We engage, educate, and empower individuals and their families in drug and alcohol prevention.  We serve as a community resource to advance youth prevention, find necessary supports, and promote community collaboration while creating awareness.   We are proactive in our work. We choose not to let others define us by being silent.

We are all broken…that is how the light gets in.”  Hemingway

The two most important risk factors are genetics and age at which a person starts to use drugs/alcohol. The younger the person the more vulnerable the brain.   Scientists estimate that genetics accounts for roughly half a person’s likelihood of developing SUD.  So, sharing with our children whether or not they are genetically vulnerable could be a life altering conversation.  Prevention education is creating a new social norm that ALL TEENS DON’T use drugs and alcohol and that delaying use for all youth is the safest path.   

Our community can rally around our youth and help support delaying use, understanding that substance use disorder comes in different shapes, sizes, drug of choice/alcohol, frequency, and that when someone does find they need help do they know where to look for support.  The message starts with each of us talking with our children so we can support the community-at-large.  

Community Living Above (CLA) whose original name was West Linn Community Task Force came together in 2011 when parents expressed concerns about teen drug/alcohol use in the community.

Today, CLA is led by volunteer board of directors and prevention coalition members representing various sectors of our community to bring awareness and education to youth and families about substance use prevention and supports.

Substance use disorder and many mental health concerns are insidious – they proceed in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects many life-altering. So, in the same incremental way, it appears there is not a quick fix or solution to substance use/mental health disorders.

Substance use disorders aren’t an adult or youth problem it’s a human problem. It’s complicated and important that communities come together to bring awareness and an understanding to what prevention, intervention, acute treatment needs, and aftercare/recovery could look like in communities where individuals and families feel safe to share their experiences and receive support.

Community sector collaboration to engage, educate, and empower individuals and their families to embrace preventing or mitigating substance use/mental health disorders.  

  • When help, support, and resources are needed we can assist:   where to look, and walking alongside individuals and families that need help.  
  • We reducing shame and stigma by sharing our stories and encouraging others to share theirs.   
  • Bring hope by paying what we’ve learned forward.
Our vision is to come alongside community members, businesses, schools, city, county, and state organizations to find resources that can support our community.  
  • Supporting local community members and sectors: by connecting and providing Information, education, and resources.
  • Enhance skills: Workshops, seminars, or activities designed to increase the skills of participants, members, and staff (e.g., training and technical assistance, parenting classes, strategic planning retreats, model programs in schools).
  • Provide Support: Creating opportunities for participation in activities that reduce risk or enhance protection (e.g., alternative activities, mentoring, referrals for service, support groups, youth clubs).

Thank you to the volunteer Board of Directors, Teen Advisory Board, and community members who tirelessly fight-the-fight to bring awareness and education, resources, and support to communities near and far. Prevention works has an amazing ripple effect and the benefits can be felt forever. This poem is dedicated to YOU – the People in the Arena!!!

Board of Directors


Ellen McMillan, Treasurer

Ellen is a 15-year resident of West Linn with one child who graduated from West Linn High School and another at the high school. She has over 25-years’ experience in corporate income tax. Currently employed as tax director at Cascade Corp. in Gresham, Ellen has worked for Tektronix Inc., NACCO Materials Handling Group, and Arthur Andersen.




Dana Free, Secretary

Dana Free is part of the Acadia Healthcare team of Treatment Placement Specialists. Her area of focus is the Pacific Northwest and she provides a free service to find appropriate treatment for people in need of addiction and mental health services.

Dana enjoys her time on the board of Community Living Above (CLA). Dana moved with her family to West Linn, Oregon 15 years ago and is the proud mother of two sons, a high school Junior and a University of Oregon Sophomore (Go Ducks!). These three men are her core and keep her grounded and real on a daily basis.

Olie Jolstad

Olie Jolstad is a native Oregonian, and resident of West Linn for over three years. A graduate of Portland State University, and business owner providing commercial insurance consulting, and expert witness litigation support services throughout the United States, and international locations. He has over 34 consecutive years of long-term recovery and working with others in their respective journey in recovery. Olie has served in various volunteer positions with Habitat for Humanity, Boys & Girls Club, church, education, outdoor, and industry professional organizations.

Garth Swanson

Garth is an Oregon native, a graduate of West Linn high school and a person in long term recovery. Garth is self-employed in investment real estate. Growing up in West Linn, he experienced the problems associated with teenage use of drugs and alcohol and came out the other side in recovery. He joined CLA to see how he could make a difference in the community he grew up in.




Steve Burch, Board President

Steve and Stacey are native Texans who moved to Oregon several years ago to begin a new chapter in their lives. Their three children have all been students in West Linn School District. Steve is a Certified Financial Planner with UBS and Stacey is thankful to be in a position to stay at home to wrangle the children and their crazy schedules. They are active in the community, having served on PTO boards, as facilitators for Financial Peace classes, volunteer regularly in various positions, and have been known to show up at a city council meeting or two. They are honored to be a part of the work being done with Community Living Above. Like so many others, their lives have been touched by substance use disorders and they look forward to working with other members of the community to bring about awareness and positive change in this arena. 

Ethan McCarty, Student Representative

Mac is currently a senior at his hometown high school, West Linn. A fourth-year varsity in rowing with Lake Oswego, Mac has traveled internationally and deeply enjoys the connections he’s made and the sport of crew itself. He is an active Teen Advisory Board member and leader and is the student representative on the Community Living Above board and Coalition Representative for youth. He is a former Teen Advisor member through the Public Library. Mac is smart, funny, and handsome (all self-proclaimed, none the less!), and is grateful for the opportunities that come knocking.



Robert Ward

Rob Ward is a long-time resident of West Linn, with two children in the West Linn School District. He worked for the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office for twenty-five years with the mindset to help others with their addictions & life challenges. Prior to working for the Sheriff’s Office, he worked at three different Juvenile detention facilities, Donald E Long (Multnomah County, Skip Worth (Lane County), and Marion County’s Juvenile Detention. 

He places great pride and is honored to be on the board of Community Living Above (CLA). He’s passionate about helping our community through awareness and positive change. Let’s come together as a community and support each other in the fight to prevent substance use disorders.


Bill Fahey, Board Vice-President

Bill Fahey is a native Oregonian who has lived most of his life in the Portland metro area. While early in recovery, Bill founded GS Testing, a drug and alcohol testing business, with a focus on recovery. While working with local families, Bill became aware of and joined CLA as a way of giving back to the recovery community. His son Billy (25) recently moved back to Portland and his daughter Gabi (21) just graduated college and is off to veterinarian school in the fall. In his free time, Bill likes to hike and work in his garden.


Pam Pearce, Executive Director

Pam is a long-time resident of West Linn and is originally from Lake Oswego, Oregon. She has three children all brought up in the West Linn Wilsonville School District. Currently, in long-term recovery, Pam’s passion for helping others to prevent Substance Use Disorders and find the help and support they need is contagious.

Over the years, Pam has been a contributor and prevention resource for prevention and recovery o and has shared her personal experience in recovery and as a prevention leader on local and national blogs, magazines, and news sites.  She speaks regularly at local and statewide engagements like OHSU, County agencies, and youth groups to national speaking engagements like her college alma mater the University of Southern California where she was able to share her story with families.  

Her passion for prevention awareness education led her to get involved with local, state, and national groups supporting prevention, awareness, and recovery. She is a member of several groups/councils:  The Clackamas County Prevention Coalition working to create healthy communities supporting prevention education and supports.  An Executive Board Member to the Mental Health and Addiction Council with Clackamas County. A member of the Prescription/Opioid Taskforce (RxOT) Youth Initiative, a cooperative agreement working to support the national opioid crisis. She is also a participant in the national group The Communities Project that works with communities across the country to align their voices and combat addiction through community organizing.

Her work involves board participation too.  She is a board member of the Oregon Public Health Association, the Addiction Prevention Section. An advisory board member for CLEAR Alliance, a statewide coalition, which focuses on reducing and preventing youth substance abuse and impaired driving through fact-based education in Oregon, and an executive committee member of the Mental Health and Addiction Council for Clackamas County.

She has been honored personally and professionally at the local, state, and national levels for her work in prevention and recovery awareness and supports. Recognized as the Volunteer of the Year in her local school district, where her work to engage, empower, and educate youth on drug/alcohol prevention started. Chosen in 2018 as the Freedom Award winner given by DePaul Treatment Centers, an honor given to those who help battle the stigma of addiction by sharing their story of recovery and giving back to the community in a meaningful way.

Her work professionally has been recognized by national organizations for work in her local community.  Facing Addiction with National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence launched a Pilot Project that worked to reform the public response to “face” addiction. Community Living Above was one of 15 cities selected in the national search. The Addiction Policy Forum, a leading national nonprofit, recognized Pam’s work with Community Living Above in its Oregon Innovations to Address Addiction report, spotlighting innovative programs in Oregon that address addiction and provide support for families and communities.
Most recently, Pam co-founded two new projects that will serve teens and their families who find they need recovery support. The first is Family Inspired Recovery (FIR), an Alternative Peer Group model. FIR is a community of families growing and healing from the effects of teen substance use and other high-risk behaviors. The other organization in which Pam is a co-founding member the Oregon Recovery High School Initiative, a coalition of recovery advocates, educators, health system professionals, and business leaders committed to launching Oregon’s first recovery high school, Harmony Academy. Both organizations are the first of their kind in our state. It is Pam’s mission to create communities where families can grow and heal from the effects of substance use disorders and other high-risk behaviors.
Pam feels her work supporting young people and their families is her highest calling thus far.  Her mess is now her message and redemption is the gift.

Anne Marie Lowe, Operations Director/Manager

 Anne Marie is a career financial director, bringing over 20 years of banking and nonprofit management experience to local nonprofits. Her financial expertise includes working as a commercial banker in Portland bringing an array of financial products and services to a commercial banking client base. Over the course of her career, Anne Marie has spent time working within the nonprofit sector, bringing relationship management and cash management needs to the nonprofit industry. Her nonprofit experience includes organizational advancement through development and fundraising initiatives, fiscal management, budgeting, grant writing, workshop creation and facilitation, event management, and strategic planning facilitation to various nonprofit missions within the Portland metropolitan area.

Lowe holds a degree in International Business from Linfield College. An active member of the community, Anne Marie is an honorary member of the Rotary Club of Portland where she served as President in 2010-2011. Other community involvement includes serving as an Advisory Board member for the Salvation Army and a member of the Royal Rosarians. 



David Baker

David grew up in Lake Oswego and graduated from Lakeridge High School. He went on to receive a Bachelor of Science in Business & Leadership from Marylhurst University and a Master of Science in Economic Competitiveness and International Business from the University of Birmingham (U.K.).

David runs the label that publishes and distributes music around the globe. His other community volunteer efforts include serving on the West Linn Public Safety Advisory Board, the West Linn Utility Advisory Board, and as neighborhood association president for Rosemont Summit. In his spare time, David enjoys Portland Timber games, spending time in his garden, and kayaking.

Dr. Sarah Tycast

Sarah Tycast has lived in West Linn for 5 years, returning to her PNW roots after many years away. She is a pediatrician with a special interest in adolescent medicine and prevention. She and her husband James have 2 boys at Sunset Primary, where she is involved with the PTSO. They keep busy with lots of sports, 2 cats, and an active (and large) Rhodesian Ridgeback named Addie.


Julie Van Ness (Co-Founder of West Linn Community Task Force now CLA)

Founded The West Linn Community Task Force in 2010 with the goal of bringing community collaborators together to tackle pressing societal issues around substance use and abuse, plus teen bullying. The peer-to-peer platform was mainly focused around prevention and elevating youth leadership to create positive change. Julie served as President for 6 years, until her two sons graduated, and today continues to help support the recovery community through her work at Real Leaders. (www.real-leaders.com)


Nicole Mitchell

Nicole Mitchell is a ten-year resident of West Linn who grew up in the area. She has a daughter who graduated from WLHS in 2015 and a West Linn High Schooler. She has volunteered in the school district for many years. Nicole is a Special Education Instructional assistant for West Linn Wilsonville School District.

Teen Advisory Board (TAB)

 The Teen Advisory Board is a high school student volunteer group changing the way we view and speak of substance use and mental health disorders. Students of each grade level at West Linn High School comprise the Teen Advisory Board. These courageous, thoughtful, and supportive TAB students — are today more than 200+ strong. They provide input and critical feedback to Community Living Above regarding teen and community activities and events that bring awareness, education, and advocacy for all to support preventing drug and alcohol use as a youth.

The vision is to share the facts about drug and alcohol use/misuse/abuse/delaying use, how to take care of ourselves, and those around us, and how to have conversations that heal and not hurt. To change the social norm to one that is based on facts and not stigma or shame.

These student leaders understand the importance of “making a difference” through their involvement in projects that help send peer-to-peer messages that positively impact others in their community. One of the most important things shared is that MOST teens do not “use” drugs and alcohol, and their voices need to be heard and supported.

These students have reasons as to why they choose not to “use,” and their ideas can help change the social norm that today says, “all kids do it, and they’ll grow out of it.” Prevention education and understanding genetics and our environments play such an important role in how to help and support ourselves and others with regard to substance use.

Prevention understands that delaying use and finding the necessary supports in the teen years can have a lifetime effect on many aspects of a community, our country, our world. Support, grace, and acceptance is imperative and will happen by sharing information, experiences, and emotional support, which ultimately gives hope.