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Letter from the President's Desk

Letter from the President's Desk

By Konnie McCaffree | From the December 2015 Issue

Season's Greetings! Before we know it, 2016 will be here. But before looking forward to the new year, I wanted to tell you about these past few busy months, and to share with you the results of the most recent Board of Directors (BOD) meeting, which took place in November. 

The BOD meeting took place the day before the SSSS meeting in Albuquerque, so that several of us on the BOD could attend the conference. Michael Chan, our Executive Director, and Jeanne Sheehy, the Marketing Director at Bostrom, presented an Integrated Marketing plan that is being created for AASECT. And in addition to examining our Strategic Objectives, Marketing Objectives, and Branding, we discussed various changes to our digital presence, our public relations efforts, and our logo. You will soon see these changes on the website, which is being updated so as to make it easier to navigate.

As for the other things that were discussed:

AASECT Position Statement

There have been many listserv conversations and emails about the most recent position statement, which was created by a group of members and moderated by our Public Relations Media and Advocacy Chair, Richelle Frabotta. Over the past months, there were several drafts that a number of members with varying views deliberated. A version we all could agree to was submitted to the Board. The Board then debated on the efficacy of this statement for our organization, and agreed it was important to have the following affirmation:

Position on Sexual Expression including Orientation and Identity

It is the position of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists that we oppose any and all therapy models and interventions as well as any educational programs and curricula that seek to pathologize, dictate, or prescribe a person's sexual orientation, identity, and/or consensual, sexual expression, whether or not it is conventional or atypical. Regardless of how such clinical interventions or educational programs are labeled or named, AASECT recommends all helping and educating professionals to utilize best practices and culturally relevant resources for foundation and reference.

To read the Position Statement and the supportive comments, go to the website and click on either of these two banners: About AASECT (click on Philosophy) and Ethics.

Contemporary Sexuality

Contemporary Sexuality (CS) has been a staple for many years. Over the years, it has evolved. I know that previously, for example, many loved receiving a paper copy. When mailing CS became cost prohibitive, AASECT had hoped that having it on the website would be a positive alternative. We had a wonderful editor in Stephanie Auteri, and an editorial committee that worked diligently in collaboration with Stephanie. Since we now have the electronic capability to determine how many people actually see the articles, we have learned that only three percent of our members actually open CS. The cost to AASECT is about $120 per click. We asked the question: is the current level of usage sufficient to warrant the ongoing expense?  

Therefore, this issue, December 2015, will be the last issue of Contemporary Sexuality as it presently exists. The Board wishes to thank Stephanie for her dedicated work and wonderfully crafted articles. Members of the Editorial Committee praised her curiosity, her sharp mind, and how she spun gold out of their rough ideas. One of the editorial committee noted: "I will miss your ease with questions, your inquisitive thoughtful manner in asking for clarification among the group discussions, your able and smart writing of stories that captured content with a tone of equanimity and well constructed focused messages. I will miss our group discussions of pondering and sharing current issues or research with a purpose of creating an article for our members. It is sad when a quality publication does not lead to high readership among the members." Thank you Stephanie.

We are presently working on creating a newsletter format that includes all of the items you, the membership, want to read. Please do send me suggestions! We have all sorts of ideas but really want to hear from each of you. So email me: konniemccaffree@gmail.com

 Listserv

Our Communications Chair, Sara Nasserzadeh, reported that the listserv has over 690 members. Many admit to being lurkers, but we encourage everyone to share in the discussions taking place, and add to the knowledge that is disseminated. If you want to join us, just email Amanda at info@aasect.org and ask her to add you.

The BOD also approved the following change to the listserv guidelines: "A suspended member could apply to rejoin the list-serve after the period of one year upon the submission of a written statement recognizing their misconduct with a clear statement of commitment to abide by the rules of the list-serve. The Communication Committee Chair, along with the president, will make the decision on this application." For information about suspension, see the guidelines that are posted on the listserv monthly.

The present listserv moderator will be leaving this volunteer position at the end of June, after seven years of service to AASECT. If anyone is interested in becoming the moderator, we will be taking applications over the next few months.

Contact me if you are interested.

And now, onward! We already have locations chosen for our next three annual meetings.

The Annual Conference Chairs are excited about our involvement with the sexuality professionals in Puerto Rico for the 2016 Annual Conference. A registration page will be up soon. The website also has information on various tours the Tour Company has created for us. In addition, it is Gay Pride Day on June 5 in San Juan, so some of us may want to go early to join in on the celebration. We hope to see you in San Juan for the meeting,  June 9-12. 

The 2017 Annual Conference will be in Las Vegas, June 14-18, where AASECT will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Incoming President, Debby Herbenick, will be looking for narratives, videos, and archival material from those of you who have been members for many years. We'd like to show the history of AASECT in a multitude of ways. Contact Debby if you are interested in helping us prepare for the 50th.

Our June 2018 meeting will be at the Sheraton in Denver, Colorado. It has been many years since AASECT held a meeting in Colorado, and we are excited to revisit that beautiful state.

This is also a good time to remind you that it's time to renew your membership. Please be aware that your annual membership expires on December 31, 2015. Renew today and avoid missing out on all of the great member benefits available exclusively to you.

And when you renew your membership, don't miss out on the opportunity to give back with our new Creating Community Scholarship Fund. In an effort to create a more inclusive community, AASECT has created this scholarship fund to aid in obstacles that may prohibit some from attending our Annual Conference and our Institutes. Your donation will help to secure the future of burgeoning sexuality educators, sexuality counselors, and sex therapists, and strengthen the AASECT community!

The Awards Committee also invites you to consider nominations for the AASECT Awards that will be given during the meeting in Puerto Rico. This year, there will be no Awards presentation at the luncheon. Instead, those being awarded will be honored at the various plenaries throughout the conference.

Whew! Now that I've covered all of the topics from our BOD meeting, I'd like to introduce you to another of our BOD members, as I've been doing in every issue of CS this past year.

Sara Nasserzadeh, Ph.D., DipPST, is a social psychologist and a COSRT-accredited psychosexual therapist. She is globally recognized for her contributions to the field of sexual and reproductive health at the clinical as well as policy and educational levels.

Dr. Nasserzadeh is an award-winning author, BBC host, and consultant. She has worked globally (across 30 countries) helping various organizations, companies, communities, programs, and causes in the capacity of a thought leader in the sociocultural aspects of human sexuality and effective communication with hard-to-reach groups, including adolescents.

In addition to her clinical and consulting works, Dr. Nasserzadeh contributes to several professional organizations in an administrative capacity. To name just a few, she is an elected member of the Advisory Board and chairs the Middle East Sexual Health Committee for the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS). She was also elected to serve on the standardizing working groups for sexuality education, as well as psychotherapy, which devise the standard of practice for these professions. She is also the Chair of the North American Organizing Committee for World Sexual Health Day (held annually on September 4).

Nasserzadeh became a member of AASECT as a student in 2006, and then served as a regional representative for Europe and the UK for four years prior to serving as a regional representation for Europe, the UK, the Middle East, Australia, and New Zealand in 2008. She was elected as a member of AASECT's BOD in Summer 2014. Dr. Nasserzadeh also chairs the Communication Steering Committee, which oversees Contemporary Sexuality, the website and the listserv. She became an AASECT certified Sex Therapist in 2007, after her move to the United States, and has continued as a certified Sexuality Counselor to date. Since 2013, she has been an AASECT approved training provider.

Dr. Nasserzadeh has been a keynote speaker at various conferences and the recipient of numerous awards including the World Association for Sexual Health runner up award for Excellence and Innovation, for her international work in the area of sexuality education and sociocultural sensitivity (Sydney, 2007). She received the BBC World Service Award for "Innovation of the Year" for her radio/online program on sex and relationship issues (London, 2007). The book she co-authored with three esteemed colleagues was granted the AASECT Book Award Honorable Mention in 2011.

In her words: "It is an honor to be a part of the AASECT community at any capacity but, particularly, it was a pleasure to take over the Communication Committee after Sallie Foley. She has been fundamental in keeping things together while AASECT was going through the management change, website relaunch, and the election of a new Board of Directors. Since I took on this position, everyone has been a delight to work with, from Konnie to each and every member of the Board and our Committee Chairs. We still have a long list of to-dos, which we are working through one step at a time!"

Happy New Year All!

Respectfully,
Konnie McCaffree
konniemccaffree@gmail.com