Megan’s career in the substance use disorder (SUD) sphere began 11 years ago in a residential treatment program on the West side of Chicago. She describes, “It was a very rewarding first job in the field, but I did experience the first loss of a client. I still have a stuffed tiger that he picked out for me on a treatment outing to the local zoo as a reminder of how deadly this disease can be.” She then worked as a counselor in a prison treatment program and found great compassion and fondness for the men as they grew in their recovery. In this position, she began to develop managerial skills and became the Director of Addiction Services. Most recently, she worked for Community Mental Health Centers in program development and operations, grant management, community engagement, and strategic collaboration at the state and national levels.
Lived experience with SUD led Megan to this line of work. She explains, “It was my personal journey in recovery that brought me to this field. Having come back from near-death and almost losing my child in the grips of substance use, it became a passion of mine to bring recovery resources and intimate connection to people caught in the miserable cycle of substance use. In my own recovery path, I discovered how beneficial physical activity is to my mental and emotional well-being. I also realized how much a healthy lifestyle community can be a bedrock for recovery stability. I live the mission of Recovery Beyond in my own recovery world and I am ecstatic to be a part of an organization that introduces and sustains these opportunities for others.”
It’s with this passion for getting together, for physical activity, and for sharing resources that Megan approaches the Executive Director role and emulates the vision of Recovery Beyond. She says, “We have all heard that substance use disorder is really a hole in our heart, something missing that we are trying to fill. That hole is connection – relationship. We get together to develop that community which will be our support and for whom we can be of service.” In addition to relationships and service, Megan is enthusiastic about anything active – from caving to hiking to boxing. She describes fitness as her number one meditation tool, “I feel most present and in the moment when I am physically involved, whatever the specific activity. I also stay engaged in support meetings and connect with others in recovery. Prayer and journaling are consistent practices of mine as well.”
Looking towards the future of Recovery Beyond, her vision is not only to create a diversity of activities for members to choose from but to expand the expedition element as well. This means more long-term goal-setting opportunities such as the Seattle to Portland ride and multi-day mountaineering trips. You’ll see an expansion of activities that, with consistent participation and commitment, will lead directly to large-challenge opportunities.
The power of Recovery Beyond is not just the mountain summit; it’s the human connections that are forged in hard work, discomfort, and commitment. Community building and relationships are cornerstones of the Recovery Beyond model. Megan sums it up, “We get together so that someone knows me well enough to see in my eyes when I am hurting and need a kind word. We get together to create memories of joy and zest so that we always remember that recovery is about allowing us to live life to its fullest. We get together because we are human and, at our core, we need companionship, understanding, love.”
We are thrilled to have Megan on the team. She brings great experience, perspective, and enthusiasm to the role. As someone who loves to make the most out of every opportunity, her thirst for life and adventure is infectious. This zealousness for the new and exciting will be a powerful addition to Recovery Beyond. We will be having a meet-and-greet with Megan on Sunday, January 23th, join us by signing up on our website calendar.