A La Porte County Life in the Spotlight: Jenna “Sunshine” Conklin

A La Porte County Life in the Spotlight: Jenna “Sunshine” Conklin

Having lived in La Porte her whole life aside from her college years, Paladin, Inc. Director of Therapy Services Jenna Conklin couples a strong sense of community with her educational background and endorsements to bring light to those with disabilities.

On top of her bachelor’s from Purdue University and her master’s from Indiana University, Conklin also has an Infant Mental Health Endorsement and IMH-E(II) Endorsement. Conklin recently obtained her licensure for social work and is a registered behavioral consultant.

Conklin originally worked in schools and enjoyed working with students who had problems with emotional behavior. Finding purpose in helping those children led her to her current position, which enables her to work with people of all ages.

“Coming into work keeps me super happy, and I love building up others. I love seeing them develop and learn new skills,” Conklin said.

Her positive attitude leaves such a significant impact on her clients that many of them refer to her by the nickname “Sunshine.” Her aspiration is to help her clients see the light inside themselves.

“I love working with children and individuals with disabilities. Kiddos and individuals with disabilities are more than the community and society think they are. Everything we touch, see, and are around has a crack in it, but that's exactly how all the light gets in,” Conklin said.

Either fall of this year or early spring next year, Conklin said she will use her IMH-E(II) Endorsement to help launch an early childhood education program that will include behavioral intervention. 

Whether concerning her clients or the early childhood education program, Conklin believes that with a little boost of confidence, anyone can accomplish their goals despite the challenges they face.

“They can do so many things! All they need is that little ounce of confidence from their therapist, peer, or other trusted adult whom they will ultimately be taking the place of in our community,” Conklin said. “Their dreams are the realities of tomorrow and to be a part of that is just the most amazing thing.”

Her clients are not the only ones who have recognized her gift for helping others. Conklin received an Indiana ABC Award for contributing to a person’s pursuit toward self-reliance. 

Outside of therapy services, Conklin serves on the La Porte County System of Care governance committee. She enjoys the diversity of the people she meets through her work and community involvement and also the diversity of the communities she serves—La Porte County, Lake County, and Jasper County.

Recently, Conklin led training for law enforcement and first responders all across La Porte County on how to handle individuals with autism in a crisis. She enjoyed the opportunity to teach others how to interact with individuals with autism and felt that she also learned from the experience.

If she could turn back the clock, Conklin would tell herself to follow her passion sooner so she could be doing what she does now earlier in life. Although she would begin sooner if she could, she is happy with the direction she took in life.

At home, Conklin loves spending her free time with her husband and toddler. She credits her family with making sure she is taking good care of herself in the midst of all she does to care for others.