Our Leadership

“There is a gorgeous wisdom that can only be gained by surviving and thriving. We must walk through the fire, get burned and scarred, reflect, and heal. When we offer it to the world, real change occurs.”
– Cherene Caraco
PRN Founder and CEO

Kevin Garrison

Jane Clark

Working with PRN allows me to combine my professional skills with my personal passion for helping individuals, families, and communities learn that overall health includes both physical and mental wellness.

I am in recovery from a mental health diagnosis first given to me when I was 16 years old. At the time, the need for mental health care was viewed as a moral issue and not the medical issue that it is. As a result, I thought there must just be something wrong with me as a person. I didn’t know that the diagnosis did not define me any more, or any less, than being told what my blood type is, or what the color of my hair is. My personal experience fuels my professional passion to contribute to the creation of healthier individuals, families, and communities. I have held multiple leadership roles with public or behavioral health agencies at local, state and regional levels and I am certified as a Prevention Specialist through state and international licensing boards.

Cedric Coit
IPS Director

Sam Cowden
Director HUB

I began struggling with substance use disorder when I was ten years old and after numerous arrests, overdoses, damaged relationships, and failed attempts at staying clean on my own, I chose to make a change. I asked for help. Shortly after getting clean, I began working for a sober living house and then an inpatient facility.

I was discouraged from sharing my own personal experiences while working inpatient and that is when I discovered peer support and knew, immediately, this is what I wanted to do. I believe through sharing my lived experience with others, I can help people grow, change, and overcome their own challenges in life.

Lisa Krystynak
In-Reach Extender Director

In 2015 I began an amazing journey with PRN, bringing with me 25 years of Human Service experience and a Master of Science, Rehabilitation Counseling Degree. However, my willingness to live out and share my lived experiences is the vital part of what I offer. I am a Trauma Survivor, a trauma that would leave me with significant experiences with Grief & Loss, Judicial and Social Service Systems involvement, Media and Community harsh judgement upon myself and my family.

I am also a person in long term recovery from the Family Disease Side of Substance Use Disorder. In the confusion and chaos of living with active users, I lost my spirit, my peace. Life was a survival game, fear is where I lived, Narcan placed strategically around my home, like prized decorations. My spiritual recovery began in the rooms of Al-Alon, where I worked my own 12-step program with sponsorship. These experiences have given me multiple opportunities to work with parents and families who are walking this road of fear, seeing no hope. PRN has provided a healing platform for me, as I continue my Recovery Journey to wellness and as I use my lived experience to spark Hope in the people and the communities we support.

Amanda Martin
Director of Community Initiatives

Upon my release from incarceration in 2014, after five years as an incarcerated person and a person on a journey of long-term, self-defined recovery from substances; I decided the disparities that accompanied reentry, recovery and wellness were going to be just one more obstacle I could and would overcome. Because of my lived experience of incarceration, wellness, and recovery, I’m now a Certified Peer Support Specialist.

As a CPSS I am able to work in Treatment Courts in Mecklenburg County where I share my lived experience, inspire hope in others, advocate for and with peers, share and make community resources, walk with individuals during system involvement and along their recovery and wellness journey; in addition to de-stigmatizing system involvement and the recovery/wellness journey by being transparent with court staff and participants about my personal reentry, recovery and wellness.

I do this work because I believe that “those closest to the problems are also closest to the solution.” – G. Martin (no relation to me)

Kristan Brown
Quality Assurance/
Improvement Director

My life was forever changed when I began my journey at PRN in 2015. After 14 years in the Non-Profit sector, I discovered the Trauma Informed approach to Wellness I was seeking to be a part of. My personal approach to wellness is through utilization of self-reflection and education, and PRN has allowed me the space and opportunity to practice and witness wellness daily. I am honored to be along for the growth of this great organization and the individuals supported.

Jane Clark
Director of Human Resources

Briana Strickland
Director of Peer-Led Initiatives

I currently reside in Greensboro, NC. I’m an artist, an activist and a healer with a strong passion for mental health and social justice through an intersectional lens. I’ve had a long personal history with multiple complex traumas which impacted my mental health from a very early age. My experiences with the various disorders I struggled with as a result of those traumas, often left me feeling like a curse and that my life wasn’t worth living. I also learned that vulnerability can be a gift...that our stories have meaning and can give others hope too.

This is why I feel so honored to be a part of PRN as a Peer Support Specialist on the warm-line. The heartfelt, holistic, peer led approach that PRN embodies aligns with what I feel the world deeply needs more of. We need more empowering resources that look after our most vulnerable, in every community.

Most of us have been in and out of various systems that try to “fix” us, often resulting in more harm and separation. Our world is diverse and complex. It is necessary that we have systems that reflect this with care and sensitivity. I’ve learned that through compassion and connection, healing and recovery from our deepest wounds is possible. For so long, I felt isolated by my adversity until I could reclaim my voice. I want to remind others that I see them, that I hear them, that their lives matter and that we all deserve dignity. We are in this together.

Our Board of Directors

Stephanie Adelman
Board Chair

Shortly after I became a public defender in 1993 I quickly realized how important understanding mental health is to achieving the best outcome for my clients. I became involved in a committee of folks from, what was then called, area mental health and a few public defenders.

We began trying to understand each other’s language. It was a slow start but over the years we formed relationships which helped both agencies achieve best results. I later created a felony court program which addresses incarcerated clients’ mental health and addiction issues while at the same time obtaining their early release. Now I serve as the defense attorney in district and superior treatment courts as well as Wellness Court, a mental health court. Promise Resource Network has come alongside my clients as a peer support specialist and that is one of the main reasons why treatment courts are so successful! Because Promise Resource network is peer run, peer support can focus on what is possible instead of operating within a system with limitations where too often many things are seen as not possible. PRN rejects the view of traditional treatment systems that foster dependency and low expectation but rather focuses on the eight dimensions of wellness, recovery and self-determination. I have suffered from anxiety for most of my life and I have learned a lot from the peer support specialists at PRN. PRN has made me a better professional and advocate for my clients. PRN has made me better personally by giving me a better vision of what wellness really looks like. The sky is the limit for Promise Resource Network and I am beyond thrilled to be a part of it!

Jon Weddell
Board Member

Ken Schuesselin
Board Member

I have two decades of experience in the mental health and substance use disorder treatment, recovery, and policy field. In these roles, I directed the development of policies and initiatives that increased opportunities for community inclusion, self-determination, and recovery.

I served as the Assistant Director for Consumer Policy for the North Carolina Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, where I was the key policy advisor for individuals across the substance use disorders, developmental disabilities, and mental health systems. I has been active in the recovery community for over 30 years, and my life and career reflect an ongoing commitment to self-determination and self-actualization.

John Giampaolo
Board Member

Deborah Hendren
Board Member

Erin Patel
Board Member

Scott Rosenzweig
Board Member

Alba Sanchez
Board Member

Robbie Taylor
Board Member

Our Team

“Experts by Experience have wisdom that cannot be taught in a classroom or replicated by even years of professional experience. It is unmatched. It is earned. It is effective.”
– Cherene Caraco
PRN Founder and CEO

Recovery Hub

Kim Porter
Recovery Relations Assistant

I moved to Charlotte in 2006 from San Diego and found myself depressed and dealing with a lot of anxiety due to past trauma. I volunteered to facilitate classes and was eventually hired by Promise Resource Network.

I work at the Welcome Desk and greet people as they come to Promise Resource Network. Because of my past experience with domestic violence and childhood abuse sharing this information could help others with their issues. Promise Resource Network is a great place to work and I am glad to be a part of the team.

Kim Lewis
Community Connections Coordinator

I came to Promise Resource Network in the winter of 2013. As someone who identifies with mental health and trauma, I was humbled to become part of the PRN. While working here I use the skills I built in my own recovery to help others find their resiliency and path to wellness.

Sharon Galusky
HUB & Community Education

As an educator and Certified Peer Support Specialist, I have the opportunity to share recovery at Promise Resource Network (PRN) and in community programs that serve people experiencing mental health and/or substance use challenges. Teaching is my passion and I understand how amazing it is to stand in my purpose.

I have over 30 years in the human service field and have been married for 28 years to my sweet Sandy. I am blessed to have 29 years of sobriety and over a decade of living in mental health recovery. Love and laughter are the pillars of my recovery. I am a self-proclaimed serenity seeker and I insist on having fun.

Melinda Wilkinson
Accounts Payable/Receivable

I came to PRN in the Spring of 2014 with 10 years of accounting experience. After being a stay-at-home mom for 12 years, I decided to go back to work part time. I enjoy helping others which makes PRN is a perfect place for me. I perform the accounting functions of PRN, which has grown since I started. I love the mission of PRN and how they help everyone with recovery and without judgment. I am happy to be part of the caring PRN family.

IPS-Employment Support

Chad Smith
Supported Employment

Housing and Homeownership Support

James Searcy
CPSS SPC/Tenancy Support

I became a NC Certified Peer Support Specialist in 2014 with a lived experience of substance use. I formally had been incarcerated for 17 years in federal prison. Once released I experienced homelessness and eventually engaged in a Supportive Housing Program that provided me the opportunity to be introduced to PRN.

After obtaining my Certification in Peer Support and I was able to work as a Peer Navigator providing Peer Support to Men and Women in the N.C. Dept. of Corrections and Federal Prison. Upon meeting Cherene Caraco, CEO of PRN, I was able to share my recovery story with her.

After several conversations, I had the opportunity to come to work for PRN as a Peer Support Specialist for Mecklenburg County S.P.C. Housing Program. Through my lived experience, I am able to assist others in similar situations and introduce the possibility of recovery. To convey that recovery isn’t only possible, but probable.

Bobby Livingston
CPSS SPC/Tenancy/Housing Support

My recovery journey has been challenging for me throughout life after battling schizophrenia, using alcohol, drugs, and experiencing homelessness. The early years of being unwell were hard and confusing for me because no one in my family knew what was happening to me and did not know how to help. Having been involved with PRN for over 19 years as someone who received services from them and eventually becoming an employee, I can say that the recovery principles they helped me incorporate in my life have been an incredible healing journey.

I currently work with people experiencing homelessness in the SPC program and shelter programs in Mecklenburg County. By sharing my lived experience with those served, we are able to establish trust and connection in whatever they are going through and know that I can help because I have been where they are. My mantra is: HOPE IS THE KEY TO THE NEXT DAY. I always want to instill hope with those I walk with in their journey.

Wellness and Recovery Court

Erin Perna
CPSS/Wellness Court
Team Lead

Courtney Lushbaugh
CPSS/Wellness Court


Jennifer Whitfield
Coordinator of Peer-Led Initiatives

My first experiences with depression came as a child but I wasn't aware of what I was feeling at the time. I felt pressure to present an image of a high achiever and someone who always had their stuff together. I began experimenting with alcohol as a teenager and it 'seemed' to help. My substance use escalated throughout college and became a daily activity post-graduation even though I worked in the world of mental health treatment and substance use services.

After about 10 years of increasing alcohol use and the increasing stress and depression associated, I felt I had no way out and tried to escape through taking my own life. This led to entering many treatment facilities, medication management (often over medicated), electric shock treatments and disability. With a lot of support and through learning about myself and how to manage, I returned to work full time and was able to let go of my disability benefits.

My greatest joy is sharing my experiences with others going through difficult challenges so that people know they are not alone and that it is ok to share with others and reach out for support.

JC Moore
Warm-Line Team Lead

Alema Gregg
Warm-Line Team Lead

Noah Swabe
Warm-Line Team Lead

Respite - Retreat @ The Plaza

Anna Fiscus-Surita
Interim Respite Director

I am a person in long-term recovery from substance use challenges, as well as multiple, complex traumas beginning in childhood and throughout my life. I have also experienced homelessness, hospitalizations, suicide attempts, self-harm, incarceration, domestic and gun violence, and not being able to raise some of my children. I was introduced to PRN in 2015 when I was a participant in one of Mecklenburg County’s Recovery Courts. It was one of their CPSS that planted the seed that I could be a CPSS one day.

Not long after my Recovery Court Graduation, I realized that it was my passion and purpose to share my lived experiences and recovery with others experiencing similar challenges to inspire hope that healing, recovery, and resilience are possible for anyone and everyone.

Karen Cooper

Emma Gooden

Travis Friot

Scott Stallings

Meredith DeSotoCPSS-Respite

Recovery Community Center-RCC

Erin Perna

Sam Cowden

Our Impact