Mary Pat Angelini

Alumni Profile

More Than an Initial Impact

The MPA behind Mary Pat Angelini’s, MPA’93 (R), name does not represent her initials. “People don’t realize it’s my degree, master of public administration,” she laughs. And she has well applied her lessons learned at FDU. Angelini is the executive director of the nonprofit organization, Prevention First (formerly known as Substance Abuse Resources), which offers programs and services to prevent and eliminate substance abuse in Monmouth County, N.J.

“Our mission is to promote healthy, safe children, families and communities,” Angelini explains. Prevention First does this through advocacy with government resources, collaboration with other agencies and education within the school systems. For example, the agency sponsors programs on the dangers of both drugs and violence for school-age children and on the dangers of prescription drug interactions for senior citizens. “We span the entire lifetime of the individual; people may need help at any age,” Angelini says.

“Our mission is to promote healthy, safe children, families and communities. We span the entire lifetime of the individual; people may need help at any age.”
— Mary Pat Angelini

Headquartered in Angelini’s hometown of Oakhurst, N.J., Prevention First also offers an in-house resource center that has a full-time information specialist. “We have become the substance-abuse prevention experts in Monmouth County. We position ourselves as a resource to all the communities and municipal alliances,” she says.

The organization has grown considerably under Angelini’s leadership. Before she arrived in early 1992, the agency had lost most of its funding and, as she recalls, “The doors were closed and the agency was basically dead.” Angelini’s background prepared her for the challenge. She had been a program development specialist with Monmouth County and a psychiatric social worker at Monmouth Medical Center before working for the county coordinating municipal drug alliances.

“When I left county government, I knew where the monetary resources were, and I tapped into the ties I forged while working for the county,” says Angelini. She immediately applied for a grant with the New Jersey Department of Health, and the agency was awarded $125,000 in the summer of 1992. “Initially, I would paraphrase Mark Twain, ‘The rumors of our death are greatly exaggerated,’” Angelini says with a smile. That first grant was the base from which the organization has grown. Current funding sources include the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and the Juvenile Justice Commission, the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, the United Way and corporations. Angelini says the budget for 2001 will be $1.7 million, and the agency is looking to stabilize its growth. There also are plans for a capital campaign to buy or build a new facility.

Prevention First recently made news when it became one of the charities to receive proceeds from Bruce Springsteen’s holiday concert in Convention Hall, Asbury Park, N.J. “It was a wonderful concert, and we are very grateful for Bruce’s assistance,” says Angelini.

“I find many of my management courses from FDU have come in handy with the growth of the agency,”
— Mary Pat Angelini

Although Prevention First is nonprofit, it is also a growing, vital business. “I find many of my management courses from FDU have come in handy with the growth of the agency,” explains Angelini, who took courses at FDU’s Monmouth County Graduate Center in Eatontown, N.J. She particularly recalls her Personnel Management course as being relevant and, in fact, her course book graces the shelves of her office. “I referred to it a number of times over the years,” says Angelini. She also felt that the professors in the MPA program “gave hands-on discussions. They used real-life situations to enhance their courses, and that kept the students fully engaged in the classroom,” she explains.

Angelini also is involved with planning and policy boards throughout the state and is currently president of the New Jersey Prevention Network. She is a former member of the Leadership Council of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and was appointed by former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman to serve on the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. She recently produced and hosted a weekly cable show called “Issues of Substance.” She also chairs the County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Professional Advisory Committee and sits on the County Mental Health Professional Advisory Committee.

Her civic efforts earned her the coveted Golden Osprey Award for Outstanding Community Service from the Southern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce in 1999.

When not engaged in community efforts, Angelini relishes spending time with her family, which includes her husband, son and daughter. She also has taken up golf. “I’m not very good at it, and I have to practice a lot,” she laughs. “But I have surprised myself with how much I like it.” Her newfound sporting skills will come in handy when Prevention First holds its annual golf outing in May.

While Angelini jokes about diligently tackling the intricacies of her golf swing, she takes quite seriously her commitment to the mission of Prevention First. “We have a dedicated staff that has a wonderful reputation in the communities we serve,” she says proudly. “We want to continue to do a great job and even further enhance our programs.”

— M.D.

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