Life Coaching: Growth & Support at Youth Villages – Meet Charity Jones!

One of the most common themes heard when talking with professionals, job seekers, and recent grads, is that that they are looking to be a part of an organization or company where they can grow.

And Youth Villages offers lots of different opportunities to grow – from tuition reimbursement and licensure supervision to promotion from within and health & wellness programs, and now: Life Coaching.

Meet Charity Jones, a staff recruiter for Youth Villages based out of the Jackson, Mississippi office. While on a daily basis she supports all of our Mississippi MYPAC programs by finding quality candidates to fill hiring needs and promoting Youth Villages across the state, Charity most recently has taken on an additional role as Life Coach.

The Leadership Development team at Youth Villages is another example of our commitment to helping employees grow. They provide a variety of leadership trainings for residential, community-based, and operations staff, including workshops around communication styles, project leadership, handling conflict, and time management. And they recently also piloted a program training YV leaders to become life coaches for other YV staff.

After going through training, Charity was matched with another YV staff in Memphis who wanted to benefit from a life coach. They meet once a week (by phone or video call) for an hour and will continue to meet for 10 weeks. They create a coaching plan based on the staff’s specific goals. These sessions can cover anything personal or professional such as how to achieve a better work/life balance, how to handle situations at work, relationships, or aspirations for the future, for example. The sessions are confidential and are not performance based, so the coachee can openly share and receive non-judgmental support from YV life coach who “gets” it.

Charity said she has really enjoyed this new role– partly for the new challenge and as a way for her to be a part of the larger Youth Villages community apart from her Mississippi team. Along with a Bachelors’ in Business Administration from Sterling College and a Master’s in Organizational Leadership from Belhaven University, Charity has also completed several internships with non-profits over the years, which has given her a strong focus and experience with leadership and development. And as she continues to grow and gain new skills, she’s able to help make Youth Villages stronger.

Looking to work in a place committed to your growth?

Check out all of our openings at

Meet Amber Ware! Family Intervention Specialist & Sports Enthusiast in NC

It’s March Madness season, and for this week’s Employer Spotlight, we thought it was appropriate that we are highlighting Amber Ware — Family Intervention Specialist in Pinehurst, NC, sports enthusiast, and athlete! Amber completed her first half marathon in 2014 and her first marathon shortly after starting at Youth Villages early last year. Her love of sports is serious (as you can tell by her pets, Hoosier the cat & Scout the Dog). The Indiana native says she loves just about every sport (NBA, MLB, NFL, CFB, PGA, Indy Car) – especially football. As she warns – “As someone who was born and raised in Indiana, you will never be able to convince me that Tom Brady comes anywhere close to Peyton Manning in the GOAT discussions, so don’t even try!”


Amber moved to North Carolina about 2 years ago with her husband who is in the Armed Forces. “We LOVE Pinehurst!” she says. “I enjoy the quietness of the area, the proximity to great restaurants and adorable shops, and most importantly, the awesome Harris Teeter (no joke, it’s huge!)”


As she’s grown to love North Carolina, she also wanted to love where she worked – particularly at a place that aligned with her belief in providing mental health care using a systems based approach, which led her to Youth Villages.

Amber is able to use her educational background and previous experience to provide the best level of care to our kids and families in our Intercept program. She originally graduated from Indiana University – Bloomington back in 2011 with a Bachelor’s in Psychology, and then with a Master’s in Counseling Psychology in 2014 from Saint Martin’s University. Through her work as a child & adolescent outpatient therapist, internship at a foster care agency, and research experience with a child development team, she is able to take a well-rounded approach in now providing intensive mental health treatment for families with youth who are at-risk for out of home placement or for youth who are transitioning back into the home.

It’s been challenging – and intense – to work with kids and families who experience crisis and trauma, as Amber explains.

“My job has its many ups and downs, but I would say the most rewarding part of my role is when my families quit needing me! I find it very satisfying to work with parents and kids to the point that they are able to build their skills and do it all on their own! The most challenging part of my job is being intensely involved in cases when severe trauma occurs. In the year I have been working, I’ve had a client who was sexually assaulted while in treatment, as well as a client who gave birth and their child passed shortly after birth. I find it very humbling to know I don’t always have the answers, but that does not make it any easier!”

During her time with Youth Villages, she’s had the chance to utilize evidence based practices, meet diverse families, and work with a great team. She recognizes that through this, she’s “become a better counselor with better instincts and a better understanding about what drives behaviors and how to address those behaviors clinically.” She also had the chance to be challenged: “I also had the opportunity to take over as Supervisor when my Supervisor was out on maternity leave, and that role helped me to learn so much about myself! I am so thankful I had that opportunity, but I am also glad to not have to worry about Scorecard every month 🙂 “ (a sentiment that other supervisors can understand!)

Amber Ware

Amber (right) and YV friend Kim Taxiera in Memphis, TN for the YV Annual Employee Conference in 2016

Even from the start in her interview with Youth Villages, Amber saw that “the employees were extremely passionate about the work that they do.”


If you’re looking to help children and families live successfully and want to join our passionate North Carolina team, check out our openings in Fayetteville, NC!








Erin Cooke: Clinical Supervisor in NC

Erin Cooke relocated to Waynesville, North Carolina in 2013 to join the Youth Villages family because she loved the mountains of western NC and she saw it as a service need area. Just a quick drive to Asheville (without the higher cost of living!), she’s grown to love the area she lives and works – “I have been living in small mountain towns since college and really love that kind of quaint setting!”

Erin graduated from Appalachian State University with her Bachelor’s in Psychology and gained some valuable experience working in a residential facility for juveniles with sexualized behaviors which helped her earn her QP (Qualified Professional) designation, required in the state of North Carolina.

In her initial role as a family counselor, she saw firsthand the impact she could have in helping prevent kids from entering facilities, and also experienced the challenges of being a support staff for youth and families in crisis.

When asked about her growth in her time with Youth Villages, Erin reflects: “I have seen myself grow in becoming more confident in myself and my skill. I have had such strong support and development from leadership and really learned to find the leader in myself!” And in 2016, Erin was promoted to clinical supervisor, where she now leads an amazing Intercept team in Waynesville.

In addition to loving the team she works with and the families she serves, Erin also enjoys spending outside with her friends and her dog and exploring her town, commenting that “Waynesville really has some neat things, like good restaurants, breweries, and really fun street fairs and events always happening downtown!”

We’re happy to have committed, enthusiastic, and curious staff like Erin on team (who, by the way, even knows how to tap dance!)

If you’re interested in moving to or working in one of our quaint mountain towns in North Carolina, we’re currently hiring in a few locations, including Waynesville, Asheville, and Boone.

**Relocation Assistance up to $4,000 & sign-on payments up to $1500 are available**(Incentives vary by location, please visit for specific information and to apply).

Candidates must meet the following QP standards:

Master’s Degree Applicants:

  • Must possess degree at time of application
  • Degree must be in a related field of study (refer to list below)
  • Must have one year, post-graduation, full-time experience (2,000 hours) with designated population (refer to list below)

Bachelor’s Degree Applicants:

  • Must possess degree at time of application
  • Degree must be in a related field of study (refer to list below)
  • Must have two years, post-graduation, full-time experience (4,000 hours) with designated population (refer to list below)

Licensed Applicants:

  • Must hold one of the following licenses in the state of North Carolina: LPCA, LMFTA, LCSWA, LPA, or LCSASA

Degrees Accepted:

  • Social Work
  • Counseling
  • Psychology
  • Criminal Justice
  • Marriage and Family Therapy

*Exceptions may be made for other degrees in a behavioral science that includes a minimum of 30 semester hours in human development, human behavior, child development, family intervention technique, diagnostic measures, or therapeutic techniques.

Experience Accepted:

  • Experience must be with at-risk youth, i.e., youth with one or more of the following behaviors: Truancy, Alcohol/Substance Abuse, Homicidal/Suicidal Ideations, Problem Sexual Behavior, Verbal/Physical Aggression, Runaway, Antisocial Behaviors
  • Experience should include clinical case management or practice of therapeutic interventions

McKenzie Carruthers empowers staff, girls at Dogwood Campus

If you’ve ever walked around our Dogwood Campus in Arlington, TN and heard a enthusiastic “Good morning!” at any hour of the day, you’ve been fortunate enough to meet McKenzie Carruthers, program manager for Cedar Cottage!

Over the last almost 4 years with Youth Villages, she reflects on her growth into a patient and assertive person –  a combination which has helped her become an eMcKenzie C x2.pngffective leader.

McKenzie participated in the YV 360 program as a recent grad from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville after earning her bachelor’s in psychology, and has served in various roles on the Dogwood Campus, including behavioral youth counselor, supervisor, and most recently, program manager.

What is the most rewarding part of your role as a program manager? Most challenging?

I’m a program manager at Dogwood working with Cedar which is a girl’s cottage with youth aged 11-13. The more rewarding part of my job is assisting staff members with learning how to care for our youth and really understand that our youth have reasons for acting out. Our youth have trauma and we have to be both sensitive and understanding of that. Seeing my staff understand that and want to learn how to help our youth is extremely rewarding.

The most challenging part as a program manager is also one of my favorite parts of being a program manager. At times I have staff members who struggle from being burned out or struggle with believing the youth are “just bad”. It’s challenging because I have to find different ways to refuel my staff and help them remember why they chose the social work field as a job.

It’s also challenging because I have to remind our staff that there is a “why” behind our youth’s behaviors. They aren’t “just bad”.  Why is this my favorite? Because I am challenged as a program manager to find new avenues to encourage my staff to not give up on their passion to help others, especially our youth.

Why did you choose to participate in the YV 360 program and what was your experience like?

I chose the YV 360 program because I wanted to have the opportunity to figure out if I wanted to go the clinical route or the leadership route with my career. I chose the leadership route after having Mrs. Nicole Fannin as my Director at Dogwood and Mr. Leo Coughlin as my mentor, whom was then the Director of the Boys Center.

I had an amazing experience as a YV 360 staff member as I was able to meet several chief officers and have the opportunity to debrief with other 360 staff members from other campuses. Having that opportunity assisted me with troubleshooting any issues I was having as a staff member and incorporating new ideas in my cottage. I encourage everyone to apply as a YV 360 member when applying to Youth Villages and to really utilize the resources that we’re presented with.

What would your advice be to college seniors considering starting a career in the social service field?

One word…INTERNSHIP! And complete several internships or volunteer at several locations where you will have the opportunity to have a real experience in the social work field. Beginning your career as a social worker can be overwhelming as there isn’t much time to dip your toes in the pond to see if you’ll truly enjoy the social work field. Social work has to be your passion as you have a duty to care for someone and help them to have access to the best resources for their care.

Any fun facts about yourself?

I love to cook, run, and sing (but you’ll never hear me singing!) A fun fact about me….I say “Good Morning” as a greeting no matter the time of day!

If you’re an upcoming grad looking to jumpstart your career in a setting with leaders, like McKenzie, who are invested in helping you grow, apply for the YV 360 program today! There’s still time to be considered for the upcoming interview day.  

Meet our Force! Boston-area supervisor Alicia Grey provides a safe place

With the belief that every child deserves a family – whether biological or not – Alicia Grey is making an impact on the lives of young women at our Germaine Lawrence campus in Arlington, MA.

Originally from Jamaica , Alicia chose to aliciagreyemployeespotlightwork in the Boston area with girls who have often experienced neglect and abuse. She started off as a Behavioral Youth Counselor in the fall of  2015 and was recently promoted to Unit Supervisor in December.

She is committed to making sure her girls have a safe place to live while they receive intensive treatment for behavioral and mental health needs.

Alicia’s fun fact is that she speaks Patois! And we’re looking for more staff to join our diverse team – including bilingual (Spanish/English) counselors, bachelor’s level social workers, teachers, and overnight direct care staff.

Whether you’re in school and looking for work in your field (with tuition reimbursement!) or looking to jump start your professional career, reach out and see where you may be a fit at our Germaine Lawrence campus!






Meet our force! Natalie Schklar

Meet one of our YV 360 Career Development Program alums – Natalie Schklar!


Natalie joined the Youth Villages family in 2013 after graduating with her BSW from Union University. She found that working as a Behavioral Youth Counselor at our Dogwood campus with the additional training and mentorship of the YV 360 program was a great way to grow as a leader (and incorporate her love of storytelling!)

She has continued to grow with the organization as a staff recruiter and most recently as a Business Planning & Policy Specialist. Natalie is getting ready to graduate in May with her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Memphis (using YV’s tuition reimbursement program!) which will help her as she continues to support our programs across the country by developing business proposals that impact the child welfare system.

Whether you’re interested in direct care, clinical work, policy, or advocacy, the YV 360 program for upcoming May 2017 grads provides lots of possibilities – deadline to apply is March 1! #myforce #yv360 #yvkitelife

Learn more at

What’s your Crisis?

*to the tune of ghostbusters*
If there’s a crisis in your neighborhood
Who ya gonna call?
Call Crisis!!

Youth Villages Crisis Responders are available to youth and families in most counties across the state of Tennessee. We have responders that work flexible schedules to ensure the needs of those families in crisis are met when they need us most.

What do you enjoy in your free time?
I enjoy spending time with my family (wife and 2 kids).  I also like to read, watch movies, and play games.

Where were you born?
I was born in Atlanta, GA.  I did not relocate to work for crisis but I am very thankful to be able to live in a city that I love while doing a job that I very much enjoy!

What do you love about living in your area? What do you do for fun?
There are many fun opportunities in the Chattanooga, TN area for fun and good times.  There are many cool things to do with our family.  My favorite activities in this area are going to the different parks and outside activities.

What’s your educational background?
I received a degree in Psychology for my undergraduate degree at Covenant College and then a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Reformed Theological Seminary.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? Most challenging?
The most rewarding part of my job is seeing children and families in some of their most difficult times and being a part of helping them use their strengths and resources to get through those times. There are challenging aspects of being a crisis counselor.  I would say that one of the most challenging parts of the job is being able to quickly adjust to a range of unpredictable situations that come our way.

What drew you to Youth Villages?
I did not know too much about Youth Villages when I first started working for them.  Initially it was an opportunity to begin working in the mental health field that brought me to YV.  However, I would say that it is Youth Villages’ commit to the children and families we serve as well as the respect of their employees that has kept me going for more than 10 years now.

As you can see, Youth Villages has Crisis Counselors in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in addition to other locations. If you are looking to help Mallory avert crisis and ultimately help children and families live successfully, email your resume to We would love to have you join our team!

For more information, visit


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