Meet the Staff

Cydney Wessel, Executive Director

Cydney holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee with a dual focus in child and family therapy and administration. She also earned a Master of Business Administration through the Executive MBA program at the Lutgert College of Business at Florida Gulf Coast University. Prior to joining YSB, she served as the National Director of the Healthy Families America (HFA) program, an internationally recognized, evidence-based in-home family support program. Cydney managed and provided strategic vision, framework and direction for the program and its network of more than 5,000 staff at 600 affiliate sites in 38 states, DC, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, the US Virgin Islands, Canada and Israel.

Cydney is committed to ensuring all children receive and experience the support necessary to achieve their full potential in life. With more than 27 years of experience she has a proven track record for producing extensive growth through her strategic visioning and change management. She is proficient at creating new possibilities, motivating staff, engaging stakeholders and implementing strategies, processes and policies to elevate organizational success.

Fun Fact: Cydney loves to travel and collects Christmas ornaments offering her the opportunity to reminisce about all the fun places she has been every year when she hangs them on the tree.

Yuritzy Cruz, Finance and Office Manager

Yuritzy earned her Master of Business Administration from Roosevelt University in May 2021. She has experience in administration of youth sports programs and she also worked as an Office Assistant. She has many years of involvement in customer service and likes facilitating any struggles one might have. She now finds herself as the Finance and Office Manager at YSB. She enjoys being part of a great team at YSB!

Yuritzy enjoys cooking for her family and loves spending time with her three dogs, Sugar, Cocoa and Hazel. During her free time she likes to read novels and eat ice cream.

Fun fact: Yuritzy is fond of sewing, she loves taking the time of designing and making blankets!

J.J. Wett, Clinical Director- Therapeutic Group Services

J.J. received his Master’s Degree in Applied Family and Child Studies with a Specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy in May of 2012 from Northern Illinois University. He is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist licensed by the State of Illinois. Along with his licensure, he’s also a Clinically Certified Trauma Professional (CCTP). A CCTP understands the effects of trauma on the brain and knows proficient methods to treat the trauma.

J.J. was born with spinal muscular atrophy which was supposed to kill him by the age of two. However, he is 30+ years old and ready to bring his life and professional experience to you! He has overcome many obstacles in his life including receiving his Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northern Illinois University. While studying at Northern Illinois, he trained under several leading relationship therapists and now he is able to bring this knowledge into your life. J.J. also has 10+ years experience working with people in a social service setting. He has made it a priority to ensure people with disabilities receive the services needed to live a fulfilling life. In fact, he researched family dynamics relating to a child having a disability for his Master's thesis.

Fun Fact: J.J. is an encyclopedia when it comes to music and can generally “Name That Tune” within the first five chords of the song.

Stephen H. Garlington, MSW, LCSW - Clinical Director- Youth and Family Counseling

Stephen holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Maryland at Baltimore with a focus on clinical social work. Prior to joining the YSB agency, he served in several executive leadership positions to include: Regional Director (Chicago Region), US Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Job Corps and Youth Services, Interim National Director for Psychological Services, Air National Guard, Joint Base Andrews, full-time Family Therapist at Shepard Pratt and Taylor Manor mental health hospitals in the Baltimore area, Clinical Consultant for Baltimore City schools and Equity and Excellence Consultant/Truancy Coordinator for the DuPage County Regional Office of Education.

Stephen is committed to empowering children and families in attaining self-sufficiency, socio-emotional well-being and productive outcomes leading to quality lifestyles and personal fulfillment. With more than 25 years of experience, he has a proven track record for facilitating organizational effectiveness, motivating people to challenge themselves and “making a difference!”

Fun Fact: Stephen enjoys deep-sea salt-water fishing and playing the electronic keyboards.

Jasmine Young, Associate Director, Program Coordinator/Youth and Family Therapist

Jasmine completed her Masters in Mental Health Counseling at Northern Illinois University, and is currently enrolled in the Doctoral program at NIU.  She completed two internships at YSB, and we were thrilled to have her come aboard!

  Jasmine has experience working with clients from diverse populations including: socioeconomic, gender, ethnicity and LGBTQ.  She has collaborated with other helping professionals in Child and Family Team Meetings for clients in DCFS care.  She has facilitated anger management groups, and currently coordinates our Early Intervention for Drug and Alcohol Program.

Fun Fact: Jasmine's office is a center of serenity.

Shatoya Jackson- Director of Prevention Services, Bilingual Youth and Family Therapist, ERAP and Alternative to Suspension Manager

Shatoya is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a Bachelor’s in Sociology. She is also a graduate of Aurora University with a Masters in Advanced Clinical Social Work. She works with diverse populations, including two years working in domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as working with homeless youth.

Growing up in DeKalb, Shatoya’s passion is to give back to the community and is aware of resources available in the county to help our clients and their families.

During her time at YSB, she has led preventative service programs as well as supervise crisis programming. She advocates for her clients as well as helps them find a voice of their own. Help kids talk back and be heard.

In her role as a bilingual therapist, Shatoya utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Solution Focus Therapy, and Narrative therapy in her practice. With her clinical knowledge and awareness of resources in the area, Shatoya actively engages in measures to help bring social justice and equality to clients and their families in need. Shatoya actively takes a stand for social justice by developing and implementing services to help reverse biases and prejudices.

Fun Fact: Everything looks better in HOT PINK!!!

Nicole Smalley - Community Outreach Coordinator

Nicole is our Community Outreach Coordinator here at YSB. Nicole graduated from Northern Illinois University with her Bachelors of Science degree in Human Development and Family Sciences with an emphasis in Family Social Services. She is starting her graduate program this fall in the Specialization of Marriage and Family Therapy at Northern Illinois University. Her goal at YSB is to bring services to all parts of DeKalb County that typically do not have access to mental health resources in their immediate area. After graduation with her masters she hopes to study the effects of trauma on children and families. She believes that by treating childhood trauma many can live a much healthier adult life.

Fun fact: In her free time Nicole likes to relax and spend time with family and her cat Sammy. Her hobbies include light baking and knitting.

Heleena Barnett, Prevention Services Coordinator

Heleena is currently Prevention Services Coordinator at DeKalb County Youth Service Bureau and has also done volunteer work and her internship at YSB. She graduated from Northern Illinois University for a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences with an emphasis in Family Social Services. She is also working on a provisional certificate to become a Certified Family Life Educator, which she expects to receive in December of 2021.

After receiving her Bachelor’s degree, Heleena hopes to continue learning and helping others by receiving a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy or Counseling. She has experience working with children and teenagers, as well as individuals with autism. In the future, she would love to open her own practice with a focus on helping individuals with trauma, PTSD, depression, and ADHD.

Fun facts: Heleena loves to create, whether that is writing, painting, video editing or building. She likes learning new things, cook and bake, work out, and enjoy nature, whether that is through kayaking, hiking, or camping.

Lucero Martinez, Program Coordinator, Bilingual Youth and Family Therapist

Lucero is a graduate of Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Counseling with a specialization in school counseling. She has experience working in the high school setting with students and helping them determine and establish goals for life after high school. During her internship at DeKalb High School, she realized working with adolescents and attending their mental health, was her true passion as a counselor.

Lucero identifies with Object Relations Theory, a theory that explains how individuals begin to form their identity at early stages in life, as early as infancy.

Majority of the time, it is the parents or caretakers that are the ones in charge for the overall well-being of infants, therefore, infants and children are influenced by the relationship they have with their caretakers. She believes that ultimately, the individual or child, begins to shape their identity and overall personality by how they view others, how they view themselves in relations to others, and their relationships overall.

Fun Fact: Lucero enjoys working out and taking group exercise classes. Her ultimate fitness goal is to become a Zumba instructor and help others lead an active lifestyle.

Pagel Palmer, Youth and Family Therapist

Page graduated from Northern Illinois University with his Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences. He continued his academic career at Northern Illinois University. Page graduated with his Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy Program. He has experience working with youth, couples, and families. Page completed his internship here at DeKalb County Youth Service Bureau, where he’s worked with a variety of clients and their families.

Page identifies with Narrative Therapy, Bowen Family Systems. Within the future, Page wants to continue working with youth while also obtaining certification in Advanced Childhood Trauma, Play Therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for adolescents.

Fun Fact: Page is a really good dancer!

Danielle Owens, Youth and Family Therapist

Danielle graduated from Northern Illinois University with her Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Services. She continued her academic journey at Northern Illinois University as a graduate student of the Counseling and Higher Education program. While pursuing her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Danielle has co-facilitated groups and provided resources to the DeKalb community. In addition, she is working to obtain certification in complex trauma.

Danielle identifies with Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), mindfulness, and narrative therapy. Danielle views individuals as the main character of their story; as they are working toward a goal. An example of this is “The Wizard of Oz.” Everyone is similar to Dorothy, a person on a journey to reach a goal. Counselors might be viewed as the Tin man, the Lion, and the Scarecrow. These are people that remind Dorothy that she has the tools to achieve her goal. Through this framework, individuals are able to identify thoughts that are beneficial to them and develop positive coping skills. Danielle believes individuals will gain a sense of self, learn coping skills and an understanding of their decision-making style.

Fun Fact: Basketball is her favorite sport #BallisLife

Have a great day!

Nicole Patterson, Youth and Family Therapist

Nicole graduated from Northern Illinois University with a dual Bachelors in Psychology and Sociology as well as a criminology certificate. She also graduated from NIU with her Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy. She has experience working with individuals, couples, and children of various ages as well as various ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, religions, etc.

Nicole identifies heavily with Bowen Family Systems Theory and Attachment Theory while also implementing some structural techniques with her clients. It is her hope to one day open her own private practice as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist as well as open a practice in Jamaica, where her family originates from.

Fun Fact: Nicole is Jamaican, LOVES music and likes to do sudoku puzzles!

Onetha Hill, Youth and Family Therapist

Onetha graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in Family, Consumer, Nutritional Sciences. She is currently a graduate student at Aurora University in the Social Work program seeking to obtain her Master's Degree. Her expectant graduation date is May 2020. Onetha has experience working with youth ages 6 weeks-12 years old and their families. She is interning at YSB to gain experience with clients and older youth. Onetha has been a preschool teacher for over 15 years and is currently working at a local daycare center here in DeKalb.

Identifies with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Systems Theory. She focuses on learned behavior and how past relationships affect their current behaviors. In the future, Onetha wants to continue working with youth and their families. She wants to start a teen pregnancy program that helps teen parents access resources that they may need or may not know about.

Fun Fact: Onetha knows sign language (can hold conversation, not fluent) and travels every 2-3 months.

Hannah Isiminger, Graduate Intern

Hannah graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Art in psychology. She took a year to myself before beginning my Master of Social Work online at Aurora University. She is on track to graduate with her MSW in August 2021 with the intent of testing and receiving her license shortly after. She is an Intern at Dekalb County Youth Service Bureau hoping to gain experience in individual and family therapy. Hannah is a registered behavior technician, and works with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Hannah prefers Cognitive Behavior Therapy, due to her years of experience working in a behavior-based profession. She believes that by observing behaviors and coming to an understanding of their cause, people can work on improving their lives and even the lives of the people around them. Still, she is excited to work more with other styles of therapy so that she can serve diverse populations and meet them where they are at.

Hannah is hoping to graduate and work more with the families that are affected by ASD, as there is a need for the whole family and not just the individual on the spectrum. She loves working directly with people and hopes to continue that for the duration of her career no matter where that takes her. She is hopeful that she will earn her LCSW within the next few years, and after that is considering becoming an adjunct professor if she is able to do so.

Fun facts: Hannah loves being outdoors- especially if there is an ocean involved, driving is her favorite form of self-care, and she loves cooking for her friends and family.

Jacquelin Haacker, Graduate Intern

After working in Business Administration for over 15 years Jacque decided to pursue her passion of working with children and families. She started her educational journey in elementary education and obtained her Paraprofessional and Substitute license. From there she found her true calling to be in social work. She graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with her Bachelor of Social Work degree. She completed her first internship at a domestic violence shelter. Jacque also has experience working in the foster care system. She is currently a graduate student at Indiana Wesleyan University, pursuing a Master of Social Work degree.

Jacque identifies with Family Systems and Strengths Perspective. She believes that every child deserves a secure, caring, and stimulating environment to grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically and socially. She hopes to continue working with kids and families in the community so that they can develop love and respect for themselves, others, and their environment.

Fun facts: Jacque enjoys reading and fostering dogs in her spare time. She also loves everything Disney and Starbucks, especially drinking Starbucks while in Disney World.