Napa Valley Life Magazine, The Annual Philanthropy Issue
Summer 2023

Jeni Olsen
Prevention Director, Mentis
Founder, Teens Connect

After two Napa teenagers died by suicide in 2016, Jeni Olsen closed her 20-year-old graphic design business and founded Teens Connect with a mission to equip teenagers with tools to manage their anxiety and depression, provide safe places and people with whom to connect, and give them a voice in their community. Shortly after founding Tens Connect, she partnered with Mentis, one of Napa’s oldest nonprofits, to design a full continuum of care for Napa’s youth, including prevention and wellness programs and mental health therapy with teen-centered clinicians. (In 2020, Teens Connect merged with Mentis, and Olsen started a new Prevention Division at the agency where she manages wellness programs.) “Our programs, including therapy, are free for students at Napa County middle and high schools,” said Olsen, a 27-year Napa resident, whose goal is ensuring that today’s youth are given opportunities she did not have as a teenager – adult mentorship, peer support, accessible mental health resources, and a sense of belonging. Her programs have served more than 12,000 youth; the collected data shows marked improvement in learned coping skills, willingness to ask for help, decreased isolation, depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation. Olsen started volunteering at age 19 when the company she worked for adopted a family and helped paint their home. “I felt that I received more than I gave, and I was hooked on volunteering,” said Olsen, a new Board Trustee of Napa Valley College. “I continued to look for ways to give back, which was easy to do once I had kids and got involved in their schools. I feel that it’s not only important to give back, it’s our responsibility as community members. Volunteering with local organizations and like-minded people gives me an understanding of who lives in my community and what the most pressing needs are, which helps me in my work. Volunteering also gives me a sense of purpose and a feeling of belonging, something I’ve helped instill in the teens I work with.”


Photo by Nic Meerholz