From the President's Desk - August 2016
Dear AASECT family,
How wonderful it was to see so many of you in San Juan, Puerto Rico for our annual AASECT conference. Together we learned new skills and information, celebrated our achievements, and expressed our gratitude to our outgoing Board, committee chairs and our dedicated past-president Konnie McCaffree. We also applauded this year’s award winners and challenged ourselves to continue growing in issues related to diversity, equity, and social justice. Many thanks to Melissa Keyes-DiGioia and Mariotta Smith for their service as conference co-chairs and to their entire committee for their work on our annual meeting.
Although it’s summer, the AASECT office, Board members, committees, and I have all been tremendously busy adjusting to our new roles over the past month. I’m glad to have heard from so many of you about your reflections on the conference, your ideas related to our certification process, and your enthusiasm for the ways our organization continues to evolve.
In this issue of Contemporary Sexuality, I invite you to read about our new Board members and committee Chairs and hear about our plans and ideas. Our names and contact information are listed on the AASECT website should you ever wish to reach out directly. If we haven’t already had the pleasure of meeting, please let me introduce myself. I work as an associate professor at Indiana University’s School of Public Health-Bloomington and as a sexuality educator for The Kinsey Institute and our collaborative Kinsey Confidential column and podcast. My research team and I lead the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB), a now-annual nationally representative probability survey of sex in America. I’ve also conducted several studies about how people feel about their genitals and how genital self-image is associated with our sexualities. My friend/colleague Vanessa Schick and I even worked together on a poster project all about what people like about their vulvas and vaginas and launched it as a successful Kickstarter project a few years ago. Passionate about sharing evidence-based information about sex with the general public, I’ve also published several books and written thousands of sex Q&A columns over the years.
It’ll come as no surprise, then, that during my two-year term as president, I will emphasize the value of an evidence base to our professional practices and to our field more generally. As sexuality educators, counselors, and therapists we have an obligation to stay current on the latest research and practices. Those of us who advocate for evidence-based sexuality education in our nation’s schools must certainly value an evidence base in our own training as well.
We owe it to our clients to share ideas and expertise amongst ourselves and to engage professionals in our field from whom we can learn. As such, I’m already working on initiatives that will add to our strengths in this area. These will include expanding certain membership benefits (more to come on that) and the high-quality offerings at our annual conference and Institutes for everyone from beginning professionals to those who have been in the field for decades.
I am also committed to growing everyone’s voices within AASECT and in our field. I and the Board members hear you: we appreciate the feedback we have received about the need for continued work in areas of equity related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. I’ve heard your calls for workshops and training related to racial and social justice, bisexuality, transgender issues, lifespan issues (e.g., adolescence, pregnancy, postpartum, menopause, aging), and evidence-based and sexual health approaches to clinical concerns, such as out of control sexual behavior (our most highly attended workshop at this year’s meeting and the subject of AASECT’s Summer Institute). Our team is also pursuing ambitious goals related to scholarships to encourage the growth and professional development of our members.
If you used to be on the listserv and have since left, I humbly invite you to return. We need your voices! The listserv is also where I have the opportunity to communicate most often with AASECT members. Too, I ask that you start looking forward to our 50th anniversary in 2017 and our next Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Please consider submitting your best work and encouraging your colleagues to consider joining AASECT if they are not already members and returning to AASECT if it’s been awhile.
I look forward to working with you all toward a better, brighter future together.
Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH, CSE