Staff Interview Series: Chris Bannister

This blog post is a part of the YTH Staff Interview Series, where we are featuring an in-depth Q&A with each member of our staff. This week, we’re talking to the newest member of our team at YTH, Chris Bannister, who joined YTH in March as our Program Coordinator. Chris comes to YTH with years of experience in research and youth involvement. As an advocate of harm reduction policies, he’s especially interested in reducing the stigmas surrounding HIV transmission and intravenous injection drug use among young gay men. As YTH’s Program Coordinator, Chris coordinates a number of programs including PrEPTECH and they2ze. I spoke with him about his new role at YTH, his extensive background in sexuality studies, and what his first year attending our annual conference YTH Live was like.

ERIN: Welcome to the YTH team! Tell us, why YTH? What made our organization stand out to you in your job search?

CHRIS: Thanks! I’m excited to be here! YTH has played an integral part in developing health-based initiatives which have been known to include the exploration of tech in conjunction with youth and young adults. As someone whose main focus of study comes from the derivation, origin, and examination of stigmas found within the medical community, YTH seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to get involved with a group of people who were trying to make a difference. The amount of work and detail that goes into every single project let’s me know just how dedicated our team is, and is something that keeps me going, day in and day out. That’s what really stood out to me and that’s what makes YTH such an amazing place to be.

ERIN: You have a background in sexuality studies and are heading some of our sexuality-based programs at YTH, like PrEPTECH and they2ze. Since a lot of your previous work has focused on harm reduction for LGBTQ communities, how does your work at YTH fit into your overall professional goals?

CHRIS: That’s a good question. For me, harm reduction has always been a social and political act of resistance. Harm reduction comes in many forms, but I think at the end of the day, what harm reduction tries to accomplish is the ability to decriminalize and de-stigmatize so-called and often assumed “high-risk” activities by offering guidance, resources, and support to those who have been historically marginalized.

The two projects that I’m currently overseeing are a tad bit different from what is traditionally defined as harm reduction, however, both projects aim to offer assistance and aid to those who may have not had the opportunity otherwise, which I think is pretty profound and can be considered it’s own act of social and political resistance. My work at YTH continues to foster this sense of care and resistance and is something that mirrors both my academic and professional development.

ERIN: It was your first year at YTH Live! What did you think of the conference? Did anything surprise you?

CHRIS: I loved it! There’s so much planning involved and so many moving parts it’s easy to lose sight of what you’re really to trying to accomplish, but to see it come together and come to life was nothing short of amazing. The design challenge was a breath of fresh air and was without a doubt a highlight at YTH Live! I think Team Miz Ambition’s reveal of their NSFW contraceptive title “F, M, K” was the biggest surprise of all! There was a huge uproar of applause and the presentation was astounding. I’ll never forget it!

ERIN: What are you looking forward to accomplishing in the rest of 2017?
CHRIS: I’m really looking forward to closing out the year with both PrEPTECH and they2ze and seeing what we can do in order to expand. These are two projects that I’m closely involved with and have seen grown during my time at YTH. I think there’s a lot of potential for both of these projects and I hope that they will become something bigger. It’s all very exciting and is something that I’m looking forward to!


Learn more about how Chris’ project they2ze provides access to health resources for transgender-spectrum youth. Now available for download on both iOS and Android devices.

Want to learn how else you can support youth health? Download our other latest project,
TECHsex, a national report on how youth interact with social media and technology, specifically related to their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and see why young people are using Google instead of doctors for their health.

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