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Published July 11, 2019

Written by: Amy Vames

Photography by Lauren Guiliano

Susie Wilson pledges $1.3 million to Rutgers to support two important causes

Photograph by John O’Boyle

As a member of the New Jersey State Board of Education in the 1970s, Susie Wilson understood the valuable role that public schools played in reducing sexually transmitted diseases and high teen-pregnancy rates. And she helped board members recognize how effective sex education could prevent, rather than promote, risky sexual behavior. In 1980, her advocacy resulted in the board’s decision to require the state’s nearly 600 public school districts to provide family-life and sex education.

Wilson continued to champion better sex-ed programs in the 1980s as executive coordinator of the Rutgers-based New Jersey Network for Family Life Education, now known as Answer, which provides school districts with reliable information on sexual health. In 1994, she also founded Sex, Etc., a magazine and website written by teens to give their peers accurate information about sex and relationships.

Wilson recently pledged $1.3 million to Rutgers to support Answer’s operations and to endow NEW Leadership New Jersey, a program at the Eagleton Institute’s Center for American Women and Politics that prepares college women for careers in public leadership.

She is proud to be part of a movement committed to equipping young people with knowledge rather than perpetuating ignorance about sex. “The teen pregnancy rate is at its lowest ever in the United States,” Wilson says. “It takes a lot to make a change like that, but I think more and better comprehensive sex education has played a role.”