Shelly’s commitment to promote emotional and social wellness for youth and families started a few years ago. Upon transferring schools, her daughter found herself lonely and overwhelmed. As Shelly and her husband looked for ways to help their daughter, they stumbled upon three keys that made all the difference: finding friends to connect with, discovering interests that inspire purpose, and developing resilience to never give up. After her daughter recovered, Shelly knew many youth and families needed these fundamental tools to rise above the challenges of life.
Shelly’s positive vision and social personality continues to inspire professionals, volunteers, and interns to help in this very prevalent cause. Her ambitious character and open mind provides opportunities for this organization to grow and bless the lives of individuals from all walks of life.
She excels at networking and finding professional skills, knowledge, and talent to create an organization that has the potential of empowering thousands of youth and families for many years to come!
Shelly has served in a variety of ways within her community and has helped thousands of youth in the states of Utah, Texas, Georgia, and Ohio where she served as a session director with her husband for the youth program Especially for Youth. She received her bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University in Nonprofit Management. She also enjoyed working with youth leaders as a Student Government Advisor. She is a mother of five and in her spare time she loves traveling with her family and playing basketball in her community.
Rachel Gándola recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a bachelor's degree in University Studies and a minor in English. She is passionate about working with youth and children and plans to have a career in education. She has organized and implemented programs for thousands of youth in Utah, Texas, and Georgia with the organization Especially for Youth as a Coordinator.
Heather Hirst has a Masters of Accountancy from Brigham Young University. After transitioning her family to a clean diet 7 years ago, Heather began learning more about the connection between gut health and mental wellness. She recently became a Certified Mental Wellness Coach and loved diving deeper into the science of gut health. She is a mom of 6 who loves experimenting in the kitchen with her kids! They love finding new ways to make their favorite treats healthier.
Desiree Winters received her master's degree in Instructional Psychology and Technology from Brigham Young University. She currently works as a Learning Engineer for Health Catalyst where she designs educational content and learning experiences related to healthcare technology and outcomes improvement. She has contributed to articles in TechTrends and A New Focus for Learning: Educational Technology Beyond Content, and has presented the Association for Educational Communications and Technology.
Outside of work, she enjoys eating ice cream, spending time with friends, and being outdoors. Desiree loves talking to people and coming to understand them better, their perceptions, the significant experiences in their lives, their aspirations, and the patterns of learning and change that influence who they are becoming.
Jenae Nelson received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is a PhD candidate in Developmental Psychology at Brigham Young University. Her research includes moral and character development, spirituality, resilience, psychological well-being, and thriving in adolescence and adulthood.
Jenae has received an Early Career Award Grant from the John Templeton Foundation in conjunction with Baylor University, recognizing her for her innovative research on gratitude to God and prosocial behavior.
When she is not studying teen development, she is busy raising her own teenagers. As a mother to four children her research both informs and is influenced by her engagement at home. Jenae is committed to helping teenagers and adults thrive and find purpose and meaning in their lives through her research and other opportunities to serve.
Jessica Turner, MT-BC, Owner of Healing in Harmony, is a Board-Certified Music Therapist with 12 years of clinical experience in mental health, and specialized training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Jessica earned her Bachelor's of Science in Music Therapy from Utah State University. Jessica is passionate about her work with children, youth, and families, and desires to strengthen and equip them with tools, resources, and confidence to lead their best lives. Jessica has received awards & recognition for her skilled musicianship, songwriting, leadership, service, and clinical fieldwork.
In addition to her music therapy practice, Jessica has years of experience as a youth counselor, motivational speaker, children’s musical performance creator & director, religious instructor for children & youth, Special Olympics Director of Programs & Entertainment, and – most dear to her heart – mother. Jessica loves to laugh with her husband and three daughters, play games, play piano, play on the stage...sing, dance, compose music, enjoy delicious food, explore the outdoors, create and tackle new business ventures, and snuggle.
Jeff Hirst is a 22-year commercial insurance advisor and an entrepreneur who enjoys finding ways to innovatively add value to customers. He likes to develop business and strategic plans to help organizations grow and thrive for the benefit of all. He likes to be with his family, hike, mountain bike, visit National Parks, snowmobiling and going on dates with his wife. He is the father of 6 children and married to his sweetheart for 17 years.
*Disclosure: Rising Up Together is not a clinical institution and is not a replacement of counseling or medical treatment. We do not guarantee recovery but hope to empower youth & families with the right resources they need for life!
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