In the United States, we’re dealing with an epidemic of unseen proportions: opioid overdose deaths. In 2018, we lost more than 67,000 people to overdose with the state of Arizona losing more than 4,800 in the 20-month span from June 2017 to March 2020. Ember Conley has personally experienced two of those losses.
As a trained administrator serving her school as Superintendent, Dr. Ember Conley always felt as though he had her finger on the pulse of her students and their lives. However, when two boys from her school lost their lives to opioid overdose, the curtain was opened on an undercurrent in the school: the hidden society of children and their interactions with one another. Ember was shocked to her core; she regarded this as a wake up call. From there, Ember began working with the DEA, and – as she began heading down this new and sobering path – her students became the poster children for DEA 360.
In her position as Superintendent, Ember Conley was recognized as a community leader. People approached her asking for answers; when she had them, she implemented them freely, and when she didn’t, she let them know that together, they’d figure it out. In her quest to find answers, Ember built community partnerships with hospitals, behavioral health centers. She began learning about federal policy, specifically how to build a comprehensive system for addressing a crisis in a community.
Opioid addiction is often an under-discussed subject, but the sad truth is that most people’s lives are affected in one way or another by this crisis, whether personally or witnessing a loved one struggling. As a result, this epidemic is a community issue, and needs to be addressed as such. Here in her community in Utah, Ember Conley is living in Salt Lake City, an area that – at one point – had the second highest opioid death toll in the country. However, she does see a positive note – people in her community want to talk about the problem. They want to find ways to address the crisis head-on.
Ember Conley is using her extensive background in education and leadership to help address widespread issues at their base and uproot them. Ember holds degrees from Arizona State University, Fort Lewis College, and the University of Colorado, Denver, and she holds her Educational Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from Argosy University in Phoenix.