High School Programs Manager, Crissy Field Center
Jessica Chen is the High School Programs Manager at the Crissy Field Center, a dynamic hub of youth engagement for Golden Gate National Parks and a model program of the National Park Service, that focuses on engaging people who traditionally have had little—if any—access to national parks. A San Francisco native, Jessica grew up in the Mission district with her working class family. At the age of 15, with very little exposure or knowledge of parks, Ms. Chen joined the Crissy Field Center’s Youth Advisory Council to help develop and pilot youth programming for the new center. In 2001, the council designed and created the Inspiring Young Emerging Leaders (I-YEL) program, the first high school youth leadership program ever established in the national parks.
Ms. Chen’s experience interning in the parks sparked an interest in community health and led her to pursue degrees in Physiology and Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her work focuses on designing programs to improve the health and quality of life for underserved urban communities. Decreasing health disparities and improving overall health outcomes start with systematic changes and early interventions. She has now returned to lead the I-YEL program, as she sees the significant public health role the parks have in improving the health and lives of its young people and their communities.