Could we get some brief biographical information from you? Hometown, previous experience, education, etc.?
I’m originally from Detroit, Michigan but spent most of my childhood years between Ann Arbor and Valparaiso, Indiana. I come from a family of hard working, blue-collar people, most of whom were employed in the motor industries surrounding the Detroit area. Activities such as drinking alcohol, using drugs, gambling, and domestic violence were normalized in both my family and my neighborhood. Growing up, I aspired to play baseball and spent most of my time on the field, but as my high school social life picked up, so did my poor decision making. I found myself in a lot of legal trouble as a minor, which was compounded with maladaptive coping skills, such as use of alcohol and other drugs.
My only way out was to find people I could trust and confide in, and along the way I decided to move back to Michigan for college. I completed an undergraduate degree at Western Michigan University in 2001 and landed at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC for my postgraduate studies, earning a Master’s degree in 2005. Prior to my postgraduate studies I was working with adjudicated youth in a juvenile home and then in a group home with boys with histories of sex offenses.
After earning the Master’s degree, which had a specific focus and training on addiction counseling, I was able to hone in on adolescents and families with primary substance abuse and behavioral issues. After a couple of years providing counseling at a wilderness program in Pittsboro, NC, I started working with youth and their families performing in-home services. At this point I was offered a position to clinically supervise and develop an outpatient substance abuse program for adults.
In 2006, I married my domestic partner and in 2007 we headed out west. We landed in Monterey, CA where I pursued a position with a residential facility for adults with primary addiction use disorders. There, I learned an immense amount of information related to the medical model of addiction, as well as had constant exposure to 12-step recovery. While there, the opioid epidemic was really starting to take flight and we dealt with many high risk cases that were not only addiction focused, but also demanded attention from a public health perspective. I quickly became well versed in Medication Assisted Treatment and the value of this ancillary pathway to recovery, along with the advantages of harm reduction in addiction treatment.
Upon my return to North Carolina, my wife and I had one child, and soon had another in 2011. We returned to North Carolina from the west coast in 2010 and have resided in the northern part of Raleigh since that time. Over the past 10 years I have been helping to start up Intensive Outpatient Programs in the Wake County area, and most significantly, I was the clinical director for Wake County’s Adult Drug Court for 7 years. By happenstance, I was granted the opportunity to meet some folks at Green Hill and about 6 months later found myself in a position to consider coming aboard. My initial role was to help develop a new outpatient treatment program for the Raleigh area residents, and I am now helping to lead the clinical team at Green Hill as well as manage and further develop our Community Program.
What attracted you to working with young adults with substance abuse issues in the first place?
When I entered the clinical service field, I felt it would be a natural fit for me to work with youth since I wasn’t far removed from being one, and it was ridiculously easy for me to empathize with their stories and chaotic lifestyles.
What do you believe makes the Green Hill Outpatient Program stand out in its field, and why?
I have never heard of a program with such an intense focus on a certain demographic, and in this case a target population that many people, including clinicians, find too challenging to influence. Green Hill embraces this and provides opportunities for young males to experience fun, peer connection, and self-efficacy in early recovery from substances.
What is your proudest accomplishment? What about that accomplishment specifically makes it stand out against others in your life?
I feel I helped change the face of a nationally recognized program in North Carolina, Wake County’s Adult Drug Court program. I was able to educate, support, and change the operations of how judges, jails, and probation officers approach the legal ramifications of someone experiencing an addiction disorder in the criminal system in one of America’s fastest-growing cities.
Who has had the largest impact on your personal/professional development?
There are some colleagues I could name but I truly think I have been shaped more by the various clients I have worked with. Also, my mother, a young single woman, was a newspaper editor and I spent a lot of time in the newsroom as a child, constantly exposed to drama, coffee, cigarettes, and deadlines. I shouldn’t fail to mention the impact she has had on my work ethic as well as inspiring me to pursue a career that I truly enjoy.
What’s one memory you’ll always take with you from your time here in Green Hill?
It has been a rather short tenure to this point, but my best recent memory is the impact of COVID-19 and the clinical considerations we have had to make in lieu of this public health crisis. Transitioning from 3-hour in-person meetings to telehealth meetings for that same length of time seemed daunting and almost impossible, but our team came together and made the best of the situation. An immediate result was the consistent attendance of the same clients 3 days per week, 3 hours per day!
If you could take one colleague on a road trip, who would it be, why that person and where would you go?
Probably (Development Director) Jake Summers. I feel he would be up for anything on a whim, and would make the best of the situation. I could definitely see us scaling a mountain or something like that outdoors.
What does your ideal day look like?
Ahh, I love this question. Any ideal day would definitely start with a big breakfast with the family quickly followed by nine holes on the golf course. After that, if I still have the energy, I’d probably join the wife and kids on a hike, hit a Tigers game, and then enjoy dinner out at a restaurant, preferably a Mexican place.
What’s one message you wish our community program participants at Green Hill would always take with them?
Stay true to your values, and if your values change, do it with integrity.
Quick Facts about Brandon
Undergraduate school: Western Michigan University
Graduate school: East Carolina University
Favorite movie: Over the Top
Favorite album: Led Zeppelin II or The Chronic
Favorite sports team: Detroit anything, but really the Detroit Tigers
Top Karaoke Song Choice: Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-A-Lot
Ideal lunch: Italian Sub
Dream job as a child: Play shortstop for Detroit Tigers