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Sarah Harlan

75 Public Votes Reached!
Sarah Harlan - 2017 Nominee
Position: Learning & Partnerships Director, Knowledge for Health (K4Health) Project
Organization: Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs
Current Location: United States, North America
Master of Public Health from University of North Carolina School of Public Health, Department of Maternal and Child Health
Additional Degrees and Certifications:
Bachelor of Arts, Grinnell College
Awards Received:
  • Award:
    Maternal and Child Health Traineeship
    Awarding Organization:
    University of North Carolina School of Public Health
    Date Awarded:
    August 1, 2003
  • Award:
    FHI Award for Innovation
    Awarding Organization:
    FHI
    Date Awarded:
    November 1, 2008
  • Award:
    Sunnen Foundation Summer Internship Grant (for reproductive health)
    Awarding Organization:
    Grinnell College
    Date Awarded:
    June 1, 2000
Sarah is a passionate family planning advocate who uses partnerships to enhance knowledge exchange among family planning service providers and program implementers to support access to a range of contraceptive methods and improve FP programs. – Sara Mazursky, Deputy Project Director at Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

Throughout my sixteen-year career, I have found creative ways of communicating about family planning, with the goal of improving knowledge and access. As a founding member of Family Planning Voices (#FPVoices), I travel the globe to interview people and conduct storytelling workshops. Bringing a human face to family planning advocacy, #FPVoices helps build momentum for global family planning support. I also managed the four-year Improving Contraceptive Method Mix (ICMM) Project in Indonesia. ICMM showed that community-level advocacy works, and the program is now being sustained by local partners. Finally, as co-author of more than five practical handbooks on family planning and knowledge sharing, I work to make sure people have the information they need when they need it.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

While studying at Grinnell College, I had the opportunity to work at a nature reserve in Ecuador. Working on reforestation in rural communities, what stuck with me was my conversations with women. Many of them wanted to stop getting pregnant, but lacked the knowledge or means. Inspired by conservationists-turned-community-educators who went above and beyond to take reproductive education to these remote areas - using only cycle beads - I learned that information is the first step to change.

Give one or two examples of how you display leadership in your family planning work.:

Interviewing people around the world for Family Planning Voices, I also train, mentor, and support others as they tell their own stories. I also work to form partnerships with other sectors (for example, environmental groups). As the manager of the Improving Contraceptive Method Mix (ICMM) Project in Indonesia, I worked to communicate the impact of advocacy on community-level family planning services and policy - and show others the benefit of clear communication.

If you are named a winner of 120 under 40, how will you use this new platform and the $1000 grant to advance your work? :

If I were selected as a winner, I would use this funding to train additional organizations on storytelling approaches. We have found that stories are an effective form of advocacy, as decision makers often need more than data to make policy decisions. I would work with a youth organization - and provide them with tools and information they need to tell their stories and package them for advocacy. I would also use this opportunity to learn new techniques from these groups to enhance my own work.

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