Our Staff

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Miya Davis

Director of Organizational Support

Miya is a student at Drake University working towards a bachelor's degree in International Relations with minors in Human Rights Studies, Psychology and Japanese. 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 Leadership 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 undo the mental health stigma in schools all across the world and she wants to make schools a safer place for those who do suffer from mental health issues. This is a topic near and dear to her heart. She also hopes to help elevate the voices of our youth to help them make the changes in their schools. Most of all she wants to be able to share her story and inspire others as they have done for her.

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Jennifer Ulie-Wells, Ph.D.
Executive Director

Dr. Jennifer Ulie-Wells 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 an adjunct 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 serves on the advisory board for the National Center of School Mental health. 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 as a Iowa Family Leadership Training Institute Mentor through the University of Iowa, Department of Pediatrics.

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. Her passion is school mental health justice.

 

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. 

Curriculum Vitae: 

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Jessica Christensen

Director of Community Development and Training

Jessica has been in education for 12 years as an English-Language Arts and Reading teacher. She received her undergrad degree from Iowa State University in secondary English education, and she also attained her master’s degree in Differentiated Instruction through Graceland University. As a native from Central Iowa, Jessica has always had a passion for working with youth, especially when it comes to their social-emotional learning and impacting their mental health. This desire to serve youth increased exponentially when she began the role of Student Success Coach at Riverbend Middle School during the 2019-2020 school year. While in that position, she saw firsthand how one trusted adult can impact a child in need and help them to see themselves as a whole human being. 

 

Through working in the public school system for over a decade, Jessica has seen an increase in education and advocacy for our students’ social-emotional learning and student mental health. She is passionate about helping educators and students learn more about how to support their own mental health needs, and therefore, have more to give in supporting others’ needs. Jessica is excited to move her impact from her little corner of small-town Iowa Falls to the state of Iowa, guiding, supporting, and mentoring educators to recognize the importance of student mental health and social emotional learning in their classrooms and schools. Jessica loves to learn, and thoroughly loves new challenges in her professional life. 

 

Jessica lives in Alden with her husband, Lee, and their four children: Kieser, Hattie, Matilda, and Everett. As a family, they love to go camping, go on family bike rides, and have family movie nights in their basement. In her free time, Jessica loves to read, go for walks, and spend time with her family and friends.

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Anna Banfield

AmeriCorps VISTA -Youth Programming Coordinator 

Anna Bandfield grew up in Marion, Iowa. She graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in 2020 with degrees in public health and psychology. After graduation, she served in AmeriCorps as a community garden manager and ran a food access program in Waterloo, Iowa. Anna’s passion for helping people has led her to serve a second AmeriCorps term with Please Pass the Love as a youth program coordinator.

 

Offering support to youth who may be struggling with mental health is near to Anna’s heart. In 2015, she had the opportunity to share her story in a This is My Brave show. She hopes to be a safe space for those who need someone to listen.

 

Outside of work, Anna loves to cross-stitch, write, and spend time outside hiking and rollerblading. She’s grateful to be living and working in Des Moines with an amazing team of individuals.

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Markell Coleman 

Director of Development

My name is Markell Colemon. I am originally from Des Moines, IA. Graduated from Grand View University with a degree in Liberal Arts with a focus on Special Education. 

 

Please Pass the Love is a great opportunity for me to pursue my passion for change and to be a mental health advocate for students and staff alike in the state of Iowa. 

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Ivania Gabriela Guerra Ceron 

Director of Youth Engagement

She/Her/Ella 

Incoming Director of Youth Engagement

Owner, L & Co. Cleaning LLC. 

Tri-Chair, Iowa Queer Communities of Color Coalition 

 

Ivania Guerra Ceron also known as Gabby is a proud immigrant from Santa Ana, El Salvador. In 2002, she and her family were forced to immigrate to Iowa due to the violent and impoverished conditions in El Salvador. Gabby grew up in Des Moines and faced many challenges in learning a new language and navigating a different culture. Gabby found support in family, friends, and teachers who believed in her potential. 

 

A proud graduate of the public-school system and alumna of North High School, one of Gabby’s passions is providing access to quality education for minoritized communities. She is a believer in hard work combined with access to opportunities; Ivania was blessed to attend the University of Iowa on a full-ride scholarship. As a first-generation student, she graduated with a Bachelor's in Ethics and Public policy, a minor in Latinx Studies, and a certificate in Nonprofit Management.

 

Gabby previously served as the Assistant Director for Al Éxito. Al Éxito supports Latinx students through afterschool programming geared to build their leadership potential. She is the incoming Director of Youth Engagement for Please Pass the Love where they advance school mental health supports. She serves as the Tri-Chair for a new community organization, Iowa Queer Communities of Color Coalition. Gabby completed a fellowship with the Des Moines Chapter of New Leaders Council and served as Recruitment Director on the Board of Directors. She is the proud small business owner of a residential cleaning business called L & Co. Cleaning LLC. She is passionate about finding ways to create a more inclusive community in Des Moines for people of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, immigrants, and amplifying youth voices. 

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Mikala Williams-Yee 
Americorps Planning Coordinator/SOS Coordinator

Born and raised in Iowa, Mikala is a 2019 Simpson College graduate with a degree in chemistry and mathematics and a minor in French.

 

Mikala is very excited to join us at Please Pass the Love. She views the opportunity as a chance to grow, connect, and learn alongside those around her. She is passionate about mental health awareness and understands the desperate need we have in our communities. She became aware of issues and disparities with mental health education at a young age and did not feel that there were adequate resources for students in her childhood hometown. She hopes organizations like Please Pass the Love can help change that.

 

Mikala previously served in the Pacific Region in AmeriCorps NCCC and currently works as an AmeriCorps VISTA leader with Volunteer Iowa. She hopes to continue her role as a mentor for people of all ages and plans to work in the field of 1-on-1 instruction. Mikala has recently obtained her certification in teaching English as a foreign language and teaching English to speakers of other languages (TEFL/TESOL).

 

In her free time, you can find Mikala practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu, swimming, and exploring new foods, places, hobbies, and languages.

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Alex Rohn

Therapeutic Outreach Coordinator

My name is Alex and I am a licensed mental health counselor. I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with my master's degree in clinical mental health counseling in 2016. Since then I have worked in a variety of academic settings providing individual and group therapy as well as education and outreach surrounding trauma, mental health and stress management.

 

I am incredibly excited to join Please Pass the Love as the new therapeutic outreach coordinator. I hope to bring my skills of creativity and leadership to this growing organization to continue its mission of embracing and sustaining school mental health.

 

When I am not busy caring for or cuddling my twin daughters, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, watching Iowa football and drinking lots and lots of coffee.

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Carlos Rodriguez Rosa

Iowa School Mental Health Alliance & Workforce Development Coordinator

Carlos Rodriguez Rosa grew up in Ponce, Puerto Rico. He received his bachelor’s degree in English at Grand View University, and his master’s degree in Composition, Rhetoric, and Digital Media at Nova Southeastern University. 

 

The crux of his work is centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion, understanding the struggle of navigating an overwhelming world. He is passionate about education and helping others gain the skills they need to succeed in their personal and professional lives. He has worked as a university writing consultant, facilitating both cultural and academic literacy to students. Most recently, Carlos spearheaded the creation of an online training program for 60+ writing consultants at the Nova Southeastern University Writing and Communication Center. Moreover, Carlos is a firm believer that education and social awareness are the key to creating a kinder and more equitable world.

 

Carlos has served in many initiatives such as chair of the Grand View University Diversity and Outreach Committee, as well as a board member for the Iowa Safe Schools Queer College Coalition. He strives to foster change in the way we understand the intersectional nature of mental health issues in the state of Iowa.

 

Though born and raised in Puerto Rico, Carlos is an Iowan at heart. When he isn’t found writing, he is spending time with friends and/or exploring a new coffee shop in search of the best cold brew. 

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Lindsey Herazy

Social Media Intern

A lifelong resident of Illinois, Lindsey is a Drake Honors student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Strategic Political Communication, with a minor in Spanish.

 

She was drawn to Please Pass the Love due to her high school experiences, as her high school lacked the mental health resources her classmates needed to succeed. Beyond spreading the word about Please Pass the Love, Lindsey aspires to advocate for all students to receive the mental health resources they deserve and need to thrive. 

 

Lindsey hopes to contribute to the sense of community and understanding that Please Pass the Love seeks to foster amongst students and educators to have more open conversations surrounding mental health. On a personal level, she hopes to become more informed about mental health in general, as she believes this is her part to help break down the stigma surrounding mental health issues. 

 

When she is not studying, you can find Lindsey going on walks, doing craft projects, baking, and spending time with her friends.

Our Board Members 


Maggie White, President, EMC Insurance

Martha Lebron-Dykeman
, Vice President, CRS Berkshire Hathaway Home Services 

Jim Nelson, Treasurer, Accounting Director at FBL Financial Group  

Sara Krzyczkowski, Secretary, Assistant Vice President of Wells Fargo with Default Accounts Payable Department 

Catie Bach, Data Analyst at Eurofins 

Jean Boger, School Social Worker at Heartland AEA 

Chris Cuellar, Communications Director at Iowa High School Athletic Association 

Christina Fernandez-Morrow, DMACC, Academic Success Coach and Writing Specialist: TRIO Student Support Services, Adjunct Professor 

Amanda Khader, School Psychologist at Heartland AEA

Michael Lewis, Principal at Shive Hattery 

Mary Sheka, Iowa Mentoring Partnership Director, Volunteer Iowa 

Jasmine Simpson, Teacher 

Joe Lee, Senior Director, Audit Services RSM US LLP

Stacey Warren, SEBMH Regional Lead at Heartland AEA

Sara Wise, University of Iowa/UIHC faculty

Clark Butler, Attorney, Dentons, Davis, Brown

Adult Youth Programming Advisory Board

Emily Chyma, Social Studies Teacher/Head Varsity Girls Track Coach/Student Council Advisor, South Tama County High School in Tama, IA.

Jack Schuler

Val Stickler, Elementary School Counselor at Atlantic Community Schools 

Vic Vanderpool, Principal at Gilbert High School

Shara Bradley, Psycholoy Assistant at DHS Iowa

Amy Ziegenhorn, Licensed Mental Health Counselor