Photo Courtesy of Outreach
Debra Pantin is the new Outreach president and CEO.
By Forum Staff
Outreach, a Richmond Hill-based nonprofit organization that provides residential and outpatient substance abuse programs and services, announced on Tuesday that it has a new president and chief executive officer.
Debra Pantin will take over for Outreach founder Kathleen Riddle, who is retiring after 39 years with the group.
“It is with mixed emotion, joy, pride, sadness and relief that I step back from my lead role at Outreach,” said Riddle. “Serving as the leader of this incredible organization has been the greatest honor of my life. This decision, while difficult for any of us, is made easier by knowing the extraordinary capabilities and commitment of our Boards of Directors, our leadership and staff. It if further aided by the selection of an exceptional leader in the field, Debra Pantin.”
Riddle formally stepped down on June 30. She will continue to serve Outreach in a part-time, advisory role.
Pantin, formerly CEO of VIP Community Services in the Bronx, has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of addiction and mental health treatment services, housing and homeless services, and health care, beginning as a practitioner and later as a leader in establishing programs, according to Outreach. During her tenure, VIP opened a mental health clinic and transformed its health services into a Federally-Qualified Health Center with care coordination services.
“Kathy Riddle is an icon in this area of behavioral health,” said Pantin. “It will be a challenge to fill her role at Outreach, but I vow to continue the fight to recognize treatment as a critical measure to address the life challenges stemming from addiction that allows people and their families to recover and move on to healthy lives. This is especially important, at a time when opiate abuse is such a widespread problem in New York State and beyond. My challenge will be to fight for more treatment slots, more funding and more recognition for treatment as an alternative to incarceration, which we know is better for families and society as whole.”
According to Outreach, Riddle started the organization more than 40 years ago when she recognized the need for adolescent treatment while working in City school system as a drug counselor for a Queens middle school. Originally dubbed “Outreach Project,” the group began in a Glendale storefront with three employees and a $60,000 budget. The non-profit has grown into a nationally recognized organization with eight primary locations, 300 employees and a budget of $24 million, serving more than 4,000 people annually.