping to provide abortion care, gynecological care, and gender affirming care to the people in the community. Taylor completed her BS in medical studies at Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions and is continuing to pursue a career in medicine and hopes to one day become an abortion provider herself.

WILLBLISS KIM

Program Assistantinfo@desertstarfp.org480-448-6753

“the meaning of life is to support and be supported, as the sun, rain, and moon support the seed taking root and bearing fruit.” – Willbliss said to their children when asked the age-old question “what is the meaning of life?” Willbliss Kim (they/them) is a trans Dad to 2 preteens who are their closest teachers, uses art to communicate memories & dreams, and thrilled to assist Desert Star Institute from decades of experience as an student clinician, abortion doula, queer educator, and community artist in grassroots community building. Passionate about collective healing, collective action, and collective knowledge, their present body of work is to reclaim their body from white supremacist cisheteropatriarchy and be present for the joy of moments shared.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS


The board of directors provides the vision, mission and goals of the organization and supervises the activities of the organization.

Analise Ortiz

Analise Ortiz is a political communications strategist working at the intersection of criminal justice reform and reproductive justice.  She formerly served as a campaign strategist for the ACLU of Arizona where she was part of a coalition that passed the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act and successfully stopped several restrictions on abortion access from becoming law during the 2021 Arizona Legislative session.

Evan Masingill

Evan Masingill is a 15 year veteran of the pharmaceutical and medical industry who has driven business development of several companies.  During his tenure, he has both built organizations from the ground up and executed on the objectives required to realize long-term vision.  Evan was one of the first board members to proudly join Desert Star Institute for Family Planning in 2017.

Johana Vallejo-Elias

Dr. Johana Vallejo-Elias, PhD is a professor of human physiology at the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine and an advocate for education reform in reproductive health care and family planning.

Michelle Reed

Michelle Reed is a consultant with expertise in financial analysis and healthcare technology, and a proud defender of feminist and reproductive health causes.

Miriam Araya

Mimi is dedicated to achieving social justice and Black liberation. She is a Co-Director and Art minister at Black Lives Matter Phoenix Metro. With a BS in criminal justice, a masters degree in justice studies, and currently working on a PhD in justice studies at ASU, Mimi’s plan is to continue engaging in work that furthers the liberation of all oppressed people with Black folks at the center.

Rafael Victorio

Rafael Victorio Jr, MS is a medical student at Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine and the current president of Medical Students for Choice – AZCOM. He is an advocate for reproductive justice, an artist, and a graduate of the University of California, Riverside.

Sharon Smith

Sharon Smith brings experience in outreach, fundraising and organizing to the Board. After 12 years as an award winning sales professional in the IT field, she left the corporate world to work in the community, organizing fundraisers for homeless veterans, animal shelters and children in foster care. When she learned of the constant attack on abortion access in Arizona, she began to focus on reproductive justice.

Stacey Stewart

Stacey Stewart is a Risk Practitioner who has worked in financial risk management for 20 years. Since 2009, she has been an advocate in the fight for reproductive rights and justice in myriad ways. She’s served as a clinic defender, community outreach advocate and speaker, event organizer, and blogger covering reproductive rights as well as local and national politics.