October 24, 2016

I remember being 19 years old and Googling, “free rehab.” I was lucky enough to find a
program that would accept me so I could continue my long-term recovery journey. As a
dear friend and fellow recovery advocate says, luck should have nothing to do with
whether or not a person gets an opportunity for long term recovery. Little did I know; I
was one of millions of young people who are seeking or are in long term recovery. At
that time, there were no locally peer-led chapters, or nationally recognized organizations
I knew of where I could go for help. I did not know that things like employment, housing,
education, and other resources were going to be instrumental in my securing a base
and reaching my maximum potential. I also did not know that leadership development,
empowerment, or hope were going to be terms that were going to forever change the
trajectory of my life. I begin with this story as it is so much of what Young People in
Recovery (YPR) and our chapters represent. Many people have asked: How is YPR?
What is going on with YPR? What it is like now that President Obama knows about the
amazing work your chapters do? What is the future of YPR?

This update is an attempt to answer these questions and paint a picture of YPR moving
forward. First, I must thank our chapter leaders, members, supporters, extraordinary
staff, and unprecedented board of directors. Without this leadership infrastructure, we
would not be where we are today. With that said, this past year has come with the
peaks and valleys of many rapidly growing movements. Our experiments in growth
through connecting with other organizations taught us many important lessons, but the
greatest of them all is that our chapters are the life-blood of what we do. We have
weathered a season of financial strain and come out stronger on the other side
understanding now more than ever that anything that does not help our chapters
become better supported, better resourced, or better equipped to help more young
people in or seeking recovery is not where our focus needs to be. We have seen
explosive growth with our chapters and especially our chapters that are hosting
signature YPR programs like EPIC or Phoenix and that are making a concrete impact in
their communities.

In order to best support and equip our chapters, we are excited to announce some
recent transitions with our organization. There have been many changes, but we know
that they are all for the greater good of the movement. We are excited that a longtime
leader, Ann Herbst, is our new Vice President of Institutional Advancement. Her focus
in securing funding to further support our movement will continue, along with making
sure that this organization is ready to get to the next level in terms of infrastructure and process. In related executive level news, Hugh Guill is our new Vice President of
Programs. His dynamic experience, passion, and leadership skills will be focused on
supporting chapter and program team members that lead the many exciting initiatives
that our chapters are involved in. As many of you know we are fortunate to have Jenna
Lee Gastineau, Michael Miller, Jesse Wheeler, MacKenzie Burdic, Tara Mosely, Kara
Bye, Tony Farmer, Damien Warsavage, James Fata, and several other indispensable
leaders that make up our team.

It is with heavy hearts that we announce extraordinary leaders like Kimber Lee
Falkinburg, Mariel Harrison, and Aaron Young are transitioning into their next leadership
endeavors. Though Kimber remains an avid recovery advocate, she has moved on to
form her own nonprofit combining her twin passions for faith and the global recovery
movement. Mariel and Aaron are going to continue to support YPR in various capacities
as Aaron expands his own visual communications company and Mariel focuses on her
graduate studies in Public Adminstration. Without Kimber, Mariel, and Aaron, YPR
would not be set up so well for success and we look forward to continue our
relationships with each of them moving forward.

One more major leadership announcement pertains to our Board of Directors. Mike
DeAgro, recent Georgetown Law graduate and longtime leader at YPR, has transitioned
from his role as Chair of the Board. We are excited to announce that Greg Howard, VP
and senior media strategist at Conover + Gould, will be YPR’s new board chair. We
cannot express enough gratitude for what Mike has done for this organization, but we
are excited to see him crush it in his new journey as a successful attorney in
Washington, D.C. We are looking forward to the experience, commitment, and vision
that Greg will bring to the Board and the movement at large. Other recent additions to
the Board are Javan Bunch, CEO, Donald J. Pliner Shoes, Steve Sost, Former
Executive Director of Corporate Communications, Allergan, and Natalia Rivera, MA,
LADC. We are saying goodbye to former Board Member, Ivana Grahovac. Ivana will
not be going far as she is now working with our friends at Facing Addiction. We know
she will be a great addition to their already innovative advocacy.
As YPR enters its new chapter, we are grateful for all the hard work of those who have
helped us reach so many of our goals. But we also know that no single leader or set of
individuals is what this organization or movement is about. We exist to empower young
people in or seeking recovery. We know that when we do this, all sorts of amazing
things follow: families are reunited; communities transformed; dreams achieved, and
lives are saved.

Our future is just beginning. With every young person Googling ways to find help, they
will now find Young People in Recovery, our chapters, and a host of amazing programs
to help them reach their maximum potential. We look forward to the rest of the year and
cannot wait to see what 2017 bring us.

To learn more about our chapters, programs, and the great team and board that makes
this all happen, please visit our website and connect with us on social media.

Justin Luke Riley