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Five Local High School Students Attend the CADCA National Leadership Conference

By Andi Williams


The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) hosted its 33rd Annual National Leadership Forum (NLF) this February In Washington DC. This three-day conference was attended by five Community in Crisis (CiC) staff and five very special guests: Fiona Vitali, Iniya Saravanan and Claire Taylor, three Bernards High School students, and Joshua Sprinkle and Matthew Sprinkle, two Ridge High School students. This was Josh’s second time attending the National Leadership Forum with CiC.

The NLF is a high-level conference, with thought leaders, politicians, and prevention professionals attending every year. Dynamic leaders in the prevention space bring their success stories and knowledge to share with hundreds of coalitions and community members from across the country. During the opening plenary, attendees heard from General Barrye Price, CEO and President of CADCA, who informed the audience that the 4,000 students and professionals attending NLF this year was the most they’ve ever hosted. The opening session also highlighted the work of the DEA as we heard from DEA Administrator, Ann Milgram, who gave a compelling overview of the continued overdose crisis resulting from fentanyl flooding the illicit drug market, what the agency is doing about it, and how small coalitions like CiC are making a big difference by raising awareness and instituting harm reduction strategies.

The youth breakout and training sessions were tailored to young minds and consisted of topics from substance use, professional development and leadership skills, messaging techniques and strategic planning. These sessions allowed for the Bernards and Ridge High School students to network with other young leaders who are doing such important work in the prevention field. Some of their student’s favorite sessions included “Public Speaking: Find Your Voice, Find Your Power” and “#ClearingTheAir”, an update on today’s marijuana and how it can be addressed in communities. It is without a doubt that they are coming back with valuable knowledge that they can apply to their work at CiC and beyond.

Coalition and youth leaders participate in Capitol Hill Day which gives coalitions like CiC the opportunity to speak directly with the staff of state Senators and Congressmen. CiC believes youth should be given priority to speak during these sessions to have a voice and share what they have been able to accomplish.

Youth and some CiC staff also had an opportunity to experience Washington DC with sightseeing activities and visits to monuments and museums. A definite highlight of the day for all was the National Air and Space Museum.

The trip was organized and overseen by Maria Izzo, CiC’s Youth Engagement Manager, who said, “We are grateful as a coalition to have these incredible opportunities for our YLC youth. This would not have been possible without the funding we receive from our two federal grants, Partnership for Success (PFS) and Drug-Free Communities (DFC).  I am passionate about creating learning and leadership opportunities for our youth leaders. Josh, Matt, Fiona, Iniya and Claire will continue to share their learning with the rest of our Youth Leadership Council and will soon present it to CiC Board of Trustees for our Mission Moment in March. They are motivated change-makers who are truly making a difference in the community. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to work with them and look forward to seeing what comes next.”

About CADCA: Since 1992, CADCA has demonstrated that when all sectors of a community come together, social change happens. CADCA represents over 5,000 community coalitions that involve individuals from key sectors including schools, law enforcement, youth, parents, healthcare, media, tribal communities and others. CADCA has members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 30 countries around the world. The CADCA coalition model emphasizes the power of community coalitions to prevent substance misuse through collaborative community efforts. CADCA believes that prevention of substance use and misuse before it starts is the most effective and cost-efficient way to reduce substance use and its associated costs.

About CIC: Community in Crisis (CiC) is a grass-roots, non-profit opioid abuse prevention coalition formed in 2013 in response to a sudden surge in opioid addiction and overdose deaths in the Somerset Hills. Known as CiC, our mission is to lead and unite communities to reduce the incidence and consequences of substance use and misuse through education, prevention and holistic support in an environment free of stigma.

CiC is widely recognized as an invaluable community asset in addressing substance use and misuse, and is acknowledged locally and county-wide as the “go-to” resource for education, prevention, and support in fighting the epidemic. Our evidence- based, multi-faceted approach was developed using a strategic planning framework and  is designed to meet unique community needs and produce sustainable change.

If you have high school students hat would be interested in joining YLC, please reach out to Maria, Youth Coordinator, at with any questions.