I'm thrilled to announce that beginning in May, Scarleteen will be welcoming CJ Turett as our part-time assistant director. We've never had an official assistant director before, but have wanted one for quite some time, and I can't conceive of a better person for the job. I am particularly delighted to bring someone into a position of leadership here who is a younger activist: part of serving younger people well involves making them an integral part of the organizations who serve them, which absolutely should include positions of leadership.
CJ is a has a master's degree in human sexuality education from Widener University and is currently pursuing an Ed.D. He has worked previously as a community educator at a domestic violence and sexual assault survivor service organization, as an HIV/AIDS and LGBT case manager for the Mazzoni Center, and most recently as the education coordinator for Answer and their Sex, Etc. website. He has lectured on numerous LGBT health and well-being issues over the last five years. CJ is a student member of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) and the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS).
Because we're an open, personal bunch here, I want to share what I love about CJ and working with him, and why I think he'll be such a fantastic asset to our organization. CJ is not only intensely passionate about sex education, but about the kind of sex education we like to provide: inclusive, holistic, forward-thinking and humanistic. His idea of sex education is our idea of sex education. He's a strongly active and enthusiastic supporter of Scarleteen: CJ thinks the aims, goals and approach of Scarleteen are as great as I and millions of our users think they are. CJ implicitly understands that sexuality education should involve risk-management and issues of sexual and reproductive health, but that it also needs to equally address identity, pleasure and emotional and interpersonal well-being. CJ cares deeply about young people and other marginalized populations, and is a big-picture thinker; creative, energetic and deeply compassionate. He's got an overdeveloped sense of humor, which is a serious job requirement here. CJ also seems to understand my own creative process (which is amazing, since I'm not sure I understand it myself). Like myself, CJ never runs out of things to say or do.
CJ asks a lot of questions: with anything we have worked on together in the past couple of years, the level of discussion around articles or answers has been sophisticated and insightful. While in many ways we think similarly, CJ always has something to bring to the table I either wouldn't have thought about at all, or wouldn't have seen that way. Like myself, CJ is queer, feminist, progressive in his politics and has a longtime dedication to providing sex education. CJ brings a strong first-person understanding of the needs of trans people, younger people, access to certain kinds of healthcare and models of providing that care as well as organizational operations. I find the differences CJ brings to this partnership personally, intellectually and professionally a fantastic balance to my own personality, history and ethos.
Additionally, whereas I'm now on the west coast, CJ is on the east coast. This will allow us to do wider in-person lecturing, teaching-the-teacher/educator trainings and other outreach than we have been able to do in the past.
For the first couple of years I ran Scarleteen, I didn't get paid at all. What that meant was that I couldn't do Scarleteen full-time, but as time and my own resources allowed. This position will run much in the same way: CJ will only be working around 10 hours a week to start, as at this time, that is the most our budget can handle. We will, however, be applying for several grants this year, and our appeals to grantors will include funding for staffing. Ideally, to have Scarleteen run as well and efficiently as possible, the assistant director should be a full-time position, and my own position should not have to exceed the 40 hours a week it always does. That is one of our current long-term goals.
So, I'm also doing a bit of a fundraising nudge to help support this new position and CJ. My hope is that between grants and private donations we can eventually get to the point where CJs position is full-time and where both of us can make a living wage running the organization as a team. Two people managing an organization that serves just shy of a million young people each month is no less amazing in my book than one person doing it, but to do our best, we need to have our organization become better and more consistently financially supported.
Last year's fundraising went very well, which is why I can offer this position to CJ at all. If you didn't give last year, or did but can give again now, I'd very much appreciate your support, especially at this exciting turning point. If you'd like information on creating a private grant, either to help with staff salaries or to specifically fund certain content, please email me and I'd love to talk with you about that.
Founder & Executive Director, Scarleteen.com
Director, CONNECT sex education outreach, Washington