Rev. Debra Haffner President & CEO, Religious Institute

The Reverend Debra W. Haffner is executive director of the Religious Institute, a multifaith, nonprofit organization dedicated to sexual health, education and justice. An ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, she is an endorsed community minister with the Unitarian Church in Westport, CT.

Rev. Haffner was the chief executive officer of SIECUS, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, from 1988 through May 2000. Under her leadership, SIECUS tripled in staff size, increased its annual budget revenues more than six-fold, and opened professional offices in New York and Washington, DC. During her tenure at SIECUS, she created the Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing; the National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education; the Commission on Adolescent Sexual Health; and the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education, Kindergarten – Grade Twelve.

Prior to joining SIECUS, Rev. Haffner served as director of education for the Center for Population Options; director of community services for Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington; special assistant in the U.S. Public Health Service; and resource center coordinator of the Population Institute.

Rev. Haffner is the author of From Diapers to Dating: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Children; Beyond the Big Talk: Every Parent’s Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Teens; and What Every 21st Century Parent Needs to Know: Facing Today's Challenges with Wisdom and Heart. She has also authored or co-authored numerous faith-based guides for congregation and clergy on sexuality issues.

Rev. Haffner’s work has been honored by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Yale School of Epidemiology and Public Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, the Association for the Advancement of Health Education, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine.

Rev. Haffner has a master of divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, a master of public health from Yale University School of Medicine and an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University. In 1996-97, she was a Research Fellow at the Yale Divinity School. She is also a Fellow of the Society for Adolescent Medicine.

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