Marylhurst alum Monica Smith ’14 was named the executive director of Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts (RICARES) in April 2017.
In her new role, Monica Smith works closely with the RICARES board to identify, plan and implement statewide projects and activities; leads the continuing development and strengthening of the organized recovery community; manages statewide organizing activities such as Legislative Day and Rally4Recovery; engages a statewide network of recovery advocates; and serves as a visible and articulate voice of the recovery communities.
Before making the move to Rhode Island, Monica served as operations director at Portland Homeless Family Solutions, working with alcohol and drug-free recovery housing, families experiencing homelessness and domestic violence survivors.
Monica’s leadership expertise is in developing and implementing processes and programs with a focus on relationships, working with innovative nonprofits. A recent blog post on RICARES.org summed it up like this: “What she brings to the conversation is a fresh perspective on the dynamics of the recovery movement, one that places an emphasis on building relationships.”
One of Monica’s first initiatives at RICARES is helping the community redefine what it means to be a “constituency of consequence” through a series of focus groups with the recovery community. In addition, Monica is encouraging RICARES and partner organizations to explore possible strategies around harm reduction. For example, a pilot program in Vancouver, B.C. creates a safe space for illegal drug users to use test strips, enabling them to detect whether there is fentanyl in the drug they are about to inject. Early indications from the Vancouver pilot program show a significant reduction in overdose incidence.
Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts (RICARES) is the Recovery Community Organization (RCO) in the State of Rhode Island. RCOs are independent, nonprofit organizations that are led and governed by people in recovery, their family members, friends and allies. While each RCO is attentive to the needs of the particular community in which they function, all focus on the core purposes of education, advocacy and peer-based recovery support.