2010 Advocacy Leader Directory

Thomas Allen cites as his proudest achievement his creation of an organization known as Clean Adventures in Sober Living. Clean Adventures, located in Arizona, is licensed as a partial hospital specializing in addiction treatment. Tom has any number of achievements to take pride in, not least that he is an attorney. As he readily acknowledges, his professional accomplishments would never have happened had he not found recovery from addiction. He said his motivation to go into law was to help the little guy, and that is precisely why he wanted to be part of NCADD-NJ’s Advocacy Leadership Program.

Betty Arrington has experience with all ages in her work to prevent and treat addiction. She currently is a program facilitator in Paramus and is pursuing a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership. Betty’s interest in NCADD-NJ’s Leadership Program stems from her being a “true believer in the underdog” and in wanting to broaden the scope of how issues affecting addiction are treated and to take a more collaborative approach to these issues.

Jeffrey Beck has extensive professional experience with an array of addictions, but his focus is on compulsive gambling, which, he says, “is akin to drugs and alcohol.” He also has personal experience with these different dependencies, noting that he is 19 years removed from alcohol and drug use and 13 years past his last bet. Jeff might say his obsession later in life is with education. He is an attorney and is a candidate at Rutgers for a doctorate in Social Work. His love of learning extends to his teaching, which he regards as an example of his leadership abilities - “the ability to inspire people to achieve and reach new heights” is among the goals he sets for himself. ADVOCACY TEAM: 5  

Faye Brown, who works for the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, says that she“constantly encounters families that have been impacted by alcohol and drug addiction. She believes all New Jersey residents have a responsibility for the care and treatment of people with an addiction because “it affects everyone.” Faye also has worked in the penal system and made the effort to explain addiction to parolees or probationers, which often made them more open to treatment. On becoming an Advocacy Leader, Faye said she hopes to see “the stigma of being an alcoholic or drug addict become a thing of the past.”

Learline Jackson has dedicated herself to working with at-risk youth from across the country, not a few of whom have had alcohol and drug problems. She has assisted those youth in obtaining GED’s and assisted them with job placement. She said she has seen first-hand the stigma and discrimination faced by addicted people who are seeking recovery. As an Advocacy Leader, she wants people to understand that addiction is a disease, not a matter of choice. Learline views the Leadership Program as a great opportunity for her to share her experience and expertise and to learn from her fellow Leaders.

Sonita Johnson is executive director of Faith Farm, an organization in Bridgeton designed to provide physical and spiritual guidance to people with an addiction, as well as providing treatment services to those individuals. Through her efforts, the board at Faith Farm has broad expertise in the barriers that are responsible for New Jersey’s addiction treatment gap. Sonita is determined to use her considerable knowledge base to close the state’s treatment gap and to foster “an atmosphere in New Jersey for healing, discipline, safety and personal development.”

Dennis Lee currently works as a tobacco treatment specialist with a focus on underserved populations that include people in treatment for alcohol or drug addiction. His background in advocacy includes developing position papers on mental health and addiction parity. Dennis previously worked at NCADD of Middlesex County, where he helped establish the county chapter of Friends of Addiction Recovery, a grassroots organization urging people in recovery to speak out. He sees a rare alignment of social, political and scientific factors to create a rare opportunity for Leaders to make a difference in how addiction is regarded and treated.

Chaz Molins has been working with addicted individuals since 2002, when he decided to leave the music business to pursue a master’s degree in social work. He has a passion for justice and hopes to be an agent of change at all levels of society. One area he intends to confront is the stigma towards addiction that has affected him in both his personal and professional life. Chaz is a member of the National Health Corps and through them wants to recruit practitioners to help those in need. One issue he would like to address is what he regards as “a dearth of evidence-based practices in social work.

Agnes Newton has been a youth counselor with Each One Teach One for the past six years. Each One Teach One identifies at-risk youth and helps those already involved with alcohol or drugs to stop. Agnes is currently taking courses toward becoming a Certified Alcohol and Drug Councelor. She also arranges, monitors and provides case managment. Agnes looks forward to hearing what the experiences of her fellow Leaders have been with respect to strategies and education of at-risk youth. She looks forward to advocating on issues affecting both prevention and recovery.

 

Madeline Ortiz works at the Edison Job Corps Academy, a federally funded school for at-risk youth. She is deeply involved with the urban youth in her town and is  a youth leader out of Mt. Carmel Ministries. Madeline has also completed her course work and hours towards becoming a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor and is awaiting her test before entering the field. She said she is committed to making a difference with youth and believes the Leadership Program will provider her with more tools in this effort.

Alma Padgett has developed a deep passion for helping the most vulnerable who have an addiction. That passion stems in large part from her daughter’s 17-year use of heroin and cocaine. Over that period, her involvement in her church’s Women’s Prison Ministry has included assisting many women arrested for drug use. Alma expresses the belief that “we, as a community, must address the community-wide issues of the consequences of not addressing substance abuse, the neglect and the crime ...”  As a Leader, she looks forward to making a difference in the community and contacting elected officials to ensure there is proper funding to meet the state’s treatment needs. 

Asa Paris has given much of his time over the past two decades to organizations such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and Rites of Passage, acting as a mentor and a supervisor of mentors. Through his work he has seen many of New Jersey’s youth faced with the effects of addiction. This experience has given Asa what he describes as a “profound interest” in support services for people in active addiction and in recovery. Over the past 20 years, he has had a career in the corrections field, which has reinforced his understanding of the impact of addiction on New Jersey. Asa views the Advocacy Program as a vehicle through which he can help address the laws and other issues he has witnessed in many youth and inmates

Michael Pittaro is in his 22nd year working in the addictions field, something he takes no small amount of pride in. Much of that time was spent working in corrections, though he now is executive director of Community Prevention Resources of Warren County, Inc. Michael’s doctoral dissertation focuses on New Jersey’s addiction treatment gap among females, with the intent of ending the stigma people in recovery face but with particular emphasis on addressing addiction and recidivism among women. In addition to his many years of professional and educational experience with addiction, he also has seen its effects in a family member. Through the Leadership Program he hopes to advance laws and policies that reduce addiction and promote recovery.

Marvin Royal sits on the Executive Board of Directors of the John Brooks Recovery Center in Atlantic City and is chairman of Atlantic County’s Local Advisory Council on Alcholism and Substance Abuse. He is a strong proponet of prevention and at the same time understands the need to allocate resources to addiction treatment. He has lived his life according to the credo that “helping another to empower themselves is what life is all about.” Part of his drive to become a Leader derives from the recent death of someone who was a friend from childhood and tried without success to get into a treatment program.

Mary Ryerson has spent much of the past five years on promoting and developing peer groups for co-occurrence in Morris County. She has helped with self-advocacy, taught Wellness Recovery Action Plans, and worked on an anti-stigma campaign. She is an emergency nurse who has had many patients with alcoholism and drug addiction, establishing the first client self-medication program as an addiction treatment nurse. Mary believes success in treating addiction is far likelier with an integrated treatment plan and a team approach. As a Leader, she hopes to broaden her efforts on behalf of people with co-occurring illness.

Penny Saltzman has a career in the addictions field spanning more than a quarter century, which began with counseling work at a detox at New Hope Foundation. Since then she has facilitated prevention programs at several high schools around the state. Most recently, Penny has dedicated herself to helping disadvantaged and high risk youth. She is also a person in recovery, having more than 30 years in sobriety. Penny believes that for treatment to succeed it must focus on the whole person and sees the Advocacy Program as a vehicle to promote that belief.

Elizabeth Santeramo cites her parents as an inspiration in her efforts to dispel the myths associated with alcoholism. She has worked at the state, national and international level to address the stigma and discrimination that   affects people with alcoholism.  She notes that families of addicts still have a long way to go, that most do not realize the damage drinking and drugging does to a family. Elizabeth said that every opportunity she gets she carries the message of help for families affected by addiction and of hope of a new start to the addicted person. The Advocacy Leader Program will be a great opportunity for her to continue to carry this message.

Betsy Schumann is a volunteer with City of Angels, an organization based in Hamilton Township dedicated to helping addicted people and their families. She insists that people need to see addiction as a disease and that young people with an addiction should not be treated as ‘nobodies.’ Betsy understands this attitude all too well, having lost her 23-year-old son to addiction and having another child with an addiction. She is determined that her son’s death “will not be for nothing.” Through him, Besty saw what a terrible need there is for more people to become involved in the fight against addiction, a fight she will continue as an Advocacy Leader.

Alice Silverman has dedicated herself to eliminating stigma and providing greater access to treatment since she lost her son, at the age of 19, to heroin. After her son’s death, she pressed his high school to implement a drug prevention program. It took her two years, but she finally succeeded. Alice became directly involved in this education, using her loss to answer questions such as, “what parents should know that I now know.” For her son’s obituary, in lieu of flowers she hoped people would join NCADD-NJ’s effort to have addiction and mental illness treated like other illnesses.

 

Donna Smith has more than 25 years in recovery and over that time has given herself to serving others. She understands that her experience can play a part in assisting with prevention, treatment and recovery for others. She volunteered with Eastern Airline’s Employee Assistance Program, speaking with colleagues who either had an addiction or a family member with an addiction. Her volunteer and professional work includes stints with Turning Point, Hyacinth AIDS Foundation and East Orange General Hospital. Donna believes in life-long education, and sees the Advocacy Leader Program as a chance to put that into practice.

Fay Southerland moved to New Jersey to join an outpatient program whose focus was to assist teens and youth adults recover from addiction and other at-risk behavior. She said her experience in that program anchored her own 21 years in recovery. As a person in recovery, Fay said she takes personal joy at seeing others realize their potential by becoming free of drugs. She sees the Leader Program as an oppotunity to continue her life’s work, which is the prevention of drug use and fostering recovery. Furthermore, she believes the program will hone her existing skills to help produce social change and work for the betterment of her community.

Anthony Washington works with individuals with co-occurring addiction and mental illness. He participated in a New Jersey Prevention Network Recovery Mentor Training, through which he assisted people in need of resources in the community and connected them with appropriate 12-step programs. Anthony considers the Advocacy Leader Program an ideal path to pursue his passion of standing up for individuals with co-occurring disease, who in many cases have no voice to express their need for treatment and services.

Marshell Williams resolved to become involved in addictions work after seeing how drugs had ravaged her community in the time she was away from it. She began working with the Rescue Mission of Trenton and at the same time took classes toward her CADC at night. Marshall is now working toward a degree in Psychology, part of which requires involvement in a team setting. The Leadership Program appeals to her in that she has a great “hunger to advocate for fair and adequate services” for people affected by addiction. She wants to further the efforts she has made already helping those who don’t have a voice.

Michael Williams currently works with at-risk youth at a program known as Ranch Hope for Boys, located in Alloway. His committment to preventing youth from becoming involved with drugs and crime is futher evidenced through his work with One Man Makes a Difference. Michael has also counseled inmates with addictions at South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton. Going back to 1992, he and five other men formed a group called the Ambassadors of Christ, which is focused on providing help to people who are addicted. As someone in long-term recovery, Michael intends to continue using his personal struggles to benefit people who are currently addicted.

 




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