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In Profile: Dr. Jill Allison

Welcoming Dr. Jill Allison, a Choices for Youth board member

Jill Allison is originally from a small town in the prairies and after living in many provinces and in other countries around the world, she and her family have called St. John’s home for the past 21 years. Jill is passionate about social justice and health equity. She holds a PhD in Anthropology for Memorial University of Newfoundland. As a former ER nurse her work in academia draws on years of clinical experience in health care. Jill’s work in Medical Anthropology is focused on the intersection between healthcare and social values, structural and systemic barriers to health equity, and health justice. She has done research on women’s reproductive health in Ireland and Nepal, focusing on infertility, reproductive choices and access to safer birth services. She has recently worked on adolescent sexual and reproductive health education and rights in rural Nepal. Her work and research has taken her to Nepal, Mexico, Bangladesh, Haiti, Uganda, South Africa and Kenya as well as Ireland. She is also trained in humanitarian and disaster response and has worked in Haiti and Nepal post disaster. She is currently the Global Health Coordinator and Clinical Assistant Professor in Community Health and Humanities, a role that allows her to promote health justice and global health equity in the learning environment. She is the mom of four adult kids, has four grandchildren and lives with her somewhat retired partner in St. John’s. Jill has been on the Board of Choices for Youth for 5 years and serves on the Governance Committee as well as the Research and Evaluation Committee. She brings a feminist research perspective to the work of equity, diversity, and justice at Choices.

Getting to Know Dr. Jill

1. What makes Choices For Youth's mission powerful to you?

Choices for Youth works to build a more equitable community and this is a powerful way to help all of us live better lives. Providing the conditions in which young people can reach their potential ensures that they will enrich our communities with diversity, talents and ideas.

2. What interests you most about Choices For Youth?

What interests me most is that the organization is innovative and responsive to wide range of issues. I also appreciate the collaboration with other organizations and the potential to build networks that solve problems and create opportunities. I look at the work of the Downtown Health Collaborative and how CFY has played a key role in providing services for young people addressing addictions and working with other organizations to ensure health needs are met across a number of sectors. I am interested in seeing how the development of the integrated services provides new directions for people and responds to the diverse needs of community.

3. How do you think the purpose of the Board of Directors matches with your personal or professional values?

As an advocate for social justice, harm reduction, and health equity I feel like CFY is an organization that fits well with both my personal and professional values. The Board of Directors plays an important role in terms our ability to look at the big picture and ensure that organization has the structure and tools it needs to meet its mandate, demonstrates its accountability, and has strong voices to advocate for the work in the community. It has been a pleasure to be part of the work of the board as we bring our different skills and interests together to work as team. I believe strongly in teamwork and both the board and the organization are excellent examples.

4. What does "success" mean to you in terms of your work as a Board Member?

Success as a Board member means seeing something we have worked on come together and enrich the work of the organization in some way. Whether this is policy work, advocacy, specific projects or committee work, it feels like success when we see the organization in a better place because of some contributions that individuals or teams have made. It also feels like success when, as a Board, we hear about the accomplishments of the programs, the achievements of young people who benefit from their relationship with Choices or the successes of the organization as a whole. I feel like we are all part of the Choices family and share in the joys of overcoming challenges or doing something innovative in the community.

5. What piece of work or goal at Choices for Youth most excites you as you look to the future of our organization?

I am excited about the many projects that support families. In a world where there are so many structural obstacles to family success - whether poverty, social pressures, policies or institutional rigidity - Choices for Youth always see the importance of family in providing the support for young people. I think programs like Momma Moments, the dream of the Young Parents Resource Centre, the new project with the schools aimed at early identification of issues for young people all put the onus on strengthening family. This is exciting and vital and so beautiful as a goal.

Our Cultural Commitments

Our board members reflect the many faces, cultures, identities, abilities, and walks of life that make up our province, and Choices for Youth is thrilled to have Dr. Jill contribute to this by sharing her expertise, knowledge and dedication across our organization. We look forward to the work that Dr. Jill will contribute to our network of sites and programs as a board member. Welcome to the team, Dr. Jill!

Learn more about the Choices for Youth leadership team by visiting us here, and learn about their commitment to our core values and cultural commitment here.

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