Jennifer Ulie-Wells, Ph.D.
Dr. Jennifer Ulie-Wells, finished her Ph.D. from Iowa State University in Education with certifications in mental health and social justice. She has been in education for over 20 years as a special educator. In 2013, she founded Please Pass the Love Youth Mental Health Initiative which provides systemic training and support for thousands of educators, schools, and districts across Iowa while hosting the only school mental health conference in the state.
Each year Dr. Ulie-Wells trains thousands of educators, young people, families, and community providers on a variety of school mental health (SMH) topics. She is a professor at Drake University. In 2018, she launched an online school mental health program in collaboration with Drake University and Iowa State Education Association (ISEA). She actively engages in national school mental health capacities including the National School Mental Health State Summit with leaders of federal agencies such as SAMHSA, HHS, HRSA, DOE, DOJ, and the University of Maryland Center for School Mental Health. She is a member of SMH communities of practices and the national Family School Community Alliance with scholars from across the nation.
She has served on a variety of behavioral health related state committees with the Iowa Department of Education and is a Iowa Family Leadership Training Institute Mentor through the University of Iowa, Department of Pediatrics. Her research focuses on racial and marginalized trauma as school mental health, and she has pending publications. She is also a West Des Moines School Board member.
She is passionate about improving the quality of life and educational opportunities for children, families, and educators as well as offer more comprehensive services and supports to school systems. She strives to bridge positive relationships between the educational and mental health communities to more effectively prevent and address mental health issues for our children and adolescents throughout the state of Iowa.
Aside from her determination to fight the stigma of mental wellness and advocating for Iowa’s children, families and schools, her number one priority are her two inspiring children and two puppies. They enjoy traveling together and family game nights. Jen’s other passions are art, music, bicycling and most anything outdoors.
Director of Communications and Marketing
Ben graduated from Iowa State in 2019 with a dual major in Journalism and Mass Communications and Environmental Science, and a minor in Coaching. While a student, he interned with the Des Moines Business Record covering the local business community and, most recently, created digital content for Iowa State Athletics as a student intern for Cyclones.tv. Having cultivated a passion for both written and digital story-telling, Ben joined Please Pass The Love in the fall of 2019 in order to use that story-telling to connect with the community on important issues.
Throughout high school and college, Ben worked for the Starfish Academy, a summer reading program for at-risk elementary students in the Des Moines School District and saw first-hand how our school systems often fail to adequately support its most vulnerable children. Born and raised in the Des Moines-area, Ben is passionate about policies and programs that provide quality education, healthcare and overall support to all, and uplift the working-class families that make Des Moines a thriving community.
Miya is a sophomore at Drake University working towards a bachelor's degree in Psychology. She grew up in rural Iowa where in high school she participated in theater and choir. She became a part of Please Pass the Love through their sub-group Teens for L.O.V.E. In April of 2018, Miya attended the Youth Summit hosted at Camp Sacajawea. This is an experience she says helped change her life and made her realize what she wants to do with her life. Miya hopes to help change the mental health stigma in schools all across Iowa and to make them a safer place for those who do suffer with mental health. This is a topic near and dear to her heart. She also hopes to help bring the voice of the younger generation into the boardroom with her new role as a youth member. Most of all she wants to be able to share her story and inspire others as others have done for her.
Mia Cooper is a junior at Des Moines Lincoln High School. Mia participates in Rails Varsity basketball, Urban Leadership program, and the Avid program. Mia enjoys being around people, animals and arts. During this experience at Please Pass the Love Mia would like to become a middle school mentor and create a safe space for all students.
Director of Youth Engagement
Emmalee has worked in the social services field for over 14 years and is a founding member of Please Pass the Love. She has a background in providing a wide variety of services including case management, volunteer management, event planning, community outreach, curriculum development, youth programming, and non-profit management. Born and raised in Indianola, Iowa, Emmalee graduated from Simpson College in 2007 with degrees in Sociology and Criminal Justice. Her career expands from working as a counselor with the homeless population in Jacksonville, Florida, to working in Children's Ministry in West Des Moines. Throughout her career, she has launched two successful non-profits that help provide food and necessities for families in Warren County and has served on countless boards and coalitions to enrich the lives of Iowans who are struggling.
Emmalee is very passionate about mental health and has dedicated her career to being a voice for those who don’t always have one. She knows our state must do better and realizes the importance of getting more mental health supports in our schools. She will continue to work mercilessly until that is accomplished. Emmalee sits on various boards and committees and is a dedicated member of her community. She works on a variety of projects for PPTL including youth programming, community outreach and development, event planning, and fundraising.
Emmalee lives in Indianola with her energetic and adoring son, Waylon. When they aren’t spending time with family or traveling, they enjoy spending time outside, going to auctions, going antique shopping, and anything sports related. They enjoy staying active throughout the year with travel sports teams that Waylon is involved in.
Director of Stomp Out Stigma Youth Programming
Hello! My name is Jenna Hardenbrook and I graduated from Earlham High School in the spring of 2019. Mental health and helping people have always been passions of mine since I was very young. This job combines both of those things! I have been lucky enough to work with PPTL through my senior year of high school and I’m so grateful for this position! Fortunately, I’ve landed my dream job! However, my story doesn’t end here. I hope to achieve my bachelor's degree in Human Services and Psychology at Des Moines Area Community College and The University of Iowa.
Trust worthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent: These twelve words make up the Boy Scout law, which Zion does his best to live up to in his everyday life. Get better everyday: This is the slogan of the Des Moines Roosevelt Rough Rider football team. Tradition, pride, and dedication: The motto of the Des Moines isiserettes. These are just three of the many things Zion Freeman is involved in. When Zion isn't spending the night under the stars in less than perfect conditions with the Boy Scouts, you can find him writing or reciting poetry for movement 515. When Zion isn't cheering on his football team, he can be found in the choir room learning music and new sets for show choir. And anytime Zion isn't learning a new beat for the isiserettes, he is laying in his bed avoiding doing the dishes. These are just some of the things Zion is involved in, along with being a son, brother, and over-all friend. Zion attended Hanawalt Elementary from 2003-2010, Merrill middle school from 2011-2015, and is now enjoying his third year at Roosevelt High School. “You don’t have to make sense as long as you make change.” -Zion Freeman
Sumaya Abdihakin is a junior in high school where she is a part of the Urban Leadership program. Her area of interest in the medical field. Sumaya was exposed to the social work environment at an early age and has been volunteering with non-profit organizations since she was nine years old. She plans on going to Somalia and helping her people after college. Sumaya enjoys spending time with her friends & family and is more than excited to be working with Please Pass the Love!
Gaby Vazquez is a senior at Lincoln High School and is involved in swimming, soccer, Science Bound, and Upward Bound. Next year she plans on attending Iowa State and double majoring in biology and psychology. Interning here she hopes to expand her knowledge on mental health and she hopes to be better equipped to help others that might be struggling and remind them that they’re not alone.
Madeline Rummel graduates from the University of Northern Iowa in May of 2019, receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Leisure, Youth, & Human Services, with emphasis areas in Nonprofit Management and Youth Development. Born and raised in Independence, Iowa, she has always had a passion for volunteering, mental health advocacy, reading, writing, and playing tennis. When she doesn't have a book, pencil, or tennis racket in hand, you can also find her playing with her two dogs or watching "The Office." Madeline believes that mental health is just as important as physical health, and that you should leave the world a better place than the way you found it.
Catie Bach is a recent graduate of Des Moines University's Master of Public Health program and former intern at Please Pass the Love. Prior to interning with this organization, Catie volunteered as a Youth Leader. She is currently pursuing career opportunities which will allow her to create positive changes in her community.
Being a stranger to so much free time, Catie is excited to spend more time reading, traveling and baking. She is excited to cultivate new hobbies, listen to all the podcasts, and continue to volunteer with Please Pass the Love!