Image of computer screen, logged into WordPress, with backend screen to create a new post.
So You Want to Be a Sex Educator: Wisdom and Advice from our Staff
Hear from a few Healthy Teen Network staff on how they got to this field and their advice for folks on this journey.
caricature of Sam Akers

By Sam Akers, MSW

May 9, 2024

When you think of a sex educator, who do you think of? Maybe it’s a health teacher in front of a room of middle schoolers, or maybe it’s a social media influencer discussing where someone can access birth control. Who you might not think of are design coaches pushing the boundaries of innovation, finance and operations folks making sure that project budgets are in line, and the trainers who support teachers doing work directly with young people! There are many roles in the adolescent sexual and reproductive health world, and this field needs all of us! How did we get here? What do we do? IF you’re interested in supporting adolescent health, where might you start? 

My path to getting into the sexual and reproductive health field? Social work! I grew up in a family of educators. From a young age, I was taught to appreciate education as a tool for liberation. When it came time to decide a major in college, I was looking for ways I could support young people, without necessarily being in front of a classroom every day. I found social work, and fell in love with the ways that social workers looked at the big picture, met people where they were, and could provide and create resources for education. For my practicum experience, I found an AMAZING placement, Together For Youth. They deliver education in schools throughout Iowa, support young people who are pregnant and parenting, and provide 1:1 counseling in school-based health centers. Seeing the lightbulb moments when young people were able to have their questions about sexuality answered, supporting young parents in learning about ways to show up for their babies, and advocating for resources in schools—I knew this field was for me. Now, I am on the Capacity Building team at Healthy Teen Network, managing projects and facilitating trainings for folks on our projects. I love that I’m able to use my background in social work to meet educators where they are, support the improvement of clinical services, and see the bigger picture in pursuit of health equity.

A throwback photo of Sam Akers as an intern. PHOTO CREDIT: Sam Akers

Arianna’s path was Communications! Arianna holds a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Sexuality Studies from San Francisco State University. They got into the field with a strong passion for queer sex ed and began interning at their campus’ sexual health and wellness organizations: Education and Referral Organization for Sexuality (EROS) and Health, Promotion, and Wellness (HPW). During her time at SFSU, she co-led sex ed workshops and distributed free safer sex supplies and information via the “Condom Caboose.” Post-grad, they began consulting for a sexual wellness startup, which then led to a full-time role, where they had the opportunity to co-develop intimacy products (lubricants, vibrators, and pleasure oils) and implement queer-inclusive content and initiatives across communications channels. This work involved creating sex ed content on social media, designing tip sheets, writing blog posts, and helping customers make more informed decisions about their bodies. Now she is a Communications Designer at Healthy Teen Network! Their expertise in communicating with the masses and sharing educational resources is a great addition to our team. Arianna’s advice for anyone thinking about working in the sexuality field is to, “DM that person, send that email or LinkedIn invitation! You never know what opportunities those connections will lead you to. Everyone’s experience entering the sexuality field looks very different, and that’s what’s so special about it! This work is important and the connections we build along the way are even more valuable.” 

Charlie Blue got into the field through innovation. They started out with a focus on technology, earning their undergraduate degree in computer engineering. While working as a Program Manager at a big tech company, Charlie Blue learned firsthand the importance of research to better situate products in users’ needs and the necessity of intentional design processes to put these research findings into effect. This experience helped them realize that they wanted to center their work around uplifting the voices of people who use and are affected by the resources that Charlie Blue helps to create. To gain a solid foundation in design and research methodology, they completed a Master’s Degree in Human-Computer Interaction + Design. Although they didn’t have a professional background in sexual and reproductive health, Charlie Blue is passionate about ensuring that young people—especially those who are LGBTQ+ and neurodivergent—have the resources and support they need to thrive. As a Design Researcher in our Innovation and Research department, they use human-centered design to create resources and products that support adolescent sexual health.  

Whether it be public health, tech, finance, social work, or a path that has yet to be discovered—you are needed. Your voice, perspective, and expertise are necessary, and there is a place for you in this field!

            As for Jenna and Dawn, two of our Finance and Operations wizards, their start in the field was through operations for nonprofits. They have experience in accounting, office management, and reporting at a variety of non-profits. Their numbers-minded perspectives are crucial to keep us on track to meet all our goals! We could not do the work we do without our Finance and Operations department keeping us in check.


My advice for those who are interested in getting into the field of adolescent health: find what inspires you. Is it working with young parents? Creating and designing educational materials? Training professionals? Find your strengths and what makes your heart sing. We all are in different lanes, with the shared goal of supporting the health of adolescents. Whether it be public health, tech, finance, social work, or a path that has yet to be discovered—you are needed. Your voice, perspective, and expertise are necessary, and there is a place for you in this field!

Sam is an experienced facilitator of curriculum focused on sexual health, puberty, safety, and relationships for adolescents. She has expertise in outreach, communications, and strengths-based critical thinking. Sam is passionate about the ways in which trusted adults can provide skills, knowledge, and support so adolescents can make informed decisions. Sam is dedicated to the advancement of justice through collaboration and co-creation. Read more about Sam.