Jen O’Neal, MSW, has lived in Anchorage, AK since she was four and graduated from S.A.V.E. High School. She attended college at University of Alaska, Anchorage where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services in 2006. She then focused her career working in community-based behavioral health organizations with a specific passion for work with transition age youth. Jen has participated in a variety of community work groups to expand transition services for youth and co-developed and led the first Transition to Independence Process (T.I.P.) Program in Alaska where she served as program supervisor for a decade. She returned to the University of Alaska, Anchorage to obtain her Master of Social Work degree. During this time, she gained exposure and experience at Covenant House Alaska and VOA Alaska where she worked with youth experiencing houselessness, substance use, and mental health challenges. Jen returned to VOA Alaska to work with the Supportive Housing team to serve houseless youth, getting them connected to housing and behavioral health services in 2021. She also serves as an adjunct professor for UAA, teaching undergraduate courses on childhood trauma and direct practice with transition age youth.
Jen feels inspired every time a youth is housed in their first apartment; bearing witness to that spark of hope reignite in youth. She is dedicated to serve youth in a way that helps them move beyond basic survival and begin to thrive in their lives. She loves a challenge and finds deep satisfaction in pushing herself to be better, whether it’s at work or at play through hiking, rock climbing, running, weightlifting, and yoga. She also finds joy and connection through cooking for others whenever she can!