This year’s winner of the Sr. Margaret James McGrath Distinguished Alumni Award is Kathleen A. Riddle ’74, co-founder and president of Outreach, a non-profit agency providing a comprehensive continuum of behavioral health and drug and alcohol services in the New York metropolitan area since 1980.
When Kathleen graduated from Elms College with a social work degree, she began working as a prevention and substance abuse counselor at the New York City Board of Education. After working there for several years she became frustrated with the lack of services for youth dealing with substance abuse.
“At the time, they would place kids in a psychiatric hospital for 30 days because that’s all we had for services. So I started Outreach as a way to fill the gaps in existing services,” Kathleen said.
Starting with a $60,000 grant and three employees, Outreach now has 240 employees and a budget of more than $16,000,000. There are now 17 programs in nine locations in New York, specializing in treatment and prevention for adolescents, women and children, and individuals involved in the juvenile and criminal justice system.
Outreach’s training institute operates the largest credential alcoholism and substance abuse counselor diploma program in New York state. Additionally, for the last five years, Outreach has been named one of the best companies to work for in New York.
Kathleen is Public Policy Chair for the Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers of New York State, and serves on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Suffolk County Community Mental Health, and numerous other committees.