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Jill Johnson Named YSS’s 2023 Outstanding Alumna

Jill Johnson, a graduate of YSS’s residential addiction treatment program—now known as Ember Recovery—was selected for this year’s Outstanding Alumna Award by YSS.

Jill is currently a marketing consultant in the Des Moines metro. She learned about YSS when she was in high school and enrolled in the program at the “Seven-12 house,” which is the girls’ treatment center in Ames.

Ember Recovery is the state’s only gender-specific residential program for youth with substance use disorder. The program offers specialized programming for boys and girls, as well as LGBTQIA+ inclusive treatment. Ember is also unique in that the program is located in residential houses—providing a warm, homelike environment for youth.

“It would function like a normal house,” Jill says. “We would prepare meals, do dishes, and take care of chores. There would be counseling sessions, and we were encouraged to work through the 12 steps.”

Jill says that she is very grateful for the encouragement that YSS staff members provided.

“A lot of people go through treatment and think they’re fixed. They don’t work a 12-step recovery program, and then they relapse. YSS was so successful because some of the staff themselves were in recovery, and they were very supportive even after we graduated from the program,” says Jill.

When looking back on her time at the Seven-12 house, she is appreciative of the relationships she built.

“I learned how to have healthy female friendships,” Jill explains. “The last year I was drinking, I was living in a park and lucky enough to shower once a week. While at YSS, we would take field trips and visit interesting sights. These experiences really helped me assimilate back into a healthy lifestyle.”

YSS will be hosting an Alumni Network Reunion on March 24 at YSS Headquarters in Ames. It will be an opportunity for alumni like Jill to reconnect and hear about each other’s experiences.

In regards to being presented with YSS’s Outstanding Alumna award, Jill says she is deeply humbled.

“I feel like I haven’t done anything spectacular except to mess up my life and be willing to take some action to make it better. So I’m humbled,” Jill explains.

“We are just so honored to recognize Jill with this year’s award. Jill is a pillar in the recovering community and has literally impacted thousands of lives, including mine,” said Andrew Allen, YSS President & CEO and a graduate of YSS’s residential addiction treatment program. “Well done, Jill!”

“I’m grateful for the experience and support of YSS while getting sober and back on my feet,” Jill says. “I’m happy to give back in any way that I can because I’ve been given such an amazing life through recovery.”

Learn more about Ember Recovery.

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