Jen Yontz-Orlando, MBA, MLIS

Author – Researcher – Photographer

My passion is creating expressive writing frameworks for chronic pain sufferers that heal. We identify, write, reflect, and share our deep-life stories with dignity, compassion, and beauty. Then, we reframe these stories with kindness and gratitude and write healthy, new stories that release our pain and benefit all humanity and life.

Academic Degrees

  • Masters, Creative Writing, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Ongoing
  • The Therapeutic Writing Institute, Certified Journal Facilitator, Denver, CO, Ongoing
  • Masters, Library and Information Science, Valdosta State University, 2014 Capstone Project: Bibliotherapy for Mental Health, 2014 
  • Masters, Business Administration, Ohio University, 2004
  • Journalism, Bachelors, Philosophy, Minor, Loyola University, New Orleans, 1990

Published Work


  • Yontz-Orlando, Jennifer. “Community Engagement through Bibliotherapy: Three Models,”  Works in Progress Poster Session. Association for Library and Information Science Education Annual Conference, 2017, January, Atlanta, GA
  • Yontz-Orlando, Jennifer. “Bibliotherapy for Mental Health,”  The International Research in Education Journal, 2017. International Research in Higher Education
  • Bolilla – Short story fiction New Orleans Critical and Creative Arts Publication (CCAP) literary magazine ReVisions, 1994.

Community Leadership


  • Current – Chronic Illness Support Leader for Lee Health, Lee Co, FL
  • Current  – Florida, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Family Support Group Leader and Trainer
  • 2012–2018 National Alliance Mental Illness (NAMI) – Lee Co, FL, Board Member
  • 2012 – Visuality- Founding Board Member – Support for LBGT youth, Lee Co, FL

Spiritual Quest


  • Roman Catholicism, Buddhism, Yoga, Celtic Shamanic and Al-Anon
  • Yoga Instructor in the “I AM YOGA” – Amrit Yoga – Kundalini – Lakulish Lineage
  • Travels throughout the world include Europe, South America, the far East (Japan), Sivananda Ashrams, and Risho-Ko-Se-Kai, a Japanese-Buddhist Sangha headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.

Jen's Top Five CliftonStrengths



Artist Statement

                                             “Time Coalesces” 

I rejoice to see the smallest affirmation and encouragement given to others bloom into hope and valor.

When this happens, time coalesces, and everything in the world zooms in on that magic moment.

It’s a great wonder when a trifling gesture or event-like cleaning a child’s dirty face, an unexpected letter from a long-lost friend,

The taste of English tea and biscuits with a British uncle or a certain book mysteriously appears by your front door exactly when needed,

These tiny moments can transform our darkest, despairing, and dejected hour into a fresh, glistening, sweet sunrise.

These are moments of Divine Grace and Deep Divinity. It amazes me when this happens- and it does happen. I’ve seen this happen.

My obsession is to document these shuttering and fleeting frames of time and space for myself and anyone else who wants to see.

Identity – Hope, Love & Compassion – Brain Science

Jen’s central theme is individual and group identity, including culture, class, language, religion, sexuality, beauty standards, work, and family. She is fascinated by how these categories can brutally tear us apart while at other times draw us together in deep devotion.

She is also intrigued by what happens when we LOSE our individual or group identity- for instance, when we are at a family dinner, look across the table and find we are among strangers. It’s an empty feeling to perceive those around you that you expect to be closest as hollow. Sometimes you might even wonder who they really are. And then, you might ask, “Who am I?”

Jen wants to learn how we can come back from loss, adversity and failure to build a NEW identity. She questions how does one dare to HOPE we might ever belong again. Jen believes that the only way home is through the transformational power of mercy and compassion- when we reach out and extend our hands in trust without fear of rebuke or admonishment. Then we may RISK that one day, we can finally be friends and whole again.

Jen is also obsessed with BRAIN science and how this vital organ and its varied conditions impacts mental health, addictions, and physical pain. 

Literary – “Tom and Phil”

Jen is currently writing a book that chronicles her father’s (Phil Yontz) short life as an identical twin from a small, rural, all-white town at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in South Eastern Ohio.

At the age of 18, on the way back to Ohio State University where he and his twin were studying as freshman, Phil experienced the violent and tragic death of his brother in a car crash that left four people dead and the community in tatters. Although Phil also suffered severe physical and emotional scars from “the accident” he never gave up hoping and searching for the best new life possible.

Jen travels to where her father was raised and learns how this event not only changed the trajectory of her father’s life, but also many in the community as well. While on this journey, Jen learns the true meaning of love, understanding and compassion for the father she is finally able to mourn.

Memoir – The Taste of a Mango

This is the memoir of Jen’s youth- from a young girl to 12 years old. She lived between two worlds, one at times of poverty in rural Ohio and the other of great privilege and wealth in Cali, Colombia. This is a memoir about growing up in a sometimes chaotic world due to alcoholism and poor mental health. Themes include, identity, loss, and the redemptive power of love. 

Early Life 

From birth, Jen bounced between her family’s farms in rural Ohio and her wealthy maternal grandparents in Cali, Colombia.

She is Spanish-speaking and bi-cultural.

Jen attended 13 schools by the time she graduated from high school, which created many complications for her as a young person. While academically inclined, she experienced severe difficulties with socialization in school and college. Some of these problems included bullying, authority issues with teachers and professors and questioning sexual norms. This led to heavy drinking as a young adult. These are all experiences she discusses in her writing.


Jen married her high-school sweetheart soon after college and found being a wife and mother fulfilling but challenging. While spending long days on the road helping build up the family cleaning business into a multi-million dollar company, she also dealt with a difficult-to-raise son. He had undiagnosed bipolar disorder as a child that eventually morphed into schizophrenia in his late teens. He now lives with Jen and her husband and two fur-babies, Ruby and Finn, in Ft. Myers, Fl.


After many years of living a life that was not in tune with her true nature, Jen is finally looking forward to all the beautiful life experiences and fascinating people the world has to offer. She now document life’s beauty through her many creative and artistic endeavors.