Who we are

Recovery Alliance Duluth was formed when a small group of community members came together, joining their collective experience and knowledge, to address the need for peer-based recovery support throughout the continuum for individuals and families experiencing substance use disorder. For years, our community has heard the resounding need for peer-based recovery support services. Peer recovery support services are appealing because they are adaptable and available at various stages of the recovery process. The services are provided by a peer having a shared experience and may precede, accompany, or follow treatment. Individuals facing barriers, or never wish to participate in treatment may avail themselves to peer-based support to recover.

We know this works.

In 2017, the MN legislature passed a Substance Use Disorder Reform plan making peer support reimbursable, to both provide a needed service and to help address the need for the additional workforce. The passage of this legislation brought greater community awareness of the need to develop the capacity to provide education, awareness, training, and peer-based recovery support services. To that end, Recovery Alliance Duluth was created, rooted in the authentic desire to inspire hope, create connection and support individuals through peer to peer interaction.

Meet the RAD Team

Beth Elstad

I am a person in long term recovery with over 22 years of experience in non-profit leadership.  I am an LADC and a trained Peer Recovery Specialist with a BA in Accounting and Management from The College of St. Scholastica. I have worked most of my professional career as the Financial Coordinator for the local domestic violence shelter, followed by the Operations Director for Life House,  an organization serving homeless and street engaged youth, and most recently as the South St. Louis County DWI Court Coordinator.

Throughout the years, I have served on The Victory Fund board of directors, and had the opportunity to be involved in several meaningful projects including the opening of the new building for Safe Haven Shelter for Battered Women, the renovation and opening of the Safe Haven Resource Center, and the renovation of the Life House Loft, a shelter for homeless youth.

Today, I continue to support individuals in their recovery and represent the recovery community on the South St. Louis County DWI Court.  I find purpose and meaning in connecting with participants and being part of a phenomenal team, led by Judge Floerke, that I credit with giving me the gift of healing time with my adult son lost to suicide, while in recovery and living with depression and anxiety. It is this experience that drives my passion as a co-founder and project director of Recovery Alliance Duluth, a recovery community organization that honors all pathways to recovery and provides access to support and connection for all individuals who seek the desire to recover.

Julie Vena

I am a person in long term recovery, a mother, and passionate business professional. I dedicate much of my personal time to connecting with people to establish their own path to recovery and supporting them through the process.

Before joining Northstar Services as the Operations Manager, I worked as a Senior Commercial Recruiter for Kelly Services, where I combined my skills and passion to improve lives by connecting area employers with people in need of jobs. I also spent several years working with individuals in a collegiate recovery community.

I enjoy public speaking and am very active in the recovery community and have served on advisory board for the Minnesota Recovery Connection, the Advisory Council of Minnesota Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous (MNYPAA), and the board of directors for the Twin Ports Recovery Group.

Our community continues to have a tremendous need for peer-based recovery support. I am excited to be a part of the solution and a co-founder of Recovery Alliance Duluth, a recovery community organization that will serve as a hub for peer-based recovery support and connection for people seeking or engaging in recovery.

Gary Olson

During my 46-year career in Duluth in Drug Treatment and Housing organizations, I’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds of people and their families living with addiction, and advancing the cause for access to effective treatment locally and across the State of Minnesota.

I’ve watched people find peace in their lives and health in recovery, even among those considered by many to be hopeless or incurable. This was proof to me that recovery from addiction is possible. I’ve also seen tragedy, sickness, and too many deaths to count. My personal mission has been to enlarge the opportunities for recovery and reduce premature and unnecessary deaths. I joined RAD to help expand those resources in our community and make them available to anyone living with addiction.


RAD is always looking for volunteers and donors who want to help individuals in recovery. We provide training for peer-to-peer recovery support, advocacy, and community education.

Get Involved

Our Logo

A bold ‘R’ represents the primary letter in RAD. The semicolon stands for resiliance; it’s the end of an idea, not the end of your story. The subtle elements of the human figure speak to the personal connections that are made from peer-to-peer support.

RAD Logo Story