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Holding Hands


people living in recovery

People Living in Recovery, Inc., (a Recovery Community Organization) is an independent, non-profit organization led and governed by representatives of local communities of recovery. These organizations organize recovery-focused policy advocacy activities, carry out recovery-focused community education and outreach programs, and/or provide peer-based recovery support services (P-BRSS).

  • Conduct ongoing local recovery support needs assessment surveys or focus groups

  • Organize recovery-focused policy and advocacy activities

  • Increase recovery workforce capacity and expertise through training and education

  • Carry out recovery-focused outreach programs to engage people seeking recovery, in recovery, or in need of recovery-focused support services or events to educate and raise public awareness

  • Conduct recovery-focused public and professional education events

  • Provide peer recovery support services (PRSS)

  • Support the development of recovery support institutions (e.g., education-based recovery support programs, recovery community centers, recovery cafes, recovery ministries, recovery-focused employment programs, recovery-focused prison reentry programs, etc.)

  • Host local, regional, or national recovery celebration events

  • Collaborate on the integration of recovery-focused activities within local prevention, harm reduction, early intervention, and treatment initiatives


meet our staff

PLR staff are peer support workers who have been successful in the recovery process and help others experiencing similar situations. Through shared understanding, respect, and mutual empowerment, PLR staff help people become and stay engaged in the recovery process, which reduces the likelihood of relapse. PLR's peer support services can effectively extend the reach of treatment beyond the clinical setting into the everyday environment of those seeking a successful, sustained recovery process.


All of PLR's peer support workers have completed intensive training in becoming Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialists (CARES). As CARES providers, PLR staff are able to:

  • Advocate for recovery for themselves, the peers with whom they work, their recovery community, and for a Recovery Oriented System of Care.

  • Host recovery groups using the “Partners for Change Outcome Management System”, an evidence-based practice found on the SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence Based Practices and Programs (NREPP).

  • Conduct individual recovery check-ins by supporting peers in self-directed care and assessing a peer’s ‘recovery capital’ using Motivational Interviewing (NREPP-supported) skills to enhance the relationship.

All of PLR's peer support workers have completed intensive training in becoming Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialists (CARES). As CARES providers, PLR staff are able to:

  • Advocate for recovery for themselves, the peers with whom they work, their recovery community, and for a Recovery Oriented System of Care.

  • Host recovery groups using “Partners for Change Outcome Management System”, an evidence-based practice found on the SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence Based Practices and Programs (NREPP).

  • Conduct individual recovery check-ins by supporting peers in self-directed care and assessing a peer’s ‘recovery capital’ using Motivational Interviewing (also on NREPP) skills to enhance the relationship.

People Living in Recovery Athens, GA

team members

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Shane Sims

Executive Director

Shane is a native of Athens-Clarke County. Born in the late seventies, he came of age during the crack cocaine epidemic that swept across the country during the '80s and '90s. It was an epidemic that eventually found its way to the doorsteps of his family's home. A close family member introduced his parents to the drug, and addiction soon followed. His mother would eventually succumb to an illness exacerbated, if not caused, by her addiction.


Shane developed his addiction to marijuana and alcohol during his early teens, leading to a devastating shift both within and outside himself. At 18, during his senior year in high school, he was sentenced to life plus 15 years in prison for accessory to felony murder and armed robbery.


While incarcerated, Shane experienced a turning point in his life and refused to do drugs, although they were easily accessible. Instead, he dedicated himself to personal growth and helping others. He would develop a reputation that not only led to his freedom but also paved the path to his career today as a Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist (CARES), co-owner/director of Modern Pathways to Recovery, a recovery home for men, Chaplain with the Athens Clarke County Police Department, Board Chair of Feed My Sheep, motivational speaker and contributing author. Shane uses his lived experience and training to help people understand the nature of the horrible disease of addiction, with a particular interest in youth prevention.

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Timothy Clarke

Peer Recovery Coach

Tim is a person in long-term recovery. And that means he has not consumed any mind-altering drugs or substances since 1993. That has allowed him to take his struggles with drugs and help others with the same battles achieve a new way of life without using drugs. In addition to his work at PLR, Tim founded Just Stay Sober House, which provides housing and a structured environment for those early in recovery. Tim's credo: Recovery is a gift most impactful if given away, so I use these two avenues to impact the recovery community positively.

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Bridget Jones

Peer Recovery Coach

Bridget Jones is a woman in long-term recovery; for her, that means being present in her life today. In addition to her work at PLR, Bridget is certified as a peer specialist in addictive disorders and mental health and is a Forensic Peer Mentor. Currently working on a degree in Social Work, Bridget's long-term goal is to dedicate her life to helping people who struggle with substance use and mental health challenges and show them that a life in recovery is possible. Bridget is a mother of three and an active role model to her 14-year-old daughter.

Dianne Green

Peer Outreach Leader

Mrs. Greene believes in the power of community service. She began her journey in Recovery Life Coaching due to personal issues with mental health and substance abuse. In addition to her work at PLR, Mrs. Greene offers free life coaching services to those in need. Before joining PLR, Mrs. Green operated Athens-based Ruby's Helping Hands Caregiving Service for deserving families in need and maintained excellent relationships with many of them. Mrs. Greene resides with her son in Winterville, GA, and enjoys listening to music, reading, bird watching, writing, and photography in her spare time.

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meet our board

As a governing body of People Living In Recovery, Inc., we strive to uphold the mission, vision, and values of this organization. Our responsibilities include: developing the organization's mission and vision, determining policies and procedures for the conduct of the organization, ensuring that PLR is operated in accordance with applicable laws and within the framework of its mission, ensuring the financial affairs of PLR are conducted in a responsible manner and audited annually, representing the viewpoints of PLR’s constituents, and serving as a liaison to the community.

board of directors

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Ryan Hope


Ryan Hope is the Municipal Court Judge of Athens-Clarke County, having been appointed to that position in February of 2017. He has experience working as a public defender, prosecutor and judge in various accountability courts in Athens Clarke County. In his current position, Judge Hope is responsible for all court proceedings and operations in the Municipal Court of Athens-Clarke County.  In addition to his current duties as Municipal Court Judge he is a backup Judge for the Western Circuit Treatment and Accountability Court. Judge Hope graduated from the University of Georgia in 1997, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Russian Language. He received his JD in 2000 from the University of Georgia School Of Law.

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Melinda Hansbury

Vice President

Melinda Hansbury is a sales and marketing strategist with over 20 years’ experience building and managing brands. She is also the founder of Melinda Mac Holdings, a marketing consulting business, that helps small businesses and solopreneurs create increased market share, revenue and ROI. A dedicated servant leader, Melinda has held various roles with non-profit organizations in an effort to improve the lives of the people in her community. Melinda holds a Master of Business Administration from Wayne State University, is a native Detroiter and has called Atlanta, Georgia home since 2009.

Karen Hoyt

Board Member

Karen Hoyt is a Board-Certified Chaplain for Women & Children. She currently works full time at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville as a Chaplain/Bereavement Specialist, and as PRN Chaplain for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Karen has a passion for serving “the least of these,” and particularly those women and families dealing with crisis, trauma and recovery from addiction. Karen is a native Brit and now enjoys living in Gainesville, GA to be closer to the mountains. Karen graduated from Emory University with a Master’s in Divinities/Pastoral Care and is an ordained minister for the United Methodist Church. Karen is active in her church, enjoys hiking in the mountains with her husband and spending time with her adult children.

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Denise Moon


Denise Moon is an accounting professional with 30+ years of experience in the private and public sector. She is the ministry leader for the Celebrate Recovery program at North Metro Baptist Church in metro Atlanta. Her desire to help those seeking recovery stems from celebrating 25+ years in recovery and wanting to see others find peace in recovery. Denise is a Georgia native and graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration. Denise is active in her church, enjoys all things outdoor and spending time with her family.

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Nichelle Mitchen


For more than twenty years, Nichelle Mitchem has worked in the nonprofit sector at organizations devoted to improving the life outcomes for vulnerable children, youth, adults, and families. During most of her career, Nichelle has assisted nonprofit organizations to grow their budgets, enhance their infrastructure, raise their visibility, and expand their capacity to provide holistic programs and services designed to empower low and extremely low-income children, youth, adults, and families to thrive. Nichelle received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marquette University, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin.

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Hisham Qureshi

Board Member

Hisham Qureshi is a PhD Candidate in Religion and an Instructor of World Religions at the University of Georgia (UGA). Though his professional background is in Aerospace Engineering and Global Management Consultancy, his industry experience has led him to appreciate the critical importance of supporting spiritual diversity among our future leaders. The US and European Patent Boards recognize him as an Inventor of three intellectual patents. His business development experience spans entities based in North America, Europe, and Asia. Mr. Qureshi is also a board member of Interbelief Academy and Interfaith Clergy Partnership of Greater Athens, Inc.

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SJ Henderson

Board Member

SJ Henderson currently works as a Practicum & Internship Specialist at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA. She is in the beginning stages of her career in higher education and has a passion for advocating for equitable educational environments. Before beginning her career, she graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a Master of Social Work and a Master of Public Health. During her graduate programs, she met Shane Sims and had an interest in learning more about peer-led recovery. With her various volunteer experiences at PLR and her heart for social work, SJ has returned to PLR as a board member.  

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Sarah Shannon

Board Member, Past President

Dr. Sarah Shannon is an associate professor of sociology at UGA where she is an award-winning teacher, accomplished scholar, and Director of the Criminal Justice Studies Program. Sarah’s passion for supporting people overcoming substance use and mental health challenges stems from her work in the non-profit sector prior to academia and her Inside-Out Prison Exchange course at the Clarke County Jail. Sarah has two sons and enjoys reading, being outdoors (especially in the mountains), and spending time with her family and friends. 

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Siara Sitar

Board Member

Siara Sitar has been on the People Living in Recovery Board since December of 2021, and is deeply invested in providing resources for those struggling with substance use in Athens, Atlanta, and Georgia as a whole. Siara works as the research coordinator for Emory Healthcare Addiction Services in partnership with the Addiction Alliance of Georgia. She earned a BS in Psychology as well as a BA in Criminal Justice from the University of Georgia in 2018, and a MS in Criminology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2019. Siara was born and raised in Atlanta, and looks forward to continuing to serve the people of Georgia through her board position.

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