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Interview with AASECT Founder, Patricia Schiller, JD, MA:
The story of the founding, and growth of AASECT (American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists) is inextricably mingled with the story of Patricia Schiller, its founder, along with other important contributors. As the new field of sex education, counseling and therapy began to emerge, and the need for some kind of order and direction became more and more apparent, Patricia Schiller was on the spot, with a wide background in social concerns, with the specialized training that qualified her as a professional and leader of professionals, in this field, and with the administrative experience, drive, and creative talent needed for undertaking the job at hand.
In September 1967, Patricia Schiller became the unpaid Found-Executive Director of the American Association of Sex Educators and Counselors (AASEC), eventually to become the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). With the full support of her husband, she devoted three rooms in their house to office space for the fledging organization, and loaned it $1,000 from their personal funds to make it operational. A gift of $500 from Philip Stern, a Washington philanthropist, paid for a mailing announcing the first annual meeting in April 1968. Closely associated with her from the days of the Washington Project in the District of Columbia, was Rosalie Blasky, her good friend who came with AASEC on a part-time basis at its inception, and who remained as her part-time aide until April 1980. Two additional factors helped launch the new organization. One was a strong Board of Directors, with Warren Johnson, Ed.D., as its first president. Other members included Jed Pearson, MD, obstetrician and gynecologist; Berkely Hathorne, ThD, pastoral counselor; Susan Roth, MSW; Nancy Berliner, BA, researcher and writer for Planned Parenthood; John Chandler, MA, Executive Vice President of the National Association of Independent Schools; Elizabeth Nichols, BA; Majorie Shumacher, MS, Executive Directors of Planned Parenthood; and Florence Yohalem, MA, social scientist. Morton Yohalem served as legal counsel from the beginning until his death in October, 1979. Thus, was born an interdisciplinary group dedicated to a worthy cause.
In retrospect, the guiding principles upon which AASECT was founded seem to have been inevitable. But by their enunciation, they have worked a powerful influence on the sex education, counseling and therapy movement in this country, helping to establish it as a separate profession, distinct from marriage and family counseling, psychiatry, social work, nursing, etc., giving it an indispensable foundation on which to grow and develop.