One of the addiction treatment leaders most closely identified with the evolution of the therapeutic community (TC) will retire at the end of this month. David H. Kerr, who founded Newark, N.J.-based Integrity House in the late 1960s and has been its longtime president, leaves an agency that has grown substantially and broadened its reach. This mirrors an overall trend among TCs that today reflect a continuum of care as opposed to a narrowly defined residential model.
Integrity House, now with operations in Newark and Secaucus and services that include supportive housing for mothers, serves more than 1,400 clients a year. It has had a strong national profile in recent years, such as in 2009 when the Oprah Winfrey Foundation singled it out for a $500,000 donation to bring a women’s transitional housing facility to fruition in Newark.
“Dave has been one of the key leaders and greatest driving forces in substance abuse recovery in New Jersey and nationally for over 40 years,” says Darrell Terry, Integrity House’s board chairman. In one of Kerr’s signature activities for the field, he authored the first national working definition of a therapeutic community in the early 1980s.
Robert Budsock, who joined Integrity House in 1984 and has most recently served as the organization’s chief operating officer, will take over as president and CEO when Kerr retires on Jan. 31.
Kerr has consistently been a vocal advocate for innovation in programming and for government support of the core activities of publicly funded treatment. Around 2008, Integrity House began modifying activities in the TC to assist gang-affiliated clients in successfully integrating into their home communities. Back in 2010, Kerr was active in arguing that the loss of guaranteed advance payments for publicly funded treatment providers in New Jersey threatened to cripple the state’s treatment infrastructure—and in offering reasoned alternatives.