Staff Spotlight: Jeni Brazeal, HYP Program Coordinator
Describe in your own words what you do at UTCFRI:
I support the community-based coalition Healthy Youth Partnership (HYP) in providing quality professional development opportunities for youth-serving professionals in Central Texas. These include monthly workshops, an annual conference, advanced trainings on collaboration and leadership development, and social media outreach. I also manage a program that offers trauma-informed sexual health education to youth in specialized settings, including foster care agencies, juvenile justice facilities, and charter schools.
What are your professional areas of interest/ research interests?
My work focuses on adolescent sexual health promotion and teen pregnancy prevention.
If you had to pick one important or exciting thing about your work at UTCFRI what would it be?
I love that HYP offers a supportive learning community for youth-serving professionals.
What is the most exciting or rewarding thing about your work at UTCFRI?
I love working with the youth that we are serving. Youth in recovery and residential treatment facilities are so great to work with because they can see the connection between the material we teach and how it impacts their lives. I appreciate being able to influence funding serving these populations through our evaluation to ensure that programs working with youth in recovery and residential treatment are culturally competent and meeting the needs of the youth.
What advice do you have for students or aspiring professionals who are interested in your field?
Get involved in community efforts and demonstrate your skills! Our community values collaboration, and professionals who step up to the plate are viewed as strong assets.
Before working at UTCFRI what was the most unusual or interesting job you had?
Before working at CFRI, I spent seven years working with various sexual health programs through organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, YouthLaunch, City of Austin, and EngenderHealth. In college, I worked several years as a Texas Capitol tour guide and as a dance instructor for children, teens, and adults.
What is the best book you ever read?
I have read each of the Harry Potter books over 10 times. I feel like every time I read them I gain a new insight. I just can’t get enough of the HP!
What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
I spend most of my free time out in nature or crafting. I enjoy any opportunity to create! My favorite crafts involve crochet, needlepoint, and sewing. My aunt taught me these skills when I was about 7 or 8, and then I took several costume construction courses in college to advance my sewing skills. I use crafting as mindful practices to center myself and as creative outlets.
Would you rather be a tiny elephant or a giant hamster? Why?
Tiny elephant! I don’t think I’d want to be furry and have to deal with hairballs, and also I love elephant trunks and ears.
In the upcoming months, our social media platforms and the CFRI blog will be highlighting the staff and students of CFRI. Get to know us and learn more about the passionate people behind the quality research that is used to guide policy and social work practice created and developed by The Child & Family Research Institute. #meetCFRI