New exec takes on antidrug coalition

A fixture in local politics has been appointed to lead the Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition as its new executive director to help strengthen community partnerships.

Suzy Jacobs, who worked for state Sen. Jack Scott and Assembly members Paul Krekorian and Mike Gatto in their district offices, joined the coalition on Jan. 1 after a month-long hiring process.

“I want to make a difference in the community,” she said, adding that she hoped to build on the coalition’s goal of building a safe, drug-free community for kids and teens.

Jacobs replaces David Marquez, who cut ties with the two-year-old nonprofit in October after getting it off the ground and helping manage a five-year $625,000-federal grant.

While Marquez’s role was to establishing policies and procedures, Jacobs will focus more on expanding the coalition’s presence in the community through her extensive networks.

“They need someone that will take them to the next level,” Jacobs said.

The Burbank resident has maintained strong ties with the community after taking a sabbatical, working as secretary of the local Healthy Start collaborative, part of a California Department of Education program that improves student development and provides family support.

The collaborative, which is made up of local nonprofits that support Glendale Unified School District students, evaluates and improves Healthy Start.

Running a startup nonprofit requires a leader who is creative, takes initiative and is dedicated to the group’s mission, said Camille Levee, executive director of Glendale Healthy Kids.

The coalition’s mission of maintaining a drug-free community grew out of fervor from a group of La Crescenta parents dedicated to tackling illegal drug and alcohol use among youth in their community.

“There is a definite need for it in the community,” Levee said.

Jacobs is the right fit for the coalition because she knows the community and has many local connections, she added.

Coalition members also expect Jacobs’ experience with nonprofits and in government to be useful in acquiring additional grants, said Matt Zakarian, a Glendale police officer who serves as the coalition’s president on his own time.

Jacobs’ passion for interacting with community members at the grass-roots level made her the right candidate to fill the top position, he added.

“I hope she accomplishes the coalition’s goal,” Zakarian said.

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