We are so pleased to finally be spotlighting Julia! In the past two years with the Center, she has become an integral part of our team as you are about to discover below. This spotlight comes on the heels of Julia being voted onto the Board just this last weekend. We couldn’t be happier to welcome her into this newest position and look forward to lots of positive sexuality vibes in the future!
Julia Schiffman has served as outreach coordinator for the Center for Positive Sexuality for the last 2 years, but her passion for positive sexuality far precedes her involvement with the Center. For the last decade, Julia has volunteered within the LGBTQ+ community. After receiving a Masters in Social Work, Julia set up a private therapy practice specializing in helping individuals who identify within the LGBTQ+, BDSM, polyamorous, and kink communities. Julia continues to wow the world with the current projects she’s working on including: a book about women in the kink community, their relationships and reasons for being in the kink community and implementing a weekly non-monogamy peer support group at the LGBT Center. She is also in the process of implementing a weekly non-monogamy peer support group at the San Diego LGBT Community Center.
Rachel: What inspired you to join the Center for Positive Sexuality?
Julia: While I loved my grad program, I found it lacked human sexuality support that I wanted so I decided to Google positive sexuality communities and organizations to be a part of that matched my passion. That’s how I found Center for Positive Sexuality. I loved how they wanted to impact the world through research and education, two of my most inspirational pillars. I filled out the volunteer application, interviewed and told them how my goal was to go into sex therapy and be involved in the greater sex positive community. From then on, I’ve been involved.
Rachel: What do you do as outreach coordinator?
Julia: As outreach coordinator, I reach out to organizations that’s missions align with us and ask if they are interested in partnering for future events. Alternatively, people will also reach out to me about working with Center for Positive Sexuality and invite us to host presentations or attend events. The outreach department breaks down into two branches: the school branch and the outreach branch. The school branch further divides into two seasons: the fall and the spring. In the fall semester, I work with colleges to organize tabling at events and use it as a tool to connect with the school and its students and provide information on the Center and what we do as well as just let them know we’re here as a resource for them. It’s also helpful in connecting with professors to let them know we exist and can come into their classrooms and provide panel presentations on a variety of topics. In the spring semester we also focus on emphasizing our unique internship program and how students can customize their internship to be focused on administrative tasks, research tasks or a mixture of both and more. The outreach branch focuses on connecting the Center for Positive Sexuality with larger community events and conventions.
Rachel: What do your daily (or weekly) tasks look like?
Julia: Daily it looks like checking emails and making sure I respond in a timely manner. I also update the monthly public calendar on the Center for Positive Sexuality’s website to reflect all CPS and community events, conferences, and holidays. I always make sure to include anything related to BDSM, polyamorous, and kink communities. How busy the schedule is is really dependent on how many events are happening, that’s when it’s most demanding, as I need to coordinate with getting volunteers and any other specifics for each event.
Rachel: How has your role as outreach coordinator shifted now that we are no long able to have in-person events due to the [COVID-19] lockdown?
Julia: Well, there are currently no events going on because of it. I’m still updating the calendar on the Center for Positive Sexuality’s website and I’m also looking for any sex positive type of events that are being held online. Other than that, I’m using the downtime as an opportunity to focus more on increasing the Center’s social media presence and making sure I have everything in order. I’m also creating job descriptions for positions in the Center’s outreach department because I’m looking to add people to the outreach team to specialize in handling school functions and event functions.
Rachel: What would you tell those interested in sex positive study or work?
Julia: Keep working toward your dream! It might seem like a hard field to break into but there are so many wonderful and brilliant people in the field that can provide feedback and criticism. There are a lot of people in the field with history to share and it will only help you grow no matter your profession whether it is sex positivity, sexual health, or anything else.
Rachel: What does positive sexuality mean to you?
Julia: For me, the first aspect of positive sexuality is being kind, loving, and accepting of yourself for where your sexuality is. The second part is making room for your own view of positive sexuality to flourish and making room for the views and growth of others’ thoughts on sexuality as well.
Rachel: Has anything you’ve learned at the Center, whether it is the 4Cs, or 8 dimensions of positive sexuality affected your personal or professional life?
Julia: Yes, I always felt I was living based on the concept of the 4Cs (Consent, Communication, Caring and Caution) and 8 dimensions of sexuality but it wasn’t until I read about Center for Positive Sexuality’s 4Cs and 8 dimensions I was able to connect the ideas I was feeling to concrete pillars. Once I had those, I had the foundation of a structure and have pillars of positive sexuality ideals and concepts to stand upon and help me grow. They instilled a lot of strength and confidence in me to keep working to achieve my goals and have acted as handles of safety to grab onto when life gets bumpy.
Rachel: What is your favorite event you’ve been a part of with CPS so far?
Julia: SexPosCon, both 2018 and 2020, which are the two years that we’ve hosted the event as a Center. Seeing the growth between 2018 and this past February has been absolutely amazing. I’m so proud to see what our team has managed to organize and the positive response we’ve gotten from the community for each conference. The feedback is always very supportive. A bonus for me is how close are team grows through the process. It’s all something very special that I want more people to know about and be able to be a part of and experience.
Rachel: What are some current projects you are working on within CPS?
Julia: I’m still in the process of building the outreach department. I’m looking to bring on two new people to the team, one who can focus on school outreach and one who can focus on event outreach. I’m also on the Certification committee. We did a successful launch of our CERT program, a professional level education program built to enhance and promote sex-positive practice for any individual who wants to apply, at SexPosCon at the end of February. I’ve been helping to work to figure out the end result of the CERT program and what happens when people finish as well as emphasizing the maintenance of community for alumnae of the program.
Rachel: Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
Julia: For anyone who is looking to get involved with Center for Positive Sexuality in any way, or even learn more, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you!
Huge thank you to Rachel Saunders, our volunteer, who conducted this interview!
Rachel Saunders is a recent graduate of Syracuse University where she chaired the Take Back the Night Committee and created and facilitated program regarding the subjects of sexual health and interpersonal violence to the University community. She is planning to pursue a Masters in Public Health at City University New York in the fall with a focus on community reproductive and sexual health.