Advisory Committee

Leaders from various sectors who advise and support the process of bringing community leaders together for Regioinal Summits and community initiatives.


Individuals and organizations who have committed to collaborating with RAI to create and implement recovery solutions


    • Prevention specialists
    • Recovery Schools
    • Collegiate recovery communities/programs
    • University counseling centers
    • Graduate training programs
    • Professional monitoring organizations (overseeing wellness and recovery of physicians, dentists, lawyers, pharmacists, nurses, etc)
    • Employee Assistance Programs
    • Drug and vet courts (also known as Recovery Courts)
    • Therapists, counselors, advocacy groups and others who work with these organizations and the populations they serve
    • Clergy
    • Law Enforcement
    • District Attorneys
    • Government (all levels) Agencies and Departments
    • Recovery advocacy groups
    • Researchers
    • Leaders in the Recovery Community, including friends and family


Why join Recovery Alliance?
Become a part of a “family” that supports prevention, treatment and long term recovery.
By joining you will be able to –

    • Benefit from mutual advocacy (there’s power in numbers!)
    • Participate in discussions & chat with other members
    • Network with like minded people
    • Post events
    • Share news
    • Access resources, tools kits, and completed projects to take back to your community
    • Particpate in research and benefit from data collected
    • Be the first to know about Summits, PODs, etc
    • Join and/or create projects and participate in meetings
    • Invite others into projects
    • View videos of meetings
    • Learn about funding opportunities
    • Be a part of the solution!


recovery alliance initiative - Deborah Kopytowski

Deborah Kopytowski

Administrative Coordinator

Deborah is a recovery ally whose family has a long history of substance use disorders.  She has seen the devastation it can cause and understands the importance of prevention, treatment and support in recovery for those suffering all forms of substance use disorders.  

Having spent more than 20 years in the alternative health field, Deborah has volunteered with Recovery Alliance for several years, and in July 2018 came on board full-time as the Recovery Alliance Coordinator. Here her primary job is to organize and produce the State and Regional Summits along with supporting the workgroups that come out of the Summits. Deborah has two daughters, Danielle and Dominique, and resides in Chapel Hill with her Aussie pup, Bindi.

rai initiative - Mariel pic

Mariel Swiggard

Project Manager

Mariel is a staunch recovery ally, having experienced directly the heartbreak and challenges of having multiple family members suffer from Substance Use Disorders. She grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, in a politically active family, and received her BA in English, History and Mass Communications. Over her career, she worked for several national advocacy groups and two major universities before turning to freelance writing and social media work after the birth of her first child. She has been published on multiple outlets, and has graduate level training in Teaching and Education. 12 years ago, she began working for Pavillon in community relations and social media coordination. 

Mariel worked closely with Tom Edwards as the ideas behind the Recovery Alliance Initiative took shape. The more she saw of it’s work, and potential for more, she became more convinced that bringing the entirety of the recovery community together is a bigger challenge than it seemed at first.  But she realized it was crucial to making real strides in changing how we as a larger society address this serious health crisis. 

Mariel happily relocated to NC 25 years ago and has been a volunteer at the Raleigh Rally for Recovery, at her local rec club, and in tutoring at the local elementary school. She lives in Cary with her partner, two children, 4 dogs, 5 cats and a guinea pig.


Laurence Anthony

Web Designer

Larry is Founder of Pixallus LLC, a web design and hosting company located in Chapel HIll, NC and currently supports the RAI with web services.

He advocates for drug decriminalization, demilitarization of police, ending the war on drugs, police accountability, and leaving peaceful people alone. He strongly believes helping people, not criminalizing them, is the best path for recovery.

Larry is also an advocate for shared parenting. He believes avoiding family court is in the best interest of children and the parent’s well being. 

On his spare time, he loves spending time with his son, fiancé, and family. 


Troy Manns - Orange County Community Collaborative Coordinator

Troy Manns

Orange County Community Collaborative Coordinator

Troy has 20 years’ experience supporting long term recovery initiatives. He is a Certified Peer Support Specialist, Substance Use Disorder Specialist, Advocate, Trainer, Facilitator, and Public Speaker.  He has a proven track record in program development, most notably in his work creating Foundations for Hope, facilitated at the Orange County Detention Center. 

Troy serves as Statewide Manager of Advocacy and Education for RCNC.  He is a current member of the NC Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.   He worked closely with, and for, Paths to Recovery Community Center, Oxford House, and Freedom House, among other organizations.  

Troy is highly respected in the substance use disorder and recovery fields and spends his life working to remove barriers to recovery for people with Substance Use Disorders.   His commitment to the message that those with substance use disorders can and do recover is just one of the reasons we are pleased to have him on our team.    

Kehli Saucier – Craven County Community Coordinator

Kehli Saucier

Craven County Community Coordinator

Kehli Saucier is passionate about strengthening the recovery community and has personal experience with substance abuse. She is familiar with seeing loved ones at the end of their rope, feeling hopeless, and having no where to go. Kehli is dedicated to making recovery options available to those suffering and believes that through diversity and communication, the community will grow stronger. “Grow through what you go through”.

Kehli graduated with a B.F.A in Photography and a minor in Art History. Living an honest and gratuitous life in sobriety as a Certified Peer Support Specialist, she was recently the Executive Director of RLM. A long term sober living treatment program for men and women. Kehli works closely with community leaders to advocate for those who are desperate and need supportive resources. 

Kehli is happily married, has 3 children, 1 bunny and a guinea pig.  In her spare time, Kehli continues service work, clay pottery and photography. 

Board of Directors

Tom Edwards head shot

Tom Edwards

Board Chairman

Tom Edwards – Board Chairman
Tom has been involved personally and professionally in the addiction treatment and recovery field since 1986. For the past 24 years, he has worked for Pavillon Treatment Center in Western. NC, most specifically with professional monitoring organizations and collegiate recovery communities. Tom also served on the Board of Directors for the Recovery Communities of North Carolina (RCNC.) 

Tom’s hope for RAI is to provide a place for collaborative conversations to continue to evolve across populations and take advantage of the cross-pollination possible when bringing many dedicated and passionate individuals together who might otherwise not have the opportunity to work together, creating and implementing real solutions. Tom believes that this will ultimately contribute to the creation and promotion of stronger, healthier communities.


Chris Budnick

Board Vice Chair

Chris Budnick, MSW, LCSW, LCAS, CCS is the Executive Director at Healing Transitions and has been working in the addiction treatment and recovery field since 1993. 

Chris has been an Adjunct Instructor with the North Carolina State University Dpartment of Social Work since 2002.  He also serves on the Recovery Africa Board.

Chris has conducted training and presentations nationally and internationally. Some of his most rewarding work has been collaborating with Mr. William White and Mr. Boyd Pickard on the history of mutual aid recovery fellowships.

rai recovery alliance initiative - dan shepherd

Dan Shephard


Dan Shephard, a graduate of Alfred University with a B.S. in Accounting, currently operates a Business Consulting Business.  He recently retired as the Chief Financial Officer of Legacy Group where he was responsible for overseeing all aspects of the financial operations of the group’s business activities. Dan retired as Executive Vice President of Martin Marietta Materials Inc. in September 2011, where he also had been the Chief Executive Officer of the Magnesia Specialties Division. 

Prior to joining Martin Marietta Materials, Dan was a partner in a public accounting firm in upstate New York.

Dan has served on numerous business and non-profit Boards.

Jim VanHecke - recovery alliance initiative

Jim Van Hecke

Board Member

Jim Van Hecke has worked for over 45 years in public and private sectors, for large and small for-profit and nonprofit ventures. For the past 30 years he has served in a variety of leadership positions in North Carolina’s behavioral health field, specializing in program development and leadership training for prevention, treatment and recovery support initiatives.

He is a native North Carolinian, a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and has done post-graduate work in theology, law, and business. He is an Integrative Health and Wellness Coach and a North Carolina Certified Peer Support Specialist.

Van Hecke and his wife, Marsha, have two children and three grandchildren.

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