Heather is an activist, writer, artist, teacher and community organizer. She has been widely recognized as a pioneer of both women's and young adult sexuality information and education online, having brought inclusive, feminist, creative and comprehensive sexuality content to the web and beyond since 1997.
Heather has also been a sexuality, contraception and abortion educator and counselor for the Cedar River Clinics/Feminist Women's Health Center, and the director of the CONNECT teen outreach and education program in Seattle which serves transient/homeless youth, reproductive health patients, high school and college students and others. She is on the editorial board of the American Journal of Sexuality Education, a writer and contributing editor for the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves, was a 2010- 2012 member of the Board of Directors for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, and her young adult sexuality advice is syndicated at RH Reality Check.
Heather was the winner of The Champions of Sexual Literacy Award for Grassroots Activism from the National Sexuality Resource Center/SFSU in 2007; in 2009 the winner of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, Western Region's Public Service Award and the Our Bodies, Ourselves' Women's Health Heroes Award. In 2012, she won the Joan Helmich Educator of the Year award. She was also a lead plaintiff in the ACLU vs. Gonzales case, arguing against the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which could have removed young adults' access to needed sexuality information, and her work with Scarleteen -- and the import of our service -- helped secure an important win for the case.
Her work at Scarleteen and in sexuality education and activism have hailed acclaim or attention from numerous publications, including The Utne Reader, The City Pages, Alternet, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Siren, The Industry Standard, The Chicago Tribune, CNN, The Chicago Tribune's RedEye, The Nation, Feministing, The Minnesota Women's Press, The Boston Phoenix, Ms. Magazine, The New York Times, HipMama, Bust, Bitch, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Oxygen Network, Estronet, Yahoo!, Lavender Magazine, and The Woman's Guide to Sex on the Web. She has been quoted in numerous articles about sexuality, appeared on many radio shows, and has lectured and given workshops and trainings at many youth and adult conferences, colleges, schools, clinics, bookstores and other community gatherings.
In 2007, DaCapo Press released Heather's S.E.X.:the All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College, a comprehensive and fully inclusive young adult sexuality, sexual health and relationships guide. Her essays, fiction, poetry and artwork have appeared in her own publications as well as in The Guardian (UK), Issues Magazine, PIF Magazine, Maxi Magazine, CleanSheets, LeisureSuit.Net, Other Rooms, Cherrybomb, Sexilicious, Blood Moon, BAACHOR Magazine (in which her essay "The Door Into One Moment, Eternal," was nominated for a Pushcart Prize) and Batteries Not Included. Her fiction and creative nonfiction have also appeared in the anthologies Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape, Viscera, The Adventures of Food, Aqua Erotica, Zaftig: Well-Rounded Erotica, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 1 & 2, Shameless: An Intimate Erotica and Penthouse and will appear in the forthcoming anthologies Breakthrough Bleeding: Essays on The Thing Women Spend A Quarter Of Their Time Doing, But No One’s Supposed To Talk About and What We Think: Gender Roles, Women's Issues and Feminism in the 21st Century. Her photography and visual art have been shown at/in 555 Gallery, Sex Worker Visions (New York), Babes in Toyland, Jane's Guide, Michelle 7, On Our Backs, the Bryant-Lake Bowl, Trixx (to benefit the GLBT youth center, District 202), The Independent, The Mammoth Book of Erotic Women, SEAF 2004 and other venues. She has been quoted in other sexuality books, such as The Whole Lesbian Sex Book and The Mother's Guide to Sex, and her work has been used in a number of university, school and clinic curricula.
Heather was previously a classroom educator; she trained and taught in the Montessori method (AMS), and created and ran an independent alternative Kindergarten and pre-Kindergarten from 1992 - 1996. In addition, she is trained as a facilitator for Teen Talking Circles. A graduate with honors of Chicago's Academy for the Arts, where she studied music and creative writing, she won a National Academy of Poets award in her teens. She continued her education for three years at Shimer College, studying literature, erotic spirituality and sociology. A jill of all trades, she has also had a myriad of odd jobs, including selling wheatgrass and sprouts in Chicago's farmer's markets, designing living centerpieces for Hotel Nikko, waiting tables, ringing cash registers, teaching kickboxing and self-defense, landscaping (which mostly involved moving very heavy rocks, a skill she employs every day as a sex educator), consulting on women's issues, political canvassing and once donned a lobster suit on a subway car for a promotional campaign. She often wishes she'd nicked the lobster suit.
Heather is in her forties and currently lives and works on a rural island outside Seattle, Washington. When not working herself into an early grave, she can be found owning the cliché and playing with her dogs, communing with the forest, hula-hooping or boxing, jangling about with instruments, dreaming up art, and crafting vegan delishy-delights in a kitchen her partner calls their "favorite restaurant" while crooning tunes from 70's AM radio, all of which the people who love her generously tolerate without making too many jokes at her expense.
Robin Mandell has studied sexuality, gender, and equality formally and informally for over ten years. She holds a degree in Women’s Studies from Queen’s University, during which time she focused her studies on sex, gender, and ethnicity. During her studies, she noted a lack of perspective and scholarship on disabled and different bodies. Entering the sexuality field, she found a similar lack of awareness or discussion of disability with sexuality and relationships. She is committed to using her knowledge, as well as her reality as a visibly disabled person, to keep disability a core focus of her sexuality work.
Robin has experience as a crisis line volunteer, first with the Sexual Assault Center of Kingston and later with Crisis Link. At both crisis lines she received extensive training in listening and communication skills, plus specialized knowledge of sexual assault survivors’ needs, general crisis management. Out of this work grew her conviction that people are resilient and that with support and guidance they can find their own answers to what they need.
She has also trained and been mentored by sex educator Ducky DooLittle. Robin’s particular areas of interest and expertise include women’s concerns, disability and medical issues, and LGBT issues.
Robin continues to enrich her training by reading books, going to conferences, and networking with other sexuality professionals. When she is not talking to people or writing about sex and intimacy, Robin can be found reading, practicing yoga, or lazing around the house with her partner and two Labrador retrievers.
Beyond being incredibly valuable to us, our young adult volunteers also get experience of value to them by volunteering at Scarleteen. Here's what a few of them have to say about it:
Scarleteen has been my virtual home-away-from-home for the past six years and counting, throughout many physical moves and positive life changes. I came for the information -- accurate, up-to-date, all-inclusive, and sex-positive -- and stayed for the community -- warm, welcoming, and worldly. It's currently about commitment for me -- I volunteer because, as I've said before, Scarleteen completely revolutionized the way I view sex and sexuality. Now I seek to help others feel that same sense of empowerment.
I like volunteering because I just freaking love it here. More specifically, I love the community aspect of it, the feeling that if all of us volunteers managed to get together in person, we'd probably stay up all night sharing stories, having awesome conversations, and laughing. It's also nice to know that I am far from the only person who cares about the issues we address here. I also love that I learn something new. Every. Single. Day. Whether it's a new fact, a new way of explaining something that makes it easier to understand, or a new perspective on something, I learn something every time I'm here.
I've also gotten started on a pretty awesome career because volunteering here helped me figure out what I was interested in, but that's just an added bonus, really.
I'm volunteering because Scarleteen's ethos of providing feminist, queer-positive, sex-positive and inclusive sex education to youth is what I'm passionate about, what I love to study, and what I need. I don't have access to any other public space where my whole sexual, messy, queer, curious self is encouraged and supported. By volunteering, I'm able to connect with like-minded others who believe that every human being has the fundamental right to honesty, knowledge, care and pleasure. Even though this is an online service, knowing that I am part of a shared project gives me the confidence to carry these conversations and this activist work into my day-to-day life.
We often ask respected supporters, friends and colleagues to look something over for a second opinion or additional information we need, or for consult with some part of the website or organization. Following is a core list of those individuals we'd like to recognize and acknowledge for their ongoing availability to give us help and advice:
Special recognition is due to Hanne Blank, who has been advising us on Scarleteen right from the start, and who played a big role with development of the site from its inception.
Other authors and educators who have generously contributed content to Scarleteen include Hanne Blank, Kate Storm, Audra Williams, James Elliott, Emira Mears, Ophira Edut, Caro Buccheim, Malcolm Gin, Janel Hamner, Clare Sainsbury, M. Christian, Kythryne Aisling, Laurel Martinez, and Josh Cuppage.
A huge shout-out to the magnificent Garrett Coakley, developer extraordinaire and dear friend, for his help with the most recent version of Scarleteen, which was a Herculean task. The current version of Scarleteen is fueled by the open source platform Drupal. As well, the primary licensed fonts used in the design are the work of Diane DiPiazza at DincType, the Canada Type Font Foundry, and and the Flat-It type foundry.