Erin Portillo

Erin Portillo - 2017 Nominee
Position: Program Officer II
Organization: Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Program/Health Communication Capacity Collaborative
Current Location: United States, North America
Masters from New Mexico State University, Masters in Public Health (Community Health Education concentration)
Additional Degrees and Certifications:
Bachelors of the Arts, Journalism Minor, New York University
Erin Portillo is a champion when it comes to youth SRH, in particular demand generation and the use of LARCS. In the last year, she's presented at the WAHO conference (in French) as well as 2016 ICWHI and WSM conference. – Nominator
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

I contribute to family planning (FP) by creating health communication tools that, I hope, inspire youth, women, families, couples, communities, and health care providers to view FP as a right, as a benefit, and as a key to a planned and healthy life. I've helped develop tools for audiences across the age and childbearing spectrum. These include: a program manager's tool for stronger youth SRH program design in Africa and the Middle East; innovative, campaign materials for providers and young FP users promoting LARC acceptance for youth (requested for adaptation and use in more than 20 countries worldwide); and program design tools and adaptable campaign materials for Sub-Saharan Africa focused on the neglected but high-risk pregnancy categories of advanced maternal age and high-parity.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

In high school, I regularly saw protestors (children among them) holding truly graphic signs, picketing a local clinic that provided contraceptive and abortion services. The notion that a woman should be shamed for making personal reproductive health choices, that such care should be harder to seek, or that a provider should be intimidated for providing related care was appalling to me. The spark ignited then has since become a global career of championing FP choice for all.

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

In my work, I try to think creatively to shape messages and materials that will resonate with distinct priority populations. I am proud to discuss the difficulties and struggles in our work alongside the successes. I try to encourage a similar openness in my colleagues and in the partners with whom we work so we can truly work together to advance the field together, and to refine the tools we create.

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 selected, I would use the platform to emphasize the impact social and behavior change communication (SBCC) can have in FP. Since my FP spark was lit when I was young, and since youth has increasingly become a focus in my work, I would use the grant to fan fires in the next generation and empower young FP advocates through SBCC. I would be more specific, but I'd like the "how" to come from youth themselves!

Photos of the nominee in the field/at work
Photo of Erin Portillo with Pilot Partner organizations during a technical assistance workshop in Madagascar. Ms. Portillo at the 2016 WAHO Best Practices Forum

Subscribe to receive email updates about 120 Under 40.