New Grand Futures executive director approaches role with passion and personal connection
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Growing up in Routt and Moffat counties, new Grand Futures Prevention Coalition Executive Director Amber DeLay understands the uniqueness of the region’s different communities and the challenges related to substance abuse.
Delay, 30, spent part of her childhood in Hayden, before moving to Craig where she graduated from high school. Her family has been in the Yampa Valley for multiple generations.
She’s lived in the Steamboat Springs area for the past few years and was eager to find a leadership role in a nonprofit through which she could make an impact.
Grand Futures takes a three-pronged approach on preventing substance abuse among youth and young adults:
- Through positive youth development to empower young people to make healthy, positive, substance-free choices.
- By educating trusted adults to ensure that adult leaders serve as role models for youth to positively influence choices and behavior surrounding substance use.
- To further ensure a unified message to educate the community at large about the impacts of substance use and misuse on youth.
DeLay experienced peer pressure related to drugs and alcohol during her own childhood and saw the impacts of substance abuse on local communities.
“I grew up here, too,” she said. “I came across many of the same challenges.”
The role at Grand Futures was a perfect fit, she said. “I found something I am personally passionate about with prevention, and I hope to make an impact on my home communities.”
DeLay graduated from Metro State University with a bachelor’s degree in English and from Concordia University with a master’s degree in grant writing, management and evaluation.
A grant writer by trade, DeLay brings her experience as a grant writer in southern Oregon, a program manager for Routt County United Way and from her work with Routt County’s Purchasing and Building & Plant Department.
DeLay commends the strong team in place across three counties in which Grand Futures works — Routt, Moffat and Grand — and the foundations built by her predecessor, Lindsey Simbeye.
She said Simbeye, who left in January to take on a new role as external relations strategist for the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse and Prevention, stays in close contact and has helped her through the transition.
DeLay expressed deep gratitude for the opportunity to make a positive impact with young people in the area and the support of the organization’s board members.
“We are very excited to have Amber join our team of passionate prevention specialists,” said Interim Executive Director and Board Member Amy Jenkins. “She brings knowledge of the communities that we serve and great energy to the mission of creating healthy communities for our youth.”
DeLay is equipped with a model far beyond the “Just say No” campaign of past decades. That scare tactic approach “tends not to be as effective,” she said. Instead, Grand Futures works to empower young people and create positive opportunities for them to have a voice and engage in their communities.
A lot of what Grand Futures does is youth-led, she said, in giving young people the opportunity to choose projects and guide the conversation.
DeLay will continue the work of Grand Futures in tackling the dangers of vaping and opioid abuse.
But no matter the substance, DeLay’s focus is on giving youth the tools to build healthy coping mechanism in the face of peer pressure and adversity.
“No matter what the trend or substance,” DeLay said, “We want to make sure kids have something positive in life to hold onto — and that they know how to make positive choices for themselves, no matter what challenges come up.”
And never have the challenges been more unique than right now.
While it is too early to have COVID-19 related data on substance abuse, there are early indications the current environment is only exacerbating substance abuse among young people and adults.
And it is important to remember adults are always role models, DeLay noted.
In an environment of social isolation, engaging youth has never been more important.
Some of Grand Future’s youth councils have gone virtual, DeLay said, and they are collaborating with community partners to address this unprecedented situation.
Despite the challenges ahead, DeLay is filled with gratitude for the opportunity to bring her passion and skills to the table. “I feel honored to be taking on this role,” she said.
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Moffat County School District’s COVID-19 dashboard indicates that positivity rates have remained low for the second week in a row.