Andrea Holloway has found rewarding work.
The parent of three became the new executive director of the Jefferson City Council for Drug Free Youth (CDFY) at the beginning of March.
She has been on the staff at Missouri Department of Mental Health in the Division of Behavioral Health as part of the Missouri State Opioid Response Grant project. Holloway has 13 years of experience in substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery services.
"My whole career has been substance use," Holloway said.
The local nonprofit provides programming related to drug-free lives to children in Mid-Missouri schools.
Right out of college in 2007, the Helias High School graduate started her career as a counselor at Tipton Correctional Center (TCC), working for the former Kansas City Community Center, now the Heartland Center for Behavioral Change.
"I liked being at the ground level," Holloway said. "It was really satisfying and fulfilling for me, knowing that I'm helping others. I've always been a person about helping others. I get a lot of gratification out of that."
She was a contractor at TCC, providing group education and group counseling to inmates — whether they had a substance-use history or had substances in their system whenever they committed the crime that landed them in prison. The center provided education for inmates when they were within six months of release.
"We wanted to make sure they were set up to be successful whenever they left," Holloway said. "We helped them — working with their institutional probation officer or working with their soon-to-be outside probation officer."
The grant that funded the program eventually went away, and she became a counselor at Preferred Family Healthcare in Jefferson City. After the birth of her second child, she decided to take about three years off and become a stay-at-home mother.
Soon, the call to help others pulled her back into the workforce, and Holloway became a substance use prevention coordinator for the Missouri National Guard. She and another coordinator provided required annual training for soldiers throughout the state.
While attending a prevention conference at the Lake of the Ozarks several years ago, she met then-CDFY Executive Director Joy Sweeney. Sweeney told her about the youth prevention programs CDFY does all over Central Missouri.
"I thought, 'What is this? I've never heard of it.' I'm a mom of three, and this really connected with me," Holloway said. "I worry about my kids being in the community with substance use and being educated on that. It all worked out really well."
She joined Sweeney's staff as lead of the Community Outreach Committee.
After Sweeney accepted a job at a national nonprofit in 2020, Kevin Kohler took the job. But Kohler died a few months later.
The year 2020 challenged all communities, Holloway said.
CDFY was unable to present programs within schools, and staff had to find ways to conduct business remotely.
"We're wanting to get back into the schools," she said. "The schools are open to that for next year."
CDFY programs are beginning to gear up, she said. The monthly coalition meetings have returned.
"Going forward, those might look a little different, just because we have the Zoom aspect, which is convenient for some people — especially if you have meetings back-to-back throughout the day," Holloway said.
Folks won't have to worry about traveling to attend multiple meetings (with other organizations) through the course of a day. That will be beneficial, she continued.
"I'm trying to bring in new things, new ideas," Holloway said. "I'm always open to those as well because I'm not going to see or hear everything.
"I'm the kind of person that goes with the flow — a listener — and I want to take everything in and advise. I'm all for that. It makes this organization — and what we're doing — more important."