Judy Ekman loves her job, but she has a handful of grandchildren scattered around the country and she wants to spend time with them. So, after 30 years with the Prevention Council of Saratoga County, Ekman is passing the torch and announced that she will retire on June 30, 2010.
In order to kind of meet my personal needs, I need to work a lot less or have a lot less work and responsibilities. I thought it was a very appropriate time for me personally, said Ekman, who has been with the Prevention Council since 1979 and served as executive director since 1993. "I think that running an agency the size of the Prevention Council takes a lot of energy, which is a little more energy than I have to expend at this point."
Ekman has had numerous irons in the fire during her three-decade stint at the Prevention Council. She originally joined the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Project (ASAPP) as an educational coordinator in 1979. After becoming executive director, she merged ASAPP and the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council of Saratoga County to become one entity"the Prevention Council of Saratoga County"during which time the agency, its budget and its mission have tripled in size.
Ekman also helped found the Saratoga Center for the Family, a not-for-profit abuse prevention and treatment service agency, has been a trainer for the Northeast Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies and the U.S. Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and was a founding co-chair of the New York State Prevention Credentialing Board. She said she's seen the field of substance abuse and prevention evolve significantly over the years and is proud of the strides she's made within the Prevention Council and beyond.
"When I started, there was really no research regarding the effectiveness of programs; we were operating based on the knowledge of educators who work on building skills and attitudes in children. Now, there's a significant body of evidence about what works and a big emphasis is on doing community coalitions, working together with all kinds of stakeholders to have everyone take their piece of the problem and piece of a solution and work together toward a common goal," said Ekman. "I think the fact that we have been able to do that in a number of communities and school districts is probably the most gratifying piece of what I've done and will probably be the longest lasting."