Two organizations, one mission: to improve the physical, mental and emotional health of the greater LGBTQI2S community. Separate from Sacred Vessel Natural Medicine, The Equi Institute offers social justice and advocacy programming to support the mental and emotional components to LGBTQI2S health.

Big Others

Big Others, a developing mentorship program, pairs seasoned trans or gender nonconforming individuals with trans or gender nonconforming individuals who are just starting their journey. Mentors will be available to provide emotional support, accompany mentees to doctor visits and answer questions as they come up.

We are currently accepting both mentor and mentee applications! Apply below!

racial justice & civic engagement

Developed by our Racial Justice Intern, our pilot Racial Justice & Civic Engagement program started in June of 2017. This program aims to survey and conduct focus groups to determine the specific health needs of the QTPOC/BIPOC community that are not currently being met by our existing health care institution. The Racial Justice program is conducting a QTPOC Health survey to evaluate the health status of those communities.

queer Professional development

This program focuses on providing trans/non-binary/intersex/queer individuals with on-the-job training and experience in the form of an internship with either Equi or Sacred Vessel. Valuable skills are learned or honed by creating a customized internship. Supervisors will provide assistance with training, resumes and letters of recommendation. 

Internships are available, but limited at this time. Please inquire for details.


The Equi Institute Board


Alexxis woods | she/her
Board chair

Bio coming soon.


Adem cardona | he/him/they/them
interim Board vice chair

Adem is a 2 Spirit Taino living in Portland, Oregon. They are retired and disabled, a grandfather, and enjoy creating large pieces of art from various mediums including leather, oil on canvas, and silk. An alumnus of Portland State University, they previously worked in social services for both children and adults at the State of Oregon, and at a number of non-profits in the Pacific Northwest. adem is excited about joining the Equi Institute Board and believes in the programs and the life-saving services of which the clinic provides.


Amy Penkin | she/her
Interim board secretary

Amy joined OHSU in January 2015 as the Program Coordinator for the newly launched Transgender Health Program.  She has been a clinical social worker for 20 years and throughout her career has provided direct care, advocacy, and education in community mental health and healthcare environments.   Since 2005 she has been responsible for program/policy development, grant writing, clinical supervision for social workers seeking licensure, and program management.  


Amy has a history of providing and overseeing care for the LGBTQQI2S community and is dedicated to promoting health equity for these and other underserved populations experiencing health disparities.  In addition to working in the Portland Metro Area since 2009, her history includes teaching and working as a social worker, advocate, consultant, and private practice therapist in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She has traveled extensively for social work and human rights projects in Central and South America and throughout Asia.  Amy earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from the Univ. of California, Berkeley and has subsequently served as Adjunct Faculty and Field Instructor for Schools of Social work at UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University, Smith College, and Portland State University.


Are You Interested in Volunteering?

If you are interested in volunteering with either The Equi Institute or Sacred Vessel Natural Medicine, please click below to fill out a volunteer application and someone will be in touch with you within one business day.

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