Tonya Wheeler / Executive Director
Tonya is a founding board member of Advocates for Recovery & is currently the Executive Director. In addition, she is a Certified Addictions Counselor - Level III in Colorado. She has been in long-term recovery since 1990, and her passion for helping others find long-term recovery has remained evident in her work in treatment, advocacy, and recovery.
She works in her community to share the message that recovery is a positive, attainable goal and is an example that recovery works! She has shared her personal recovery story with many audiences and media across Colorado and the nation. Tonya is a sought after as a trainer and speaker across the United States, and is the primary trainer for Advocates for Recovery. She has completed and now trains others in topics including Recovery Oriented Systems of Care (ROSC), Science of Addiction & Recovery, Peer Recovery Coach Academy, Media Training, and Our Stories Have Power Recovery Community Messaging.
Tonya is a member of the Faces & Voices of Recovery Board of Directors, representing the Mountain West region. She serves as an Advisory Board Member for the Mountain West Addiction Technology and Transfer Center, and as the "voice of recovery and advocate for recovery support" on the Colorado Behavioral Health Planning & Advisory Council and the Colorado Behavioral Health Transformation Council.
Merlyn Karst / Chairman
In retirement, Merlyn Karst began his volunteer recovery service in the early 90s in Southern California where he spent several years as administrator of an alternative sentencing program, serving clients from the justice system. Peer-to-peer coaching was a primary element of this work. During this period he served on the boards of Orange County Substance Abuse Prevention Network and NCADD-Orange County. in early 2000, he became a founding member of Advocates for Recovery-Colorado and has served as an officer on the board since it’s founding. He is now Secretary and Board Chair.
Karst is also a founding member of Faces and Voices of Recovery, the nation’s leading recovery advocacy organization. He served FaVoR as Board Chairman for several years. In September, 2008 He was honored in Washington D.C. by the Johnson Institute as one of 6 national honorees for service and leadership in the recovery movement. He is currently active with the Betty Ford Center’s Colorado Children’s Program. He serves as a commissioner on the Denver Drug Strategy Commission and on the Behavioral Health Transformation Council.
Karen Steinberg / Vice Chair
Vice Chair founding member MD, Physician; Medical writer/editor, Colorado Springs, CO – in long term recovery.
Justin Riley / Secretary
Justin Luke Riley has a personal mission statement to charismatically communicate, with honor, principles that influence others to be extraordinary. At the age of twenty he managed his first adult rehabilitation center for drugs and alcohol that housed ninety-six men. From there he started consulting with both men and women's adult rehabilitation centers. Currently, he owns his own consulting company that specializes in leadership & business development. Mr. Riley is also the Secretary of board of directors of Faces and Voices of Recovery, sits on the board for Advocates of Recovery in Colorado, and is part of the Project Management Team and Steering Committee of YPR | Young People in Recovery.
Recently interviewed in USA TODAY for his experience with recovery. His position on young people in leadership roles as an integral part of the recovery community. He speaks across the nation in a myriad of venues on leadership, treatment, and recovery and in long-term recovery since 2007.
Gaylene Bergan / Treasurer
My name is Gaylene Bergan and I have been on the board of AFR since spring of 2012. I was born in a little town of Gilbert Plains, Manitoba Canada. I moved to the US in the year of 1998. I have over 30 years of banking and accounting history as well as being a business owner. Currently I look after the accounting/bookeeping for AFR.
Bryan Sutherland, M.Ed, CAC III(p.) Bryan was been gently guided to the Advocates for Recovery for one purpose; to help others that are seeking recovery understand that treatment works and recovery is possible. A man in long-term recovery from chemical dependency himself, Bryan has been blessed by, first, re-learning how to learn and then learning how to teach during his 20+ years of active recovery. Admittedly at his best when he is still learning, his path has taken him into the Behavioral Health field and has come to be known as a loved and trusted man in recovery, a teacher, counselor and community relations resource for the Colorado addiction treatment community, as well as a highly accomplished, experienced and compassionate Interventionist.
- Tonya Wheeler: Executive Director
- Merlyn Karst: Chairman
- Karen Steinberg: Vice Chair
- Justin Riley: Secretary
- Gaylene Bergman: Treasurer