Chair & Professor
Department of Urban-Global Public Health
Sex education; sexual and reproductive health; LGBTQ health; digital health interventions; parent-child communication about sex; public support for sex education.
Leslie M. Kantor, PhD, MPH, is a widely recognized public health leader, researcher, educator and advocate. She currently serves as the inaugural Chair of the Department of Urban-Global Public Health at the Rutgers School of Public Health. Her current projects include efforts to create health literate messaging related to COVID 19, reduce severe maternal morbidity and mortality in Newark, and increase health equity. Dr. Kantor was formerly the Vice President of Education at Planned Parenthood Federation of America and a member of the faculty at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. She has served on the boards of a number of national organizations including ETR Associates, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Power to Decide (formerly the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy), and Answer. Dr. Kantor is the 2020 recipient of the Allan Rosenfield Alumni Award for Excellence from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, the 2019 recipient of the LLoyd M. Felmly award from the New Jersey Public Health Association for advancing public health through media, the 2018 recipient of the Carl S. Shultz Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sexual and Reproductive Health section of APHA, the recipient of APHA’s Jay S. Drotman award for challenging public health practice in a creative and positive manner, and a recipient of the Millicent Carey McIntosh award for feminism from Barnard College. Dr. Kantor is a graduate of Barnard College, the Mailman School of Public Health and the Columbia University School of Social Work.
Dr. Kantor’s research has centered on exploring topics that will improve the public health of underserved communities. In particular, she has conducted a series of mixed method studies related to adolescent health, sexual and reproductive health (SRH) with a particular focus on formative and evaluation research to improve prevention and promotion interventions, and research designed to inform key policy issues in SRH. Dr. Kantor’s research does not end with dissemination. The final stage involves collaborative efforts to translate findings into programmatic and policy advances. For example, she has been very involved in trying to ensure that US policy related to teen pregnancy and STD prevention continues to be informed by evidence and that funding does not revert to supporting abstinence-only-until-marriage programs which have little evidence to suggest that they change behavior and are particularly damaging for some groups of young people including LGBTQ youth, sexually active youth and youth with a history of sexual abuse. Her work has included partnering with colleagues to update a comprehensive literature review on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, helping to craft a new position statement for the Society for Adolescent Medicine, and serving as an expert witness as part of litigation to help prevent the Trump administration from using funding for evidence-based approaches to prevention to turn those funds toward abstinence-only approaches.
Formative and outcomes research on digital approaches to improving sexual and reproductive health.
Parental influence on adolescent sexual health.
Analyses of public support for sex education.
Meeting the needs of LGBTQ youth, African American youth and Latino youth.
Levitz, N., Wood, E., Kantor, L. (2018) "The Influence of Technology Delivery Mode on Intervention Outcomes: Analysis of a Theory-Based Sexual Health Program.", Journal of medical Internet research Vol. 20 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=30158100&report=abstract
Steinke, J., Root-Bowman, M., Estabrook, S., Levine, D., Kantor, L. (2017) "Meeting the Needs of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth: Formative Research on Potential Digital Health Interventions.", The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine Vol. 60 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=28108088&report=abstract
Santelli, J., Grilo, S., Lindberg, L., Speizer, I., Schalet, A., Heitel, J., Kantor, L., Ott, M., Lyon, M., Rogers, J., Heck, C., Mason-Jones, A. (2017) "Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Policies and Programs: An Updated Position Paper of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine", Journal of Adolescent Health Vol. 61 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage+Policies+and+Programs%3A+An+Updated+Position+Paper+of+the+Society+for+Adolescent+Health+and+Medicine
Santelli, J., Kantor, L., Grilo, S., Speizer, I., Lindberg, L., Heitel, J., Schalet, A., Lyon, M., Mason-Jones, A., McGovern, T., Heck, C., Rogers, J., Ott, M. (2017) "Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage: An Updated Review of U.S. Policies and Programs and Their Impact.", The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine Vol. 61 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=28842065&report=abstract
Kantor, L., Levitz, N. (2017) "Parents' views on sex education in schools: How much do Democrats and Republicans agree?", PloS one Vol. 12 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=28672027&report=abstract
Guilamo-Ramos, V., Lee, J., Kantor, L., Levine, D., Baum, S., Johnsen, J. (2015) "Potential for using online and mobile education with parents and adolescents to impact sexual and reproductive health.", Prevention science : the official journal of the Society for Prevention Research Vol. 16 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=24522898&report=abstract
ETR Associates, Board of Directors (2017)
Mexican American Legal Defense Education Fund (MALDEF) (2003)
Answer (formerly Network for Family Life Education) (2000)
National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (now Power to Decide) (1996)
Reviewer, Journal of Adolescent Health
Reviewer, Contraception Journal
Editorial Board Member, American Journal of Sexuality Education
Editorial Board Member, Sex Education Journal
Douglas Kirby Award for Research - Association of Planned Parenthood Leaders in Education (2018) - The Douglas Kirby Award for Research honors a researcher for their contribution to the improvement of health of the people.
Golden APPLE Award for Outstanding Leadership - Association of Planned Parenthood Leaders in Education (2011) - The Golden APPLE Award for Outstanding Leadership recognizes awardees outstanding work for Association of Planned Parenthood Leaders in Education.
Early Career Award for Excellence, Population, Family Planning and Reproductive Health Section - American Public Health Association (2003) - The APHA Award for Excellence is given each year to a living individual in recognition of his/her exceptionally meritorious contribution to the improvement of health of the people.
Jay S. Drotman Memorial Award for challenging public health practice in a creative and positive manner - American Public Health Association (1996) - The Jay S. Drotman Memorial Award was established to recognize the career of a promising young public health professional or student.
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