October 30, 2020

Addressing a Great Health Challenge

Drug and alcohol addiction are at the root of a wide range of social issues--and during times of crisis, those issues can be compounded.

According to AddictionCenter.com, almost 21 million Americans suffer from addiction, yet only 10% of them receive treatment. The human and financial consequences are enormous, affecting every sector of society.

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Wendy White ’14 MBA is CEO of Face It TOGETHER.

A Beacom School of Business alumnae is aiming to ameliorate that.

Wendy White ’14 MBA is CEO of Face It TOGETHER, a social enterprise committed to solving one of the nation’s greatest health challenges: the chronic disease of drug and alcohol addiction. The non-profit organization got its start in Sioux Falls 10 years ago, managing addiction through coaching for people with addiction and loved ones.

Those critical issues have certainly been exacerbated during the time of COVID-19. White reveals that the center’s recorded numbers of people reaching out for help has increased since the onset of the pandemic in March and skyrocketed in May and June as the pandemic wore on.

“Our data shows that May was an exceptional month with a high level of people enquiring about our program,” White explained. “We have remained pretty steady.”

Face It TOGETHER’s data from May 2020 indicates the impact of social isolation: people reaching out for help either recognized they had a problem or were struggling in their wellness. “We have seen a high number of members re-engage that are struggling with life during the pandemic,” White said. 

As chief executive officer, White ensures organizational stability and governance of the organization. Though her team is small in numbers—there are nine employees—they are making a big impact in the realm of addiction 

“We work hard to give members the tools in their toolbox to reach self-actualization and to be able to independently manage their wellness,” she explained. “We also want members to know that we are always here to help if they hit a roadblock or start struggling. We meet them where they are, offering them a safe, non-judgmental space.”

Prior to her role at Face It TOGETHER, White worked as a senior executive director of clinical applications at Sanford Health, leading a team of 150 people in technology innovation, health information exchange and numerous clinical applications. She also previously worked as a clinical informatics manager and clinical informatics analyst for the health care organization.

After several years immersed in that career, White decided to take advantage of Beacom’s online MBA, taking nearly every class online from her home in Sioux Falls, all while working full time. “I always knew I’d go back to school,” White said. “I chose USD because of Beacom’s accreditation and flexibility of the online classes.”

The Yankton, South Dakota, native says that getting her MBA helped her tremendously in the financial accounting area. “That was something I didn’t have much prior experience with,” White said. “The USD classes helped me understand it much better and improved my critical thinking skills. As you move up the ladder, you need to be better at asking better questions, and USD allowed me to think of things in a different way to ask those better questions. I still use examples today that I learned from my USD professors.”

For White, taking advantage of class flexibility and a robust curriculum is a key reason for her career trajectory. 

“I can attribute having the skills to follow business and non-profit regulations to my education,” she explained. “That experience made it easier to understand regulations and how we could best leverage them for Face It TOGETHER’s success.

“USD’s MBA has enabled me to be flexible,” White continued. “I’ve never been good at answering the question ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ That’s just not how I think in terms of my career. I want to be ready for whatever opportunities present themselves to me.”

Learn more about Face It TOGETHER at wefaceittogether.org.