A Time to Be Grateful

A Time to Be Grateful

By Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | November 24, 2015
Senior Editor, ETR

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time we think of gratitude. This year, as we consider all that has happened and compare our circumstances to others on the world stage, we at ETR are indeed grateful—for personal health, for homes, for opportunities to be with our families.


As I reflect on the recent horrors in Mali, Paris, Lebanon and beyond, I am reminded of what happened at ETR after the 9/11 attacks in the United States. There was shock, confusion, fear, anger. A TV was set up in one of the common areas and we watched events unfold in disbelief.


It was hard to think about working because our work, in comparison to what we were watching, seemed small and unimportant. Who could focus? How could we go on in our daily tasks when others suffered so greatly? Who knew what disaster might come next? A couple of people asked, “Should we just close up and go home?” 

We Will Not Be Stopped

Then one of our leaders said, “It is time to get back to work now. The office is staying open and we are moving forward. This is our greatest act of defiance against the tyranny of terrorism. We will continue to do our work. We will not be stopped.”

And this is what we have all done over the years—you, the people at ETR, our partners, colleagues, customers and friends. We continue, through collaboration, inspiration and hard work to change the world in our small and peaceful ways. The opportunity to do so is something I am incredibly grateful for.

So yes, 2015 has been a difficult year in many respects. But it has also been a wonderful year for ETR, one filled with excellence, shared vision, partnership and collaboration. Here are some of the people and organizations we especially want to thank.

Great New Partnership: Teaming Up with Select Media

One of the biggest events for us this year was joining up with Select Media. We’ve combined our catalogs, bringing their fine products into the ETR store. ETR is now offering the largest global collection of sexual and reproductive health interventions and programs. Most of the evidence-based programs being used across the U.S. are now available in our store.

We are grateful to the folks at Select Media and staff here at ETR who made this merger a reality.

We’re also looking forward to doing more work with John and Loretta Jemmott, iconic figures in the field of sexual and reproductive health and thought leaders for decades. They developed a number of the Select Media titles that are now available through ETR. We had a most energetic two days with them recently, and we are inspired about the possibilities that exist for working together in the future.

We’ve also got a great big shout out to ETR’s impressive editorial team for the above-and-beyond work they’ve been putting into updates on our evidence-based programs, helping bring editorial consistency to our new titles, making everything more accessible and hands-on practical for people in the field. They are masters at this art!

Great Schools: Hartnell, El Camino, Cabrillo, Monterey Peninsula & Pajaro Valley

ETR’s LouAnn Lyon is a Senior Research Associate focusing on broadening participation in computing by women. The faculty at Hartnell College, El Camino Community College, Cabrillo College and Monterey Peninsula College have been wonderful partners in our ongoing efforts to broaden participation.

Our Diversity in IT group also works at the K-12 level, and we engage with different schools in many communities. The Pajaro Valley Unified School District has been one of our best partners ever. They are constantly open to considering our proposals and participating in our projects. These are great students, great teachers and great administrators making a contribution to schools all across the nation through their willingness to participate in this research.

Personal Heroes: Empowered Youth, Laci Green, Dr. Zaza & Pat Wolfe

Laura Norvig, our Digital Media Strategist, has a son who is a YouTube sensation. The Mighty Wade posts videos of himself playing with trucks in the dirt—quite a hit for really young kids. This vid of his has over 20 million views! You’ve got to see it to believe it. 

This has made Laura especially interested in children and youth voices in social media. She is grateful for young people who take the time to deliver empowering messages and are willing to risk being vulnerable and genuine on social media.

Laci Green has become a big favorite for many of ETR’s sexual and reproductive health writers, researchers and trainers. Her frank, funny, accurate, sometimes edgy videos about healthy sexuality are journeys of delight and discovery.

We also love the way Dr. Stephanie Zaza from the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (on Twitter @DrZazaCDC) engages with the world on social media. She follows us, she supports us, she has conversations with us on Twitter. Thanks, Dr. Zaza! And follow her, people. She’s great!

Deb Christopher, ETR’s Director of Professional Learning Services, sings the praises of her colleague and mentor Pat Wolfe. Many of us at ETR have a deeper, richer, more practical understanding of how the brain works, and how to put that into practice in trainings and education, because of the knowledge Pat has generously shared with us.

Role Model to the Field: South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

ETR’s evaluation team has a loud-and-proud shout out for the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy as a whole, and staffers Mary Prince, Sarah Kershner and Forrest Alton specifically.

This is a group that (1) is committed to using evidence-based programs; (2) is committed to training educators to implement with fidelity and quality; and (3) values how researchers and programmers can work together to conduct quality research, then use those results to further the field and inform their own work. They are wonderful people to work with.

Young Fathers Helping Create Solutions

ETR has been partnering with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in a multi-year study of teen mothers (AIM 4 Teen Moms). As part of the study, ETR Research Associate BA Laris has been working with young fathers this past year.

She says, “I am so grateful to all of the young fathers who have agreed to be interviewed in our Young Fathers supplemental study. These young men have agreed to share their experience as fathers to help us understand more and build knowledge in the field of this underserved population.”

An Above and Beyond Program Officer

We’ve had some fine program officers on a range of projects over the years. This year, ETR Project Director Tracy Wright expresses particular thanks to Mary Schauer (CDC-DASH), the Contracting Officer's Representative for our Professional Learning Collaborative contract.

Mary has forever been a strong advocate and believer in quality professional development. She’s been very supportive of our work and a champion for us at DASH. Thank you, Mary!

Cool, Hardworking Interns

ETR had two wonderful Kirby Summer Interns in 2015. Thanks to Monica Sun and William Spatafora, both MPH students at Tulane University. Monica penned one of our most popular blog posts this year, “College Sexual Assault: Apps to Address the Problem,” and William offered another popular and thought-provoking post, “HPV Vaccine: What About the Boys?

Thanks to them both for joining in with enthusiasm and commitment, helping with data analysis, writing for our blog, and carrying on the field for the future.

University of Michigan MBA Consultants

We also benefitted from the consultation of four full-time MBA students from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. The team brought professionalism and creative thinking to a series of business challenges facing ETR and inspired us with their dedication and enthusiasm.

Oh, and they wrote blog posts, too, sharing their passion with us and our partners! We thank them all: Max Dixon (“Enabling Amazing Work to Grow”), Jason Jackson Wallace (“Blast to the Future”), Shukun Ma (“Sharing Luck and Dreams”), and Fulton Breen (“Talent and Opportunity, Abilities and Access: Minding the Gap”).

ETR’s Own Outstanding Staff

ETR is a fabulous organization with an extraordinary staff. No false modesty here—we’re all standouts. But here are some of our superheroes of the year.

Alex Williams for his longstanding, impressive and dedicated work in HIV prevention. In particular, Alex has been a leader reaching out to underserved and disproportionately affected communities, including Black and Latino MSM and Trans-identified communities. Learn more about his work, and why he received the 2015 Dr. Mark Colomb Leadership Award, here.

Matt Cherry and Tamara Neff for their impressive work this year developing eLearning courses for ETR’s Community Impact Solutions Program (CISP). They’ve developed more complicated courses with greater interactivity and more dynamic graphic elements, and the results are amazing. We’ve gotten excellent feedback from users and funders alike. We are excited to get our new Measurement and Evaluation and soon-to-be-released HIV Fundamentals out to the HIV workforce through our CISP website.

Jacque Peters for being one of our bright lights wherever she goes! Jacque is willing to jump in on anything we’re doing. She seizes opportunities to learn more, do more and serve in the HIV services effort with the highest level of dedication. She has been instrumental in growing our CISP social media presence, and she is the now famous guiding voice of all of our eLearning courses!

Kieren Jameson for pushing the envelope as a Tech Evangelist and boosting the profile of ETR by representing us out there in the world—being named a Salesforce MVP, supporting other women learning to code (Women Code Heroes), even stepping beyond her role as Digital Solutions Manager to join in on some of ETR’s Diversity in IT research.

Pam Drake for being a tireless champion for staff in the research group this year. Pam advocates for and supports her team both behind the scenes and in the spotlight. We hear from them that she works too hard and should take more vacations! They are grateful for her leadership, expertise, and willingness to tackle challenges.

But Wait, There’s More!

Yes, there will always be more. We could list another 500 people and organizations we admire and cherish. Simply put, we practice in a field that draws people who do the work because of a profound commitment to make the world a better place.

Choosing this mission, and carrying it out in this community—sharing respect, integrity and honor—is one of the things I hope we can all be grateful for.


Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES, is Senior Editor and manager of ETR’s blog. She can be reached at quam@etr.org.



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