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From Disney artist to general Relief Society leader, Sister Yee is guided by her trust in the Lord

From Disney artist to general Relief Society leader, Sister Yee is guided by her trust in the Lord

Sister Kristin M. Yee was a little girl when she witnessed the power of the Relief Society and ministering, from her seat in the back of the family station wagon.

“I would join my mother when she would go out visiting teaching or just visiting someone in need. Her visits were not limited to her assignments,” she remembered. “My mom would put all of us kids in the back of our station wagon, and we would watch or help as she would listen, talk, teach, cook, clean and care for others and their children. Everyone loved my mom because she loved them.

“She showed us what it meant to love as the Savior would. We saw how important it was to care for those around us. We were always making food for someone and dropping it off on our visits.”

Now as the recently called second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, Sister Yee continues to deepen her testimony of ministering. “When we offer kindness and sincerely love and minister to those around us, then we are successful no matter what goes right or wrong in our day, and that’s because ‘charity never faileth.’” 

A gifted artist and manager of the Church’s animation team, Sister Yee likely never expected to serve as a general leader in a growing, global Church. She begins her new calling on Aug. 1. But she learned a proven truth early on: Let God guide your path — and you will end up right where you belong.

“The Lord is in charge, and I trust Him,” she told the Church News. “My hope is that I will be able to hear Him as best as I can and do what He wants me to do.”

Discovering artistic talents, divine purpose

Kristin Yee grew up in Sacramento, California, until her mother, Jaydean Yee McKay, decided it would be best to raise her five children in a more rural environment.

“So we moved to Burley, Idaho. I went from busy highways to rodeos — and I saw a cowboy for the first time,” she said, laughing.

Beyond the obvious change of landscapes, she also came to appreciate a spiritually sensitive parent’s intuition and prayerful guidance. “I think our lives would be very different today had we not moved to Burley.”

President Camille N. Johnson, general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Relief Society, center, poses for a photo with Sister J. Anette Dennis, first counselor, left, and Sister Kristin M. Yee, second counselor, right, at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 4, 2022. They will begin their service in the Relief Society general presidency on Aug. 1, 2022.

President Camille N. Johnson, general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Relief Society, center, poses for a photo with Sister J. Anette Dennis, first counselor, left, and Sister Kristin M. Yee, second counselor, right, at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 4, 2022. They will begin their service in the Relief Society general presidency on Aug. 1, 2022.

Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Life was not always perfect for Kristin and her family. It isn’t for anyone. But she continues to put her trust in God. “With His love and guidance, I can face these difficult family challenges with hope. I know He cares deeply about the relationships in our families. That’s why we have the Atonement of Jesus Christ — He can heal us, heal relationships and provide the very individual balm that is needed in each of our lives.

“That’s a message I want to share.”

As a child, Sister Yee discovered her love and talent for art. “I was always drawing when I was a little kid. I went through a lot of crayons and a lot of paper.”

She still remembers the excitement she felt the first time someone complimented one of her drawings. Later, as a teen, she was asked to paint a portrait of the Savior standing outside the temple. She has painted several more portraits of Christ in recent years.

Utilizing her talents to serve the Lord’s purposes elevates Sister Yee. Her artwork allows her to communicate something special, spiritual and personal to others.

Not everyone is an artist. But Sister Yee is certain that all have the talent to create something beautiful, whether tangible or unseen. “As human beings, we create relationships. Creating is a godlike attribute. It is part of one’s divine nature. We offer our creations to Him, and He magnifies it.”

Eager to pursue formal art studies, Kristin finished high school early and moved to San Francisco as she turned 17. Although she had grown up in a Latter-day Saint family, time on her own prompted her to seek out those things that matter most. 

“What I learned was that I needed the Lord. It was a pivotal moment in my life. With everything going on around me, I knew I needed light — and He was that light.”

She decided to leave San Francisco and once again move to Idaho, this time to study at the Church-sponsored Ricks College (now BYU–Idaho) in Rexburg. After earning an associate degree in illustration, she transferred to Brigham Young University to continue her fine arts studies. 

While living in Provo, she stepped out of her artistic comfort zone and offered to assist with concept art for the animation program’s student film. Prior to graduating from BYU, she was uncertain where her professional path would take her — but, once again, she trusted in the Lord. Upon graduation, the concept project unexpectedly connected her to a career at Disney.

“When we put [the Lord] first, that allows everything else to fall into its proper place,” she said. “That allows us to make the right decisions and allows the Spirit to enter our lives. When you do that, He provides a path that we might not have expected.”

Read more: Meet the new Relief Society and Primary general presidencies sustained during April 2022 general conference

Finding hidden capacities to serve

For a lifelong artist who still feels the joy of creating something on a sketch pad or a computer screen, landing a post-college job at Disney would seem to be a dream realized. And, yes, Sister Yee was happy to have found herself earning a living at perhaps the world’s most widely recognized mass media and entertainment company.

“Working at Disney was important to me — but I learned it wasn’t who I was,” she said.

Her relationship with God, and being His daughter, was her primary identity.

She worked at Disney Interactive Studios for 13 years — two as a texture and concept artist and 11 more years as a senior producer. “I had talents that I did not realize at the time, and the Lord wanted me to develop them. I received unexpected opportunities that taught me to lead and unify teams, to develop my communication skills, to help team members grow, to strategize and produce content alongside incredible individuals.”

Sister Yee’s unexpected on-the-job management training at Disney would serve her well when, in 2016, she became the manager and producer of the Church’s animation team.

She also returned to BYU to pursue graduate studies, earning a Master of Public Administration in 2019. That too marked an educational avenue that she would not have expected earlier in her career, but one that has proven to be a personal and professional blessing.

Relief Society: A place where every sister belongs

The ministering lessons Sister Yee learned decades ago from her seat in that family station wagon remain with her to this day. She continues to discover joy in serving the Lord through caring for others.

She has served in a variety of callings, including stake Relief Society president, ward Young Women president, Gospel Doctrine teacher, ward missionary and a temple worker at the Salt Lake and Bountiful Utah temples. She currently serves on the Primary general advisory council.

Sister Yee believes fervently in the capacity and compassion of her fellow Relief Society sisters across the globe. “There is such a need to minister — that’s the Lord’s pattern. And Relief Society facilitates that in a beautiful way.”

As children of the divine, she added, people everywhere possess a need to belong to something essential and eternal. “Relief Society is that place where every sister belongs — no matter her circumstance, age or background, she is a part of this.”

Sister Yee has witnessed uplifting, supportive sisterhood in a variety of settings. “And wherever I have traveled in the world, I have looked for my Relief Society sisters. I instantly feel loved and known. There is a commonality in Christ and in our testimonies of Him.”

Transitioning to Relief Society can be challenging for some young women who might feel out of place with women from different generations and seemingly different circumstances.

As a teenager and young adult, Sister Yee found that finding how she can serve and contribute was her conduit to the community of Relief Society sisters of all ages. Service and ministering helped her find her place in Relief Society — and it became a part of her.

“When you are given responsibilities in Relief Society at a young age, you realize that Relief Society is something you can contribute to and make a part of your life. You realize it’s your Relief Society,” she said.

She acknowledges that initially participating in Relief Society can sometimes be difficult for young women. She offers this counsel:

“Relief Society is the Lord’s organization for you. You have a place here and He needs you. He needs the young adults. You have the gifts, talents, and faith that the world needs right now.” Relief Society, she added, links Latter-day Saint women across generations.

Regardless of age or experience, every Relief Society sister in the Church is facing challenges. “And we can share that — but we have to open ourselves up to that opportunity and give ourselves the chance to share and contribute who we are. It takes courage, but when we share, we begin to realize that we really are more similar than not. And with that comes the blessings of understanding and belonging.”

Sister Yee always learns from the experience and wisdom of her older Relief Society sisters. Simultaneously, she is invigorated by the energy and faith that her younger Relief Society sisters can offer. “We are all friends and sisters in the gospel — and service and ministering can break down all barriers.” Ultimately, she added, Christ is the great Unifier. 

“We need unity right now because the world is telling us to divide,” she said. “But the Lord is telling us to come together. We will find Christ when we gather together. We feel that unity when we minister and when we gather to worship in His name.”

In the New Testament, the Lord teaches an eternal paradox: “Whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25).

The Savior’s words, said Sister Yee, are especially relevant to Latter-day Saint women today hoping to get the most out of their Relief Society experience.

“If you want something out of Relief Society, give what you have to Relief Society. It is going to come back to you tenfold. Just step in there and offer who you are.”

Sister Yee said the Lord is anxious to bless His “offerers” in Relief Society, anywhere in the world.

“Open your heart and share and work with others,” she said. “And then watch the Lord take that offering and multiply it. Watch Him take the loaves and fishes that you offer and perform miracles in your Relief Society and in your life.”

Biographical information for Sister Yee

Family: Born on May 5, 1981, to Ryan Royce Yee and Jaydean Yee McKay in Sacramento, California. Four siblings.

Education: Earned an Associate of Arts degree in illustration from Ricks College/BYU-Idaho in 2002 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration from Brigham Young University in 2005. She later returned to BYU to claim a Master of Public Administration in 2019.

Profession: Worked as a texture and concept artist and a senior producer at Disney Interactive Studios for 13 years. Currently employed as the manager/producer of the Church’s animation team.

Church service: Will serve as a second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency beginning Aug. 1. Member of the Primary general advisory council. Has served in a variety of local callings — including stake Relief Society president, ward Relief Society counselor and secretary, ward Young Women president and adviser, Gospel Doctrine instructor, ward missionary and temple ordinance worker in the Salt Lake and Bountiful Utah temples.

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