Staff + Board

Nothing about us, without us.

MARCO is a peer-run organization. The majority of our Board of Directors and staff members self-identify as people in personal recovery from their own substance use disorders. Others include family members of persons impacted by substance use disorders and recovery, allies, or persons with co-occurring mental health disorders. Additionally, MARCO is led and governed by individuals with direct experience in Recovery Community Organization (RCO) development, leadership, management and programs. 

MARCO STAFF

Wendy

Wendy Jones

Executive Director

Wendy is a person in long-term recovery from substance use disorder and a co-founder of MARCO. From 2018 to 2023 she was Executive Director of Minnesota Recovery Connection (MRC), the state’s first Recovery Community Organization (established in 2007), where she helped to expand MRC’s programs and infrastructure and advocate for the development of peer-led, community-based recovery support services across Minnesota. She joined Minnesota Recovery Connection after a long career with the Minnesota Historical Society, where she was the Director of Education. Wendy has a Master of Public Affairs degree from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, is a former Humphrey Policy Fellow, and is a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Opioids, Substance Use, and Addiction.

Jennifer O'Byrne

Program manager

Jen is a program manager committed to community care, education, storytelling, events, and mission-driven outreach with a career spanning education, public media, and arts spaces. During her 8 years at TPT – Twin Cities PBS she produced hundreds of public, private, and virtual events; designed professional development and education event curriculum; and facilitated formal and informal learning spaces for educators, administrators, children, parents, leaders, and community members. Jen was a Special Education teacher in NYC and MN for 7 years. Previously, she also produced corporate events and worked in professional theater as an IATSE wardrobe supervisor and AEA Stage Manager for Broadway, Off-Broadway, and touring productions. Jen holds a Master of Science in Special Education from Long Island University and a Bachelor of Arts in Theater and English from Hamline University. 

Whitney Nelson

community relations manager

Whitney is the new Community Relations Manager of MARCO. As a person in long-term recovery, she has been involved in multiple projects for the LGBTQ+ and Recovery community.  Recognizing that Pride is often inextricably linked with alcohol and gay bars have long been a staple of queer gathering, she set out to provide alternatives for the community.  As a part of the solution, she created and organized a Sober Experiences Awesome event at Pride in 2023, and is launching an alcohol-free beer called, “Ostri(chi)zed,” for Pride in 2024.  Most recently, Whitney completed her Peer Recovery Specialist training and her Certification as a Digital Marketing Specialist from the University of Minnesota.  She holds a Business Management degree from the University of St. Thomas, and is currently a participant in the Community Entrepreneurship Program at the university.

Board of directors

Brandy Brink, CPRS-R

President

Jenna Christensen

Treasurer

Eric Bacon

Farhia Budul

LaTricia Tate

Beth Elstad

Khou Vang

Yeng Moua

Sean Partch

Brandy Brink, CPRS-R

President

A person in long-term recovery from substance use disorder, Brandy is the founder and CEO of WEcovery, operated by Beyond Brink, a nonprofit Recovery Community Organization originating in Mankato with multiple locations throughout Minnesota that offers transitional housing programs, peer recovery support services, training, and integration of peer supports into environments such as healthcare, jails, shelters and schools. Brandy is a member of the Minnesota Behavioral Health Planning Council.

Jenna Christensen

Treasurer

Jenna is the Executive Director at Rochester’s Recovery is Happening, one of the first Recovery Community Organizations in Minnesota, established over a decade ago. A woman in long-term recovery, Jenna started her work with Recovery Is Happening as a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist and moved into the Operations Manager position before becoming its Executive Director in 2022. She is currently completing a Master of Business Administration degree.

Eric Bacon

Board Member

Eric is the founder and executive director of Continuum Care Center, a culturally-specific nonprofit Recovery Community Organization delivering Peer Recovery Support and Housing Support in Ramsey and Hennepin Counties in Minnesota. A person in long-term recovery, Eric has worked with people experiencing homelessness, mental health, and substance use disorder issues in a professional capacity for over 25 years. He is a member of the Minnesota Behavioral Health Planning Council.

Farhia Budul

Board MEmber

Farhia is a woman in long-term recovery and the founder of Niyyah Recovery Initiative, the first Recovery Community Organization in the nation created by and for the East African Community. She has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of Substance Use Disorders, combat stigma within her community, and elevate the voices of women, Muslims, and East Africans to transform the recovery movement in Minnesota and beyond. Farhia is a member of the Minnesota Governor’s Advisory Council on Opioids, Substance Use, and Addiction and a recipient of a 2023 Bush Fellowship. 

LaTricia Tate

Board member

LaTricia is the CEO and President of Twin Cities Recovery Project (TCRP), which she co-founded with the late Marc Johnigan. TCRP is a nonprofit Recovery Community Organization with multiple locations in Minneapolis that has a focus on supporting the needs of the African American community. She has a background in human services and was instrumental in launching the Minneapolis Addiction Recovery Initiative with North Minneapolis’ Fire Station 14. LaTricia is a member of the Minnesota Governor’s Advisory Council on Opioids, Substance Use, and Addiction.

Beth Elstad

Board Member

Beth earned her Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Management from The College of St. Scholastica and
her certificate in Addiction Studies from Mesabi Range-Minnesota North College. Beth is a Licensed
Alcohol and Drug Counselor with over 24 years of non-profit leadership experience. Beth is a founder of
Recovery Alliance Duluth, the first Recovery Community Organization in Northeast MN, and one of
several founders of the Minnesota Alliance of Recovery Community Organizations (MARCO), the first
statewide Recovery Community Organization in Minnesota. In addition to her work in the recovery
community, Beth is a long term volunteer and advisory council member for The Victory Chorus, a choir
for individuals experiencing Dementia in Northeast Minnesota. Beth has participated in several
collaborations and capital projects in the Duluth community, she serves on several local non-profit
boards, and is currently appointed to chair the Governor’s Advisory Council on Opioids, Substance Use, and Addiction.

Khou Vang

Board member

Khou Vang is a Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist and Mental Health Peer Specialist. He is a person in long-term recovery from substance use and Mental health disorder. Khou is currently working as a Peer Engagement specialist/CPRS at YourPath where he serves as a first point of contact to individuals seeking substance use or Mental health services. He is the founder of Sober Cycling Group and is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Addiction Counseling. His passion is for the Recovery community and sharing his testimony,  giving hope and encouragement to others.
 

Yeng Moua

Board Member

Yeng Moua is a Forensic-Endorsed Certified Peer Recovery Specialist and a member of the leadership team at Minnesota Recovery Connection, where he works as the Office Manager and as a CPRS-R. He previously served with the AmeriCorps Recovery Corps program as a Recovery Navigator and is currently completing his bachelor’s degree in Ministry Leadership. A person in long-term recovery, Yeng, or “Y”, as he prefers to be called, has a passion for helping others, especially his fellow members of the Hmong community and people who have been justice-involved. He is grateful that his faith and his recovery have enabled him to be a husband, a father to his two sons, and a role model and mentor for others recovering from Substance Use Disorders.

 

Sean Partch

Board Member

Sean Partch is the Programs and Operations Manager at the Recovery Community Network in St. Cloud, Minnesota.  He helped RCN develop and implement their Harm Reduction services. Sean is also the Justice Involved Reentry Specialist. As a person in long-term recovery, Sean has dedicated his life to the recovery field and helping others. He has a passion for helping those who have been affected by the criminal justice system have a successful transition back into the community. He is the Corrections and Literature chair for the St. Cloud Intergroup.  

He serves on the Opioid Community Advisory Committee (OCAC) for Stearns County with the purpose to plan and prioritize initiatives to work on mitigating the impact of opioids in our community. Through the Department of Corrections (DOC), Sean works with Leaders Dogs for the Blind and speaks as a Lions Club member on behalf of the Leader Dogs program throughout the state of Minnesota. Through his 12-step program of recovery, Sean has been able to rebuild his connection with his family and be a loving father to his two daughters, a grandfather, a husband to his wife Tessa, and a supportive son to his mother, Patty.

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