About the Conference

This will be the best Business conference of the year!

2024 Peer Conference in Alabama

2024 Peer Conference in Alabama

The purpose of the conference is to provide education on peer services, promote the value of utilizing peer services, promote advocacy, and encourage collaborations with all community organizations.  

Individuals will be able to register for the classes and receive an email confirming which classes you are registered in.  The classes are Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday March 27 – 29, 2024

This years group of speakers are some of the inidustry leaders with thorough knowledge of PEER Counseling:

Meet our Speakers Below

Mark Litvine

Mark Litvine is a person in long term recovery from a substance use disorder and mental health diagnosis. Mark uses his lived experience to provide hope, assistance, guidance, understanding and encouragement to the individuals that he serves. Mark is also a Certified Peer Specialist on the Mental Health side as well. Mark is one of the founders of R.O.S.S. the first Recovery Community Organization in Alabama and Mark is the Director of Marketing for the Recovery Organization Of Support Specialist. Mr. Litvine also trains the state Certified Recovery Support Specialists. Mark received the Peer Warrior Award in 2017 for his hard work and dedication to the peers in Alabama. Mark serves on the Alabama Opioid Task Force and Ethical Peer Accountability Committee for the state Certified Peers in Alabama. Mr. Litvine was taught early on in his recovery that he lives a life of purpose today which is to help others and make a difference in his community. Click here to download full bio.

Helene H Loper

Helene grew up in Tuscaloosa and returned there in 2000 as a pastor of a small church. She has 18 years clean and 30 years of pastoral experience in the Christian tradition. She has two married children and three grandchildren. Her wife of over 20 years is Susan Lowe, a certified addictions counselor and Program Director at the START Program in Fayette. After Helene completed her Doctor of Ministry in 2010, she volunteered to develop and do these spirituality groups at START. She is also involved in nonviolent change movements and interfaith groups and has developed educational materials and presentations on topics in these areas. Her leisure interests are traveling, hiking and swimming, creative writing, yard work, her cats and working puzzles.

Jesse Mogle

Jesse Mogle spent 12 years attending college and is not a doctor! He is, however, a guest expert on Fox and NBC and has worked with companies such as Disney, LiveNation, Metal International and Universal Studios as well as the University of Southern California, the University of Florida, and UCLA. Jesse has been a talk show host, the lead news anchor for a television station in Los Angeles and an internationally published business analyst. Jesse’s projections of the economies of Singapore and several western European nations were featured in publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian and USA Today. He is an avid motorcycle rider, traveling 12,000 miles coast to coast one summer spreading his mother’s ashes in over 100 locations in 29 states. In his free time, Jesse hikes mountains, adds to his over 700 concerts attended, and drives hundreds of miles for animal sanctuaries and aquariums.

Deidre Wilson

 Deidre Wilson is celebrating 9 years of sobriety with her anniversary on 4/2/2014. She began her work as a Certified Peer Support Specialist in 2017 at the Awakening Recovery in Walker County. She was awarded an Initiative Peer Award along with other peers in the county for their efforts in expanding recovery. Deidre currently works with the Birmingham Fellowship House, as Peer Support Specialist and Case Manager in their Walker County Outpatient office. She gives back to the community each week by coordinating with local churches to provide outreach to the Beacon House girls, a moderate residential facility for female teens involved in DHR.

Andrea Lashley

Andrea Lashley is a Licensed  Professional  Counselor  who  graduated from both Judson College and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has worked with people with substance use disorders in both residential and outpatient settings. With over 10 years of experience, Andrea currently  works  with  the  Birmingham  Fellowship House. She serves as the Team Leader within their Walker County Outpatient office.


Seyram Salace

Seyram Selase serves as the Executive Director of the  Agency  for  Substance  Abuse Prevention (ASAP), leading the charge in community health initiatives in Alabama. His strategic guidance at ASAP merited the prestigious 2023 Calhoun County Nonprofit of the Year award, underscoring his skill in managing impactful grants and programs. A product of the Anniston City and Talladega County School systems, Seyram’s roots in education underscore his dedication to community development. He  is  a  graduate  of  Berea  College and Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated.

Eugene Jacobs

Eugene Jacobs is the pastor of the Union Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Talladega, where he has served since August, 2014. Union Springs is also the church where Pastor Jacobs grew up, under the leadership of the late Rev. Dr. Samuel Turner. He is an instructor at the Rushing Springs School of Theology in Sylacauga, AL where he also

received his Master’s of Divinity. He also serves as the Faith-Based Support Specialist Ambassador(FBSS) at the Agency for Substance Abuse Prevention(ASAP), where his passion for ministry is given the opportunity to be exercised through educating faith leaders to better serve in ministry to congregants.

Carla Bugg

Carla Bugg is Criminal Justice Services Coordinator for R.O.S.S. She has over 30 years in recovery, but only by the grace of God. She is also an advocate for individuals with a substance use disorder and are justice involved. She serves on the executive board of Not One More Alabama. She is a U.S. veteran, as she served 6 years in the Air National Guard. Carla is now a member of the Veterans Justice Commission and the Council on Criminal Justice. Carla is a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ as she is the founder of F.L.O. Outreach Ministry. She has 5 beautiful children and 4 adorable grandchildren and she loves to sing. Carla believes that once you find your purpose, you find your life.

Christine Smith, CRSS, CM

I was certified as a CRSS by the Alabama Department of Mental Health in 2017. I currently work as the Agency Administrator at The Recovery Organization of Support Specialists. I currently manage over 50 peers while overseeing the supervision of six recovery community centers. I teach Ethics/Boundaries and Communication for the Certified Recovery Support Specialists (CRSS) certification training with the Alabama Department of Mental Health. I’ve received training in a variety of approaches, including peer to peer education, trauma-informed care, cultural competency, motivational interviewing, and peer supervision just to name a few. In 2019, received the Peer Warrior Award.

Jibrael Escott

I’ve been in long term recovery since March 17th, 2007. I’ve been employed as a CRSS for over 10 years and I have 16 years lived experience in recovery from addiction. I choose NA for my personal recovery, but I’m open minded to understand that there are different pathways to recovery.  I  have  attended several different recovery fellowships to understand how they work to better understand how I can help any person seeking recovery to find a pathway that better suites them. Whether it’s AA, NA CA, HA, Celebrate Recovery, Recovery Dharma, or Smart Recovery, Religion and MA Recovery.

Wendy Hogue

Wendi Hogue is the FREEDOM Project Director with the VitAL Initiative in the School of Arts and Sciences at The University of Alabama.

VitAL is committed to improving the wellness of Alabama’s communities through training and education, service and implementation, research and evaluation, and community engagement. FREEDOM is a grant- funded program to reduce the number of opioid-related deaths in Alabama. Wendi holds her M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health and Marriage and Family Counseling and is a Licensed Professional and National Certified Counselor.

Melissa Beck, MPH

Melissa Beck is a person in long-term recovery who hails from the most magical of all cities – Birmingham, Alabama. Her recent midlife crisis focused on earning a Master’s in Public Health from UAB, with a focus on SUD. She has been a Certified Recovery Support Specialist since 2017 and received her Alcohol Drug Counselor certification in 2022. Her professional interests focus on expanding the role of peer support, documenting the outcomes, successes, and opportunities of the profession, along with a better understanding of how chronic illnesses can be effectively treated with minimal use of opioid pain relievers and establishing best practice protocols for when such medication is needed. She and her husband Jason are the proud pups parents of a husky named Sir Charles Barkless and another canine of unknown origins who answers to Kylie.

Dianne Durbin

Dianne Durbin is a long-time employee of the ADMH and has directed the ADMH Advocacy Program for the past 9 years. She can be reached Monday – Friday at her office in Montgomery by calling the Advocacy Program Line at 800-367-0955.

Jacob Revis, BGS, CRSS

Jacob Revis has over 5 years of experience a Certified Recovery Support Specialist and has served clients in multiple different capacities including inpatient substance use treatment, county criminal justice settings, therapeutic treatment courts, and community supervision capacities.

Deborah  Currington

Deborah Curington has more than 10 years of experience in the Substance Use Disorder field, where she has as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor in a residential treatment facility. Currently, she works as a Recovery Support Specialist she works with clients from diverse demographics, both individually and in group settings, providing her with unique opportunities to make a difference.

Graham Sisson, JR, JD, PhD

Graham Sisson earned his PhD from Auburn University in Rehabilitation and Leadership. He serves as the Executive Director and General Counsel for the Governors Office on Disabilities. Graham also serves as the Consumer Relations Coordinator for the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. Graham is an Educator and Advocate for the American with Disabilities Act.

Josh Whitmire

Josh Whitmire is a peer who has been in a wheelchair for most of his life. He has worked with Disability Rights and Resources for more than 10 years where he focuses on training consumers on independent living skills, transition related services for both youth and adult populations, assistive technology training and skill development. Resulting from his personal experiences, he has a greater understanding of the challenges associated with accessibility, mobility, housing accommodations and starting a career along with many other challenges that people face in the disability community.

Judd Drake, CRSS

Judd is a person in long term recovery  and  has been  drug  free  since April 2017. Judd  was trained  and  certified  as  a Certified Recovery  Support Specialist (CRSS) by the Minds  and  Mentors  Paraprofessional  Training Program through the University of Alabama. He has worked in the long term recovery community, as a spiritual counselor, intake coordinator, program manager and  program director. Judd  currently  serves  as  the  Program Director for the Restoration Springs Transitional Housing Program for men in Fayette, Alabama. Judd also serves on the ACRM and ARSA Board.

Jessica Rutledge, CRSS

Jessica has been in long term recovery since 2020 after 14 years of active substance use. She is a Certified Recovery Support Specialist for ROSS. Jessica joined the Recovery Community Support Program where she was promoted to Program Coordinator. Jessica oversees all the classes and provides training to the future peers of Alabama. I love that I get to watch these peers grow along their journey and go on to be well rounded, experienced professionals. I live a beautiful life today and I owe all of it to my recovery, as well as those who came before me to lead the way.

Anthony Merriweather, MSPH

Anthony has worked in the field of Public Health for the last 20 years. Anthony is responsible for providing administrative, clinical and program oversight for the Alabama Department of Public Health – STD Program.

Anthony has developed and implemented numerous state level projects aimed at protecting the publics health by reducing syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV rates in Alabama. He currently serves on the Board for the National Coalition of STD Directors. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a Master of Science Degree in Public Health Epidemiology and a Bachelors Degree in Biology. In 2022, Anthony retired as a Colonel from the United States Army Reserves after thirty-six years of active service and 5 deployments in Operation Dessert Storm, Operation Dessert Shield, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sheila Tyson

Sheila Tyson has been in recovery for 20 years and has worked in the substance use disorder field for 18 years. Sheila recently retired from University of Alabama Birmingham as a Peer Recovery Support Specialist. There she developed a statewide Liver Transplant support group, she also gave support and hope to patients throughout the hospital. Sheila currently works as a trainer to certify recovery support specialist. She is a Board member for the Alethia House. Sheila have worked for Community Education Center as a Manager and Case Manager as well as other residential treatment centers.

Because of my experience I have become an advocate for substance use disorder.

Nikki Warren, CRSS, CM

Nikki Warren is a person in long term recovery and a Certified Recovery Support Specialist at ROSS where she serves as the West Alabama Outreach Supervisor. She is also a full time college student and the president of the Board of Directors of a local non-profit, The Recovery Den. Nikki enjoys classic rock, true crime documentaries, and shopping for antiques. She is a dedicated dog mom to Ozzy.

Marshall Metz, CRSS

Marshall Metz has been in recovery since March 25, 2017. He currently works as the Program team Lead and CRSS for the Men’s Shoulder in Spanish Fort. He is also the Baldwin County Drug Court Liaison, and a certified MRT Instructor. Marshall likes walking his dog, the beach and attending concerts. He is well known in the workplace for his sense of humor, compassion for those seeking recovery, and concert T’s!

Jennifer Moreno, CRSS

Jennifer Moreno has been in recovery since October 24, 2008. She is the night shift Program Assistant at the Woman’s Shoulder in Mobile. She is active in the recovery community & started the first in person Pagans in Recovery meeting in Alabama. She is also enrolled in college – thanks to the insight she gained about opportunities to start your education through other people in long term recovery.

Nydia Saffold

Nydia A. Saffold, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, currently serves as AIM’s ReEntry Coordinator. She attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. She then went on to attend Auburn University at Montgomery, where she received her Master of Science in Criminal Justice. She has been a part of the team since 2021!

Karen Carr Turner, MS

Karen Carr Turner, a native of Tuskegee, Alabama. Karen graduated with a Master of Science Degree in Post Secondary Education from Troy University. Karen previously served as the Reentry Coordinator and founder of the Pack-a-Purse Program for Aid to Inmate Moms. Karen is a previously incarcerated person who has served as a national and state speaker that shares her story of incarceration and the importance of advocating for the needs of women offenders.

Toney Hunter

Toney Hunter is an Assistant Director at Jefferson County Department of Human Resources and oversees seventy plus employees in the Child Abuse and Neglect, Family Preservation and Adult Protective Services programs.

Toney has been with the Department for 16 years and before becoming an Assistant Director in Jefferson held positions as a Foster Care worker, Child Welfare Supervisor, a Program Supervisor over the Child Abuse and Neglect Program and served as the Director of Sumter County Department of Human Resources. Toney has used his time at DHR to form many connections with constituents in Jefferson County and across the state and has conducted numerous Mandatory Reporter trainings with various agencies. Toney is inspired daily by his wife and teenage daughter. In his free time Toney likes to read, play video games and cook extravagant meals for his family.

Adam Danneman

Adam is a graduate  of  the  University  of  Alabama  School of  Law. In  his capacity as the director of the JCPD, Adam has maintained an active caseload while also reorganizing the office’s structure to create a special crimes unit devoted to defending individuals facing life or death  sentences.  JCPD  clients have avoided conviction of the most serious allegation in more than 75% of

trials conducted in Adam’s tenure.

Adam has collaborated with the Jefferson County District Attorney and the Bench to help organize an amnesty week. Through collaboration with those parties and the help of his colleagues, the JCPD was able to get nearly 5,000 arrest warrants recalled for old, non-violent, victimless offenses including dismissals of more than 4,300 non-criminal traffic offenses.

Amanda Kellar

Amanda Kellar is the Founding Director of the Magic City Acceptance Center (MCAC) and manages Family Matters: LGBTQ Youth Perspectives, a photography exhibition by Carolyn Sherer. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Amanda moved to Alabama in 2006 and received her BA in Philosophy from The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Amanda is proud to be in her 14th year of working with BAO and affiliated programs. Amanda is a graduate of the 2019 American Express Leadership Academy, serves on the Board of the Children’s Policy Council, and Mayor Woodfin’s LGBTQ Advisory Board.

Lauren Jacobs

Lauren Jacobs is the Assistant Director at the Magic City Acceptance Center (MCAC) in Birmingham, Alabama. At MCAC, Lauren provides community building, sexual wellness/healthy relationship education, and STI testing and for LGBTQ youth ages 13-24. Lauren is a Birmingham native whose advocacy around LGBTQ issues began as a student in high school. She became heavily involved in organizing at The University of Alabama where her work involved coalition building with a network of LGBTQ college student groups around the Southeastern U.S., and developing programs and events around gender, sexuality, racial and reproductive justice.

Denice Morris MS, MEd

Denice attended Tuskegee University and Miles College receiving her bachelor’s in criminal justice and later received a double masters from the University of West Alabama in Counseling Psychology and Adult Continuing Education. Denice began her behavioral health career at the Aletheia House residential treatment center in Birmingham, AL as a case manager and later as the Employment manager and therapist for homeless and re-entry veterans. She has served in the United States Air Force Reserves as a computer information specialist, and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Beta Xi Omega Chapter in Tuskegee, AL.
She has served as Clinical Supervisor for the NGRI (Not guilty by reason of insanity) population within Florida Department of corrections and later Director of Re-Entry services at Gadsden Re-entry and Correctional Facility in Tallahassee, FL. She is a nationally certified trauma responsive trainer for the criminal justice population Her current occupation is with the Alabama Department of Mental Health Substance Use Division as the Director of Substance Use Treatment Services, but her biggest accomplishment to date is being the mother of 4, Thomas, Rigney, Jalin and Brooklyn.

Jeff Gilliland

Jeff Gilliland, a Birmingham, AL native, is a dedicated individual in long-term recovery with a decade of experience in both faith-based recovery and the clinical sector. Serving as a Peer Support Specialist, spiritual counselor, intake coordinator, and currently the program manager at The Foundry Farm Recovery Program, Jeff’s commitment to helping others navigate their recovery journey is evident. Additionally, he holds the role of Director of Outreach at Spirit Life Church and, alongside his wife, leads the Celebrate Recovery Group on Friday evenings. Jeff achieved Certification as a Recovery Support Specialist in 2017. 

Our Sponsors