Dr. Gail Stern is the co-founder of Catharsis Productions, co-author of the non-stranger rape prevention program Sex Signals, and author of the programs, Beat the Blame Game, and Teaching Rape as a Moral Issue. She has been a SME for the White House and each branch of the Armed Forces on issues related to sexual violence prevention.
Dr. Stern and colleague Heather Imrie are the co-creators of the innovative Force of Awesome Institute, a program for violence prevention educators that enables them to design and deliver more effective presentations in their own communities. Based on Dr. Stern’s and Ms. Imrie’s extensive research and experience, the Institute incorporates a combination of lecture, group work, and coaching, effectively transferring the training capacity to participants.
A large part of Dr. Stern’s expertise strays from traditional prevention education. She began performing stand-up and improvisational comedy at the age of fifteen, and continued performing throughout her college and professional career. In the early 90s, she was asked to utilize this skill when training over 800 Chicago Police sergeants on “cultural sensitivity.” She discovered quickly that the strategic use of humor enabled her to connect with her audience, not only in building rapport, but also in enabling them to hear challenging information. This experience fueled the rest of her academic career, and she focused her studies and research on using humor to reduce emotional and cognitive resistance to challenging issues.
Dr. Stern is also the creator of the sexual assault prevention programs, Beat the Blame Game; Sexual Violence Prevention as a Moral Issue; The Canary in the Mineshaft: What Rape Jokes Signal About Our Culture; and, Fight Fire With Funny: Using Humor to Reframe Rape as a Moral Issue. Dr. Stern served as the director of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Campus Advocacy Network from 1991-1998, providing crisis counseling and court advocacy to victims of violent crime.
This lecture is part of the Fall 2019 Friday Forum Lecture Series, “Womxn Rise Up.” To learn more about the Fall 2019 Friday Forum Lecture series, visit: universityymca.org/friday-forum