Leadership at Chrysalis

By Alysha Clark

If you work for Chrysalis, you will hear the leadership at Chrysalis being referred to as the “Leadership Team.”  Chrysalis has five women in leadership positions including Dani Rischall-Executive Director,  Alysha Clark-Assistant Director , Amy Holste- Human Resource Director, Amy Yonker- Supported Employment Supervisor, and Kathy Ziegert- Service Facilitation and Clubhouse Supervisor.  

This group of women are dedicated individuals, and you can immediately see that Chrysalis is not just a job for them, it is part of who they are.  Chrysalis asks this team weekly, to think deeply about the past, present and future of this 40 year old organization.  With this team’s focus on courage, honesty, humility and vulnerability, we are confident that our organization is in the right hands!

Read the quotes below to learn more about what being a leader means to the Leadership Team. 

Leadership quotes: 

Alysha: I never thought I could be in a leadership position but I am a real go-getter and if I see a place I could help, I jump right in.  When I first started at Chrysalis, I lacked confidence but I had other women and other Certified Peer Specialists encouraging me to keep going. I am honored to be the Assistant Director at Chrysalis but I also understand how rare it is for a Certified Peer Specialist to be in a leadership position.  Many Certified Peer Specialists do not have a way to become leaders at their agencies, and that needs to change. 

Dani: Being part of a leadership team is an opportunity to support growth. My own growth, the growth of others, and the growth of an organization. I am honored to work at Chrysalis and do all that I can to support our mission. I am grateful to work alongside so many incredible people who motivate and inspire me everyday. As a leader I have the opportunity to dream about a better tomorrow and a responsibility to put dreams into action. 

At Chrysalis we understand that the leadership team plays an important role in our organization and also recognize that it is the incredible staff and people we serve who truly make Chrysalis what it is. As leaders we must continue to center the voices of those most impacted by our services and create meaningful opportunities to collaborate around systems change. Being part of the Chrysalis leadership teams gives me the opportunity to embody and practice these values on a daily basis. 

Amy H: It is a great honor to be a part of this Leadership Team serving the organizational and personnel needs of Chrysalis. Great intentionality has been taken to create a team where individuals can use their individual strengths to participate in collaborative work and collective decision making. Through these shared leadership practices we have found greater successes during these challenging times; never losing sight of our shared Chrysalis values. I am proud to be a part of an agency where each member of leadership actively contributes to creating a strong community and workplace where EVERYONE can access hope, healing and wellness. 

Amy Y: Being on the Leadership Team at Chrysalis is something I’m proud and honored to be a part of. I’m thankful for all of the opportunities and growth I’ve been involved with since starting as an Employment Specialist in 2014. One thing I admire about Chrysalis is the value in seeing creative and innovative programming while also maintaining strong values in our core recovery services. With this, I’ve been able to support the initiation of Chrysalis Pops and the Supported Employment Demonstration, while also continuing to support a strong team of Employment Specialists in the IPS Program. Every program at Chrysalis has so many strengths and seeing them all collaborate is truly wonderful. I’ve met so many people at Chrysalis and within our partnering organizations, each teaching me valuable insights into how to best support mental health recovery. I feel especially lucky to work with the four other leadership women. As a team, we challenge each other to be our best, complement each other’s strengths, and have a lot of fun along the way. We hope that our teamwork and relationship helps us to be the best support to all Chrysalis employees and program participants. 

KZ: I’ve been so fortunate to follow in the footsteps of many amazing women mentors and leaders before stepping into supervisory/management roles. These women led by example and  shared stories of their own perseverance, particularly when it came to gender equality, like championing Title IX or challenging status quo male dominated management roles. I try to embody lessons in mental toughness, staying true to your values and compassionate leadership. Humility and humor are values that are important to me and I try to weave these values throughout my current supervisory work.

Impressions of the Clubhouse International USA Conference 2020

By Clubhouse Members Erik and Brent

Our names are Erik and Brent and we are Chrysalis consumers and founding members of the Chrysalis Clubhouse. We are here to share our experience of the Clubhouse International USA Conference that took place on October 8-9, 2020 to learn more about the Clubhouse model and how Clubhouses function. 

 We attended the following several workshops that focused on evolving the Clubhouse model to fit our individual needs: 

1. Clubhouse Supported Education: innovative strategies for helping members achieve their goals. 

2. What is a Clubhouse? An Orientation to the Clubhouse Model. 

3. Clubhouse Reach Out: evolving, enhancing, and expanding our practice.

4. Wellness & Social Programming: Staying safe, healthy, and connected during these complicated times. 

5. Clubhouses in the Digital Age: how technology can expand the Clubhouse experience?

6. Social Justice: How your Clubhouse can be part of the change we wish to see?

These are our overall impressions of the conference: 

1. What do you like about the Clubhouse model? 

Brent: It’s an inclusive model, voluntary, relationship based; not like a mental health clinic and all members of the Clubhouse have an opportunity to participate in all work done by the Clubhouse. The Clubhouse is not work specific; members always are part of the decision-making process. 

Erik: I like the fact that it’s very open and transparent and that everyone has a say in what’s going on in the Clubhouse. 

2. Do you feel inspired by attending this conference? 

Erik: Yes. I’m just glad to be a part of the Clubhouse movement in general. I love reaching out to other people at different stages in their own Clubhouses; to established Clubhouses and how they interact with Clubhouses like ours. It was an eye-opening experience to get the support from other Clubhouses. 

Brent: Yes. I want to focus on the future of the Clubhouse after we’ve established it. I want to focus on the great lack of mental health and other support in the rural communities. I believe building a hybrid Clubhouse to be more inclusive and important in embracing the rural communities. 

3. What are your key takeaways from the conference? 

Brent: My key takeaway is that Clubhouses are more complex than they seem.

Erik: The Clubhouse model is flexible to the needs of its members. 

4. What is one thing that you take to Chrysalis from the conference?

Erik: I’ve learned a lot about the Clubhouse model and how to implement it in my own Clubhouse. I feel very good about the support that we encountered and feel as though I have a very strong basis on which to build the Clubhouse. 

Brent: I learned how to engage new and existing members with the idea of mutual support. I would like to work toward a better understanding of the Clubhouse model and how to expand the Clubhouse.

Photo: Clubhouse colleagues during a Zoom meeting.

Learning About Your Mental Health Through The Holiday Season

By Candace Berger

For this Blog, I interviewed a couple of people for the Holiday Season. Hopefully you will get inspired and learn about maybe your mental health through these two individuals. The first one I chose to interview was Kurt Stapleton. He is an employee with Chrysalis and has insight into his mental health. The second one I chose to interview was Hilleary Reinhardt. She is also an employee with Chrysalis and has insight into her mental health in this pandemic time. Both gave me great mental health answers to the questions I asked.

Kurt Stapleton- “I am currently talking to my service provider about having a certain mental health issue and to start treatment, whether that be medication or therapy. Part of my mental health is that I am currently exercising more. Exercise has really helped my mental health and I get outside almost everyday to exercise. After talking with my service provider again and being diagnosed with a certain mental heath issue, I was relieved. Also I was surprised. I never thought that I had a mental health issue because I didn’t have the “typical” symptoms most people associate with the mental health issue that I have. I finally had an answer to a question I had for many years and I can get the treatment I’ve needed for a long time. So, I felt very relieved.”

Hilleary Reinhardt- “Traditionally for me, the Holiday Season is a time of excitement as I gather with loved ones. However, due to the pandemic, this year looks a little different. Knowing that I will be spending time alone, away from friends and family, has taken an emotional toll on me. As I think about not being able to hug my nephew and gather around the table with my family, I am hit with an overwhelming sadness. While I have experienced an increase in hopelessness, empty feelings, and fatigue during this Holiday Season, I have also learned a great amount about myself and how to care for my mental health. All of the tools that I have learned through my experiences, therapy, and relying on my community have allowed me to work through many of the intense emotions I have experienced this Holiday Season.”

I hope these two individuals gave you some insight into what goes on during this Holiday Season for this 2020 year and that you learn something new that will help you. May your days be filled with love and kindness and a wonderful Holiday Season despite the pandemic.

Mental Health Resources






A public health perspective on mental health recovery: overcoming the obstacles

By Jenny Lujan, BSN, RN (retired)

Chrysalis Board of Directors

Historically, we’ve made progress in supporting people with their mental health recovery. I believe that movies like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and stigmatizing media stories such as Roasted Nuts are bygones of our past. But I know we still have work to do.

I have first-hand experience of stigma and discrimination in the workplace related to my mental illness. My boss threatened to micromanage my work. According to another boss, co-workers said they were afraid to talk to me – perpetuating the stigmatizing assumption that people with mental illness are dangerous. My union representative tried to help me address the work conditions. I learned other employees experienced similar, more egregious and equally traumatizing workplace conditions than myself. I wasn’t alone:

“35% of employees “always” miss 3-5 days of work a month because of workplace stress.”

A few of my colleagues said that people with mental illness “should just get help”. Referring to a patient, another colleague said, “I hate working with that crazy woman!”. I am fortunate to have insurance, understand my recovery needs, know how to advocate for myself and navigate the complicated health care system. Many people don’t have access to health care, have shame and self-stigmatize related to their mental illness. Even if they seek care, finding a mental health provider is a daunting task. There is one mental health professional per 600 people in WI.

Access to care is only one factor that accounts for poor mental health. Social and economic factors are known as root causes of health outcomes. They powerfully influence the health of entire populations. Two of these factors are racism and employment.

While it will be a difficult and long-term endeavor to understand and apply the knowledge of racism and mental health, the intersectionality of mental health and race and the tragic history of abuse and mistreatment, I have hope we are moving forward. Collective and safe discourse in local, state and national efforts within the public and private sectors is happening. At Chrysalis, staff are participating in Witnessing Whiteness workshops and attending YWCA Racial Justice Summit conferences to further their understanding of racial justice that will build agency capacity toward diversity, equity and inclusion.

Chrysalis’ employees are offered optional participation in twice monthly health circles. Chrysalis hired a consultant who trained a staff member to facilitate the health circles where employees are actively involved in the process of identifying their own emergent needs. Various topics during health circle’ discussions include celebrations, communication, mourning, fear, gratitude, team cohesion and connectivity, and conflict resolution. Health circles are a means of processing job-related stress.

During my exit interview at work with my bosses, and given that one in five people report having a mental illness, I suggested implementing a sustainable method where all staff take the mental health first aid course, similar to the way CPR is required. It was satisfying leaving my job by educating those in power to make change in hopes that others may get support.

Being on the board of Chrysalis is an honor and essential to my mental and emotional wellbeing

I took a mental health day today….and thankfully, I didn’t have to lie about it.

By Alysha Clark

Yesterday I woke up in the morning with a tight chest, difficulty breathing and racing thoughts.  The same thoughts I had over and over in my head for the last week.  I felt heavy, my heart was heavy, my body was heavy.  I looked over at my partner and said “I just can’t do it today.”

But this isn’t the first time he has heard this, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder when I was 15 years old, about 16 years ago.  From time to time, this happens and many things can lead up to it.  Even with almost two decades of experience with this diagnosis and years of therapy, journaling, support groups, and keen self awareness, I still have days that feel as though nothing will help to curve my negativity.  

So I ended up emailing my Supervisor asking if I could take a Mental Health Day.  A Mental Health Day is simply “a day off that is specifically and strategically geared toward stress relief.  While one day off may not by itself cure burnout, a mental health day can definitely provide you with a much-needed (and well-deserved) break.”

The response to my email was met with support, encouragement and willingness to be there for me if I needed it, approving the day.  And when I came back to work, I took a risk…I decided to talk to my Supervisor and our Human Resources Director about the mental health challenges I was facing, including those specific to the job.  Thankfully, we did not get too into how to “fix” this feeling I was having.  Rather, I was on a virtual call with another human being, saying, “Yeah I hear you, it has been hard for me too” or “I really appreciate you voicing this, you have so much self awareness.”  Which was the exact response I needed to hear in that moment.  

But I realize that this is not the norm in many jobs.  Taking time off from a job is almost always related to someone’s physical health, referenced as a ‘sick day.’  This can create an environment where the employee feels they have to lie about what is happening in order to get the day off they need.  For me, this is a very hard thing to digest.  -How can we continue to move toward a world where we can fully be ourselves, even at work?

I know that I will continue to need mental health days and I am so grateful that the staff at Chrysalis will respond to these with compassion and understanding.   We are truly living #StigmaFree from mental health challenges, where work is a vital part of our recovery. 

For more on Mental Health Days, please visit: https://www.cnet.com/health/how-to-take-a-mental-health-day-from-work/

2020 Virtual Chrysalis Success Celebration

Vocational Peer Support

By Alysha Clark

Throughout this Pandemic, you may have experienced a time when you broke down, experiencing a very dark moment.  When you were able to share this with another person, they saw you….the whole you and didn’t try to fix it but rather listened and sat with you in your pain.

If you have experienced this in the pandemic, you have experienced the beauty and wholeness of Peer Support.  Here are some Chrysalis Vocational Peer Specialists describing why peer support is SO important:

“It is so strong and good role modeling to share and speak out.  The real strength is shouting down the silence just by your example.” – Eric

“When people feel heard they begin to heal.” – Jenny

“Having someone to listen to them makes all the difference” Andrew

Vocational Peer Support is a vital part of Chrysalis services and nearing the end of 2020, the VPS team came together to redefine what peer support is to Chrysalis- on our website.  Please take a moment to read our new description, our hope is that you are able to better understand peer support and advocate for this vital service in our community.

Vocational Peer Support Program Description

The Great American Smokeout and the Chrysalis Wellness Initiative: Tobacco Tackle

By Hilleary Reinhardt

Today we celebrate “The Great American Smokeout” put on by the American Cancer Society. Chrysalis takes a holistic approach towards mental health recovery, focusing on individual’s entire lives, including mind, body, spirit, and community and understands the impact that tobacco use and smoking has on the whole person. We at Chrysalis want you to know that we are here to support you in your journey to quit smoking or using tobacco. Support plays a HUGE role in every aspect of our lives and this is no different for those who are on their quit journeys. Andrew and Kurt, two Chrysalis Certified Peer Support Specialists, share how important support was and continues to be in their quit stories: 

“I had tried to quit many times over the span of 10 years that I spent smoking. When I moved to Wisconsin I was given a great opportunity to quit for good. The chief motivating factor was not having much of any money to go out and spend on cigarettes. I made a plan to smoke less and less each day and gradually step down. As I was doing this I was employing some strategies to deal with the anxiety and habits that kept me smoking over the years. Instead of going out for smoke every few hours I would go out and go for a short walk around the block. I also reduced my engagement with anyone or anything that would remind me of smoking and keeping smoking off of my mind was a great aid. The biggest asset I had in following through on quitting was feeling connected to friends and a long distance relationship through contacts over the phone and online. In order to stay off tobacco use for good I continue to use tools and supports to reduce my anxiety such as medication and therapy. I spent a lot of time focusing more on my singing to aid in dealing with anxiety symptoms. After quitting smoking my singing range had mostly recovered which was a very positive side effect of quitting.” –Andrew

“I started smoking when I was teenager, hanging out with kids at school. Trying to fit in. I continued to smoke for most of my teen years and in my twenties. I had tried to quit the first time by throwing my cigarettes out of the car window and not buying anymore. That worked for 2 years. After a lot of stressful life events took place I turned back to smoking. The second time I quit smoking I was sent to prison for 3 years. During this time my wife and mother in law were still smoking and when I was released I just picked it up again out of boredom. My wife and I continued to smoke for a few years together even though I was diagnosed with asthma. It didn’t deter me at all. The last time I decided to quit smoking was when my wife became pregnant. We both made the decision to quit smoking once and for all. And the day our son was born, we both gave it up cold turkey. It was very difficult and I found myself “relapsing” occasionally, until one day I said “ENOUGH”! That was it. I was finally done with smoking. We supported each other throughout the process. It was tough at times but we got through it. I’ve been smoke free for 5-1/2 years now.” –Kurt

In May 2020, with the support of University of Wisconsin Madison Center for Tobacco Research and Interventions (UW-CTRI), Chrysalis began working on a project called the “Chrysalis Wellness Initiative: Tobacco Tackle”. Through this project, we aim to support the Chrysalis community as we increase the number of conversations surrounding tobacco use and create a tobacco free campus with the goal of reducing tobacco use in the Chrysalis community. Chrysalis is here to support you!

The Awesomeness of Autumn

By Scooter Killary and Colleen O’Brien

This time of year has so many opportunities to look out and enjoy the views.  We were reflecting on our favorite parts of the season and felt inspired to share some things that give us happiness. Looking around at all the signs of the season, makes us feel connected to nature, our neighbors, and something bigger than ourselves and our worries.

Looking at Halloween decorations reminds us of when we were children doing parties, costumes, and trick-or-treating.  One memory is grabbing an orange balloon and using the static to make it stick to the wall. When we decorate for Halloween we feel a sense of connection to the past through these traditions.

As we enter November, we are enjoying the crisp air and the yellow, gold, and brown leaves. What a great time to go out to the country to see beautiful horses; the color combination really stands out against the backdrop of Autumn. Even in the city, you will see squirrels foraging and hiding nuts for the winter.

When we go outside for a walk and see the sights, we feel connected to our  community and nature. Making new memories and enjoying the season can get us out of bed in the morning and give us hope to make it through tough times. 

Self-Care Tips

By Candace Berger

The reason why I decided to write about this topic at this time is because we are heading into the fall and winter months where we don’t get out as much. This can cause a low energy and depression to get worse. Here are some tips to utilize for self-care:

  • Take a shower or bath that has nice smelling shampoo, conditioner, body wash and bubbles for baths.
  • Buy lotions that have your favorite fragrances and utilize them to help calm you down. You can get these at Bath and Body works. You also could get candles that are fragrant from Target or Amazon.
  • Read or write inspirational ideas that make you happy. Reading inspirational quotes can sometimes open our eyes to things we didn’t think of before and can lift you up.
  • Put on fuzzy pajamas or fuzzy/fluffy material in the evening. This helps in calming those nerves a person may have happening to them. I know it does help me relax a lot because of the feel of the fabric.
  • Fix your hair in different styles. This one can be fun, especially if you have the right types of gels, mousse, curling iron and picks/brushes.
  • Get a Sun Lamp. In other words, a Light Box 10,000 lux for $30. This helps with depression during the winter months and on gloomy days. Usually it is used for Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a type of depression that last from one season to the next. It is also referred to as (SAD). 
  • Read, do art, play music, or write about anything. I know I repeated this one in other blogs but it does help to get out those harsh feelings you may have inside.

Well that is all for now. I hope you enjoy these ideas.