Hello NYC Peer Health Exchange community!
I am so delighted to be here. I have worked with young people in some capacity for my entire 24-year career (don’t do the math on my age,
please!) and there is no population that deserves our wholehearted attention more.
My career path has encompassed child protection services, public schools in three cities, non-profits, home-based therapy for previously incarcerated youth, and high-level program development and management.
Through this, I have learned that we must address every prong of health and wellness to ensure equity. I have been working in and around New York public schools for the better part of the last 13 years and know the importance of the work we do. As the co-founder of a transfer high school in Brooklyn, I saw firsthand the possibilities that arise when adolescents, specifically, young men and women of color, are given access to information, the skill-development on how to use that information, and relationships to support wielding that power. This translates into the ability for young people to make better, healthier decisions for themselves. It is life-changing, for them and for their future. And it is life-changing to play a small role in this transformation.
On a personal note, I am an avid runner (I just ran the Detroit Marathon On October 20 and am ready to cheer on the NYC Marathon this weekend) and a rescuer of feral cats (currently two from the streets of Brooklyn). I have lived in New Orleans, Austin, Colorado, and Oaxaca, Mexico and have a deep love for travel. But New York has claimed my heart, and I very much look forward to furthering the already amazing work being done both in NYC and all over the country through Peer Health Exchange. I imagine great things…..
Cristen Van Vleet, LCSW
New York City Executive Director
Pronouns in use: She, Her, Hers