Dr. Margo Jacquotthe founder/owner/director of the Juniper Centerhas been serving the community through her Park Ridge-based psychotherapy practice for more than 20 years.
The Juniper Center is a counseling and therapy center that specializes in issues related to trauma recovery, addiction treatment, diverse sexuality and gender identities, and relationship and family therapy. It is one of the largest woman-owned counseling and therapy practices, with 25 therapists and five locations across Chicagoland.
"The Juniper Center is a longtime leader in providing appropriate and affirming therapy for people who are LGBTQ," said Jacquot. "Whether or not someone is seeking counseling for an issue specific to their sexuality or gender identity or they simply want therapy for another matter, they can find help at our LGBTQ-knowledgeable and welcoming practice. Our Center for Gender and Sexuality was developed to provide informed, accepting therapy for LGBTQ individuals, couples and families of choice and creation."
The center also conducts free LGBTQ-focused education trainings in a variety of settings.
"A talk I have given more recently at chambers and professional organizations is 'What is all this gender business, and what does it have to do with my business?'" said Jacquot. "It helps businesses understand state laws, but more importantly it talks about how to create an inclusive environment for customers."
When asked why she started the Juniper Center, Jacquot said she wanted more flexibility in her schedule because she and her wife Beth Wyman were in the process of adopting their first son. Jacquot explained she is a believer that you can do it all and do it all well and that is why she wanted to dive in to both being a businesswoman and a parent at the same time. When their second son came along two years later the business was booming so she hired her first associate and it has grown from there.
Recently she received two awards, including the Gold Stevie Award from the Stevie Awards for Women in Business. She was also named one of the Enterprising Women of the Year by Enterprising Women print and digital magazine ( read by more than 1 million women in the United States and 185 countries ).
The Stevie Awards honor women and women-led organizations from around the world. Jacquot got the top honor as Female Entrepreneur of the Year for consumer service businesses with 11-2,500 employees. Enterprising Women named Jacquot a winner in the category related to business that generate between $1 million and $2 million in annual revenue.
When asked how she felt about receiving both awards, Jacquot said, "I was shocked, thrilled, delighted and really proud of the work the team has done. It was not about me as much as a recognition of work that the team has done over the years. I am so proud of them. I know with awards the focus is on you as the business owner. Of course I have a vision behind my work, but I could not do it without a big, solid team."
"Dr. Jacquot demonstrates impressive leadership in the national community," said Stevie Awards President Michael Gallagher. "She is tackling a number of 'hot' topics in current events, including LGBTQ-focused care and brain science, while delivering critical services to her clientele. Her thoughtful leadership around inclusion is relevant and important in today's climate."
"Dr. Jacquot is a wonderful example of an enterprising woman who understands that it is not enough to just run a strong business," said Enterprising Women Publisher/CEO Monica Smiley. "As important as that iswe recognize women who really stand out as strong community leadersno one wins this award without demonstrating their commitment to mentoring the next generation of young women. It is an honor to shine the spotlight on Margo and recognize her amazing accomplishments."
The journey for Jacquot ( who grew up in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood and graduated from Lane Tech High School ) toward psychology began at Loyola University. She started out as a political science major with the intention of going to law school but that all changed during her senior year.
"I completed all of my pre-law requirements so I had the freedom to take some electives," said Jacquot. "I thought maybe an attorney should know a little psychology. I took a psych class, and that was it. I ended up going another year and graduated with a bachelor of science in both psychology and political science."
Prior to founding The Juniper Center, Jacquot was the director of chemical dependence services at Forest Hospital for six years and an adjunct faculty at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology for ten years.
While working at Forest Hospital, Jacquot got her Psy.D. ( with a concentration on marriage and family ) from the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology.
Earlier this year, Jacquot and COLAGE Executive Director Annie Van Avery participated in a piece for the Chicago Tribune entitled "Tips for LGBTQ Parents." This is one of the many ways Jacquot reaches out to the community outside of her work at The Juniper Center.
In addition to running her business and giving lectures, Jacquot has been involved in both community and professional organizations over the years including Chambers of Commerce in Park Ridge, Barrington and Oak Park. She sponsors the local girls teen softball team in Oak Park and is on the board of directors of the Maine Community Youth Assistance Foundation that works on addressing drug use by children and teens. She also served as the Illinois Psychology Association SOGI section chair for a year and is currently the treasurer and a member of the ethics committee.
Jacquot also helps other mental health practitioners start their own practices including sharing what she has learned and hosting monthly free meet ups at the Park Ridge location.
Additionally, Jacquot likes to run every day and spends her free time hanging out with her wife and kids including their weekly dinner outings on Friday nights.
When asked what she wants to convey to the entire LGBTQ community, especially in today's political climate, Jacquot said the community is strong and has made a lot of progress but that could be stripped away if LGBTQ people do not stick together.
"We have to make sure that we as a community do not get fractured into the individual letters because we are stronger as a group." said Jacquot. "It has been incredible to watch the evolution of the amazing LGBTQ communities we have in the Chicago area. There are so many organizations, places and opportunities for people to feel welcome and at home. For me to be able to be an out, lesbian entrepreneur and to have the reception that we have had is pretty remarkable if you look at history over time. I am really excited for the future of this community."
See www.thejunipercenter.com/ for more information .