Each day in our country, more than 100 people die from opioid drug overdoses--nearly 50,000 in 2016 alone. Our community has not been spared. In one month alone, there were three fatal overdose deaths due to opioid drugs, including a 19-year-old Traverse City Central High School graduate. Deaths due to overdose now outnumber the number of traffic fatalities nearly two to one.
In 2015, Robert Cooney, the Grand Traverse County Prosecuting Attorney, was alarmed by the trends he was seeing. He started the Grand Traverse County Drug Free Coalition to bring together community agencies and individuals to explore answers. Prosecutor Cooney became acquainted with Judge Linda Davis and learned about Families Against Narcotics through his friendship with her. He was greatly impressed with the group and wanted to start a chapter in Traverse City.
In February of 2018, Kathy Jones, a local pharmacist, was attending the annual convention of the Michigan Pharmacists Association when she heard Phil Pavona speak about FAN. She was deeply touched by his words and the hope they offered. She had experience with addiction and the pitfalls of finding help through current channels and knew families who had lost loved ones to this terrible disease. Kathy felt that forming a chapter in Traverse City was a real possibility. Phil had given her his phone number and she called him Sunday night on her way home. He answered, and so began the start of Grand Traverse Area Families Against Narcotics chapter.
Once she returned, Kathy contacted Prosecutor Cooney as part of the process of starting a new chapter. Together they began gathering a formidable group of individuals. Because of the relationships formed through the Coalition, Prosecutor Cooney was able to bring together judges, the local school superintendent, local police chief, a psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of addiction, and the CEOs of some of the local addiction treatment services, among others, as directors. He and Kathy also included family members, recovering people, and the local manager of HUD programs. These people are passionate about working together to be a part of the solution to the tragic situation happening in the Grand Traverse area.
NOTE: Meetings are temporarily being held via Zoom at THIS LINK
1st Thursday of the Month
Central United Methodist Church
222 N. Cass St.
Traverse City, MI 49684
All are welcome to attend
(Children 10 and older please)
JUDGE ROBERT COONEY
President Term Exp. 12/21
Bob is a judge for the 86th District Court for Grand Traverse, Antrim, and Leelanau counties, where he presides over a drug treatment court program. Prior to becoming a judge, Bob was the elected Grand Traverse County Prosecuting Attorney, and served in that office for over 25 years. Concerned about the rise in opioid-related overdose deaths and crime, Bob helped spearhead an effort in 2014 that led to the formation of the Grand Traverse County Substance Free Coalition and a separate Five County Coalition. These organizations have helped raise public awareness about the problem and introduced additional substance use disorder education into our public schools. Bob also helped form the drug treatment court and, most recently, helped launch the first Northern Michigan chapter of Families Against Narcotics. Bob serves on the board of the Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals (MATCP), whose mission is to provide leadership to treatment courts throughout the state of Michigan. He lives on Old Mission Peninsula with his wife Karin and their three kids, Katie, Jack, and Maggie, and two dogs, Bonnie and Yosie.
Vice President Term Exp. 12/22
Ken Kaufman retired as senior vice president of manufacturing and engineering for Dow Corning Corporation in 2016 after a 35-year career. Originally from the Detroit area, Ken and his wife Ellen moved to Midland in 1981 and subsequently relocated to Traverse City upon retirement. In addition to being on the board of Families Against Narcotics, Ken’s community activities include serving as co-chair of the Five County Substance Free Coalition of Northwest Michigan (SFC), board member for the United Way of Northwest Michigan, and president of the Silver Lake Improvement Association. In 2019, with support from the SFC, Ken spearheaded the Prescription Opioid Prevention Initiative, a multimedia, multi-year campaign aimed at preventing addiction through education on the dangers of prescription opioids. Ken holds a BS in chemical engineering from Wayne State University and a MBA from Central Michigan University.
LYN CONLON, MD, PhD, FAPA, FASAM
Secretary Term Exp. 12/22
Dr. Lyn Conlon moved to Traverse City in 1998 after living in Baltimore, MD, where she did her residency in psychiatry at Sheppard Enoch Pratt Hospital. Conlon also served as outpatient chief resident and a psychiatric consultant for Emergency Psychiatry Associates. After moving to Traverse City, she not only started her private practice, but also started working as a staff psychiatrist at Community Mental Health and Munson Medical Center, where she eventually became the medical director for the inpatient psychiatric unit. Conlon became the medical director at the Lighthouse Neurological Rehabilitation Center in 2009. She is an associate professor at Michigan State University, teaching both family practice and psychiatry. In 28 years as a psychiatrist, she has served in multiple capacities in professional associations and on multiple committees, most recently with Families Against Narcotics and the Grand Traverse County Drug Free Coalition. Conlon is proactive in her community, is passionate about her profession, and has received multiple honors and awards. She has had her work published and has given numerous educational and informational speeches to educate both professionals and the public about mental health and addiction. Conlon acknowledges the part the medical community has played in the current crisis and wants to be advocate for change and education.
Treasurer Term Exp. 12/22
After serving almost 30 years with the federal government, Morris retired. As a Vietnam veteran, he served honorably off the coast of Vietnam on the USS Kitty Hawk from 1965-1967. He has a master’s degree in organizational management and has provided classroom and individual instruction at the graduate, undergraduate, and high school levels. Morris is a former Traverse City Board of Education member, serving as president of that board for three years. He was also the finance officer for the board of the National Cherry Festival. Morris is the board president of Project Unity for Life. Project Unity for Life’s mission is providing persons who have experienced a substance use disorder (SUD) and/or incarceration the opportunity to be a substance-free, responsible, community member.
Director Term Exp. 12/21
Addiction is a disease that destroys and overwhelms families. My 23-year-old son Alex lost his battle with addiction. He was an amazing, loving young man with potential and dreams for the future. A Traverse City native and in recovery myself, I share my story in hope that I can change someone else's path and that our community can better support those struggling with addiction. Alex's motto was "Have A Purpose!" My purpose is to be an advocate for recovery and help educate and find solutions.
Director Term Exp. 12/21
Chip Cieslinski is the President/CEO of Catholic Human Services, which provides a wide range of social services within the 21 counties of northern lower Michigan. Chip and his wife moved to northern Michigan in May of 2016 after he served as COO of Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan, in the Archdiocese of Detroit. He has worked for over 30 years as both a treatment provider and administrator. Chip has had a long-standing passion for treating mental health and substance use disorders, particularly with the education and prevention component. There is an unmet need for both that he wants to work with other treatment providers and community members to meet.
Director Term Exp. 12/21
A lifelong resident of Michigan, Mark and his family moved to Traverse City in 1982. He began practicing as an attorney in 1980 and served as an administrative law judge from 1994 to 1998. Mark began his work for treatment courts in 2001 with the 86th District Sobriety Court. He also serves or has served on the 86th District Drug Court, the 86th District Mental Health Court, the Grand Traverse Juvenile Drug Court, and the Grand Traverse Behavioral Treatment Court. Mark is a teaching faculty member of the National Center for DWI Courts and the defense attorney representative on the State Drug Treatment Court Advisory Committee. A member of the Addiction Treatment Services board, Mark is a volunteer "Angel" for Hope Not Handcuffs. He is also a volunteer for the Traverse City Film Festival, a facilitative mediator, and a Dr. Who intergalactic crime fighter. His favorite recovery book is The Miracle of Mindfulness by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh.
Director Term Exp. 12/21
Beth has been a registered nurse in the community for 35 years. She currently serves as the Parish Nurse of Central United Methodist Church. Beth has a strong faith and enjoys spending time with her friends and family in nature, playing games, cooking, and listening to rock and roll music. A member of the FAN board, she believes all persons have a gift, and aspires to provide hope and healing to families and those who struggle with addiction.
Director Term Exp. 12/22
Lisa Anderson is a Certified Substance Use Prevention Specialist who works for Up North Prevention, an initiative of Catholic Human Services. She covers Leelanau, Grand Traverse, and Kalkaska Counties. A northern Michigan native, Lisa graduated from Traverse City Central High School before getting her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Alma College. She is also an 11-year U.S. Army Veteran. Lisa sits on many substance use coalitions, as well as serving on the prevention work group for Leelanau County’s Coalition and facilitating for Students Against Negative Decisions (STAND).
Chief Jeffrey O’Brien
Traverse City Police Department
Hope Not Handcuffs Regional Coordinator; Hope Not Handcuffs Angel
Behavior Health Tech/Michigan Opioid Partnership
Munson Medical Center; Peer Recovery Coach; Hope Not Handcuffs Angel
Coordinator, Grand Traverse County Drug Free Coalition
Lt/F/Det. Kip Belcher
Task Force Commander, 7th District, Michigan State Police
LMSW, CAADC, Director Harm Reduction
Officer Jordan Wieber
Crime Prevention Officer, Traverse City Police Department
GT County HNH Angel Coordinator/PRC, Recovery Center Coordinator/PRC at The Porch/ATS, and PRC at Munson
David McGreaham, MD
Medical Director of Northern Michigan Opioid Response Consortium; Co-Chair, 5 County Substance-Free Coalition of NW Michigan
Trooper David Prichard
Community Service Trooper, Michigan State Police, 7th District/Cadillac Post
Undersheriff, Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Office
Executive Director, Human Resources & Labor Relations
Traverse City Area Public Schools
Christine Nefcy, MD
CMO Munson Healthcare
Retail/Buyer/Mgr., Grand Traverse Resort; Moms on a Mission; Hope Not Handcuffs Angel