Black Lives Matter: Our Statement of Mourning and Solidarity

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SHIFT NC mourns the murders of Black people by police in the United States. Most recently, these murders include those of Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tony McDade. We also condemn the violence against Christian Cooper. Along with many others, we are processing the life-threatening police phone call made against him in Central Park. The white supremacy that fuels this violence permeates all aspects and every sector of our society. We all must seek to understand white supremacy and the violence it causes, and, as we are able, help our friends and neighbors in their understanding.

As individual people and as a society, we must also identify our biases and look deeply at how our behaviors and policies need to change in order to stop racially charged violence and to demand the safety and freedom of Black communities. It is especially important that oppressors and people holding power – most specifically, white people – must continuously examine and confront their own racism, teach others to do so, and hold each other accountable. Furthermore, white people have the responsibility to actively build understanding, share it with other white people, and hold other white people accountable. To put this onus on Black people perpetuates harm.

Individual and systemic racism have disproportionate negative impacts on young people’s sexual and reproductive health. As advocates, we cannot significantly improve young people’s health without also ending all forms of oppression and racism, including the structural and systemic racism caused by white supremacy and upheld by cultural norms in all sectors of society.

We recognize the need for all people to grieve and process these tragedies, especially our Black family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers who are most affected. SHIFT NC stands in solidarity with all of you. These events strengthen our own ongoing commitment to anti-racism efforts and to uplifting the lives and needs of Black people. Black lives matter.

#SexEdForAll Month 2020: Sex Ed in the Time of Coronavirus

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May is #SexEdForAll Month, a month to highlight the need to work toward sex education that is comprehensive, medically accurate, LGBTQ+-inclusive, and culturally responsive.

The Coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on young people’s ability to access sex ed. It also provides a good opportunity to examine what sex ed really looks like – and how it could look in the future. 

Listen to us talk about the impact of Covid-19 on The State of Things on WUNC. 

The Impact of Coronavirus on Sex Ed

School- and community-based sex education programs have been deeply impacted by the pandemic, leaving students without access to critical knowledge and support systems. The same social distancing designed to keep us all safe makes it impossible for school classes and group programs to meet in person.  In addition, the strain on schools, health departments, and social services agencies to pivot to more immediate pandemic needs has drawn resources away from sex ed and other health education programs.

In schools, students most greatly impacted are those in grades 7-9, as well as those in 5th grade puberty class. Many of these students will miss core knowledge provide for by the 2009 Healthy Youth Act, including basic, medically accurate facts about abstinence, contraception, STI prevention, and healthy relationships.

 In community settings, group facilitators have taken a variety of approaches. Some have tried to fill in gaps with Zoom calls and other digital check-ins. Others are waiting until groups can meet in person, noting that many participants are isolated in challenging living environments where participation might be unsafe. And, some long-time facilitators have been reassigned to help with local pandemic response.

Sex Ed Elsewhere: Finding Inclusive Solutions

The temporary halt on school- and community-based sex ed programs shifts the onus to parents, other adults, and young people themselves to access medically accurate information about sexual health. Fortunately – in the spirit of #SexEdForAll – the proliferation of online resources is far more sex-positive, inclusive, and culturally appropriate than what schools generally provide.

For parents, resources like Amaze and PreparedParent can help guide lessons and conversations ranging from the most basic facts to stickier issues.

For young people, online spots like The Playbook, Bedsider, and Scarleteen are good go-to resources to bookmark, pandemic or not.

At some point, we will all need to settle into a new normal, whether we go back to our traditional physical spaces or adjust to distancing ourselves from each other. Students cannot afford a permanent pause on sex education. As we start to reestablish programs, let’s commit to making them work for all young people.



COVID-19 Impact on Trainings and Events

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We have been closely monitoring the spread, impact of, and response to the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in North Carolina. We recognize that the virus will continue to have an impact on you, your families, and your colleagues, as well as on the systems and organizations you rely on in your daily lives. 
Our goal is to continue to provide services when possible, while prioritizing everyone’s safety and well-being. We are altering some of our upcoming events in response, and in consultation with our partners and funders. 
Trainings, Meetings, and Capacity-Building Services
Our project managers and trainers are working with partners to determine how to proceed with trainings, meetings, and capacity-building services on a case-by-case basis. When possible, these events will be provided online. Decisions to hold events in-person are being made based on geographic location, group size, participant restrictions, and project need. For any in-person services, we are reminding both participants and trainers to follow the guidance of NC DHHS and the CDC, including staying home when sick, frequently washing hands, and increasing sanitation measures.
State of Adolescent Sexual Health Forum
The State of Adolescent Sexual Health Forum scheduled for Monday, March 16, will be postponed. We are currently exploring new dates. Current registrants will have the option to roll their registration forward or have their ticket cost refunded. If you are registered and have questions or want to request a refund, contact
Sex Ed Storytelling
Our Sex Ed Storytelling event scheduled for Wednesday, March 18, at the Pinhook in Durham, will be rescheduled for a later date. All tickets will be refunded. We look forward to presenting this hilarious and uplifting event at a more appropriate future date.
Annual Conference on Adolescent Sexual Health
The 2020 Annual Conference on Adolescent Sexual Health is scheduled for May 13-15 in RTP. We are closely monitoring public health recommendations regarding events and meeting, as well as coordinating with the event venue, to make a determination about how to proceed with the conference. A designated COVID-19 page will be added to to keep participants up-to-date.

Rising STI Rates Hit Young People Hard

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Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that cases of some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have reached an all-time high. Here in North Carolina, these increases are alarming – and they disproportionately impact young people, especially young people of color.

In North Carolina in 2018, young people ages 15-24 accounted for:

  • 66% of new Chlamydia diagnoses
  • 48% of new Gonorrhea diagnoses
  • More than a quarter of all new HIV diagnoses
What does this all mean? It means that reducing STIs in North Carolina will require strategies designed specifically to improve young people's health.

It can be difficult to know why STI rates increase, especially because increased testing – an essential component of keeping people healthy – can increase rates simply by identifying infections that might otherwise go unreported. However, we already know that North Carolina can do more to reduce the impact of STIs on young people. We can:
  • Ensure that all young people have access to high quality sex education and other health information so they understand STIs and how to maintain their own health.
  • Increase access to teen-friendly healthcare – including testing, treatment, and PrEP for HIV prevention – and build providers’ capacity to serve adolescent patients.
  • Engage existing tools, systems, and opportunities to address STIs and identify where we need implement new strategies.
  • Challenge stigma with both young people and adults while building awareness of the rising STI rates and strategies to address them.
The pressing need to address STIs is clear. Making sure that North Carolina has strategies designed specifically to reach young people will be essential to turning STI rates around.

Learn More

North Carolina County Profiles: Pregnancy, HIV, and STI Rates
2018 North Carolina STD Surveillance Report
2018 North Carolina HIV Surveillance Report 

Be an Influencer: October is Let's Talk Month

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October is Let's Talk Month, a time to focus on the critical importance of talking about sexual health. In surveys, young people consistently say that their parents or guardians influence their decisions on sex, safety, and relationships more than anyone else - including friends or the media. 

As powerful influencers, parents have a great opportunity to share information of lifelong importance. And, although there's so much emphasis on "the talk", most parents know that talking early and often, answering questions as they come, is the way to go - whether it's names of body parts or explaining where babies come from. As kids age, though, conversations can get more complicated. That's why we've created Prepared Parent. 

Prepared Parent is a choose-your-own-adventure mobile website that guides parents or guardians of teens through conversations about sex, relationships, and safety. A few simple clicks can guide parents through explaining their values, providing factually accurate health information, finding a doctor, and tailoring conversations to their teens' identity. Visit to guide your conversations during Let's Talk Month and beyond. 

Celebrating 10 Years of Better Sex Ed and Safer Schools for LGBTQ+ Students

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Ten years ago, our state passed two critical pieces of legislation thanks to the efforts of thousands of young people, some amazing advocates, and a bipartisan group of legislators.The Healthy Youth Act put an end to North Carolina’s restrictive and unscientific abstinence-only-until-marriage education rules and required schools to provide medically accurate sex education that includes contraception, STIs, healthy relationships, and more. The School Violence Prevention Act expanded bullying protections for students, including bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Why celebrate? It is absolutely essential that young people get medically accurate information in schools  - something only required in 13 states - and that they can have an opportunity to be themselves in a safe learning environment.
Having strong basic laws in place is only a start, though. Not every student is getting the sex ed they're entitled to. Not every student is safe and affirmed at school. We all have a lot more work to do. 
Since the passage of these two bills, we've trained teachers in school systems serving more than 300,000 on how to provide sex education - everything from how to find the urethra on a chart to how to answer really sensitive questions in a room of 8th graders to how students' past trauma might affect learning. Teachers need access to more of this type of professional development! We've also trained school personnel serving hundreds of thousands of students on how to create safe and supportive school environments so that they can protect students from bullying, help LGBTQ+ students thrive, and create a safer environment for everyone. 
We've also seen challenges. We continue to push back on legislative attempts to weaken sex ed in schools by cutting back on content or making it harder for students and parents to access classes. 
We will continue to fight for sex ed and safer schools for LGBTQ youth so we can look forward to another 10 years of progress for young people. 

AHAD 2019 is Here!!!!

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By: Madison Poupard 

Are you ready for Adolescent Health Advocacy Day (AHAD) 2019? With less than one month until AHAD 2019, SHIFT NC is gearing up for the best event to date! 

AHAD 2019 will take place on March 13, 2019, and we have an incredible program scheduled for our young advocates. Check-in will start at 8AM in Daniels Auditorium at the NC Museum of History in Raleigh. From 9AM to 12:30PM, participants will engage in programming based on this year’s theme - #YOUthLEADingCHANGE. In the afternoon, participants will travel across the street to the NC General Assembly to meet directly with legislators and share why sexual health is important to them.  

The event will feature a keynote speech from the Secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services, Mandy Cohen. Since her appointment as Secretary in January of 2017, Cohen has been fearless in her work to end the opioid crisis, strengthen Medicaid, and enhance early childhood education. Secretary Cohen holds both a medical degree from Yale and a Master’s of Public Health degree from Harvard. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to hear her speak! 

AHAD 2019 will also include special performances from inspiring spoken word poets, unique perspectives from a panel of young sexual health superstars, opportunities for artistic expression, and awesome giveaways! To guide young people in their activism, SHIFT NC staff will explain the importance of sexual health advocacy and youth engagement. Participants will also learn to voice their concerns about NC’s sexual health policies to their legislators by using their personal strengths and talents. By the end of AHAD 2019, we hope our young participants will have had the opportunity to connect with other young people, express themselves in different ways, use their voices to promote adolescent sexual health, and feel inspired and empowered to advocate for themselves and young people across NC. 

We hope you are just as excited for AHAD 2019 as we are! Registration is OPEN, so be sure to register before it closes on March 6th. We can’t wait to see #YOUthLEADingCHANGE. See you at AHAD 2019! 

Sex Ed Storytelling Highlights How People Learn and Teach About Sex

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More than 110 people showed up to support SHIFT NC for our first-ever Sex Ed Storytelling event at Motorco in Durham on Thursday, December 13. The event highlighted a diverse range of stories about how people learn and teach about sex. 

The evening kicked off with Cumberland County Health Hero Tamra Morris, who prompted riotous laughter with her tale, Sex and the #Sweetbabyjesus, an account of navigating her curiosity about sex with her religious family. Natalie Rich detailed her past career as a medical school pelvic exam model, and how student's reactions to performing their first pelvic exams often mirrored broader cultural ideas about women's bodies. Durham Academy senior Davi Sapiro-Gheiler received all the snaps and wowed everybody with a straightforward account of the lack of sex education for LGBTQ+ youth and the challenges in trying to fill the gaps.

After a short intermission, professional storyteller Ray Christian shared a powerful account of how a local child abuser interacted with children in his poor neighborhood and the trauma he inflicted. Marails Mercado Emerson shared how sex was an out-of-bounds topic in her immigrant household and how she ultimately became a professional sex educator to many - including her mother. Finally, trauma professional and founder of Complete Consent Culture, walked through how she talked to her own children about sex - trying with each to perfect "the talk."  SHIFT NC's Sam Peterson and Elizabeth Finley hosted, each sharing their own stories along the way. 

Thanks to everyone who attended, to our speakers, and to Motorco. 

Elevating Women of Color in Sexual Health

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In honor of Black History Month, we honored the strong Black Women working in sexual health.

We commit to continue to honor the trailblazing Black Women in our field, and we're also committed to honor Women of Color. 

We will continue recognizing those courageous women, our pillars of our community, and the institutions that are driving progress in our field--and we want to encourage you to do the same! We are highlighting the people and organizations who help drive the field - and who make a healthier, safer, more just world for young people. 

We’ll take nominations of women of color and organizations led by and supporting women of color that work so tirelessly, persistently, in sexual health. Email Tamara or Madison with your nominated person or institution, and contact information. We'll highlight the week's nominees in a growing post honoring the amazing women of color in our field. 

Nadiyah Barrow and Christina Worthington  

Nadiyah Barrow and Christina Worthington are sexual assault survivors and advocates from Durham, NC. They founded the support group Worthy Women on the campus of North Carolina Central University nearly 4 1/2 years ago. The purpose for the support group is to have a safe space for women to heal after experiencing sexual assault and/or abuse. Since then, they have created an apparel line that encompasses many items that serve as a reminder that you are still worthy of self love and happiness. It is their mission to create a culture of consent and help women reclaim their voice and their power back after traumatic incidents. 



Candace Bond-Theriault, Esq., LL.M.

Senior Policy Counsel, Reproductive Health, Rights & Justice Democracy Project Director 

Candace Bond-Theriault is a writer, yogi, lipstick enthusiast, and aspiring optimist. She is the senior policy counsel for Reproductive Rights, Health, and Justice, and the democracy project director at the National LGBTQ Task Force where she works through a black queer feminist lens to create change and shift culture towards intersectional liberation. Candace received her LL.M. degree in politics and legislation from the American University Washington College of Law, her J.D. from North Carolina Central University School of Law, and her B.A. in Human Rights with a focus on race, gender, and sexuality from the College of William and Mary. Her writing has appeared in the Advocate, the Grio, SELF magazine, and the Huffington Post. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and the cutest yorkie you've ever seen. 

Carla Mena

Carla Mena received her Bachelor of Science in Biology degree from Meredith College. Currently, she works at the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research as a bilingual project coordinator, where she serves as the project coordinator of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI) and the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP). The NC Department of Health and Human Services, Women’s Health Branch, funded TPPI and PREP to prevent teenage pregnancy and HIV/Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) transmission among youth, ages 13-17, in Craven County, North Carolina. 

As a strong advocate for social justice and equity, she is continuously involved in public health research projects related to minority disparities and volunteers in many community outreach programs. She currently serves in leadership roles on various community organizations dedicated to improving the well-being of minorities in North Carolina. Previously, she served as a reproductive health educator at El Pueblo Inc, which collaborated with SHIFT NC, formerly known as APPCNC, to organize community forums and conferences. 


Gwendolyn Goldsby Grant

Today we honor Dr. Gwendolyn Goldsby Grant, who passed this February 15.

Dr. Grant was a media psychologist, counselor, and advocate for sex education. Her Essence magazine column, Sexual Health, impacted three decades of readership. Dr. Grant earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in counseling and behavioral science, as well as a doctorate in both theology and education.  Her career covered assertiveness training, multicultural issues, affirmative action, sexual harassment issues, elder care, stress management, parenting, human sexuality, male-female relationships, and sex-role stereotyping. She put her expertise to work for a number of Fortune 500 companies and on the talk show circuit. Her book, The Best Kind of Loving: A Black Womans Guide to Finding Intimacy, published in 1995 is still in print, as readers find her no-nonsense wisdom relevant today.

She also conducted research and studied for a year at the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health Sciences at the University of New Jersey’s Medicine and Dentistry College. She was active in a variety of organizations, including the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Council of Negro Women. In the words of Susan L. Taylor, former editor-in-chief of Essence, “Dr. Gwendolyn Goldsby Grant was an irrepressible enthusiast with a needed disregard for convention,” who was “as fly as she was fearless and courageous.”

Thank you for your strength, inspiration, and wisdom, Dr. Grant—rest in peace.

Joycelyn Elders

Dr. Joycelyn Elders, the first person in the state of Arkansas to become board certified in pediatric endocrinology, was the sixteenth Surgeon General of the United States, the first African American and only the second woman to head the U.S. Public Health Service.

Elders did an internship in pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, and in 1961 returned to the University of Arkansas for her residency. Elders became chief resident in charge of the all-white, all-male residents and interns. Her research in pediatric endocrinology led her to study of sexual behavior and advocacy on behalf of adolescents. She helped her patients to control their fertility and advised them on the safest time to start a family.

Governor Bill Clinton appointed Dr. Elders head of the Arkansas Department of Health in 1987. As she campaigned for clinics and expanded sex education, she caused a storm of controversy among conservatives and some religious groups. Yet, largely because of her lobbying, in 1989 the Arkansas Legislature mandated a K-12 curriculum that included sex education, substance-abuse prevention, and programs to promote self-esteem. From 1987 to 1992, she nearly doubled childhood immunizations, expanded the state's prenatal care program, and increased home-care options for the chronically or terminally ill.

In 1993, President Clinton appointed Dr. Elders U.S. Surgeon General. Despite opposition from conservative critics, she was confirmed and sworn in on September 10, 1993. During her fifteen months in office she continued to bring controversial issues up for debate. As she later concluded, change can only come about when the Surgeon General can get people to listen and talk about difficult subjects.

She returned to the University of Arkansas as a faculty researcher and professor of pediatric endocrinology at the Arkansas Children's Hospital. In 1996 she wrote her autobiography, Joycelyn Elders, M.D.: From Sharecropper's Daughter to Surgeon General of the United States of America.

Now retired from practice, she is a professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas School of Medicine, and remains active in public health education.


Kia Thacker

Kia Thacker, MPH, has a passion for public health, social justice and health equity. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from UNC Chapel Hill and a Master of Public Health Degree with a concentration in Community Health Education from UNC Greensboro. Her specific interests are working to build the capacity of organizations to support prevention and best practice strategies and working with professionals and systems that serve marginalized youth to help all youth make healthy and informed decisions. 

In her current role with SHIFT NC, Kia serves as the Director of Priority Populations where she works to improve sexual health outcomes for vulnerable youth in North Carolina. She currently manages SHIFT NC’s Every Teen Counts Initiative, an OAH (Office of Adolescent Health) funded project that focuses on building the organizational and programmatic capacities of the Juvenile Justice and Foster Care Systems in North Carolina to better integrate evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs and strategies within these two systems. 

Kia previously worked as the Priority Populations Coordinator on SHIFT NC’s 5-year joint CDC and OAH funded project, Gaston Youth Connected, where she managed youth outreach, outreach to the most high-risk populations in Gaston County and provided technical assistance to community implementation partners. She also successfully coordinated the local youth leadership team, the Teen Action Council, which has since been sustained by the local health department. 

Prior to joining SHIFT NC, Kia worked in the field of substance abuse prevention where she planned and facilitated prevention programs in schools and communities, coordinated professional development trainings and provided technical assistance to organizations and coalitions implementing substance abuse prevention programs and environmental prevention strategies.

Martina Sconiers-Talbert

Martina Sconiers-Talbert has over 8 years of experience working in the field of public health. She is the Cape Fear Regional Coordinator for the March of Dimes North Carolina Preconception Health Campaign. As a coordinator she is inspired to share educational topics of preconception health with health care providers, adolescents and the community. She serves on multiple coalitions throughout the Cape Fear region to include the SHIFTNC North Carolina Youth Connected project based in Cumberland County.

She previously worked for Cumberland County Department of Public Health where soon became the “birth control expert” she focused on reducing teen pregnancy using evidence-based comprehensive sexual health education throughout the community. She has eagerly supported undergraduate and graduate level students in meeting requirements for graduation at various universities in the area. Martina is passionate about reproductive health and adolescent health issues. She is a proud alumna of North Carolina Central University (NCCU) and Walden University. In her spare time she enjoys time with family and friends, mentoring, traveling, attending concerts and various other entertainment.

DeVetta Holman

Dr. DeVetta Holman has held leadership positions at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill for over 30 years and has been the recipient of many decorated awards within UNC’s Student Affairs.  Her passion and primary responsibility is student success and academic achievement. In this role, she ensures that each student successfully navigates their UNC experience both in and out of the classroom and serves as a life skills coach. 

As a professionally trained health educator and primary prevention specialist, DeVetta earned her B.A. degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, as well as her Masters Degree in Public Health from the Gillings School of Global Public Health. She earned her Ph.D. degree from North Carolina A&T State University in Leadership Studies.  It is her dissertation, “Perception Analytics of African American Male Students' Personal Agency, emphasizing self-concept and its relevance to personal agency in the classroom, which propels her to educate, mentor and affirm the lived experiences of historically marginalized middle school students. Her professional, community, and civic engagement all support the premise that academic achievement, critical thinking and high expectations converge to shift the paradigm in developing and molding future 21st century leaders. 

DeVetta is certified by the Drug and Alcohol Institute, the HIV/AIDS Higher Education Leadership Forum, and as a National Addiction Prevention Specialist. In addition to her other responsibilities, she has served as manager of the North Carolina Governor’s Academy for Prevention Professionals, officially recognized by the Annapolis Coalition for Innovation in Workforce Development. DeVetta has served on the Board of Directors for SHIFTNC for many years as a leader in adolescent pregnancy prevention where she has met with North Carolina legislators, community leaders, educators, clinicians, and families to adopt evidence-based approaches to teen pregnancy prevention. 

 Dr. Holman’s inspiring work with students positions her to be an asset as she provides hands-on leadership in counseling, advocating, advising, mentoring, nurturing and guiding students. Her years of professional experience as a counselor and educator, along with her genuine concern for students’ well-being, enhances the learning and living environments of adolescents and young adults.  She is member of UNC General Alumni Association.

Jamika Lynch

Jamika Lynch was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in rural Columbus County, NC.  She began her professional career as the Program Coordinator at the Columbus County’s DREAM Center, a local non-profit organization. She is a Health Educator for the Columbus County Department of Public Health.

Lynch’s loyalty to commitment to sexual health education can be associated with the reduced rate of teenage pregnancy in Columbus County.  This rate has fallen over 13 percent since her start in adolescent sexual health. In Columbus County, Lynch is responsible for the facilitation of sexual and reproductive health education to adolescents. She is continuously honing her skills to be of the best service to youth. Lynch’s familiar presence is both welcomed and appreciated among the youth in her community and her colleagues statewide.


Alicia Andrews

Alicia is currently working as a Youth Development Educator with Wake County’s Cooperative Extension 4-H Program, specializing in sexuality education.  As a trained and experienced Public Health Sexologist, she is passionate about educating and cultivating an environment where sexuality education methods and comprehensive programming is adopted and integrated into traditional sectors. With a Public Health Education degree from NC Central University and a Master of Education degree in Human Sexuality Studies from Widener University, Alicia has merged her love of public health education and the complex support of sexuality studies.  She loves planning programs and events that are effective and relevant for all populations.  She also enjoys talking about the things that people do not want to talk about, SEX and SEXUALITY. 

It is with this passion, she is motivated to expose the community-at-large on how sexuality impacts total well-being through holistic, sex-positive strategies and methods.  Alicia has 10 years of experience working in the Public Health/Sexual Health field as a programmatic expert, developing and implementing community education for youth and adults.   Alicia was honored to be one of the few called to execute the vision of her mentor, Tanya Bass, during the inception of the North Carolina Sexual Health Conference, serving over 400 professionals in 2016 and 2017.  In addition, Alicia has provided her expertise to assist with the planning and consultation of other statewide sexuality-themed conferences and social health events.

Alicia recognizes the unspoken need for quality sexuality/sexual health education and professional development opportunities in NC, and the Southeastern region of this country, which has prompted her to execute her vision of operating as an independent consultant in this field. This new venture will allow Alicia to work toward executing her vision to engage communities by navigating courageous conversations to address sexual health disparities, which impact the public's health and sexual well-being.  Alicia's goal is to normalize the conversations related to sexuality and motivating the community to recognize the importance of understanding and applying the knowledge that one's total well-being is impacted by the comprehension of their sexual beingness.  She continues to live by her undergraduate alma mater’s motto, “Truth and Service”.  She is committed to educating the communities and being an asset to those in need, on all levels.  Alicia hopes her work will be able to free people for the bondage of oppression and lack of knowledge.  She believes freedom lies in the power of communication and knowledge.  Her philosophy is to “be free of ignorance, be free of fear, and be free to love with a side of compassion”.

Donna Oriowo

Dr. Donna Oriowo (Oreo-Whoa!) is a keynote speaker, clinical social worker, sex and relationship educator and therapist in the Washington D.C. metro area. Dr. Donna is the owner and lead therapist of AnnodRight, whose mission it is to help others reclaim their sexuality, identity, and self love by being their most wise, free, and authentic selves in addressing intersectionality, culture, and race in educational and therapeutic settings. She loves books, unsalted pretzels, penne pasta, great quotes, travelling, doing therapy, learning, and teaching. She can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @Annodright. OR you can always visit her (day or night) at

Gabrielle Evans, MPH, CHES, and Shemeka Thorpe, MS, of The Minority Sex Report.

In Case You Don’t Know: “The Minority Sex Report is a space for people of color to have conversations about sexuality freely. Our goal is to provide representation in sexuality education.” 

Shemeka and Gabrielle fearlessly facilitate workshops and presentations on a variety of salient subjects such as Consent, Sex-Positive Approaches, and Black and Native Women’s Sexuality. Their audiences are online and IRL, and are as diverse as fraternities, faith-based communities, and physicians. Both women bring an acuity and sense of humor to our challenging efforts, and for this, and the thousand other great things they do, we honor them. We continue to be inspired by and in awe of their work. 

Michelle Reese

In Case You Don’t Know: Michelle is our Director of Clinic Improvement Services, whose work in HIV/AIDS won her 2017’s coveted Red Pump Award for her efforts to raise awareness and education in the community. 

Michelle continues to bring her expertise and educator’s eye to her work, from mobilizing teen pregnancy prevention efforts in Gaston County to improving clinical services for teens and beyond. She has more than 22 years of experience working in adolescents reproductive health issues. While working in Gaston County, she worked to reduce the impact of HIV by providing counseling and testing, and by managing non-traditional HIV testing programs, reaching people in nightclubs, hotels, and other community settings. She followed that work by leading community mobilization efforts to reduce teen pregnancy through the Gaston Youth Connected initiative. Michelle has served as a master trainer with the North Carolina School Health Training Center for 19 years, and has mentored sexual health young professionals for 12 years. We honor her for her steadfast efforts to improve the health of young people, and the ability of communities, educators, and clinicians to support adolescent sexual and reproductive health. 

Tanya Bass, Southern Sexologist

In Case You Don’t Know: With over 20 years of public health education experience, Tanya Bass is a subject matter expert in the areas of minority health, pregnancy prevention, HIV/STDs and reproductive/sexual health. She is a tireless advocate for reducing health disparities. She is an alumna of North Carolina Central University’s (NCCU) Department of Public Health Education, where she has served as an adjunct instructor for the past 15 years. Tanya is working towards her doctoral degree in Human Sexuality Studies at Widener University in an effort to identify and bring attention to societal and environmental factors impacting sexual health and sexual behavior. She is a highly requested trainer, facilitator and mentor. Tanya Bass is illimitable - truly someone who continues to trail blaze through the sexual health thickets of North Carolina: we honor her!

Want to nominate someone - or yourself? Contact Tamara or Madison . This project is coordinated by Tamara Robertson, MPH, CHES, Capacity Building Specialist - Foster Care System, Madison Ward Willis, MPA, NC Youth Connected Community Coordinator, and Sam Peterson, Marketing and Outreach Specialist. 

CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Now Accepting 2018 Conference Submissions

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SHIFT NC is seeking presenters for the 2018 Annual Conference on Adolescent Sexual Health, scheduled for May 17-18 in RTP, North Carolina. The conference draws more than 250 youth-serving professionals who are seeking top-notch content on adolescent sexual and reproductive health. The 2018 conference theme is Blazing the Trail: Sustaining Progress and Exploring New Territory. 

Proposal Instructions and Application Materials

Submissions are due by January 26th, 2018.