The Press Room
Press Release: Leadership Transition at Advocates for Youth Print
For Immediate Release:
January 1, 2012

Will Neville-Rehbehn // 202.419.3420 x49


After fourteen dynamic and visionary years at the helm of Advocates for Youth, James Wagoner will step down as President and Executive Director as of January 1, 2012 while continuing to work half-time, off-site as a senior advisor to the organization. Advocates' Board of Directors has named Debra Hauser, currently Executive Vice President of the organization, to be the next President and Executive Director, also effective January 1, 2012.

"James has been a terrific leader for Advocates, and Deb will strike the right balance between continuity and new directions as we move forward," said Kate Stewart, Chair of Advocates for Youth's Board of Directors. "In addition, her strategic and communications skills make her the right person to advance Advocates' vision of Rights.Respect.Responsibility.® in the current political, policy, and cultural environment."

For more than fifteen years, Deb Hauser has been the primary architect of Advocates' strategic and operational plans. She has also been at the center of numerous innovations in the field of adolescent sexual and reproductive health, including:

  • Being one of three co-founders of the Future of Sex Education project — an ongoing strategic planning initiative promoting the implementation of comprehensive sex education in schools around the country.
  • Designing an innovative HIV/AIDS prevention and testing-to-treatment program on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) around the country.
  • Negotiating the acquisition of the Great American Condom Campaign and building it into a groundbreaking effort to normalize condom use on college campuses.
  • Adapting Advocates' domestic youth activist model for the international arena, spearheading a strategy to elevate the advocacy voice of youth in the global south.

"I am thrilled to have this opportunity to champion sexual health, rights, and equity for young people around the globe. There is so much we can do to provide information, education, and confidential access to services, as well as social and economic opportunity for youth," said Deb Hauser. "I've worked hand in hand with James over the years to build an organizational culture that authentically engages youth as change agents and recruit a talented, passionate staff, so I feel I have the tools in place to take our vision of Rights.Respect.Responsibility.® to the next level. I also recognize no person or organization can do it all, so I am deeply committed to collaborating with foundations, national colleague organizations, and state and local partners."

Deb has already recruited new senior staff to join the organization's management team to help anchor some key new directions in the months and years to come. Deb will be joined on management team by:

  • Kathleen Farrell, who continues as Vice President for Finance and Administration
  • Kate Stewart, currently a partner in the polling firm Belden Russonello & Stewart LLC and Chair of Advocates' Board of Directors, who will become Executive Vice President for Public Affairs
  • Aimee Thorne-Thomsen, who will apply her impressive array of experience in the reproductive justice movement as Vice President for Strategic Partnerships.

"Deb will be an outstanding leader for Advocates. She's smart as a whip, has great strategic skills, and believes in authentic collaboration," said James Wagoner. "A good transition is a hallmark of a good organization, and I look forward to doing all I can to ensure a smooth transition at the organization I love."


Advocates for Youth is a national organization that promotes programs and advocates for policies that help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health.

a youth-driven communityworking for change
Apoyo para Jóvenes GLBTQ
for Spanish-speaking GLBTQ youth
by and for young women of color
by and for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth
a grassroots movement to start a new conversation about abortion
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