Honoring Brooke Ely-MilenBarbara Paradiso | Center on Domestic Violence Feb 5, 2021
I met Brooke Ely-Milen for the first time in the spring of 2001. She was a young woman who had committed herself to providing support for survivors of domestic violence and was looking to better prepare herself for leadership through education. She had applied to enroll in the Program on Gender-based Violence (PGV - then PDV, Program on Domestic Violence) and our interview together took place with her in the passenger seat of a car driving home from a conference through the mountains.
I remember being impresses by how careful and reserved she was in her answers to my questions. There was no question of her acceptance into the second cohort of students entering the PGV.
Brooke passed away a week ago last Sunday, January 24, 2021. She left this world on her own terms, surrounded by family, having lost a four-year battle with a rare form of cancer.
Brook’s death is certainly a loss to those of us who had the good fortune to work along side her. It is also a tremendous loss to the domestic violence advocacy community, to Colorado and to the survivors whose lives she fought so hard to protect.
Brooke devoted her career to changing systems and building resources for survivors of gender -based violence. For the past 13 years she worked at the Colorado Department of Human Services Domestic Violence Program, the last six years as Director, where she oversaw the distribution of millions of dollars of support to Colorado domestic violence service organizations. Brooke was bright, warm-hearted, thoughtful, and committed. A valued figure in the domestic violence movement in Colorado, Brooke strategically leveraged her influence, power and wisdom to ensure services for survivors were available statewide and performed at their very best.
It is for these reasons and so much more that the Center on Domestic Violence has made the decision to posthumously award Brooke Ely-Milen the 2021 Chris Bradford Awesomeness Award.
The Chris Bradford award specifically recognizes a student or alumnus of the Center's academic programs. Chris was a student in the Program on Gender-Based Violence, completing his studies in 2012. Among the students in his cohort, Chris was popularly known as "Mr. Awesome" (a word he embraced to the fullest) a term that aptly captured his wit and his deep well of compassion. He was a trusted and respected ally in the movement to end gender-based violence.
Upon his death in July of 2017, Chris’ peers created the Chris Bradford Awesomeness Award to honor other students and alumni who embody his passionate spirit, carry forward his work as an advocate and ally in the work to end violence, and make the people with whom they work recognize their own awesomeness. An advocate for justice and an inspired leader, working for change with humor and understanding, Brooke Ely-Milen beautifully exemplifies the characteristics of this prestigious honor.
Brooke will receive formal recognition of the Bradford Award at the Center’s 20th Anniversary virtual gala, Champions for Change. The event will take place on March 3, 2021 beginning with a pre-show at 6:00pm, followed by the evening’s program from 6:30-7:30pm MST. All are invited to join in the Center’s birthday celebration and in acknowledging Brook’s profound contributions to addressing domestic violence in Colorado.
Director, Center on Domestic Violence
For more information on Champions for Change go to Champions for Change 2021