Kathy Graham Sullivan
When the interview committee hired Kathy Graham Sullivan as the RAYSAC Director many years ago, she was a spitfire of energy, ideas and passion. Kathy has served as our director since that time, and has led RAYSAC through the implementation of two successful Drug Free Communities grants and launched us into the first year of a long-term Partnership for Success grant.
Under Kathy’s leadership the Roanoke Valley achieved the most important goal of decreasing underage drinking. Kathy’s guidance and direction have been key to increasing RAYSAC’s community partners, raising the statewide visibility of our coalition, and increasing our community’s shared ownership of the multiple issues and problems related to youth alcohol and drug use. She initiated a partnership with the Water Authority of Southwestern Virginia to educate the public about the proper disposal of unused prescription drugs, then initiated Drug Take Back events through partnerships with the DEA and set up the Roanoke Valley Prescription Drug Task Force. She was then invited to serve on the Governor’s Drug Task Force to help shape our state’s response to the nation-wide prescription drug and heroin epidemics.
Kathy’s creativity, business expertise and passion helped make even bigger and better RAYSAC’s two signature events, Red Ribbon Week and the After Prom Grand Finale. There are so many ways that Kathy’s sharp intellect, expertise, keen business sense, electric energy and strong sense of fairness have shaped the great coalition that RAYSAC is today. While it has taken many folks, and all of us, to achieve the many goals RAYSAC has attained, Kathy’s leadership has guided us and made an indelible mark on it all. Kathy’s spirit will always be at the core of our coalition work. Fond memories of her leading our meetings and speaking to us from behind podiums, in her pearls of course, will always be with us.
Now Kathy, our dear friend, colleague and leader has passed away after her battle with cancer. We’re not sure how we will continue without her, but know she would be furious if we did not, so we guess we must, because RAYSAC’s goals remain vital to the health of our community. Kathy, the most passionate of youth advocates, has always reminded us why we do what we do and how special and intuitive our children are.
So, as Kathy always signed off, so shall we: “Because you are children, and you can understand it.” Mr. Dolphus Raymond, To Kill A Mockingbird