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Jill’s Story: Two Jobs, One Dream, and the Calling to Help Others

For the past year and a half, Jill Niswander has balanced two roles at YSS: one as the Director of Development and one as a mental health therapy intern. Her weeks were split between using her background and expertise to do what she’s good at—fundraising for YSS—while venturing into a new career path.

“It has been helpful being a part of such a supportive team,” Jill says. “YSS is a great place to come and learn. They care about seeing you succeed.”

Jill has always led with the philosophy that you cannot help people if you cannot run a business. As Director of Development, she uses her accounting decree and prior experience in both finance and communications to connect with donors, manage donation processes, and oversee YSS’s fundraising efforts.

However, during the pandemic, Jills says she was finally able to give herself permission to pursue the career she has always wanted.

“Therapy is something that I have used in my own life as a resource,” Jill explains. “Mental illness and addiction is something that has impacted my family directly, and I want to be able to help people in similar ways that I have been helped.”

Between her home life with a husband and four kids, pursuing a graduate degree, and working full-time at YSS—Jill wanted to ensure she could find the best possible solution to prioritize her goals.

“I knew that I had to do a clinical internship, so I went to YSS and asked them to allow me to do both roles at the same time. Thankfully, they were open to the idea,” Jill says. “I was able to tap into YSS’s mental health services and have a successful internship experience.”

YSS offers a wide variety of behavioral health services from substance use counseling to mental health therapy to medication management. The organization serves clients of all ages, with six in-person counseling offices as well as statewide telehealth services.

As a therapy intern, Jill gained experienced through a year-long internship at YSS of Marshall County. She appreciated the hands- on experience in creating and documenting clinical notes, scheduling sessions, and helping clients achieve their goals. She is also grateful for her clinical supervisor, Ryan Keller.

“Ryan was my site supervisor, and he is a great therapist,” Jill says. “He’s very compassionate and empathetic with his clients. He is also interested in growing and developing new therapists, so that made a very successful experience for me.”

Jill completed her internship in April of 2022 and recently passed her licensing exam, which means she is able to apply to the Iowa Board of Behavioral Health to be a licensed therapist. Jill plans to work as a licensed marriage and family therapist in Des Moines.

Balancing everything wasn’t always easy, but Jill achieved her goals with the support from her family and YSS.

“My family has been great about cheering me on. I loved the chance to be a part of the YSS office in Marshalltown, and appreciate how welcoming the team there is,” says Jill. “I’m happy I could both raise funds and support work that I really believe in at YSS in multiple ways.”

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