This year’s Mobilize Recovery (August 18-20, 2020) event showed, once again, that the recovery advocacy community is diverse, dedicated, and resilient. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the national advocacy event was hosted virtually by the Recovery Advocacy Project and the Voices Project, making it the largest and most accessible training to date. Advocates from across America attended to network, learn new skills, and share tactics to improve recovery outcomes during the national drug epidemic.
The event included a star-studded lineup of speakers such as Elton John, Macklemore, former U.S. Representative Patrick J. Kennedy, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and President Bill Clinton. They spoke about their personal experiences with recovery and why they remain passionate about policy change that saves lives, creates infrastructure, and eliminate the stigma of addiction. Leaders from organizations such as Foundation for Recovery, Shatterproof, The Voices Project, Recovery Advocacy Project, Partnership to End Addiction, the McShin Foundation, and Young People in Recovery also delivered remarks and insights into their work building a national recovery coalition. With the support of Serve You Rx, Google, the Sandgaard Foundation, and others—the emphasis this year was on inclusivity, diversity, and civic engagement. Mobilize Recovery brought together hundreds of participants from different backgrounds and beliefs, showing that recovery is not a partisan issue, but one that unites diverse advocates.
“It’s amazing what we’ve accomplished in just a few short years,” said Ryan Hampton, founder of the Voices Project. “With the support of our partners and sponsors, we’re able to build a bigger platform so that recovery leadership is actually representative of the people we serve. I learned so much from our presenters and I know that, especially in an election year, that those tools are vital to share. If we’re going to unite recovery voters, this is the time to do it, and these are the strategies we need.”
Inclusivity and mutual support were major themes, with special breakout sessions and panels specifically addressing racial justice, dismantling white supremacy, LGBTQ-specific recovery needs, and more. Mobilize Recovery worked to center marginalized voices from many communities, including Native and Indigenous communities; Black and African-American communities; LGBTQ communities; Latinx communities; faith leadership; and a wide range of recovery pathways. Participants learned to challenge their prejudices and preconceived notions in trainings that addressed privilege, as they apply to recovery advocacy. Other events included interactive trainings from the Harvard Kennedy School, social media training with Facebook, tech tools with Google, and effective storytelling with bestselling author Anna David, and a stand-up comedy show.
More than 300 people attended Mobilize, connected with one another, and added to their advocacy toolboxes. Although the event was virtual, the excitement and enthusiasm was palpable. Mobilize Recovery 2020 succeeded in bringing many people together on one platform and uplifting the recovery advocacy community, while training the next generation of advocates and leaders. With exemplary guests including a former U.S. President and iconic entertainers, as well as knowledgeable and insightful presenters, this event was one for the books. Planning for the next Mobilize Recovery has already begun, with organizers preparing to make 2021 even more inclusive, informative, and inspiring. Registration opportunities will be announced early next year.