Gratitude, compassion, and a sense of community drive Jenifer Gursky’s personal and professional life. Inspired by the work and dedication of YWCA Helena, Jenifer became its Executive Director in March of 2019.
A daughter of two middle school teachers, Jen always knew she’d be working with people – no matter where her career path took her. She’s been a nanny, missionary, outdoor program director, policy advocate, policy maker, and a professional fundraiser among others. She graduated from The University of Montana with a B.A. degree in Political Science and a minor in International Development.
Jen deeply believes YWCA Helena’s advocacy-based and results-driven mission and seeks to lead, learn and focus energy on serving the community of Helena with a keen eye to restoring hope, building self-sufficiency, and encouraging happy, healthy lives. She and her husband enjoy political banter, road trips on backroads of Montana, and being parents to a lively toddler.
Kimberly Gardner is a Licensed Clinical Social worker and a Licensed Addictions Counselor. She started her career after receiving a Bachelor in Social Work from Carrol College in 1987 and worked at an Adolescent Substance Use Treatment Center in Helena prior to working at a local Hospice.
In 1994, Kim received a Master’s in Social Work degree from the University of Denver which led to a position with an adolescent wilderness and residential treatment center. Kim has special training in psychodynamic-based psychotherapy, Integrated Co-Occurring Substance Use and Mental Health Treatment, Child-Parent Psychotherapy, attachment, and developmental psychotherapies focused on establishment and healing of healthy relationships, trauma-responsive psychotherapies, grief work, and Family Treatment Courts.
In Kim’s spare time, you’ll find her sewing or quilting all kinds of things along with her other hobbies of camping, gardening, traveling, and cooking for her family every weekend.
MOLLY SEVERTSON, CFRE
Development & Communications Director
Molly Severtson has been a professional fundraiser for more than a decade for some of Montana’s most critical and successful nonprofits and she earned her Certified Fund Raising Executive credential in 2019. She is thrilled to have the chance to put her skills to work for the amazing work and mission of YWCA Helena.
She and her husband have three amazing daughters. As a family, they enjoy spending time together, whether exploring our beautiful state, camping in state and national parks, lounging on their back patio, watching movies at home, taking ridiculously long road trips, or eating food from every type of cuisine they can find. Molly does her best to live in gratitude for all she has been blessed with, one day at a time.
Caterpillars Parenting Center Director
Jessie joined the YWCA team after an almost 10 year stretch in the field of Early Intervention, supporting the families of children with developmental disabilities and delays. She graduated from Montana State University-Northern with Bachelor's degrees in Communication and Community Service. She then received her Early Childhood Education certification through the University of Cincinnati.
Parents are their child's first and best teacher. Jessie's ambition has always been to support parents as they achieve their full potential in the role of teacher and caregiver. The Caterpillars Parenting Program, which she directs, provides a safe fun place for parents and their children to spend time together, exchange per parenting agreements, and learn new parenting strategies through the Circle of Security Parenting Curriculum. Caterpillars services are available to the women served through the YWCA Helena and are also available at no cost to the general public.
Jessie was born and raised in Havre, MT but is happy to call Helena her new home. She and her husband, Dick, have 2 beautiful children that keep them extremely busy. She loves watching baseball, playing with her dogs, swimming, reading, and sitting next to a good campfire with family and friends.
ERIN McMAHON, LAC
WINGS Clinical Supervisor
Erin originally began working with YWCA Helena as a volunteer in 2010. She was inspired by the positive opportunities and encouragement YWCA Helena was offering to women and children in the community and joined the staff as a case manager in January of 2011. She helped to pioneer the WINGS transitional housing program and provided support for the residents during the YWCA Helena building renovation.
In March 2016, she left YWCA Helena to pursue her Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. She is thrilled to be a part of this amazing program once again!
RACHEL DEVERAUX, LAC
Licensed Addiction Counselor
Rachel Deveraux was born in Western Montana and spent her childhood in Montana and Alaska. She holds a Social Work degree from the University of Montana with a focus on Addiction Studies and became an LAC in 2020.
Working with mothers in recovery is Rachel’s passion and she believes that a sense of belonging to and support from one’s community are integral in the lives of people in recovery. She loves working at YWCA Helena, where others share her passions and bring their own vision to the work.
Rachel has a daughter in middle school who is her whole entire world and happens to be hilarious as well. She and her daughter have seven chickens, three dogs, one cat, one rabbit, and a rotating cast of crows, squirrels, etc., in their back yard.
SALINA ERNST, ACLC
Residential Director/Case Manager
Salina is a Native Montanan. She graduated from UM Helena with AS in Psychology in 2014 and from Carroll College with a BA in Sociology in 2018. She is currently a LAC Candidate working on licensure. She will be continuing her education to get her masters in LCSW being dually licensed.
Salina has an extensive background in the social work field with previous work history as a case manager at Florence Crittenton, Lewis & Clark County Jail, and an intern with CPS. She came to the YWCA in 2018 and has filled a few different positions since being here. She has a passion for working with women and children and ensuring their voices are heard in every situation they encounter along their journey. Salina believes in helping them reach their highest potential to become strong, independent, sober, members of their community.
When not at work, Salina spends time with her two beautiful teenage daughters and very supportive husband. They enjoy going to the family cabin in Lincoln and girls day shopping. As a family they also enjoy watching their daughter play in all her special Olympics sports. It fills Salina's cup to watch her children and clients succeed in all aspects of life.
Salina feels as if the YWCA was a door opening for her. She also feels that opportunity for staff, women, and children continue to be widened through the mission of the YWCA. She could not imagine being anywhere else. She feels blessed to share the same goals and mission as the rest of the staff and believes the YWCA is on a Mission!
Sharon has extensive financial experience in most aspects of the Non-Profit/Human Services Field.
Her background includes working for a large service oriented organization for 15 years, Casey Family for a short period, Director of Finance for Florence Crittenton for four years; returning to Intermountain for nine years. She has a degree in Business Education from Mankato State University. At one point in time she worked for a for-profit which brought her to the realization that the Human Services world is where she belongs.
Not only is it a pleasure to work among the people who serve our clients, but building relationships with both clients and providers has opened her eyes to so many needs. Sharon will most likely be the person who answers the phone when you call us, and the first person you see when knocking at our door.
Child and Family Therapist
Ellen has worked in children’s mental health, specializing in behavior, since 2017. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Montana State University and a Masters in Mental Health Counseling and Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling from MSU-Billings. Her education is rooted in human behavior, mental health, and rehabilitation, and her lifetime goal has been to work with children and their families and to support them in building and maintaining healthy relationships. Ellen will be providing individual, family, and group therapy, as well as PCIT (Parent-Child Interaction Therapy) to the children and women at YWCA Helena.
Ellen is passionate about helping children advocate for themselves, building healthy relationships for families, equality, and inclusion. Her hobbies include anything outdoors including camping, flyfishing, hiking, gardening, and paddle-boarding. She has lived in Montana for 20 years and has one amazing son!
Child and Family Advocate
Cheryl comes from a vast background working with children and families. Cheryl graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Criminology/Psychology and a Foreign Language degree. Her career began as the owner of a Private Investigative firm where she began to work with Children and Family Services as a consultant.
Cheryl worked with Children and Family Services for over 10 years in two states with leadership and training roles. Over three years ago, Cheryl began a job at the Public Defender’s Office in Great Falls, MT for a newly created position, as a case manager/advocate working with the Department of Family Services (DFS) as the liaison between the Public Defender’s Office and DFS. Cheryl worked as a case manager/advocate for parents to navigate through the DFS and court systems. When working with DFS her goal was the reunification to get the children back in the home with their parents as fast as possible. Cheryl is currently in a LCSW graduate program and working towards licensure.
Cheryl was born and raised in the deep woods on the Florida gulf coast, but she has been in Montana for almost five years. When Cheryl is not working, she spends time with friends, traveling, carving wood sculptures, and long drives with her dog Poppy to discover Montana.
STEPHANIE BALLENGER BROOKS
Stephanie Ballenger Brooks joined the team at YWCA Helena in 2020. She received her State license through the Montana Peer network while in Hardin, works closely with the Criminal Justice Coordination council, and is a member of the Citizens advisory committee to help make a difference. As someone who has struggled in similar ways to the women we serve, Stephanie is able to provide valuable insight and resources in her role as a Peer Support.
Stephanie is a mother of three beautiful children. Her passions include helping others, being involved in reform, and being a voice for those who may not be able to use theirs.
Bio coming soon!
Serenity has always had a love for children and an aspiration to inspire children of all ages.
Moving to Helena for a new start, they found YWCA Helena as a sanctuary and safe place since September of 2020. They are glad to join an accepting team of diverse minds focused on helping create a special place where people can be empowered to find a happy and exciting life. Being around amazing and inspiring women has always been Serenity’s goal in life.
Serenity enjoys writing, drawing, and working on a nice puzzle.
Marci Williams is happy to be back at YWCA Helena. During her first stint at YWCA, she was proud to be a part of launching the WINGS program in 2011. She left YWCA Helena to finish her MPA at the University of Montana, and then moved with her family to Australia for a year.
Marci and her husband have three grown sons. She is also a longtime volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters and loves hanging out with her "Little Sister." When not in the office Marci can be found hiking the local trails with her black lab, Jasmine. She also enjoys kayaking, skiing, reading, and spending time with friends and family.
Marci's favorite part of working at YWCA Helena is seeing the growth of the women and children. She is impressed with the changes and expansion of the facility and programs and is thrilled to be part of such an incredible team again.
Julia has joined YWCA Helena as the Programs Research VISTA. She is transitioning to social services from a career in chemical engineering and will use her experience in data analysis and project management to support capacity building and improve outcomes.
Julia was raised in Virginia and has spent the past few years in Chicago, where she found her passion working with women while volunteering at a transitional housing shelter. She is new to Montana and exploring Helena through her favorite things, which include hot yoga, pottery, and dogs.
Social & Racial Justice VISTA
Bio coming soon!
CATHRYN ENGLISH-STRAUB, LCSW, LAC
Cathryn English-Straub is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Addiction Counselor. Cathryn began her career in 1991 by attending a year long chemical dependency counselor training program with Serenity Lane in Eugene, OR. In 1996 Cathryn graduated from Smith College with a MSW and became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has had a private practice in Helena, MT for the last 16 years. Cathryn has specific training in Circle of Security, Attachment/Bonding, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, dealing with chronic illness and addictions.
She is excited to be a part of YWCA Helena, having a passion for working with women and children, specifically supporting women and children to find strength, resiliency and hope in their lives.
Cathryn enjoys spending time with family and friends. Beside helping others, Cathryn loves traveling, being in the outdoors, hiking, laughing, and her awesome three-legged dog Copper.
JOELLE JOHNSON, LCSW, LAC
Joelle Johnson, LCSW, LAC has eighteen years of experience treating adolescents and adults struggling with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse issues. During her employment at a youth correctional facility, Joelle discovered her passion for working with people who found themselves involved in the criminal justice system and enjoys supporting them on their path to freedom, health, and happiness.
Currently, she is the sole-proprietor of Holding Hope Counseling in Helena. Using a client-centered framework, Joelle aims to create an environment in which her clients receive support and gentle guidance to explore both past and present life experiences so they may understand and adjust harmful patterns while further developing patterns that serve them well. Her therapeutic perspective is grounded in human-attachment and development and incorporates mindfulness and somatic awareness into her work with clients. As a parent herself, she also thoroughly enjoys working with new mamas of all ages and stages, helping them to understand and repair cycles of generational hurt.
PAM PONICH-HUNTHAUSEN, LCPC
Bio coming soon!