Be a Part of the Conversation was created in the spring of 2011 in the Hatboro-Horsham School District with the support of community members and area professionals. In an effort to raise awareness about the effects of alcohol and other drug use, school and community leaders came together to form a new initiative. Families, educators, students, treatment professionals, clergy, and members of law enforcement and the business community would all have a voice, with the shared goal of raising awareness and understanding about substance use, misuse and addiction.
Recognizing the potential to expand this initiative into other communities, Hatboro-Horsham School District administrators transferred the intellectual property known as Be a Part of the Conversation to our current organization. Today, we are recognized as a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
Be a Part of the Conversation programs have been presented at the following locations.
Be a Part of the Conversation was originally a school/community initiative in Hatboro-Horsham School District. Our first event was held on May 3, 2011 at Simmons Elementary School. Community leaders were invited to learn about the goals of this new initiative and plans for engaging the community at large.
Our first community event, “A Conversation About Substance Use & Consequences, with Ken Thompson, MD” was held at the Horsham Township Community Center on October 11, 2011. The recording of Dr. Thompson’s presentation can be found here.
Be a Part of the Conversation presented its first theatrical production about substance use in the form of a high school play called Addict. The play featured 20 students acting in 10 vignettes, each featuring a character who struggled with a particular substance, such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, alcohol and prescription drugs. A second production was presented in March of 2015.
June 11, 2014 – Be a Part of the Conversation was incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania.
Our Board of Directors was established and we held our first board meeting. Board members included John Mergenthaler (President), Doug Leavitt (Vice President), Nancy DeLucia (Treasurer), Dawn Tucker (Secretary), and Heather Gregan. Kim Porter (then Rubenstein) was named Executive Director.
Pictured: Doug Leavitt and Dawn Tucker
Awarded nonprofit status as a 501(c)3 corporation by the Internal Revenue Service. All contributions to Be a Part of the Conversation are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. >> Click here to donate!
We honored Roland Lamb with our 2016 “Conversation Inspiration Award” and Caroline Fenkel with our “Conversation Youth Inspiration Award” at our first fundraising event. >> Click here to read about the event.
We honored Jamison Monroe with our 2017 “Conversation Inspiration Award” and Carl Antisell with our “Conversation Youth Inspiration Award” at our second annual fundraising event. >> Click here to read about the event.
Judy Hirsh, JD, CFRS was hired as our Program Director.
The mother of a son in recovery, Judy brings a diverse background to BPOC.
Professionally, she practiced law for four years, has practiced real estate valuation and managed a family business for 24 years and served as a budget analyst for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She has worked as a Neighborhood Mediator with the Good Shepherd Mediation Program in Philadelphia, PA. Judy is a Certified Family Recovery Specialist (CFRS), which is someone who assists families impacted by a loved one’s substance use disorder. >> Click here to meet our entire team.
We honored PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro with our 2019 “Conversation Inspiration Award” and Kristen Harootunian with our “Conversation Youth Inspiration Award” at our third annual fundraising event. >> Click here to read about the event.
In March of 2020, our world encountered the COVID-19 pandemic, which called for all of us to make dramatic changes.
Be a Part of the Conversation was founded on the principles of connection and community, but we were no longer able to safely meet in public spaces. Thus began a series of online programs, which utilized the Zoom webinar format. We also recorded many online programs and posted them on our YouTube page.
We’re located on the main floor of “Plaza 16,” adjacent to a large, metered parking lot.
Kara Schwartz was named as our Communications Manager. Kara is responsible for communicating with Conversation staff, community partners, treatment specialists, volunteers, and other collaborators, as well as building community exposure.
Kara is a graduate of Dickinson College and holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Kara comes to BPOC with a wealth of experience in various fields, having worked in community impact, marketing, and clinical psychology settings. Informed by strong interpersonal and organizational skills, Kara has a history of successfully guiding events, marketing initiatives, public relations, and special projects for her teams. She is passionate about effective collaboration, creative event management, and the open exchange of new ideas.
We honored Dr. Steven Moriconi with our “Conversation Inspiration Award,” along with 20 recipients of our “Conversation Youth Inspiration Award” at our fourth annual fundraising event. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program was presented virtually.
Michael Blanche, MSS, LCSW was named as our Clinical Advisor.
On May 3, 2011, Michael Blanche spoke to a group of community leaders to help us introduce Be a Part of the Conversation to the public. Since that day, he has been a consistent source of professional guidance to our organization, in addition to being a frequent speaker at our programs. As our Clinical Advisor, Michael will provide his expertise as we develop and enhance our programs, and will be available to respond to questions that may be posed by media outlets and Be a Part of the Conversation partners when a clinical perspective is appropriate.
Michael is a licensed clinical social worker that has over twenty years of experience providing direct clinical treatment for those who are dually diagnosed with addiction and other psychological issues. He has worked in all levels of care in the treatment of addiction and mental health, with extensive expertise in establishing and supervising residential and outpatient programs throughout the Philadelphia Metropolitan area.
Be a Part of the Conversation celebrated our 10th anniversary with a “Founder’s Celebration” at the Horsham Township Community Center. To honor the community where we began in March of 2011, we heard remarks from Hatboro-Horsham School District administrators, as well as Be a Part of the Conversation leadership.
Pam Roberts was named as our Parent Partnership Coordinator.
We recognized the need to provide guidance and collaboration to the growing network of support groups meeting regularly throughout our region, and there is no one better than Pam to serve in this important role, particularly at a time when Parent Partnership meetings are growing in very exciting ways.
Since 2006, Pam Roberts, along with her husband Bill, has been active in starting and expanding parent support groups throughout our region. She has been interacting with hundreds of parents, therapists, recovery service providers, nonprofit organizations, and government representatives to educate and transform “parental behaviors” – something she considers to be a prerequisite to improving prospects for a healthy, reconnected family. In 2012, Pam and Bill developed a series of parent support group manuals to provide a better understanding of the disease of addiction and how it impacts the whole family. All the manuals, including Standing in the Storm, the first in the series, are available for download at no cost at this page on our website: conversation.zone/Storm.
Bob Lamb, MPH joined the Be a Part of the Conversation as our Director of Operations & Programs.
Bob earned a Bachelors in Health Sciences from the University of the Sciences and a Masters of Public Health in Health Policy and Management from Temple University. Bob is also a person in long term recovery. Through the course of his recovery and education, he has worked to enhance recovery support services and harm reduction interventions for people in and seeking recovery across the greater Philadelphia area, both professionally and as a volunteer.
In his spare time, Bob enjoys working out, triathlons, and making bread and pizza. Bob lives in Havertown with his wife, Caroline, and daughter, Eleanor.
The Family Recovery Course was launched in Chester County, thanks to funding from their Department of Drug & Alcohol Services, and developmental support from the The Sylvia W. and Randle M. Kauders Foundation.
The Family Recovery Course (FRC) is a three-part series of peer-led interactive educational trainings for parents or guardians whose child, at any stage of life, has struggled with addiction to drugs or alcohol. There is no charge to participate in the FRC.