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USA Unites Award Winners



Kathy Riddle is co-founder and President/CEO of Outreach, a non-profit agency deeply committed to making a difference in the lives of individuals, families and communities affected by substance abuse. Outreach offers a unique continuum of behavioral health and drug and alcohol treatment and training services, and is recognized as a premier provider of chemical dependency services for adolescents, women, women with children, and diverse populations.

A native of Queens, Kathy began her career in 1974 with New York City (NYC) Youth Services and became a drug education specialist with the NYC Board of Education in 1976, providing prevention education for middle school students until 1980. It was during this time, confronted by the multiplicity of problems that addiction was causing for youth and families that Kathy determined to take a new direction. She secured a small grant to establish an “outreach project” - an assessment and referral center - and with a staff of three, worked out of a small storefront on a mission to encourage individuals to seek help for their addiction problems.

The original “outreach” team quickly discovered the scarcity of resources available in the NYC area to address such serious issues, with treatment gaps especially apparent for adolescents. Kathy responded by designing much-needed programs targeting care for youthful substance abusers. She garnered support to build the first residential treatment facility in NYC to treat children under the age of 16, which opened in 1984. Outreach’s services expanded from there. From the original staff of three, Kathy facilitated Outreach’s growth to over 250 employees.

Today, Outreach operates 17 programs at 10 locations in Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island, with specialized treatment and prevention for adolescents, adults, women and children, and individuals involved in the juvenile and criminal justice system. In addition, Outreach’s Training Institute operates the largest Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor Diploma Program in New York State. Kathy is particularly proud that for the last six years, Outreach has been named “One of the Best Companies to Work for in New York State.”

For over 35 years, Kathy has been a tireless advocate for access, development and treatment for adolescents in need of chemical dependency treatment in New York. She serves on many professional and advisory groups locally and nationally, including the Executive Boards of the Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers (ASAP) of NYS, Therapeutic Communities Association (TCA) of New York, and Treatment Communities of America She is a member of state advisory groups on Medicaid redesign, behavioral health reform for children, chemical dependency field talent management, and also on county advisory boards that focus on community mental health and alcohol and substance abuse service planning. In 2014, Kathy received ASAP’s Women's Leadership Award, and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Elms College, her Alma Mater.

Beyond her professional persona, however, Kathy is distinguished by authentically living her lifelong passion to help. Daily, she can be found personally conversing with, advising, supporting and facilitating care for someone in need.