New Board Chair Plots the Course for Healthy Futures with the Community in Mind
By Eleni Pacheco
Meet the New Healthy Futures Board of Directors Chair, Judge Clarissa Chavarria
Raised in a small town in the valley, Judge Clarissa Chavarria couldn’t imagine receiving quality sex ed as a young person. Her parents never gave her “the talk” and she received minimal sexual health education at school. She had no idea what sex ed truly entailed until she encountered Healthy Futures five years ago.
When Chavarria became a Juvenile Judge, she acquired a relationship with Dr. Realini who had partnered with the San Antonio Municipal Court to provide education to young people in the system and their families. It is her job to assign young people to information and skill-building sessions that she feels is appropriate for their personal development. In assigning a group of youth to receive sex ed, she decided to sit in on Big Decisions. She notes that her first reaction was shock. She didn’t expect the openness and candor of the guided discussion - or the anatomical diagrams.
Getting past the initial embarrassment, Chavarria now believes that “showing this information and having this dialogue has to happen. Young people have to see and learn about these things.”
Witnessing misogyny, objectification, and cases of unwanted sexual advances in her courtroom, Chavarria was inspired to create real change in the lives of young people. After observing the tenents of quality sex ed, she decided to apply for the Healthy Futures Board of Directors. “Sex ed is more than just the birds and bees and how babies are made,” she says. “Respect is the foundation.”
Since serving on the Board, Judge Chavarria has noticed changes in herself and her family, stating that she and her husband feel they can have “open, honest, and age-appropriate conversations” with their children. She didn’t have a blueprint passed down from the trusted adults in her life, but she did have a group of diverse and interested people within the Board where she could begin practicing real sexual health dialogue. “My children know about puberty and are excited about the changes . . . and I am mentally prepared to talk to them about it.”
This year Chavarria moved from her position as Vice-Chair to Board Chair, beginning a two-year term. “We knew she was ready to serve as chair,” Healthy Futures of Texas President Evelyn Delgado states. “She has excellent knowledge of the organization, she gets what we’re doing, and she works directly with the youth, so she has a deep understanding of the needs of the community.”
Chavarria believes she brings insight and interest to the position. “I am the boots on the ground, bringing information about what is happening in the community.” While she is able to fulfill her role and bring a crucial perspective to the position, her personal goals are to be more involved in Healthy Futures day-to-day.
As the new chair, Chavarria plans to maintain focus on funding our program’s new and innovative strategic plans. She is grateful to work amongst a diverse Board that is committed to progressing the Healthy Futures mission. “It’s not about what I want,” she said, adding that the totality of the Board is what makes it so healthy. “The direction that we choose to go in is based on the vision of everyone.”