Saturday Spotlight- Jeffrey Reynolds

Name: Jeffrey Reynolds
Age: 50
Marital status: Married to Maureen Reynolds
Children: Joseph 26, Brooke, 10, Ryan 6 (yeah, there’s a story there)
Occupation: Non-Profit Executive

I appreciate being WOTW, but actually thought Lou must be confusing me with someone else when he asked. I didn’t jump at the chance but he persisted, even as I tried to negotiate a better date maybe sometime in 2020. So here it goes….

Was born on October 3, 1966 and have lived on Long Island my entire life. Struggled under the weight of teen angst a bit, but made it through high school acing a couple classes and skipping the rest. Joined the Sachem High School track team, but lasted only about a week after offering my teammates cigarettes following a few lame laps around the track.

My first year at Dowling College was a trainwreck, but pulled it together and graduated with a BA in psychology. Have since earned a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) from LIU and a doctorate in social welfare from Stony Brook University.

I worked for the Victim’s Information Bureau of Suffolk providing assistance to survivors of sex crimes and domestic violence right out of college. Lost several clients at the hands of their partners, which took its toll as I experienced the mind-rattling realities of life and death.

Went from the frying pan into the fire when I took a job at the Long Island Association for AIDS Care (LIAAC) doing case management for people newly diagnosed with a then-mysterious and highly stigmatized disease. Did that for 19 years, the last half of which was spent doing political advocacy, press relations and fund development.

I left there in 2008 to run the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD) – a 60-year old nonprofit organization that was struggling and sorely needed some new energy. I had lost my mother to chronic alcoholism a few years earlier, and this was the only organization on Long Island that provided professionally facilitated addiction interventions. Was like a calling to me and I wished my brother and I had known about the organization as we begged, cajoled, threatened and did everything else we could think of over the course of twenty years to try to get my mom into treatment.

I put together a great team and we were able to rebuild the organization, increasing the budget and increasing the number of people served exponentially, especially as the heroin crisis hit. Feeling really good about a job well-done, I left two and half years ago to become President/CEO at Family and Children’s Association, one of Long Island’s largest nonprofits. It’s a privilege to serve and we run more than 30 community programs including two addiction treatment centers, Nassau’s only shelter for runaway and homeless teens, a children’s mental health program, a gun violence prevention initiative in Hempstead and case management for seniors. We have a great staff – 340 talented and committed professionals – all laser-focused on improving lives and the quality of life in our community. And we just merged LICADD’s operations into FCA.

So, how did I get into running?

I was at a professional conference in Tampa, Florida in October, 2010 and at dinner the night before, I few people mentioned that they were doing a 5K in the morning. It was already late and I’d never run more than a mile in my entire life, but I had done a few rounds of P90X, so what the heck?

Showed up bright and early that morning having eaten nothing and in an old pair of gym sneakers and a white undershirt and sprinted off the start line. Was walking about three minutes later and repeated the ugly pattern until I hobbled across the finish line in 32 minutes. In retrospect, it wasn’t as bad as it seemed back then, but I had higher expectations.

I went back to my hotel room and started obsessively signing up for 5Ks. My times started to improve and you know how this thing goes. 5Ks weren’t enough and so then it was 10Ks, half marathons, then the full 26.2. When that wasn’t enough, it was swimming, biking and running and I completed my first 70.3 in Atlantic City last fall.

Besides my quest for better health and longevity, especially as the father of two young children, running and triathlons help keep my mind clear, enhance my focus and boost my physical and emotional stamina. I do lots of public speaking and a ten-mile run gives me the perfect opportunity to work through and practice speeches.

I’ve used marathons and triathlons to raise $25,000+ for various charities and to raise awareness about addiction and the promise of recovery. When those long runs feel like a struggle, I find gratitude by thinking about the struggles so many Long Islanders endure each and every day. There are people all around us enduring unbearable pain, lousy living conditions, stress, anxiety, and illnesses and yet they find a way to persevere. That’s my inspiration.

I first ran the hills a year or two ago and I actually convinced my wife to do so with me on New Year’s eve. The night before she asked me, “is it like Cow Harbor”? Um. Yeah. Kinda.

She did it and amazingly, we are still married.

Well, thanks for taking the time to read my rambings and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week!

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