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Our Culture of Innovation

We push the boundaries of imagination to develop innovative approaches to adolescent health. This is how we create the space to do it.

black, white, and aqua illustration of Kaitlyn LaBonte

By Kaitlyn LaBonte, LMSW

Caricature of Milagros Garrido

By Milagros Garrido, MS, PMP

August 1, 2023

We live in a world full of complex and challenging issues—the so-called “wicked problems”—that can feel overwhelming to address. From climate change to poverty and healthcare disparities, finding solutions can seem like an insurmountable task. However, there is a ray of hope: innovation. Innovation has the potential to empower us to tackle these problems effectively, find creative solutions, and make a positive impact on society.

Despite the buzzword status it has gained, innovation remains at the heart of progress and improvement. At Healthy Teen Network, we firmly believe that innovation is not just the domain of a select few; it can come from anyone.

Despite the buzzword status it has gained, innovation remains at the heart of progress and improvement. At Healthy Teen Network, we firmly believe that innovation is not just the domain of a select few; it can come from anyone. This belief forms the foundation of our culture of innovation, where ideas and solutions are nurtured from every corner of our organization and community, irrespective of position or expertise.

We continue to grow and explore the elements that contribute to such a culture for the betterment of adolescent health and reproductive justice through our following mindset:

Embrace Creativity and Continuous Exploration

We believe that innovation thrives in an environment that encourages experimentation, exploration, and continuous iteration. By fostering a culture that embraces change and celebrates failure as an opportunity to learn, we create space for new ideas to emerge. This openness empowers us to push boundaries, challenge conventions, and develop innovative approaches to address the needs of young people.

Inspire Ideas from Everywhere

A truly innovative culture recognizes that inspiration can come from all sources. We know that being open to new ideas and perspectives, looking beyond the obvious, and cultivating a collaborative and inclusive environment are crucial. By valuing diverse viewpoints and creating platforms for collaboration, we gain access to a wealth of untapped potential and foster a collective effort towards innovation.

Adopt Constraints as Catalysts

We believe that while appropriate resources are necessary for innovation, constraints can also be catalysts for creative thinking. Embracing limitations encourages us to think outside the box and find innovative solutions within the available means. By reframing constraints as opportunities for innovation, we can unlock creativity and drive impactful change.

Evolve and Adapt

We know that innovation is not static; it is constantly evolving to adapt to the changing world, human needs, and the communities it serves. Recognizing that innovation is a journey, not a destination, we all must remain responsive to emerging challenges and opportunities. This adaptability ensures that innovative solutions remain relevant and effective in addressing the evolving needs of young people.

Center Young People

We envision a world where young people are at the forefront of decision-making regarding their health and futures.


At Healthy Teen Network, we know the value of inspiration from diverse sources. We encourage being open to new ideas and perspectives, going beyond surface-level observations, and actively committing to collaboration and inclusivity. We embrace change, celebrate failure as a learning opportunity, and foster a playful attitude to create an inclusive space where new ideas can flourish. Our innovation culture rooted in equity embraces the belief in universal creativity, encourages experimentation and iteration, values diverse perspectives, considers constraints as catalysts, and remains adaptive and responsive to systemic inequity and the needs of communities.

Interested in learning more about fostering a culture of innovation? Dive deeper with these resources:


PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Ridley on Unsplash

Kaitlyn finds purpose in collaborating with, connecting, and encouraging like-minded people towards shared goals. From community level, youth-focused development to cross-cultural sexual health education, Kaitlyn applies an ecological lens to her work and can be heard saying, “research-informed practice scratches my brain just right.” Read more about Kaitlyn.

Milagros Garrido, MS, PMP, is the Director for our Innovation and Research Department at Healthy Teen Network. Always ready for a challenge, she is at her best when she is finding clever and new ways of using technology to make the seemingly impossible a reality. Read more about Mila