The 2012 KON Conclave where Jill discovers Hailey McDonell
Jump with Jill is the world’s only rock & roll nutrition show. The show has been performed over 2,000 times for three-quarters of a million kids around the world. Jump with Jill was created by Jill Jayne, MS, RD.
But before the Emmys and Grammys and visits to the White House, Dorothy Mitstifer knew a lesser known Junior Nutritional Science Major at Penn State University with an strong tendency to break into song. Jill was the President of the Omicron Tau of Kappa Omicron Nu at Penn State with the seeds of an idea to change the way kids learned about nutrition. In the summer of 2003, Jill’s advisor at Penn State, Linda Morrow, recommended Jill as a speaker to bring what she had done at a campus meeting on the theme of diversity to that summer’s Conclave. The “speech” included having members glue art and kitchen supplies to gingerbread cutouts to relax and invigorate a candid discussion. This was not the traditional approach for an opening session, but Dorothy thought it sounded interesting and matched with KON’s themes so she took a chance on Jill. This was Jill’s first true professional speaking gig… because of Dorothy.
As you might have expected, Dorothy and Jill hit it off. As Jill struggled to incubate what would become the famous Jump with Jill, Dorothy always seemed to have a scholarship or speaking opportunity to showcase Jump with Jill.
Jill and Dorothy in 2006
In 2008, Jill served on a panel in Atlanta while trying to build a business in the “Great Recession.” The group was going to see a community performance of a musical after hours. Jill confided to Dorothy that despite wanting to see the show, she could not afford the tickets. Dorothy said, “My treat.” And so it began – the chances to have small successes that would lead to great wins from a big, kind heart.
In 2012, Jill spoke at a lunch-and-learn during Conclave. A bright-eyed Family & Consumer Sciences major with a performance background approached Jill. “I was so excited, I couldn’t even eat my lunch,” Hailey McDonell said to Jill. Hailey joined the Jump with Jill team the day after graduation six months later and to date has performed 300 shows for 130,000 kids. She has transitioned to a full-time front office position as the Director of Operations running logistics on almost every tour the company produces. She is Jill’s right hand woman… because of Dorothy.
When Jill was starting a Michigan-based cast and funding dropped one month before the scheduled start of the tour, Dorothy was publicly outraged. She sent a letter to the reneging funders telling them it was “no way to treat a young entrepreneur” and connected Jill with everyone she new to find an alternative funding source. The Michigan-based Jump with Jill cast is now three years old and performs 200 shows per year… because of Dorothy.
When Jill was on a call with a planning committee connected to the Let’s Move campaign, Dorothy tried to convince the group of very-important-people that Jump with Jill should be considered as their on-the-ground initiative.
Dorothy was Jill’s consistent champion for over a decade. She was never too busy to help. Jill writes, “I can only dream to have a legacy as impactful as Dorothy Mitstifer.”