Valerie Huber, President/CEO
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Valerie Huber is the President/CEO of Ascend, a Washington DC-based professional association that champions youth to make healthy decisions in relationships and life by promoting well-being through a primary prevention strategy, and as a national membership and advocacy organization that serves, leads, represents and equips the Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) field.
In this role, she regularly urges policymakers to support the healthiest sex education approach for youth, SRA education. She likes to share the research that shows when teens wait for sex, they are more likely to do better in school, have healthier relationships, avoid other health risks, and enjoy a future unencumbered by the physical, emotional, and financial consequences that accompany teen sex.
Because of the work of Ascend, Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) education continues to have an emphasis in federal policy, despite the fact that President Obama has sought to eliminate all programs exclusively devoted to helping youth wait for sex. Huber thinks that as long as the government continues to craft sex education policy, a priority should be given to the skills that help teens avoid all the risks by waiting for sex, hopefully until they marry.
Ascend offers the rigorous Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialist (SRAS) credential, a professional certification for those who teach SRA education. Huber helped to create and train more than 700 educators since 2014 from states as far away as Alaska.
Valerie is a frequent spokesperson for teen sexual health in various media venues and has been interviewed hundreds of times by prominent print, radio and television outlets. She is an expert on the history of sex education as well as the public policy decision-making that has influenced how sex education is taught in communities across the nation.
Valerie previously served as manager of the sexual risk avoidance program for the state of Ohio where she provided oversight and grant awards to community programs serving over 100,000 students per year as part of the Ohio Department of Health.
Mary Anne Mosack, National Director of State Initiatives
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Mary Anne Mosack is currently the National Director of State Initiatives for Ascend and a lead trainer in Ascend’s Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) Certification program. She is also the President of Mosack Communication Consulting and provides training seminars on the principles of effective communication to various educational and leadership groups.
Since 1997, Mary Anne has been advocating for youth and families, and continues to promote SRA education as sound public health policy on the local, state and national levels. She is the former Executive Director of Operation Keepsake, a large SRA program serving over 140 schools in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area. She managed a rigorous evaluation in partnership with Case Western Reserve’s Center for Health Promotion resulting in one of the first peer-reviewed, published studies showing the effectiveness of SRA education for high-risk teens.
Mary Anne has been a frequent conference speaker for the Federal Department of Health and Human Services on effective communication strategies and a consultant on program evaluation and development for the Administration of Children and Families. As a project consultant for ACF, she worked to engage stakeholders throughout the country in partnering to build cohesive community networks to support positive youth development at the local level. She is also co-author of The War on Intimacy, a book examining how sex education strategies impact healthy relationship development. She is dedicated to building the protective assets all teens need to insure they are given the opportunity to reach optimal health and life success.
Brenda Saltzer, Director of Strategic Partnerships
Brenda Saltzer has over 25 years of non-profit leadership experience and more than 12 years of development and advancement experience. She loves the non-profit world and knows what it means to engage in something that’s much more than a job. As the founding CEO of WISH Medical and the Executive Director of Palouse Care Network, she has led a variety of successful capital campaigns. Brenda was responsible for all advancement and development for both arms of the thriving non-profit for more than a decade. She has a CCNL in development and leadership.
Brenda joined Ascend in 2007 and was invited to serve on their advisory board in 2008. She has been a board member since 2009. Brenda has seen firsthand how Ascend benefits young people, parents, educators, and those who care about public policy. In her role as Director of Strategic Partnerships, she brings experience and passion for connecting others to the great opportunities for strategic philanthropy with Ascend.