Interview with Vanessa Arenas

New York State Center of Excellence for Family Planning and Reproductive Health Services

What is your role at the New York State Center of Excellence for Family Planning and Reproductive Health Services?

I am the Program Manager for the New York State Center of Excellence for Family Planning and Reproductive Health Services (NYS COE) and Senior Technical Advisor at CAI. In my role, I provide day-to-day administrative support to the NYS COE, as well as offer technical assistance to the New York State Department of Health’s (NYS DOH) network of family planning providers. I work alongside the NYS COE Team to develop capacity-building opportunities and performance management initiatives designed to support family planning providers in the implementation of operational best practices.

Tell us a little bit about your background.
I have a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies and recently completed coursework for my Master of Public Health. I have been working in the field of women’s health for over 8 years and have experience both with direct patient care and program administration. I began working as a bilingual counselor and educator at an ambulatory surgical center in New Jersey. After a few years, I decided to continue my career at Morris Heights Health Center (MHHC), a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in the Bronx, where I worked as a Health Educator and Outreach Worker under the Family Planning Program. Shortly after, I transitioned to the role of Family Planning Program Coordinator, where I provided administrative support to the program and managed day-to-day operations. My specific expertise is on reproductive health services, Title X guidelines and program implementation.

What do you like most about your job (thus far)?
I enjoy working with family planning providers at a larger scale. There are exciting initiatives taking place in New York State and the family planning provider community has always shown a deep commitment to increasing access to populations in need. I have the privilege of working with programs across the state and learning about the innovative ways in which their teams approach the challenges of providing services to underserved communities. It is exciting to be part of the NYS COE team and support the great work that is taking place.

What are your interests outside of work?
I enjoy reading and baking. I’m currently making my way through an extensive biography on Alexander Hamilton by Rob Chernow, though my all-time favorites include the Harry Potter series and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Now that I have completed my MPH coursework, I look forward to catching up on some reading that I had to set aside. I also consider myself to be a decent baker. I find it therapeutic to create something that I can share with others.