Friday, October 7, 2011

PSD's Anne-Marie Braga Named CDPHE Employee of the Year!!!

The Prevention Service Division’s own Anne-Marie Braga, MSSW, LCSW, Director of Youth and Young Adult Initiatives, Prevention Services Division, has been named the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) Employee of the Year!!!

During her tenure as the adult sponsor of the Youth Partnership for Health (YPH) - CDPHE’s youth advisory board - Anne-Marie helped the youth develop a DVD and guidebook, entitled Nothing About Us Without Us, which are used throughout Colorado, as well as in other states, as a valuable resource for organizations who are seeking to start and maintain successful youth-adult partnerships in their community.

In support of Nothing About Us Without Us, Anne-Marie hosted 13 youth development community conversations throughout Colorado, meeting with over 500 youth, parents, business and religious leaders and community-based providers. The goals of the meetings were for the state to learn what’s worked best in each community to support youth and to brainstorm and prioritize how the state, in partnership with the Colorado Youth Development Team, can best support youth and community development work.

Informed by the information gleaned from the community conversations, The Colorado Youth Development Team (CYDT) unveiled its report, Positive Youth Development: Supporting Colorado Youth to Reach Their Full Potential.  The purpose of the report was to share the results of a statewide assessment and provide recommendations on how state and local programs can incorporate positive youth development strategies into their work. Anne-Marie contributed extensive time and energy into compiling the content for the report, as well as refining the written document. Through Anne-Marie’s leadership, this report now serves as a frequently-referenced guidepost that describes how a positive youth development approach can be used to address adolescent issues in Colorado.

Specific to the youth sexual health priority, Latina teen pregnancy is a significant concern in Denver, Colorado, with rates significantly higher than other racial/ethnic groups. Anne-Marie advocated for the utilization of Preventive Health Block grant dollars to develop and implement a parent-child connectedness program in the Westwood community which would complement teen pregnancy prevention programmatic efforts already occurring in the neighborhood’s middle school and high school. Using research that has demonstrated the importance of parental communication with their youth for avoiding adverse consequences, Anne-Marie helped to develop and implement the “Westwood Speaks” project.  The program includes a parent child connectedness program (for parents with their youth) and sexual health educational programming for youth in the schools. To date, this program has been successful in enhancing parent child communication around sexual health and future plans include expanding the program.

All of this would not have been possible without the vision and leadership of Anne-Marie.   Anne-Marie has done a tremendous job using her position as Director of Youth and Young Adult Initiatives to elevate the importance of adolescent issues at a state level ensuring that all communities commit to working to improve the lives of our youth. She is a wonderful person who cares deeply about how she can help youth in our state which is demonstrated by the work described in this nomination letter. I, along with the many people who contributed to this nomination, firmly believe Anne-Marie is deserving of this award for her tireless public health leadership and the outstanding work she has done to advance the positive focus on youth in our state.

Special ‘Thanks” to Rachel Hutson, Children and Youth Branch Director, Prevention Services Division, CDPHE assistance in this post.

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