ARC Creates Substance Abuse Advisory Council

Today, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced the formation of the Substance Abuse Advisory Council (SAAC), a 24 member volunteer advisory group of leaders from law enforcement, recovery services, health, economic development, private industry, education, state government and other sectors. The SAAC will develop recommendations for ARC to consider as part of a strategic plan to build and strengthen a recovery ecosystems in Appalachian communities by drawing on their own experiences, as well as community insight gathered during ARC’s six recent Regional Recovery-to-Work Listening Sessions.

According to Opioids in Appalachia: The Role of Counties in Reversing a Regional Epidemic, a new report by the National Association of Counties (NaCO) and ARC, the 2017 death rate for opioid overdoses in Appalachian counties was an astounding 72 percent higher than non-Appalachian counties.“

In addition to the tragic toll of lives lost, substance abuse is increasingly becoming an economic and workforce issue in our Region”, said ARC Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas. “I appreciate the willingness of these knowledgeable and experienced leaders from throughout the Region who have come together to help ARC develop strategies to support Appalachia communities. By focusing on the recovery ecosystem, which supports those in long-term recovery as they move back to the workforce, the Substance Abuse Advisory Council will be addressing an important piece of the overarching effort to combat substance use disorder in our Region.”

Members of ARC’s Substance Abuse Advisory Council were selected in partnership with the Governor’s office in each of their respective states, and include:

William M. Babington, Division Chief Law Enforcement and Traffic Safety Division, Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs  (ADECA), Montgomery, AL;

Sarah Newman Boateng, Executive Deputy Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Health, Harrisburg, PA;

Jenell Brewer, Founder/CEO, SPARK (Special People Advocating Recovery Kentucky), Stanton, KY;

Craig Clark, PE, PhD, Chairman of the Board, Community Colleges of Appalachia; Vice President of Economic Development, Alfred State, Alfred, NY;

Olivia Collier, ARC Program Manager, North Carolina Department of Commerce, Raleigh, NC;

Melanie Dallas, LPC, Chief Executive Officer, Highland Rivers Health, Dalton, GA;

Nick Erwin, Director of Human Resources, Bellisio Foods, Jackson, OH;

Mark Farley, Development District of Appalachia Association; Executive Director, Upper Cumberland Development District, Cookeville, TN;

Sara Goldsby, MSW, MPH, Director, South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, Columbia, SC;

Nancy Hale, President/CEO, Operation UNITE, London, KY;

Robert H. Hansen, Director of the Office of Drug Control Policy, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Charleston, WV;

Karen Kelley, Chief Program Officer, TROSA, Durham, NC;

Kody H. Kinsley, Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health & Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Raleigh, NC;

Patricia Lincourt, LCSW, Associate Commissioner, New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Albany, NY;

Devin A. Lyall, Founder/Director, Wilkes Recovery Revolution, Inc., North Wilkesboro, NC;

S. Hughes Melton, MD, MBA, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, Richmond, VA;

Duane Miller, Executive Director, LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, Duffield, VA;

Robert Pack, PhD, MPH,  Professor, Community and Behavioral Health, Eastern Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN;

Brittany Pittman, ARC Program Manager, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Atlanta, GA;

Tammy Reynolds, Captain, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Tupelo, MS;

Stephanie Muncy Surrett, Executive Director, Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing Inc. Center of Excellence, Abingdon, VA;

Sean Terrell, Dean, Workforce Development, Hocking College, Nelsonville, OH;

Chief Robert Ware, Portsmouth Police Department, Portsmouth, OH;

Courtney Thomas-Winterberg, Director, Allegany County Department of Social Services, Cumberland, MD.

The SAAC will hold its first working meeting May 15-16, 2019 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Additional information about the Substance Abuse Advisory Council, as well as ARC’s current portfolio of work on this issue, is available at