YouthCO welcomes our new Executive Director!

VANCOUVER, June 23, 2016 - The YouthCO Board of Directors is pleased to welcome Sarah Chown to the role of Executive Director. “Following a thoughtful hiring process, the Board is confident in, and excited about, Sarah’s capabilities to steward the organization forward,” says Board Chair, Blake Stitilis.


Sarah is no stranger to YouthCO. She first joined our team as Program Director in January 2015 to support our staff, our volunteers and our programs, and to engage our membership in advocacy efforts. As Program Director, Sarah has focused on creating more spaces for leadership from youth living with HIV. These initiatives include mentoring YouthCO’s Positive Programs Intern, working with Oak Tree Clinic to offer social and educational programming, and leading Camp Moomba's programs. Sarah has also worked to foster a strong team of staff and volunteers in YouthCO's young gay men's program, Mpowerment. This work has helped to rejuvenate Mpowerment's peer-led approach to sexual health education and support, through weekly programming including our workshop series called Unmask.

Sarah brings a host of experience within the HIV and HCV sector to her role as Executive Director. Sarah’s work has included LGBTQ+ youth programming and HIV/HCV education at HIV/AIDS Resources & Community Health (ARCH) in Guelph, Ontario, communications and health promotion for the Nunavut Department of Health and Social Services, and coordinating the Gay Poz Sex research project at Positive Living BC. This experience is complemented by education in public policy and public health with a focus on social inequities, and an interdisciplinary HIV fellowship through the Universities Without Walls program.

Sarah is passionate about peer education and support, and this passion is one of the reasons she loves getting to be at YouthCO every day. “YouthCO's strong culture of youth driven, anti-oppressive approaches to reducing HIV stigma is unique. Our commitment to these values make us a leader within the sector," said Sarah. "As Executive Director, I look forward to working with our staff and members to create more spaces for peer support by-and-for youth living with HIV." Our experiences at YouthCO continue to show, along with research evidence, that youth growing up with HIV, and youth experiencing a new HIV diagnosis benefit tremendously from community connection, highlighting the need for this continued work. This work is a natural extension of the provincial work of YouthCO’s peer-led indigenous program, Yúusnewas, and the 20+ years of youth-driven HIV leadership at YouthCO.

"I am so grateful to be part of the YouthCO community! It is energizing to be connected to the many incredible members and staff who drive our approach to reducing HIV stigma throughout BC," said Sarah. "Our work today is possible because of the numerous young leaders who have shaped YouthCO since its founding in 1994, and the many organizations who have helped to support out work.” Sarah will be transitioning into her new role effective July 11th. We hope you’ll join us in welcoming Sarah as YouthCO begins this next exciting chapter!

This press release is also available as a .pdf document for download here.

YouthCO's office is located on the unceded traditional territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh people. Our programs take place on unceded, ancestral, and traditional territories of many Indigenous nations across what is now called BC.

YouthCO believes that all youth have the right to accessible and affirming information about our health. We also know each of us has a unique relationship to our bodies, sex, sexuality, substance use, and harm reduction. For many of us, the words other people use for our bodies and their functions are not the words we use for ourselves. Throughout our website, YouthCO uses words for bodies and sex that we know will not reflect the full diversity of our communities. We have tried to, where possible, be as expansive with our language as we know how to while being as specific as possible. As youth leading the HIV movement, we too are learning about the best words for our experiences and do not do this perfectly. We invite any feedback about the language used on our website to help us move forward in the best ways for all youth in our communities!