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Board of Directors

Shelly A. Jordan


Shelly is the CEO of Rising Up Together. She has worked with thousands of youth throughout the United States as a session director with her husband for the youth program, Especially for Youth. She received her bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University in Nonprofit Management. She has served in a variety of ways within her community. She is a mother of five and in her spare time she loves traveling with her family and playing basketball in her community.


Rachel Gandola


Rachel Gándola recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a bachelor's degree in University Studies and a minor in English. She is passionate about working with youth and children and plans to have a career in education. She has organized and implemented programs for thousands of youth in Utah, Texas, and Georgia with the organization Especially for Youth as a Coordinator.


Heather Hirst


Heather Hirst has a Masters of Accountancy from Brigham Young University. After transitioning her family to a clean diet 7 years ago, Heather began learning more about the connection between gut health and mental wellness. She recently became a Certified Mental Wellness Coach and loved diving deeper into the science of gut health. She is a mom of 6 who loves experimenting in the kitchen with her kids! They love finding new ways to make their favorite treats healthier.


Desiree Winters

Curriculum Director

Desiree Winters received her master's degree in Instructional Psychology and Technology from Brigham Young University. She currently works as a Learning Engineer for Health Catalyst where she designs educational content and learning experiences related to healthcare technology and outcomes improvement. She has contributed to articles in TechTrends and A New Focus for Learning: Educational Technology Beyond Content, and has presented the Association for Educational Communications and Technology.

Outside of work, she enjoys eating ice cream, spending time with friends, and being outdoors. Desiree loves talking to people and coming to understand them better, their perceptions, the significant experiences in their lives, their aspirations, and the patterns of learning and change that influence who they are becoming.


Jenae Nelson

Professional Advisor

Jenae Nelson received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is a PhD candidate in Developmental Psychology at Brigham Young University. Her research includes moral and character development, spirituality, resilience, psychological well-being, and thriving in adolescence and adulthood.

Jenae has received an Early Career Award Grant from the John Templeton Foundation in conjunction with Baylor University, recognizing her for her innovative research on gratitude to God and prosocial behavior.

When she is not studying teen development, she is busy raising her own teenagers. As a mother to four children her research both informs and is influenced by her engagement at home. Jenae is committed to helping teenagers and adults thrive and find purpose and meaning in their lives through her research and other opportunities to serve.


Andy Proctor

Professional Advisor

Andy Proctor, CAPP, is a Ph.D. student at Brigham Young University specializing in the health impacts of adult friendship and is a certified positive psychology practitioner (CAPP). He manages the Social Connections and Health Lab under the direction of Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad. His positive psychology podcast, More Happy Life, has been mentioned in The New York Times, ABC News, and Fox Business, among other outlets.

Proctor is the co-chair of the Utah Positive Psychology Association, a board member of TEDxBYU, and a member of the research team for Eventbrite’s national Social Connection Project, and a regular contributor on He is currently conducting research on how social disconnection impacts health markers such as heart rate variability, blood pressure, skin temperature, and sleep quality as measured by wearable technology. His work includes machine learning analysis of journal entries via the PERMA lexicon, and the perception of the importance of social determinants of health in healthcare providers and general populations. His dissertation research is focused on the relationship between adult friendship and health biomarkers, based on Baumeister and Leary's Need to Belong Theory.


Before starting his Ph.D., Proctor served as both Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Happiness Officer for social innovation startups and non-profit organizations. He recently directed press efforts for the first-ever animated series on suicide prevention, My Life is Worth Living, which was featured in USA Today, Teen Vogue, The Hill, Fox News, ABC, and other local media outlets.

Jeff Hirst

Strategic Business Director

Jeff Hirst is a 22-year commercial insurance advisor and an entrepreneur who enjoys finding ways to innovatively add value to customers. He likes to develop business and strategic plans to help organizations grow and thrive for the benefit of all. He likes to be with his family, hike, mountain bike, visit National Parks, snowmobiling and going on dates with his wife. He is the father of 6 children and married to his sweetheart for 17 years.

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