Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation to host community discussion April 16 in Rancho Santa Fe with national experts


Leading national voices will join local leaders for a wide-ranging community discussion on substance use and addiction April 16 in Rancho Santa Fe at The Nativity School Holy Family Activity Center.

The event—to be presented by the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy, a trusted national voice addiction prevention, treatment and recovery—also will mark the 100th anniversary of former First Lady Betty Ford’s birth. Ford—born April 8, 1918—passed away in 2011, leaving a rich legacy that included founding of the nonprofit Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage in 1982.

Collaborators for the community discussion, which is free and open to the public, include The Nativity School; The Church of the Nativity, the San Diego Diocesan Mental Health Ministry and the Betty Ford Center in San Diego, an outpatient addiction treatment center that opened in early 2017 and is the newest of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s 17 sites nationally.

“This community event furthers the work my mother-in-law started over 35 years ago in Rancho Mirage,” said Juliann Ford, who lives in Rancho Santa Fe with her husband Jack Ford, the second son of Betty Ford and President Gerald Ford.

“Betty Ford had a deep connection to San Diego, where she shared many peaceful summers with family and dear friends,” Juliann Ford continued. “As we celebrate what would have been her 100th birthday on April 8, we know she would have been honored to see the Betty Ford Center’s San Diego outpatient center opened, and helping those suffering with addiction and their families.”

As the nation faces its worst addiction crisis ever and Southern California confronts questions about unscrupulous treatment providers, leaders from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office will discuss prevention, quality care and effective strategies for empowering San Diego’s neighborhoods, schools and families to confront this pervasive public health problem.

“While alcohol and other drugs continue to cause needless deaths and an array of other health and social problems, we need to come together as communities to more aggressively address prevention, treatment and recovery solutions,” said Dr. Marvin Seppala, chief medical officer of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, who will be one of the speakers. “Attacking the opioid epidemic and the underlying issue of addiction requires we all work together – treatment providers, law enforcement officials and community residents. It’s a responsibility we all share.

“A forum like this allows us to bring together many expert voices and community residents,” Seppala continued. “When local communities are better informed about these issues, we will continue to make inroads in the fight against addiction and for public health.”

In addition to Dr. Seppala, other experts speaking at the April 16 event will include:

William C. Moyers, panel moderator, best-selling author and vice president of public affairs and community relations, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

Summer Stephan, district attorney, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office

Kiersten Simon, executive director of FCD Prevention Works, part of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

Dr. Joseph Lee, medical director, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Youth Continuum

Terri Perez, deputy district attorney and narcotics division chief, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office

Event registration will begin at 6:30 p.m., with the expert panel presentation at 7 p.m., followed by a community discussion on next steps at 8:30 p.m. Because space is limited, pre-registration is encouraged online at