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DACI Receives National Coalition Academy Certification

Iredell County’s effort to “flatten the line” of substance misuse gained some credibility in 2023.  Both of DACI’s full-time staff, Executive Director Shane Nixon and Program Coordinator Kristin Blumenstein, graduated from the National Coalition Academy at a ceremony in Washington DC in early February.  Part of a “cohort” that included 7 other like-minded coalitions from all across the US, DACI became part of only 98 such “certified” coalitions in 2023.  The training and research that goes into becoming certified are paid for by a Drug-Free Communities grant that DACI earned in 2021.  The process includes two intensive weeks of on-site training, a gathering with all other trainees twice a year, and culminates with a ”work product” that can set the tone for the coalition's work for years to come. 

“We are building on work done by the founders and sustainers of DACI,” Nixon said, adding, “we wouldn’t be where we are without a bunch of hard work that has gone into this effort.” 

With graduation, Nixon and Blumenstein can help DACI better to measure its successes in an “evidence-based way” and instantly position DACI as a candidate for more grant money and more help from places like the federal government. 

“This gives us instant credibility.  I am big on context, all things in context.  Well the context here is that there are about 300 drug, alcohol, and substance misuse coalition like organizations all over the US with new one popping up all the time.  Iredell County’s is now one of 29 that have this federal government stamp of approval.  I don’t think that can be overstated.  It is huge,” Nixon said. 

Now the DACI staff turns its attention to implementing what they’ve learned here in Iredell County before looking into the next step in certification, what the NCA calls “NCA Graduate level certification.” 

“I’m excited to bring this knowledge to the table here in Iredell County,” Nixon said.    He continued “I think there is a bunch we can do to ‘flatten the line.’ That is a phrase we use a lot, we talk about ‘flattening the line’ of substance misuse.  In training they reminded us that unfortunately the line, if graphed is likely always going to moving from bottom left to upper right, it is an upward point line that will never be completely flat.  But it can be flatter, and that is DACI’s mission, flatten the line!” 

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