Spotlight: Shellie Coleman and Janice Oda Gray

Each quarter we feature an interview with a board member and an employee of Prevention Partnership. Read our interview with Director of Youth Services Shellie Coleman and Board Member Janice Oda Gray.


What is the most rewarding aspect of your work with Prevention Partnership?

Shellie: Working with the students and parents the programs are designed to serve.


Janice: The most rewarding aspect of my work with Prevention Partnership is the Impact our work has on mitigating substance abuse prevention in our communities. Substance abuse is a critical problem tied to many of the social ills that plague the community.



How did you first become involved with Prevention Partnership and what excited you most about working with Prevention Partnership?

Shellie: Al Orsello and I became colleagues in the 1970s when we were both associated with the Region 5 U.S. Office of Education Training Center, so of course when the opportunity arose in the late 90s to work with him again, I could not pass it up.


Janice: I came across Prevention Partnership through my sister, she was on the Advisory Board. I met VC League and was impressed by the work, dedication and commitment they shared for the organization, I wanted to be part of that and make a difference in my community.



What initiatives with Prevention Partnership are you most excited about?

Shellie: I am currently assigned to the South Side Chicago Substance Use Prevention Program and am really excited about the potential for providing much needed comprehensive services for students and parents in communities where I grew up – my family moved to Englewood a month before I turned 16.


Janice: Initially I was most excited about the HIV aids initiative for women of color, currently I'm excited about the work they do in the school system.


What challenges during the pandemic have you seen Prevention Partnership overcome?

Shellie: I am so proud of our determined and creative staff who designed and delivered virtual services for students participating in our teen pregnancy and substance use prevention programs which were engaging and effective.


Janice: One challenge was how we can get to the masses in a virtual environment, most of our programs are face to face. In spite of challenges from the pandemic, Prevention Partnership still managed to make a seamless transition and continue programs. In fact, we have positioned ourselves for more opportunities since the issues of substance abuse and violence increased with the pandemic.


What's your favorite part of your role with Prevention Partnership?

Shellie: Having responsibility for the development and supervision of our next generation of Prevention Specialists; preparing them for their roles in the continued expansion and capabilities of The Prevention Partnership.


Janice: Serving on the Board making decisions that impact my community and event planning.


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