April 15, 2021
Meet our Chief of Staff: Michael O’Sullivan
Could we get some biographical information from you? Where you’re from, academic history, professional history, experiences in recovery, family life etc?
I’m originally from Long Island, New York where I lived until college. I’m the eldest of four (1 younger brother and 2 younger sisters) and we are still close. After high school at an all-boys school I came down to North Carolina for school at Duke.
I had been drinking throughout high school and was suffering from untreated anxiety and depression. Slowly, I began withdrawing from my social and academic life. By the end of my freshman year, Duke had asked me to complete treatment or else I would not be allowed back at school.
I remained in New York during the fall semester of 2014. During my semester off, I entered treatment and began working for Phoenix House, a substance use treatment center. Recovery transformed my life and I felt called to share that gift with others.
Returning to school in 2015, I majored in psychology, with the eventual goal of becoming a mental health counselor. I moved into a transitional living program as a condition of continuing my academic career at Duke. I learned how difficult the transition back into school can be and how important mentorship can be.
After graduating in 2017, I began working with Green Hill. I feel that we are providing the kind of service I needed to young men who are in the same boat I was in. Even with grad school now on my horizon, I hope I will always remain part of the Green Hill community.
What precisely does the Chief of Staff at Green Hill do?
I wear a bunch of hats, but my primary responsibilities are to carry out the policies and decisions of the executive leadership team. For instance, I have been taking the lead on our policy initiatives on community engagement, environmental impact, and personnel development. I am also involved with our HR, insurance contracting, regulatory compliance, and developing new lines of service such as coaching and our medical practice.
My second major role is as head of Green Hill’s Coaching Service. I draft and update our curriculum and have designed and implemented our program.
What made you want to work in the substance abuse field?
At the time of writing, I have been in recovery for almost seven years. I went to treatment at 19 and needed to live in a transitional program when I finally returned to school. I’m thrilled to work for an organization that offers the same opportunity to others that I had.
Since you’ve worked in several roles at Green Hill including Program Facilitator, what piece of advice would you give an aspiring professional?
I stayed curious, asked questions and slowly built up more responsibility over time. I found a mentor at Green Hill who encouraged me to step outside my box and start exploring other areas of the company.
What keeps you coming back day after day?
At the risk of sounding corny again, our clients. Seeing the transformation in our clients is the most rewarding experience I’ve ever been a part of. Knowing that we are helping bright young men reach their potential is an incredible gift.
What do you believe makes Green Hill stand out in its field, and why?
Having been a client at a transitional living facility, I can say that Green Hill is one of the best programs in the country. The staff cares deeply about client success and building a culture of support and hope throughout our community. Everyone, from our CEO to our academic advisors build direct relationships with clients and participate in community events. Everyone in the organization works with a professional mentor and uses those lessons to inform their client interactions.
When you’re not at work, what do you do to recharge your batteries?
I love to walk and listen to audiobooks. The weather in North Carolina is usually mild and I can walk for miles and reflect. I’m also a runner, and the many trails in the area offer a useful escape. Finally, I try to make time for coffee with friends on my days off and in the evenings.
What makes Raleigh a superb environment for young people in recovery?
Raleigh has so many universities and industry leading companies that the area has become a magnet for young adults in recent years. As a result of this large influx, the number of young people in recovery in the area is relatively high. As a result, Raleigh has seen the growth of a vibrant and dynamic community for young people in recovery.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? How has that advice affected your day-to-day?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received was to always search for ways to contribute in a situation, not just where I could benefit. That service mindset has opened doors and allowed me to become a dependable and valued member of Green Hill.
What’s the one message you’d like the parents and loved ones of our residents and clients to know?
I have worked, visited, and been a client at many transitional living programs. I can say that the team at Green Hill is unequivocally the best I have ever seen. From top to bottom we have hardworking, empathetic, and brilliant people who put their energy fully into client success. If I had to imagine a dream team for a young adult substance abuse treatment program, I would take the team at Green Hill in a heartbeat.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT MICHAEL
Undergraduate school: Duke University
Favorite movie: Blade-Runner 2049
Favorite book: Hyperion
Favorite album: Lateralus by Tool
Dream vacation: I’d love to visit India and South East Asia
Favorite spot in Raleigh: NC Museum of Art
Favorite meal: Pot roast and noodles
Dream job as a child: I wanted to be an astrophysicist and invent faster than light travel.
One object you couldn’t live without, and why: I couldn’t live without shower speakers. Listening to music in the bathroom is amazing.
One thing everybody loves that you secretly hate, and why: I don’t like hotdogs, sausages, or bacon. I can’t explain it, just never liked the taste.
Guiltiest pleasure: I will blast Hansen, the Backstreet Boys, and NSync all day long.