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2024 Fellows

The 2024 Reaching Rural cohort of 67 fellows is composed of 14 individuals and 9 teams from across the criminal justice system and public health, behavioral health, and nonprofit organizations. These fellows represent 47 communities from 21 states.


Photo of 2nd Judicial Circuit Treatment Court, Missouri team
2nd Judicial Circuit Treatment Court, Missouri
Photo of Community Drug Coalition of Lea County, New Mexico team
Community Drug Coalition of Lea County, New Mexico
Photo of Jackson County, Texas team
Jackson County, Texas
Photo of Marshall/Putnam/Stark Probation District, Illinois team
Marshall/Putnam/Stark Probation District, Illinois
Photo of North Country Health Consortium, New Hampshire team
North Country Health Consortium, New Hampshire
Photo of Town of Springfield, Vermont team
Town of Springfield, Vermont
Photo of Tuscola County Courts, Michigan team
Tuscola County Courts, Michigan
Photo of Watertown, South Dakota team
Watertown, South Dakota
Photo of York County Attorney, Nebraska team
York County Attorney, Nebraska

Individual Fellows

Photo of Becky Barry
Becky Barry
Criminal Justice Program Director, Wisconsin

Becky Barry has experience in social work, nonprofits, and the business world for more than 20 years of combined experience. She has worked in career services as an employment educator on curriculum development and delivery. She has worked on projects that include foundational programming, financial literacy, transitional housing education, insurance/medication needs, transportation, and driver’s license requirements to meet the needs of inmates and people newly released from prison. She worked in the social work field and managed programs for children and adults living with physical, behavioral, and mental health needs. Ms. Barry began a career with JusticePoint in 2021 as a pretrial and diversion case manager and, in 2022, was hired as the program director. She works collaboratively with the court system, the district attorney’s office, tribal government, law enforcement, mental health, treatment providers, health and human services, and other community partners to provide comprehensive community services for individuals involved with the criminal justice system. Ms. Barry is passionate and driven. She loves working with people and gaining knowledge from different perspectives.

Photo of Tanner Beck
Tanner Beck
Staff Attorney, Tennessee
Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands

Tanner Beck, an attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, believes that the justice system should, at its most basic level, be a tool furthering fairness, despite socioeconomic status, and as such, everyone should work to ensure that it operates as a welcoming, affirming, and ever-evolving machine, accountable to all and beholden to none. With this goal, as an attorney, Mr. Beck has represented clients all over rural Tennessee in various civil issues, including, but not limited to, family law, eviction defense, and collections defense.

Photo of Christena Beer
Christena Beer
Public Health Director, Kansas
Miami County Health Department

Christena Beer leads the Miami County Health Department, located in Paola, Kansas. Ms. Beer began her public health career in local government and has more than 16 years of experience in the field of nursing. Her passion lies in creating healthier communities through evidence-based interventions and community partner engagement. Ms. Beer earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing and a master of public health degree with a concentration in social and behavioral health from the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Photo of Russell Boyd
Russell Boyd
Project Coordinator, Peer Support Specialist/Justice Involved, Arkansas
River Valley Medical Wellness

Russell Boyd is a dedicated advocate and peer support specialist. With more than 8 years of personal recovery, he brings a wealth of lived experience. He has been instrumental in developing programs for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Department of Youth Services, and Department of Corrections and developing the first-ever reentry program inside of the Pulaski County Jail. He also works in the drug court and probation and parole services. Mr. Boyd’s team was awarded by the attorney general to launch the first-ever mobile recovery unit. His personal journey of overcoming substance use disorder, mental health challenges, and experiences with incarceration gives him a unique perspective to help.

Photo of Marissa Cooling
Marissa Cooling
Overdose Specialist, Georgia
North Central Health District Department of Health

Marissa Cooling is the overdose specialist for the North Central Health District Department of Public Health in Georgia. She works toward addressing the opioid crisis through building and fostering multi-sector partnerships, providing comprehensive and timely overdose data, and implementing prevention and response interventions within at-risk communities. Ms. Cooling has a passion for working with individuals with substance use disorder and has an extensive background in behavioral health, obtaining her bachelor of science degree in clinical psychology from Middle Georgia State University in 2012.

Photo of Skip Dettman
Skip Dettman
Clinical Director, Illinois
Lutheran Social Services of Illinois

Skip Dettman is the clinical director of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois’ Behavioral Health Services program in Sterling, Illinois. She is also a student at Tulane University, where she is completing her doctorate degree in social work. She is excited about partnering with community agencies and law enforcement; her personal motto is “Caring for my community is part of my self-care.” Ms. Dettman is honored to have been chosen to be a part of the Reaching Rural Initiative.

Photo of Charles Ervin
Charles Ervin
Judge, California
Sierra County Superior Court

Charles Ervin presides over all case types in Sierra County, the second-smallest county by population in rural California. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Cornell University, cum laude, in economics, and he retired as a major in the U.S. Army Reserve. After 26 years in private practice, he became a judge in 2011. He serves on various judicial committees and nonprofit boards. He is a mediator in California’s Temporary Assigned Judges Civil Mediation Program. He focuses on creating, advancing and implementing evidence-based practices and problem-solving methodologies to engage justice-involved individuals with resources to help save and improve lives.

Photo of Edwin L. Gibbs
Edwin L. Gibbs
Director, Maryland
Queen Anne’s County Health Department

Edwin L. Gibbs is the director of addiction and prevention services and the local addictions authority at the Queen Anne’s County Department of Health. His interest is in training and developing community-based nonprofit leaders. He grew up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and has more than 10 years in the human service profession. He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in management and supervision from Potomac College in Washington, D.C. (now University of the Potomac) and a master of public administration degree in nonprofit management and leadership from Southeastern University in Washington, D.C.

Photo of Whitney Gibson
Whitney Gibson
Lead Social Worker, Michigan
Office of the Public Defender, Allegan and Van Buren Counties

Whitney Gibson is the lead social worker at the Office of the Public Defender—Allegan/Van Buren Counties (OPD) in Michigan. Ms. Gibson assisted in developing OPD’s Social Work Department, which is tasked with implementing holistic defense within OPD. Holistic defense incorporates an interdisciplinary, client-centered approach to address both the client’s legal and social support needs. Ms. Gibson and her team provide OPD clientele with case management services, mitigation services, and community outreach development. Furthermore, Ms. Gibson leads in the implementation and development of holistic defense best practices throughout Michigan. She earned a bachelor of social work degree from Hope College.

Photo of Alicia Hughes-Skandijs
Alicia Hughes-Skandijs
Director of Programs, Alabama
Alaska Municipal League

Alicia Hughes-Skandijs has spent the last decade working in the public sector, first for the state of Alaska in the Department of Health and Social Services and then as a member of the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly. She is currently the director of programs for the Alaska Municipal League, where she works strengthening local governments so that they are positioned to solve local problems. Her passion is in helping to build communities where all residents are safe, healthy, and able to thrive.

Photo of Shari Lynn
Shari Lynn
Executive Director/Clinical Supervisor, Hawaii
Ka Hale Pomaika’i

Shari Lynn lives and works where her ohana thrives on the rural island of Molokai, Hawaii. Her work in the field of addiction treatment spans 35 years. As executive director of Ka Hale Pomaika'i, Molokai's only substance use disorder treatment center, she is dedicated to maintaining culturally focused services that foster pride and resiliency. Ms. Lynn is open about her lived experience, actively “trudging” recovery’s road for 37 years.

Photo of Carey Nason
Carey Nason
Executive Director, Maine
St. Andre Home

Carey Nason, LCSW, LADC, CCS, is the executive director of St. Andre Home, a community service agency in Maine. The agency’s flagship program, CourageLIVES, assists anyone impacted by human trafficking, exploitation, and abuse. Ms. Nason seeks to identify strategies to support an engaged and coordinated community response to substance use and related mental health needs. Having a rural background, coupled with serving rural families, Ms. Nason values the importance and necessity of access to working resources. Ms. Nason holds a master of social work degree from the University of Maine.

Photo of John Nugent
John Nugent
Managing Director, Louisiana
Beacon Community Connections

John Nugent is the managing director at Beacon Community Connections in Louisiana, leading efforts in empowering people in need through connections, collaboration, and advocacy. His background, marked by overcoming personal challenges, imbues him with empathy and a unique perspective. As co-founder of Safehouse, he provides essential support for recovery, while his role as co-lead pastor at Landmark Church underscores his commitment to community well-being. Pursuing a master of divinity degree, Mr. Nugent’s approach is informed by a blend of lived experience and academic insight. Mr. Nugent envisions elevating his community’s quality of life through a focused commitment to individual wellness.

Photo of Jennifer Perdue
Jennifer Perdue
Executive Director, North Dakota
Minot Area Recovery Community Organization

Jennifer Perdue is the executive director at the Minot Area Recovery Community Organization in North Dakota. She is in long-term recovery and uses her experience to guide the organization and help individuals find recovery. She grew up in Minot but spent her young adult years in other states. She attended New York University, where she focused on business management. Ms. Perdue ultimately graduated from Minot State University with a bachelor of science degree in business. Her passion is giving back to the community.