After twelve incredible years with the Annex Teen Clinic, Brooke Stelzer is leaving her position as Director of Sexuality Education. While it’s hard to see her leave the Annex, I’m excited that her expertise and talents will now benefit young people across Minnesota. Brooke has accepted the position of Adolescent Health Consultant with the Minnesota Department of Education. In that role she will be working in partnership with school districts around the state to provide guidance and technical assistance for school-based HIV prevention programming including exemplary sexual health education, school-based or linked sexual health services and safe and supportive school programming.
If you have a chance, I hope you will join me in congratulating Brooke on her new opportunity and express your appreciation for leaving an incredible legacy here at the Annex. Brooke has truly transformed the Annex Education Department during her tenure. When Brooke began as Director of the Annex Education Department she supervised perhaps 4 staff at most. The Education staff now numbers 14. A decade ago, the concept of utilizing an evidence-based approach to sexual health curricula was hardly a discussion item and now most funders require it. Brooke made sure we were ready and now the Annex Education Department is held up as an example for utilizing such curricula. Similarly, at the beginning of Brooke’s tenure, the idea of integrating a youth development approach and sexual health programming was more of a question than a best practice. Once again, the Annex is seen as a leader in integrating these two fields. Finally, while our education programming has always required collaboration, our working relationships with area schools and other community organizations have been strengthened substantially over the past ten years. This means significantly more young people in our service area are receiving high quality, evidence-based sexuality education. Managing the logistics of that kind of growth is complicated at the very least, but I think it is pretty clear that Brooke has recruited and managed a very talented and skilled education team. While we are going to miss Brooke’s enthusiasm and dedication to the field of adolescent sexual health, I’m thrilled that her expertise and potential are being recognized and sought.
Thanks Brooke for all you’ve done for the Annex and the young people we serve!!
Fortunately, I have a way to end this blog post on a happy note. I’m thrilled to announce that Ellen Saliares, our current It’s Our Future Coordinator and Sexuality Educator, has accepted the position of Director of Sexuality Education to succeed Brooke. It’s exciting to think about all the possibilities Ellen’s leadership will create for the Annex over the next few years.