Joanne R. Strauss – President
Joanne is an attorney and currently serves as Corporate Labor and Employee Relations Counsel for Healthcare Services Group, Inc. Joanne is responsible for providing practical, business-oriented legal advice to internal clients including senior leadership, management, and human resources. In her role as in-house counsel, she handles labor arbitrations, matters before the National Labor Relations Board, regularly negotiates collective bargaining agreements, assists with navigating union organizing activities and contract administration matters and advises on issues related to multiemployer pension plans. Joanne also handles employment law matters before administrative agencies throughout the continental United States. Joanne has worked as a consultant advising clients on human resources issues such as executive recruitment, policy preparation, compliance, audits, labor and employee relations, training, workplace culture, and terminations. Joanne previously worked at a tax firm where she provided advice to closely-held businesses across the country. In previous roles, Joanne served as a human resources executive, held in-house counsel positions with a focus on litigation, labor, and employment law, state and local tax, and served as a law clerk in the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania. Joanne received her Master of Laws in Taxation from Villanova University School of Law, her law degree from Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center, and her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Creighton University. Joanne is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and before the United States Tax Court. Joanne is honored to be part of an unwavering organization that is unapologetic in its commitment to eliminate all forms of sexual violence.
Patrice E. Heller, PhD, LMFT – Vice President
Patrice is a PA-licensed psychologist, LMFT and Rabbi. She provides therapy to individuals and couples as part of her private practice, Dr. Patrice Heller Psychotherapy, and Rabbinical Services, in Philadelphia and Ambler, Pennsylvania. Patrice has served as a Rabbi in the greater Philadelphia community for nearly 40 years. Patrice served at Rodeph Shalom, Temple Shalom of Broomall, and the Reform Community at the University of Pennsylvania, among other congregational settings. She currently provides counseling and officiation for life cycle ceremonies (e.g. weddings, funerals) as well as teaching. Patrice has also been an Adjunct Professor of psychology at Temple University since 2006. Her undergraduate Human Sexuality, Trauma and Resilience, and Family Systems courses have included WOAR’s superb clinicians and educators who engaged and expanded the professor and students’ awareness and knowledge about sexual violence. This was the beginning of Patrice’s dedicated passion for WOAR’s mission, and she is deeply honored to serve on the Board.
Rodney A. Newton – Treasurer
Rodney is currently Director of Internal Control Testing at SAP, where he manages the internal control testing of information security controls. Previously he evaluated high-risk Third Parties within the Enterprise Technology Audit Group at Wells Fargo Bank. In addition to conducting Third Party vendor reviews, he has also conducted audits related to Enterprise Information Security Governance & Oversight, the Information Security Portfolio Office, and regulatory compliance internal audit projects. Prior to joining the Internal Audit department within Wells Fargo, Rodney worked for Grant Thornton as a Manager in their Business Advisory Services (BAS) Internal Audit, where he performed Risk Assessments for various clients. Prior to Grant Thornton, Rodney worked for a small woman-owned consulting firm in Washington D.C. providing audit readiness consulting services to the Department of Defense, including the Navy, Army, and the Defense Logistics Agency. Overall, he has over 16 years of IT audit experience across multiple industries, including banking, utilities, government, and insurance.
Rodney also engages in many volunteering opportunities including sitting on the Executive Board of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) as the Resource Development Director. He hopes that through this role he can influence young accountants and auditors to consider information technology in their career paths. He also hopes to inspire other minorities to consider joining the profession. He has also served as a board member for the Charles A Melton Arts & Education Center in West Chester, PA.
Rodney has a BS in Accounting and his MBA from Rosemont College in Rosemont, PA. He also possesses the CDPSE, CFE, CISA, and CISSP designations.
Sharlene St. John – Secretary
Sharlene St. John is currently a principal HR business partner at PECO Energy, an Exelon company. In this capacity, Sharlene fulfills a client-facing role supporting business leaders across the organization to drive for and achieve strategic business goals by maintaining an employee population that is appropriately staffed, effectively trained, consistently engaged, and proactively managed in accordance with the policies, mission, and values of the enterprise. While she joined PECO in April 2016, Sharlene has worked in the human resources discipline across a variety of other industries for the past 18 years. In addition to her work, Sharlene is a passionate proponent of diversity equity & inclusion and she is an active participant in driving PECO‘s commitment to attract and retain a workforce that is representative, and inclusive, of the diverse communities it serves.
Sharlene holds a Juris Doctor from SUNY Buffalo Law School and is licensed to practice law in the state of New York. She also holds a bachelor of arts in Political Science from SUNY College at Geneseo. Sharlene is proud to serve on the board of directors at WOAR and looks forward to lending her talents to enhance and drive the mission-critical work accomplished by this organization and its staff.
Members at Large
Claudia F. Curry, MBA, EdD
Claudia is the Executive Director of the American Association for Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC), “the leading national organization that champions women and maximizes their potential at community colleges”. Prior to this appointment, she served 19 years as Founding Director of the Women’s Outreach and Advocacy Center at Community College of Philadelphia before retiring in August 2021. In this position, she focused on “students first” by providing leadership in the development of programs and activities that address the interests and concerns primarily of women students.
While at the College, she co-founded the CCP-Parx Women’s Leadership Academy and a chapter of AAWCC and served as President-elect. In addition, she implemented and helped secure funding for the Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program (SHARP), the Homeless Student Support Project, and CCAMPIS (Child Access Means Parents in Schools). She has served as an adjunct instructor at the College, Harcum College, Peirce College, and University of the Sciences Occupational Therapy Graduate Program with experience teaching courses that include Leadership for Effective Organizations, Grant Writing, Domestic Violence, and the Justice System, and Leading Culturally and Generationally Diverse Populations.
Claudia also served as Founding Director of the Urban League of Philadelphia Leadership Institute which graduated nearly 500 minority leaders during her 12-year tenure. She is a recipient of numerous awards that include the Status of Women Award from Top Ladies of Distinction, the NAACP’s 100 Influential Black Women in Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania College Personnel Association’s Outstanding Contribution to the Profession Award.
Claudia received her Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management and her MBA from Eastern University, and her Doctor of Education in Innovation and Leadership from Wilmington University. She is an active member of the Peirce College Graduate Studies Advisory Board and a former member of several Boards of Directors including Women’s Way and the American Association for Women in Community Colleges.
Susan Del Maestro, PhD
Susan Del Maestro is a licensed Clinical Psychologist with a specialization in Trauma. She has a thirty-year career at the VA Medical Center in Philadelphia and is currently the Training Director of the Psychology Internship and Residency Programs and a clinician on the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Clinical Team. Susan has been a member of the Board of WOAR since 2016 serving as its Secretary for the past four years and as a member of the Strategic Planning Committee. She is dedicated to supporting WOAR’s mission and all that WOAR provides to the citizens of Philadelphia. Throughout her professional career, she has seen firsthand the devastating, life-interrupting impact of sexual violence and believes that WOAR plays a vital role in the prevention of sexual trauma through its unique outreach, education, and clinical programs.
Lydia A. Henry, Principal
Lydia is the CEO of Vision Coach Dynamics, Coaching, and Consulting in Philadelphia. She is a certified professional Executive Leadership Coach. She holds a Master’S degree in Human Services from Lincoln University.
Lydia’s corporate and leadership background spans successful careers in national and international marketing and sales with AT&T Global Services and Xerox Corporation. She is the recipient of the Philadelphia Urban League’s “Cecil Moore Leadership Award” and a graduate of the Leadership Institute.
Lydia created and co-produced two international women’s conferences: “Transitions: Navigating Change and Embracing Life” in Bermuda in 2014 and “The Global Women’s Business and Professional Exchange” in Accra, Ghana West Africa, in 2018.
She serves on the Board of Directors of SD Prism Dance Theater, New York, NY, and Martha’s Compassion, Accra, Ghana. She is a member of the Pagus Africa – Center for Achievement Advisory Council, headquartered in Norristown, PA, and in the Volta Region in Ghana.
Nettie Johnson, MD, MPH, CPH, NADD-CC
Dr. Johnson is an overseas-trained medical practitioner with experience working abroad in Africa and also as a public and mental health professional in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She has over 15 years’ experience working in clinical medicine, refugee and immigrant health and mental health. She is passionate about disease prevention and addressing health disparities for unserved communities.
Working as a public health professional at the African Cultural Alliance of North America (ACANA) Dr. Johnson serves as the Project Lead on federally funded, foundations and local projects. The goal is to reduce health disparities and advance health equity through access to care for the African and Caribbean immigrant communities in Philadelphia and surrounding counties. She obtained her medical degree from the A.M Dogliotti College of Medicine, University of Liberia, West Africa, and a Master of Public Health (MPH) from Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health. Her Certifications include Certified in Public Health (CPH), Grant writing, and Mental Health Dual Diagnosis (NADD-CC). Dr. Johnson has co-authored several scientific papers and public health research studies. She is a member of the African and Caribbean Vaccine Access Task Force and other health promotion advisory committees in the city of Philadelphia. Dr. Johnson resides in Philadelphia, with her family and is an avid lover of museums, reading, musicals, volunteering, and tennis.
Omar Martinez, JD, MPH, MS
Omar Martinez is an Associate Professor at Temple University’s School of Social Work. He also leads Temple’s Disparities and Inequities in HIV/AIDS Research Lab. His research integrates perspectives from public health, medicine, law, social work, and human sexuality to create interdisciplinary strategies that address health disparities among systematically and structurally excluded populations in the U.S. and abroad.
His experiences include the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs and interventions to address the health disparities and inequities, including Trans Equity Research Project, a peer-led, group-based HIV prevention and care intervention for men and women of trans experience; HoMBReS, a best-evidence community-level intervention HIV prevention intervention for self-identified heterosexual Latinxs; Connect n’ Unite, a couple-based behavioral HIV prevention intervention for Black men who have sex with men; and Connecting Latinxs en Parejas, a couple-based HIV prevention and care intervention for Latinx men who have sex with men.
Mr. Martinez is also committed to training the next generation of behavioral researchers and dedicated to supporting the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in nonprofit organizations. He currently serves as a consultant to the HIV Intervention Science Training Program for Underrepresented New Investigators at Columbia University. He is also a board member at GALAEI, a Queer and Trans, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color radical social justice organization that provides and facilitates queer educational services and community wellness, and the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, an international organization dedicated to advancing sexuality research and scholarship.