Kevin Kirby

Ashoka Fellow
Sioux Falls, United States
Fellow Since 2013
My work: Changing mindsets, especially among employers, that addiction is a chronic disease that needs to be treated.


Check out this video of Kevin's work:




Related TopicsHealth & Fitness, Health care, Mental health, Substance abuse


This profile was prepared when Kevin Kirby was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
Alcohol and other drug addictions affect nearly 10 percent of the adult population in the US yet less than 10 percent of those struggling with it actually seek help. Kevin is working to ensure that addiction is understood and treated as a chronic disease in order to increase the number of people who seek help and their success rate in sustaining their remission.

Though other initiatives seek to destigmatize addiction, many continue to approach treatment through an acute care model (when emergencies arise) and no organization has positioned itself nationally to take a comprehensive and sustainable approach to systems change around addiction. Kevin is breaking down stigma, in part through a public education campaign, but mainly by pointing out the economic incentives for employers to become part of the solution. Not only is his approach bringing a new ally to this cause, it is creating an environment of trust where employees, often for the first time, hear about addiction as a chronic disease from none other than their boss. The model provides value to the private sector, primarily employers, in return for a sustainable, stable funding stream for this work, ensuring long-term sustainable growth. (The majority of addiction services are funded through government monies, making them vulnerable to changing priorities and budget cuts.)

Kevin and his team are beginning their work in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They are in the early stages of spreading to other communities in South Dakota and the Upper Midwest. Since 2008, they have reached more than 40 percent of Sioux Falls’s workforce, reaching several hundreds of new people per month.

In 2012, Kevin established Face It TOGETHER as the national headquarters of which Face It TOGETHER Sioux Falls has become an affiliate. The plan is to increase the number of affiliates across the country and to do for addiction what Susan G. Komen for the Cure has done for breast cancer.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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