July 23, 2022
The Sherrill Center & Kimmell Arena
227 Campus Dr. Room 411
Asheville, NC 28804
The Living Undeterred Tour is a nationwide exploration aimed at bringing attention to the mental health and substance use epidemics in our nation.
Keynote Speaker: Jeff Johnston
Better, Not Bitter: The Living Undeterred Mindset
On October 4, 2016, the trajectory of Jeff’s life changed with one phone call. Prior to that day, Jeff was living the American Dream. He had a great family, was a successful entrepreneur running a financial services firm in Iowa, and was seemingly coasting through life. The morning of October 4, 2016 Jeff received the phone call that is every parent’s worst nightmare. His oldest son, Seth, had died from fentanyl poisoning. He was 23 years old.
Jeff soon realized that he had two options. He could go down a road of anger and despair and become bitter, or he could use his situation as motivation to become better. And while it was not an easy journey, Jeff chose the road of better. Jeff's resiliency would again be tested in June 2021, when he lost his wife, Prudence, to alcoholism.
Jeff shares his experience through grief, addiction, and battling with his own mental health and the coping mechanisms he has developed to remain, undeterred.
Featured Speaker: Jennifer Nicolaisen
Jennifer Nicolaisen is the co-founder and Executive Director of SeekHealing, an Asheville-based non-profit pioneering a novel “social health” protocol for addressing addiction and preventing deaths of despair. SeekHealing offers a program based on the importance of healthy communication and human social connection in trauma & addiction recovery. The program provides non-abstinence based support meetings, creative experiences of human connection & community, public training in authentic communication and pro-social skills, as well as providing access to holistic wellness services; all free of charge.
The programming and curriculum designed by Nicolaisen is predicated on trauma-informed practices, Relational Cultural Theory, transpersonal psychology, peer support, harm reduction, non-violent communication, and attachment theory. The result is a ground-breaking approach to trauma & addiction treatment and a new paradigm for mental health treatment and destigmatization.
She graduated with a BA in Linguistics from UNC Chapel Hill in 2012.
SeekHealing began when the founder’s close friend survived an opioid overdose and partnered with the founder to begin a healing journey. Like many others before them, the two discovered that meaningful social connection and community belonging are the most important elements of addiction recovery; yet are almost impossible to find after addiction treatment. Collaborating with neuroscientist Dr. Rachel Wurzman, trauma expert Dr. Gabor Mate, substance use recovery experts and leaders in communication & social dynamics theory from around the world, they formed SeekHealing to create a novel approach for systemic issues of addiction and loneliness: social health.