During this hour-long CADCA-TV program, Building Bench Strength: Finding New Leaders, we will learn about the CADCA’s Ambassador Program and the National Youth Leadership Initiative. Also, find out how leadership techniques can help you do the most with what you have.

We’ll also travel to Connecticut to see how a coalition has handled recent leadership changes. It isn’t always easy to step in and take control.

Key Concepts:

  • Learn why the 12 sectors should be represented within coalitions
  • See how capacity building can be organized
  • Hear how different types of leaders work within the coalition environment
  • Find out coalitions can utilize the talents young leaders have to offer

Originally Aired:November 19, 2009


Mary Elizabeth Elliott

(Host) Vice President for Communications & Membership, CADCA

Mary Elizabeth Elliott manages CADCA’s Communications and Membership Team, responsible for all of CADCA’s communications, information technology, marketing, publications and association membership. Mrs. Elliott is CADCA’s primary media liaison and speechwriter, and is the editor-in-chief of CADCA’s biannual Coalitions newsletter and Coalitions Online, a weekly electronic newsletter subscribed to by 13,000 persons.

Mrs. Elliott develops creative content and serves as the host of CADCA’s national satellite broadcast/webcast initiative, a television program with an estimated household reach of over 3 million viewers. During her tenure, Mary has coordinated the production of over 30 broadcasts on various topics related to substance abuse and addiction.

Mrs. Elliott is also responsible for the content and maintenance of CADCA’s website and the implementation of CADCA’s National Coalition Registry. In her membership role, Mrs. Elliott is responsible for all membership marketing, member services and branding activities. She works to grow CADCA’s membership base in all membership categories, and ensures that members receive excellent customer service.

A veteran in the substance abuse prevention and treatment field, Mrs. Elliott’s previous CADCA positions include: Senior Advisor to the Chairman and CEO, Vice President of Development and Special Projects, and Director of Programming and Public Policy. Prior to joining CADCA, Mrs. Elliott served as Children’s Policy Advisor for U.S Senator Nancy Kassebaum-Baker on the United States Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. Mrs. Elliott worked for Senator Kassebaum-Baker for six years until her retirement from the Senate in 1997. Her work on the Labor Committee focused on a number of children, family and youth-related issues including: youth development, juvenile delinquency, child care, child welfare and welfare reform.

Mrs. Elliott graduated from Kansas State University in 1991 with a B.S. in History.

Kareemah Abdullah

Deputy Director, National Community Anti-Drug Coalition Institute

Kareemah Abdullah is Deputy Director of the National Community Anti-Drug Coalition Institute established by Congress under the Drug Free Communities Support Act. The Institute administered by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), located in Alexandria, Virginia, is “both a vehicle for coalition-specific substance abuse prevention, policy development and a center for coalition training, technical assistance, evaluation, research and capacity building.”

Under her leadership, as the deputy responsible for training and technical assistance, the National Coalition Academy was created in partnership with the National Guard Bureau and its Regional Counter-drug Training School Network. Designed to provide substantial support to communities across the nation, the Academy, the National Youth Leadership Initiative, and the other components of the Institute’s comprehensive national training delivery system established by Abdullah represents the largest sustained training and technical assistance undertaking in CADCA’s history. The Institute’s training model is also used in state, regional and international settings.

Prior to assuming current accountabilities, Kareemah Abdullah a Certified Prevention Specialist, Level 4 served as Vice-President and President-elect of the Board of Directors for the Prevention Credentialing Consortium for the State of Georgia, as a member of the Georgia Steering Committee for the U.S. Department of Justice Serious and Violent Offender “Coming Home Reentry Initiative,”and Chief Executive Officer of Genesis Prevention Coalition, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia. Agency accomplishments included national recognition as successful Government Partner by the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; CADCA Outstanding Coalition; White House, Office of the President, National Drug Control Policy Drug-Free Communities Coalition and the establishment of the Genesis Intel Computer Clubhouse, an international collaboration with Intel, the Boston Museum of Science, MIT Media Laboratory and the Clubhouse Network.

Abdullah, a visionary, creative and critical thinker, has been training and developing audiences throughout the United States for more than 25 years. This enhances her present focus on achieving the Institute’s goal of “increasing the effectiveness of community anti-drug coalitions throughout the nation.”She has provided consultative and technical assistance services for federal, state and local governments; faith and community-based organizations; school systems; corporations and other public and private sector entities.

With more than 20 years of successful corporate experience in executive management, sales, marketing, finance, operations, employee development and training; and over 12 years of coalition development expertise, Abdullah has distinguished herself among an exceptional pool of administrators, professional trainers, facilitators and developers by demonstrating a firm grounding in prevention research and theory; community, program, business and youth development; and a broad range of training curricula. Her charismatic and passionate style enhances her appeal as a keynote speaker as she engages broad-base diversified populations and systems.

Kareemah Abdullah, wife and mother of four daughters, is a champion for humanity and for causes that are just, noble and honorable. During her career, Kareemah has consistently brought millions of dollars and resources to the state, organization and community in which she has lived, worked and served.

Michelle Bartoshuk

NYLI Participant

Michelle Bartoshuk is a freshman at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, and recently graduated from Detroit Country Day School in Beverly Hills Michigan. Throughout her high school career, Michelle was co-president of the Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition’s Youth Action Board, and participated in the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) National Youth Leadership Initiative as a participant and facilitator.

As a national spokesperson for CADCA, Michelle has addressed audiences at CADCA’s annual Drug Free Kids Campaign Dinner, September 2008, and National Leadership Forum in February, 2009.

As one of CADCA’s recipient of the National Outstanding Youth Award, Michelle has hopes to one day become a teacher while continuing her work with Coalitions across the nation. Her goal: To offer substance-free activities to youth within my community, and spread the word about prevention on a national level.

Denis Quiñonez

Director, Boyle Heights Coalition for a Safe & Drug-Free Community, Los Angeles, CA

Denis Quiñonez, joined the Boyle Heights Coalition for a Safe & Drug-Free Community, Salesian Boys & Girls Clubs of Los Angeles after one year of serving as its board chairman. Prior to his current appointment, Quiñonez focused his work to the development of young people so to improve their lives and make possible for them to attend and complete college. His work experiences range from working with a charter school district, the University of California, and the Salesian Boys & Girls Clubs of Los Angeles. His life illustrates how determination and opportunity to be successful can regenerate a life, and influence a community.

Born in Guatemala City, Quiñonez spent many childhood years in the streets of South and Central America. At a very young age, Quiñonez became a victim of circumstance in a community intimated by gangs and infected by poverty, violence and drugs. As the streets continued to lure him into further destructive behavior, he regularly summoned the values and morals taught by his mother, and began to make better and wiser decisions. During his mid-teen years, Quiñonez and his family moved to the United States. Quiñonezspent the several years that follow in after school programs, and exposed to positive mentors that helped direct and change his life. It is here that Quiñonez saw his dreams fulfilled, which include, gaining command of the English language, finish high school, and attend a four-year college.

Quiñonez takes pride in sharing his life story that has allowed him to undertake the role as one of the youngest coalition leaders in the substance abuse prevention field. He has attended several CADCA trainings, and has recently been selected as a CADCA Ambassador – a new initiative for young adult leaders in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of the country. Quiñonez is honored by his community’s trust in his ability to serve and contribute to the important task of their health and well-being.