Senior Vice President and Executive DirectorVirginia“To work in a place that empowers individuals to rethink their choices, learn from their mistakes, and move on to lead healthy, happy, and productive lives is a dream come true."
Debby Taylor has over 40 years of experience in the field of health care and addiction treatment and is an award-winning leader in her community and in the field.
Trained as a psychiatric nurse and certified in chemical dependency, Debby chose nursing after volunteering at a hospital and growing up in a community that emphasized giving back. As a nurse, Debby remembers treating two young women who reminded her of herself but were lost and disoriented after taking LSD. This encounter made an impression she remembered when she learned of an adolescent treatment program for young people in New York City. There, she encountered graduates of Daytop Village and Phoenix House and was able to do an immersion project where she went through the treatment experience just as a client would. “I was absolutely blown over by this treatment process and watching people reclaim their lives,” she recalls.
Since then, Debby has focused her career on helping people overcome addiction. Her career has included Suburban Hospital’s Addiction Treatment Unit in Bethesda, Maryland, the Psychiatric Institute of Montgomery County, Maryland, and Fairfax County, Virginia’s Alcohol and Drug Services. She was employed by Virginia Hospital Center as Program Manager of the Adolescent Addiction Treatment Program and joined Vanguard Services in 1989 as executive director. Seven years later, she became the CEO and was responsible for Vanguard’s growth to 14 programs serving over 800 persons, plus their families, annually. Vanguard joined Phoenix House in November 2010 and she became Senior Vice President and Director of Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic.
Debby encourages people who are thinking about treatment to first get a professional assessment: “If you think there’s something wrong, do something. Take action. And the first action is to get a full behavioral assessment and then make a decision based on the information that you receive.” She says Phoenix House’s strength is individualized treatment based on the client’s needs, whether that’s long-term or short-term treatment, an outpatient program, or treatment for co-occurring disorders. “We attempt to provide the level of care that the client who walks in our door actually needs,” she says. “Flexibility and individuality are essential to being able to do a good job.”
A resident of Arlington, Virginia, Debby is an appointed member of the Arlington County Partnership on Children, Youth and Families. She has served as a Board Member of the Arlington Committee of 100, on the Program Committee of Leadership Arlington Board of Regents, and as the Chair of the Partnership for a Healthier Arlington Committee on Teen Age Binge Drinking and Serious Drug Use. She has received multiple local, state, and national awards for her service to the community and to the field of addiction treatment.
Debby says seeing people get better motivates her to continue the work she does: “People get better, and they get better consistently. How wonderful is that, to watch people taking back their lives, reclaiming everything they had, or achieving things they never thought they could?”