Kathleen Riddle is President and CEO Emeritus of Outreach, the agency she co-founded in 1980 to bring specialized drug and alcohol treatment services to adolescents and other underserved communities. Through her progressive efforts, she grew the agency into one of the largest and most respected substance abuse treatment service providers in New York. Under her leadership, Outreach was the first to offer specialized quality residential treatment to adolescents, and is recognized as a premier provider of behavioral health and chemical dependency care for adolescents, families, women, women with children, and adults across diverse populations.For more than 40 years, Riddle has advocated for greater access and care for persons with addiction treatment needs in New York. Through her steady guidance, she expanded the agency’s reach and continuum of services by building and opening programs throughout Queens, Brooklyn, and Long Island. She created the agency-wide strategy and overall vision, and managed its growth.
Hand picking much of her senior staff, she shaped a workplace that has enjoyed high employee satisfaction. Riddle is especially proud that many of the staff have chosen to make Outreach their career. Under her direction, Outreach was been named “One of the Best Companies to Work for in New York State” eight times since 2010. She also personally oversaw the design of Outreach’s unparalleled, state of the art facilities, creating family-oriented, welcoming professional environments, a role she continues to provide as special advisor to the organization, after stepping down as president and CEO on June 30, 2018.
Riddle began her career with New York City Youth Services and entered the education arena as a drug education specialist and substance abuse prevention counselor with the NYC Board of Education’s School District 27 in Ozone Park, Queens. Working with elementary and then middle school students, Riddle saw firsthand the devastating effects of substance abuse on children and their families. She recognized the need to create a treatment approach for adolescents with substance use disorder who were, at the time, sent to mental health institutions or enrolled in adult treatment programs. She founded Outreach to provide access for adolescents under the age of 16 into a specialized residential care model that treated the addiction while tending to their unique social and emotional development.
Through four decades, Riddle has remained a determined advocate for program development and access to treatment for substance use disorders. She serves on professional and advisory groups locally and nationally, including the Executive Boards of the Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers (ASAP) of NYS, Therapeutic Communities Association (TCA) of New York, and Treatment Communities of America. Riddle is also a member of state advisory groups on Medicaid redesign, behavioral health reform for children, chemical dependency field talent management, and also on county advisory boards that focus on community mental health and alcohol and substance abuse service planning.
Riddle is a proud graduate of Elms College, from which she received their Distinguished Alumni Award in 2014. Also that year, she received ASAP’s Women’s Leadership Award. In 2015, she was honored by USA Networks as a USA Unites Award recipient, which recognizes individuals who have helped strengthen their communities and enrich the lives of others.