The Chris Atwood Foundation was created in 2013 after The Atwood Family lost their son and brother, Chris, to an accidental overdose at age 21.
The CAF is a 501(c)3 charitable organization that creates recovery ready communities through free harm reduction and recovery support services, resources and education.
We do this by:
Educating the community about the disease of addiction
Creating recovery ready communities
Training the community on how to administer naloxone to reverse an opioid overdose
Providing free life saving medications
Increasing community access to harm reduction resources and recovery support
Providing Recovery Housing Scholarships
Providing free Peer Recovery Support Specialists for individuals
Providing Family Support Services and resources
Advocating for public policy changes that promote equitable access to life saving measures and supports
Chris Atwood was one hell of a person. As a young child he was always looking for ways to be helpful in his family. He was empathetic, sensitive and caring. As he matured he grew a zany sense of humor and was generous with his laughter, sharing it like medicine. His brilliant mind and depth of feeling gave him an uncanny ability to reach people on an emotionally deep level which made him a terrific listener and a wonderful friend. His profound sensitivity made him susceptible to the pain of the world and caused him to struggle with the tough questions of life which often led him to depression, anxiety and an inability to cope with his his emotional landscape.
Being introduced to substances at a young age he was highly susceptible to addiction. Substances had a harmful effect on his brain and his body. Thankfully he reached out to his family for help. Unfortunately the healthcare system had not evolved in ways that can help individuals and their families battling substance use disorder and the gaps in care were detrimental to Christophers health. During treatment and recovery, Christopher met many others who were also struggling with the challenges he faced. He was devoted to sharing his compassion, healing laughter and friendship with those who needed it. Many of the friends he made in mutual aid groups and the people he connected with in treatment have shared that Christopher was a bright light in a very dark place and some have described him as their literal life saver.
It is our mission to continue to shine his light make sure others do not experience the kind of dangerous gaps in care and treatment that our family did and in turn provide community care and resources for people and families impacted by substance use.
May his light shine on forever through our work.
Meet The CAF Team
Ginny Atwood Lovitt
Ginny Atwood Lovitt is Executive Director of The Chris Atwood Foundation.
She is certified by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health as a
Master Revive trainer and has taught over two thousand individuals, families, and professionals how to save a life with the overdose reversal medication, Narcan.
She has spearheaded the unanimous passage of three Virginia state laws that pioneered community based access to Narcan for all Virginia residents, and worked on three more state laws increasing the health and safety of people impacted by substance use.
Ginny is an award-winning advocate for substance use disorder issues, and is particularly passionate about defeating the many stigmas surrounding this disease. She has shared her family’s story and her work with The Chris Atwood Foundation on outlets such as A&E, NBC, NPR, the Washington Post, and at the White House.
Sonya DelVecchio is Program Manager for The Chris Atwood Foundation. Sonya manages the Revive 2 Thrive program. which provides our members in the community with the support and resources they need for their health and wellbeing.
She has created an amazing team of peer support specialists who work directly with the CAF’s members. Forming relationships and partnering with other local organizations, she has created a powerful supportive network that is saving lives. Sonya has lost close friends and family members to substance use disorder and has dedicated her life to supporting families impacted by addiction. Sonya works hard to erase the stigma associated with substance misuse, by using positive person first-language along with striving to bring hope and understanding to the rest of the community.
Sonya is a transplant from the Midwest and has lived in the Northern Virginia area since getting married in 2016 after a 7-year long distance engagement to her husband. She is mother to two adult children. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, cooking exotic meals and swimming and is passionate about world travel. Next destination, Thailand!
James Purcell is Office Manager and Housing Specialist for The Chris Atwood Foundation. Prior to working at The CAF, James worked for the nonprofit, The Delaney Bay Fund, in Haiti, worked as administrative assistant at the law firm, Woodruff, Spradlin, & Smart, and created
the import/ export business, Simpply LLC. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from University of San Diego.
James has experience with substance use disorder and has been fortunate enough to come out on the other side. He has experienced many different approaches to treatment and has found that harm reduction, coupled with recovery support, is the most effective. This fuels his passion for The Chris Atwood Foundation’s mission and programs. He has seen them work in his own life and in the lives of his friends.
At The Chris Atwood Foundation, James handles the day to day administration including donation management, grant reporting, technical support, and the monthly community newsletter. James is a certified REVIVE! Trainer. He runs The CAF’s Recovery Housing Grants Program, which as of October 2020, has helped almost 600 people move into a recovery homes. James spearheaded the creation of The CAF’s Mail Based Naloxone Program, which has supplied almost 3000 people with Opioid Overdose Reversal Kits (aka naloxone). This has resulted in over 200 reported reversals, that’s over 200 lives saved! James testified before The Virginia House of Delegates, and helped pass three new laws that will lead to better treatment and more access to resources for those struggling with substance use disorder. James has worked at The CAF since May of 2019 and since then he has seen The CAF grow exponentially and change to meet needs of its’ clients. He is proud to be a part of such a force for good and he is excited for the future of the organization.
Lead Peer Recovery Specialist
Kristy Howard is the Lead Certified Peer Recovery Specialist for The CAF and a Revive Overdose Reversal Trainer. She is passionate about harm reduction and provides counseling and support services to help reduce the health and social harms related to substance use.
Kristy strives to reduce the stigma and barriers individuals with substance use disorder in her community face . When she's not helping people in the Northern Virginia community where she grew up, she's spending time with her 3 kids and 2 cats. She loves animals and volunteers at area animal rescues.
Peer Recovery Specialist
Daniel Adams is a returning citizen who was recently released after 30 years of incarceration. As a Peer Recovery Specialist he aids and assists other citizens who are going through crucial transitions phases of recovery. While incarcerated, Mr.Adams worked to rehabilitate himself and rectify the thinking errors that unfortunately led to his incarceration. He earned academic diplomas and vocational certifications. He also participated in and graduated from several offender cognitive behavior change programs, such as AA/NA groups, Anger/Stress Management. Mr.Adams continues his path of self-improvement by enrolling and completing several correspondence courses. He became a champion and a leader in the re-entry program as an elder, Restorative Justice(How to handle conflict), Mindfulness(DBT), and The Hero Within.
As a Peer Recovery Specialist, he believes it is to be a beacon of hope and a living example for those who are persevering and recovering from life challenges; who are seeking to be helped, not fixed, and who sometimes simply need to be heard, not preached to.
"The quality of my life is based on the positive contributions that I make to increase the quality of others' lives. By learning to empathically assist and listen to others, I've learned to better understand my own strength and opportunities for growth."
Mr.Adams' passion and desire to assist others through their recovery is a welcome and valuable asset to The Chris Atwood Foundation.
Peer Recovery Specialist
Beth Cline is a Peer Support Specialist with the Chris Atwood Foundation. Beth grew up in Reston, Virginia, and has stayed pretty local ever since. She has an extensive background in customer service and administrative skills. She takes pride in any job that she has and loves to be a wealth of knowledge. Her passion for learning has made her a “Jill of all trades” at most jobs. If she doesn’t know the answer to something, she will track down an answer for you.
She has lived experience with substance use disorder and PTSD which has propelled her to want to help others in the community. It’s a community effort to recover from the past and Beth utilizes the most readily available resources.
When she is not working to help others in the community, whether at work or in recovery groups, she is an avid painter. She spends her free time painting and creating. Art has always been something that Beth relied on to express emotions but, using typically held her back. Now that she is in recovery, she has found new ways to paint, craft, and create. She lives with a very supportive family.
Peer Recovery Specialist
Brittany Roberts joined our CAF team as a Peer Support Specialist in August 2020. Since then she is always excited to share her personal experience in recovery since 2017 to help anyone seeking support with substance use disorder. She is an Alumni of Roseberry Oxford House in Manassas, VA and continues to work closely with the organization. When not working, Brittany enjoys going to the movies, spending time with family and trying to learn to cook.
While Brittany believes there are many pathways to recovery, she’s found AA/NA most useful in her own journey and is always willing to take someone along to a meeting. If you’d like to contact her to learn about her story, Oxford houses, AA/NA meetings & all our CAF services.
Peer Recovery Specialist
Roman Martinez is a Peer support Specialist for the Chris Atwood Foundation. All the way from Albuquerque, New Mexico Roman came to make an impact in the surrounding areas one individual at a time. Roman cares about the individual, seeing each person as a living, breathing, human being with immense potential to do something amazing. Faith plays a big role in Romans life, he has extensive experience in outreach from volunteering at his local church back in Albuquerque.
At the end of his high school years Roman began to deal with substance use disorder and would continue to do so for the next 3 years. Now being in recovery for over 2 years He looks to use his journey in order to empathize and help every individual he comes in contact with.
Director of Development
Lindsey Kearney is Director of Development at The Chris Atwood Foundation. She comes to us from the Northern Virginia Family Service, a $38 million nonprofit serving vulnerable populations throughout Northern Virginia. Lindsey brings over 14 years of experience and expertise in corporate relations, event management, and grant writing. Through various roles at consulting firms and in-house, she has successfully raised more than $10M for programs and projects ranging from student athlete scholarships to homeless shelter operating support, and everything in between.
Meet The Board
Mark W. Atwood is the Chairman of the Chris Atwood Foundation, which he co-founded in 2013 in the days following the death of his son Christopher at the age of 21 from a heroin overdose. Mark is a lawyer by profession, specializing in aviation, and is a member of the law firm Cozen O’Connor; his office is in Washington, DC.
He also has taught the High School Sunday School class at Pender United Methodist Church in Fairfax for the past 15 years. He has been a judge of the Jessup International Law Moot Court for over 20 years. He is a graduate of Loyola University in Baltimore, and the University of Southern California.
Director of Social Media
Lauren Blackwell (LB) is an individual in long term recovery from Morgantown, West Virginia and currently resides in the DC Metropolitan area. She holds a RBA in Business Communications from West Virginia University. LB is passionate about advocating for individuals with substance use disorder and breaking the stigma of addiction by sharing her story.
She is thrilled to be a part of the Chris Atwood Foundation and continue her efforts to lead individuals into recovery and create safe, loving support for all those with substance use disorder. Outside of recovery work, LB is dedicated to creating safe space for marginalized groups, such as the LGBTQ and BIPOC communities.
For fun, LB loves sending snail mail, thrifting, being around creatives, and hitting up Union Market (the endless choices are good for her indecisiveness)!
Allison Beyers Coleman
Allison has been a committed board member to The CAF since its founding in 2013; sitting around the Atwood's kitchen table trying to make sense of the sudden and tragic loss of Christopher.
Originally from Reston, VA, she now resides in Baltimore, MD, with her husband and son. She has over ten years of non-profit experience in communications, public relations, media, marketing, social media, and community outreach.
Allison received her BA in Communications and Art History from Virginia Tech and her MA in Arts Management from George Mason University. She currently works as the Public and Media Relations Coordinator at The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland (The LLF), the non-profit organization federally designated to coordinate organ, eye, and tissue donation in the state of Maryland.
Allison is also the founder of Joey for Roo, a baby and children's clothing brand that strives to bring awareness to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Through her professional and personal experiences, Allison has developed a strong sense of dedication to public health and the non-profit sector.
Marie Gallo Dyak is the President and CEO to the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC). She is responsible for concept development and implementation of EIC programs and special projects primarily involving the entertainment industry and health and social issues. This also includes technical support to entertainment industry content development, public service initiatives and campaigns, special events, constituent relations and development of in-kind support for prevention projects, health information dissemination, and entertainment-
based human resource issues.
She is an Emmy Award winning producer having produced educational, training and entertainment television specials. Ms. Dyak serves on the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health; the National Action Alliance for Suicide PreventionExecutive Committee; the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation Celebration of Service to American station awards; and appointed to serve on the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board established by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 through which Congress called upon the entertainment industry to create a voluntary TV rating system.
Prior to being named CEO & Executive Director of the Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation, Neil Horikoshi led a distinguished 30-year career at International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), where he held legal and executive management positions in the US and Asia Pacific. After his IBM career, he led the Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) as their President & Executive Director where he led new strategic initiatives to expand organizational programming to better meet the needs of underserved Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students and help APIASF become a more socially impactful organization.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Hawai’i and a Juris Doctorate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. He is a member of the New York State Bar.
Bob McMurtry is the treasurer of the Chris Atwood Foundation. Bob, having known the Atwood family for a number of years, was familiar with the Chris Atwood Foundation. He first got involved with the CAF after a fellow board member, Shelly Young, led an ARISE intervention for one of Bob's close friends who is now successfully living in recovery. After the experience, Bob developed a strong desire to get involved in the fight against the disease of addiction. Many people in Bob's life have been impacted by addiction, and he is passionate about working with individuals in active use and those along the recovery continuum to help them overcome the disease.
Bob is a CPA with 10 years of experience working with nonprofits. He has a bachelor's of science degree in Accounting with Honors from George Mason University. He currently works as the Director of Finance at the Blue Ridge School, and he is currently enrolled in the executive format of the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business MBA program.
He hopes his education and experience will empower him to have a positive impact on society, starting with those struggling with addiction or living in recovery from the disease.
Director of Family Support
Shelly is the Director of Family Support for The CAF. Additionally she is a writer, has a private practice serving families and individuals, is a yoga teacher and mother of three fascinating wonders, including a young adult in recovery and all of whom are exploring creative arts and fashion. She is a passionate advocate for wellness, recovery, family support, a compassionate public health response to substance use and creating environments that support recovery. When Google wanted to know how to help families impacted by substance use better, they asked Shelly what she thought they should do.
She works, writes, guides and speaks at the intersections of emotional & physical wellness, family, motherhood, lineage, the impact of substance use, recovery, healing, transformation, systemic issues, science and healing practices, rituals and routines.
She is certified in The Anatomy of Transformation, RYT 200 and is an ARISE Certified Interventionist. She is also on the board of Unity Recovery in Philadelphia, facilitates the STAR Family Program at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, is on National Conference Production Team for The Association for Recovery in Higher Education and serves on opioid task forces, consults with healthcare organizations, workplaces & law enforcement to better serve families impacted by substance use. She is the creator of the first ever family recovery conference, a virtual conference for families impacted by substance use.
When's she not studying the latest brain development research, attachment theory, nervous system response science or creating maps for unhooking from systems of harm, she's walking with her big black lab or enjoying movies, good food and music with her family preferably somewhere warm and sandy.