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About Our Executive Director, Jenelle Marie Pierce
In 2012, Jenelle quit her career as an Analyst for Stryker Corporation’s Healthcare Division and founded The STI Project: Breaking the Stigma® and its child sites. She is now The STI Project’s Executive Director; the Founder of the herpes activists network, HANDS; and the Spokesperson for Positive Singles. As an STI+ Sexual Health Educator and content creator, Jenelle is dismantling stigma by reclaiming STI narratives® through awareness, education, and acceptance.
Jenelle is also a Tri-Chair of the Communications Action Group at the National Coalition for Sexual Health (NCSH) and a member of the International Union Against Sexually Transmitted Diseases (IUASTD), the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association (ASTDA), the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR), and the Intermountain West HPV Vaccination Coalition.
Previously, Jenelle was the STD Expert for Answers.com and an adjunct professor for Grand Rapids Community College.
Her work has been featured in popular TV, radio, and print outlets such as: Cosmopolitan Magazine, Jezebel, Forbes, HuffPost Live, NPR, Refinery 29, NOW Magazine (UK), and many more. Current bylines can be found in SELF, HepatitisC.net, Kinkly, PornHub’s Sexual Wellness Center, xoJane, and Allure.
- Founder – Herpes Activists Networking to Dismantle Stigma (HANDS) – Present
- Spokesperson – Positive Singles – Present
- Freelance Writer – The Washington Post, SELF, Planned Parenthood, Allure, Kinkly.com, and others – Present
- Professional Speaker – AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), Red Project, and others – Present
- STD Expert – Answers.com – 2013-2017
- Adjunct Professor – Grand Rapids Community College – 2012-2016
- National Coalition for Sexual Health (NCSH) – Tri-Chair of the Communications Action Group
- The International Union Against Sexually Transmitted Infections (IUSTI)
- American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association (ASTDA)
- National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD)
- National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR)
- The Intermountain West HPV Vaccination Coalition
- AASECT Certified Sexual Health Educator – Modern Sex Therapy Institutes – Summer 2020
- MBA – Graduated with high honors from the Honors Program – Davenport University
- BBA – Graduated with honors from the Honors Program – Davenport University
Noteable Awards & Recognition**
- 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan 2016
- 40 Under 40 Business Leader 2015
- Advocates Unite! Caring Ambassadors Fellow 2015
A Note from Jenelle
Hi, ya’ll! My name’s Jenelle Marie Pierce (she/her/hers), and I am Herpes+. Since I was 16 years old, I’ve lived with genital herpes – otherwise known as the herpes simplex virus (HSV) or simply, herpes (I’ve also had other STIs). Who admits that? *raises hand* Want to know more about my experience with herpes? Read my Herpes Interview.
More importantly, having herpes has not hindered my love life, dampened my ambition, or limited my relationships. I’ve been married, auditioned for American Idol, gone skydiving 3 times, been an auditor for a Big 4 accounting firm, ran a 25k, started successful businesses, worked as a ‘carny’ on a fried veggie wagon (seriously), completed 2 honors degrees, etc., etc.. Herpes, in short, has not stopped me from achieving anything or enjoying my life.
I am here to tell you, having herpes does not have to stop you either.
Because of my personal experience with a stigmatized infection, in April of 2012, I launched The STI Project and have been working on it ever since. Herpes.Education is an extension of that work.
Sure, no one wants an infection – I don’t want a cold or the flu – but, as humans, our bodies are not infallible. They are resilient, yes, but certainly not infallible, and maladies are part of the human experience.
Most importantly, I understand what it’s like to feel stereotyped, misunderstood, and alone with something considered taboo. As a result, I work to encourage education and facilitate thoughtful discussion about sexual health and herpes, specifically. I can also be a vessel for your herpes stories through the Herpes Interviews. In time, I won’t need to be this vessel because we will have broken the stigma and opened the minds of others, but until then, I am here to serve you.
Take off your shoes and stay awhile – everyone is welcome here – and if you’d like, share your herpes story (anonymously). You can also find me on social media: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, or Twitter – drop by and say hello!
*For a clinical diagnosis, always consult a physician, but for all other questions, our resources and references pages are a great place to start.
**For a detailed listing of awards and recognition, please visit our press page!
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