Staff and Contributors

Here’s a brief introduction to the core staff of the Center for Young Women’s Health (CYWH) and contributors to Medical fellows and other Boston Children’s Hospital health care professionals contribute to the development of content, and our wonderful youth advisors advise us on presenting information in a teen-friendly style.


Marc LauferDr. Marc R. Laufer MD, Co-Director and Co-Founder

Dr. Laufer is the Chief of Gynecology at Boston Children’s Hospital, a reproductive endocrinologist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School. He is the past president of the North American Society of Pediatric Adolescent Gynecology, and the past chair of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist’s Adolescent Health Committee. Dr. Laufer has conducted research and published extensively, lectured internationally, and is the co-author of 4th and 5th edition of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. Dr. Laufer is recognized internationally for his expertise in pediatric and adolescent gynecology, reproductive endocrinology, endometriosis, reconstructive surgery for congenital anomalies of the reproductive tract, and gynecologic surgery. Dr. Laufer is an advisor to the Endometriosis Association and has provided his expertise for the staff to host our MRKH and Endometriosis chats each month. He has been recognized by numerous organizations with awards for being an excellent doctor.


Dr. Jessica Shim MD, Associate Co-Director

Dr. Shim is an associate co-director of the Center for Young Women’s Health and an attending in the Division of Gynecology at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Shim completed her fellowship training in pediatric and adolescent gynecology at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is passionate about reproductive health education and her clinical interests include endometriosis, fertility preservation, and congenital anomalies. She has publications on several topics within adolescent gynecology and has been an invited speaker for national and international conferences. Dr. Shim is thrilled to be joining the staff at the Center and looks forward to helping patients feel empowered through the Center’s resources.


Dr. Shannon Fitzgerald, MD, MPH, Associate Co-Director

Shannon Fitzgerald, MD, MPH is an associate co-director of the Center for Young Women’s Health and an Attending Physician in the Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine. Dr. Fitzgerald completed her Adolescent Medicine Fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Fitzgerald spends her clinical time focusing on reproductive/sexual health, reproductive endocrinology, school based care, and primary care. She also enjoys teaching both in the clinical setting and in the community. Dr. Fitzgerald is so excited to be joining the staff at the Center and continue working towards helping young people grow and develop into who they want to be while empowering them to make healthy choices and decisions.


Emily Haffner BSN, RN, CPN, Nurse Educator

Emily Haffner was recruited as the new Nurse Educator for the Center for Young Women’s Health (CYWH) with the retirement of Phaedra Thomas-Kowal, RN in 2019.  Although new to this role, Emily is a certified pediatric nurse and was a Youth Advisor for the CYWH. She brings her experience in co-developing educational materials for patients at BCH including videos to the CYWH. Emily is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the CYWH, including the Youth Advisory Program, moderating online chats, coordinating both the Endometriosis and MRKH annual conferences, mentoring students, updating online health information, and collaborating with other clinicians to provide the highest quality evidence-based health information for teens, parents, health care providers, educators and others. Emily is both passionate and dedicated to improving health education and resources for teen girls and young women around the world. ​


Schroeder_Katrina-croppedKatrina Smith, RD, LDN, Dietitian

Katrina Smith is a Clinical Nutritionist specializing in adolescent nutrition issues. Her areas of expertise include eating disorders, overweight and obesity, body image, polycystic ovary syndrome, and peer education. She trained in the LEAH (Leadership Education in Adolescent Health) program at Boston Children’s Hospital. In addition to writing and editing guides for the Center for Young Women’s Health, she sees patients in the Adolescent Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital, including the HAPPENS program to provide teaching to HIV+ youth on nutrition.


Ara TolentinoAra Tolentino, Web Content Coordinator

Ara Tolentino is the CYWH’s web content coordinator. She manages the CYWH and YMH websites, designs all print and web material, and helps ensure that all information posted is clear and accurate. She also helps manage the CYWH social media accounts. Ara is passionate about impacting the community through web content creation/management and social media.



Jill R. Kavanaugh, MLIS, AHIP, Media Consultant

Jill R. Kavanaugh is the part-time Media Consultant for the CYWH. Jill provides support to the Media Coordinator and the Web Developer, assisting with both technical and content tasks. Additionally, Jill has a background in media studies, and creates evidence-based content for teens and parents on how media and technology can affect the health and development of children and adolescents.


Brian Keller, Web Developer

Brian Keller builds new features for the CYWH and YMH websites. He brings his expertise and talent in developing educational and nonprofit websites and is devoted to using the Internet as an essential tool to help and educate people everywhere.

Youth Advisors

The Youth Advisory Program mentors and trains urban high school students to become peer leaders. Learn more about the program here.


Previous Leadership

S. Jean EmansDr. S. Jean Emans MD, Emeritus Co-Director and Co-Founder

Dr. Emans is the Mary Ellen Avery Professor of Pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School, Chief Emeritus of the Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, and the Director of the Office of Faculty Development at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is the author of several textbooks, including Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology (7th edition, 2019), and more than 200 medical articles. She has lectured extensively around the world on many reproductive health topics. She is a Past President of the North American Society of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. Dr. Emans oversees the operation of the CYWH, edits all of our health guides and has directed two courses each years for medical clinicians. In 2006, she was honored with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Adele Dellenbaugh Hofmann Adolescent Health Award. Dr. Emans has been honored with the 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Adele Dellenbaugh Hofmann Adolescent Health Award, the 2009 HMS William Silen Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award, and the 2011 Outstanding Achievement in Adolescent Medicine Award from the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM), the highest honor in Adolescent Medicine. Dr. Emans feels passionately about empowering girls about their health.

 Thomas-KowalPhaedra Thomas-Kowal, RN, BSN, Co-Founder and Emeritus Co-Director

Phaedra Thomas-Kowal is a nurse educator, experienced project leader, and lead author and editor of our curricula and health guides. During her more than 20 years as Co-Director of the Center for Young Women’s Health, she coordinated the Children’s Hospital League’s Resource Center, the Youth Advisory Program, and the Peer Mentoring Program. She created two conferences for teen girls and their families on Endometriosis and MRKH that continue to be held annually. In 2003 Phaedra received the David Weiner Award for her leadership and innovations in teen health and in 2012 she was the recipient of the Gary Fleisher, MD award for pediatric nursing excellence. She remains passionate about empowering teen girls and young women about their health.

Dr. Catherine Gordon, MD, MS, Former Co-Director

Catherine M. Gordon, MD, MS is double-boarded in adolescent medicine and pediatric endocrinology, and serves as Chief, Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine and Director, DXA Center/Bone Health Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. Her clinical and research contributions have focused on bone health and reproductive endocrinology, particularly menstrual disorders, delayed puberty, primary ovarian insufficiency, eating disorders, and pediatric/adolescent bone health. Dr. Gordon leads an independently funded adolescent bone health research group with support from the NIH, Department of Defense, and private foundations.  She is also Senior Associate Editor for Neinstein’s Adolescent and Young Adult Health Care, 7th edition.  She serves on the Advisory Council for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver NICHD, Adolescent Medicine Subboard for the American Board of Pediatrics, and Executive Committee for the Thrasher Research Fund.  Dr. Gordon commits significant effort to the teaching of students, house staff, and fellows, primarily in the outpatient clinics in the Divisions of Adolescent Medicine and Endocrinology, and has been invited to teach on national and international levels.


Additional Contributors

Deena Altschwager, MS, RD, LDN
Rose Ashraf, PhD
Tamara Baer, MD
Maria Benoit, RN
Josh Borus, MD MPH
Traci Brooks, MD
Emily Brown
Amanda Bryson, MD
Lillian Butler
Haidee Cano, LICSW
Louise Chase, LICSW
Laura Clasby, RN
Erica Cuevas
Amy Divasta, MD
Katy Doughty
John Emans, MD
Susan Fitzgerald, RN, MSN, CPNP
Emma Forbes
Tynaya Frasier
Dawn Freiberger, RN
Amanda French, MD
Kate Garvey MD
Elizabeth Ginsburg, MD
Nanci Ginty Butler, LICSW
Anna Gitlin, LICSW
Danielle Gordon, MD
Esterann Grace, MD
Rosemary Grant, RN
Susan Gray, MD
Ashley Guevara, LICSW
Lalita Haines, MD
Sion Harris, PhD
Yalda Hedeyat
Carolyn Jacobs
Nia John
Melanie Johnson
Sabra Katz-Wise, PhD
Traci Kazmerski, MD MS
Laura Kirkpatrick, MD
Beth Klements, APRN
John Knight, MD
Amanda Kohn
Amanda Kosta
Atsuko Koyama, MD
Martha Kurland, MSW
Sue Rosenfeld, DMD MPH
Kristelle Lavallee
Tyan-Chi Lin, MD
Jeanine Maglione, RN
Francie Mandel, LICW
Amy McCarthy, MSW
Medha Parulekar, MD
Sarah Pitts, MD
Emily Pluhar, PhD
Cailin Ryrie, MSW, LICSW
Heidi Schauster, MS, RD
Judi Seigel, MSW, LICSW
Lydia Shrier, MD
Kendrin Sonneville, ScD, RD, LDN
Sarah Spence, MD, PhD
Kara Sugihara, NP
Alex Taylor, MD
Scott Thomas
Valerie Ward, MD
Elsie Weisberg, MS, RD, LDN
Michael C Young, MD