Emily Marcus Awards

Image of LifeRing Emily Marcus Award Emily Marcus (1969-2023), Convenor, Community Advocate, and member of the Board of Directors left an indelible mark on the LifeRing organization and touched many lives through her volunteer work and her personal interactions. We are fortunate to have received a legacy donation from her estate and, as evidenced by her testimony and that of many of her peers in recovery, we are moved to dedicate these awards of excellence for outstanding performance and contributions to our collective well-being, in her memory.  

LifeRing recognized these outstanding contributors to our mission during the 2023 LifeRing Annual Conference. This is the first presentation of these awards which were proposed by Lorraine Hull to honor Emily’s legacy. 



Emily Marcus Recovery Impact Award

The Emily Marcus Recovery Impact Award recognizes the convenor or moderator who made the greatest impact on the personal recovery plans of LifeRing Members.

Image of LifeRing Emily Marcus Award Winner Craig W

We asked the LifeRing Community to vote for the person who most positively impacted their personal recovery journey. Craig won by a landslide. Craig's legacy of kindness, thoughtful communications, and implementation of innovative programs to support people in recovery is legendary. You can find examples of Craig's magic sprinkled through LifeRing eGroups and ePals program.

Without Craig … I may  very well have never gotten or stayed sober. His approach to recovery, which is basically the opposite of ‘tough love’, was exactly what I needed and hadn't found elsewhere after years of looking.

—  Anonymous


Emily Marcus Operational Impact Award

The Emily Marcus Operational Impact Award recognizes the person who generated resources that deliver the greatest impact on LifeRing operations.


Image of LifeRing Emily Marcus Award Winner LisaLISA SWING-CORNEY

Lisa orchestrated the creation of LifeRing's first formal operational roadmap: the LifeRing 2023-2024 LifeRing Strategic Plan. With the help of the LifeRing BOD and Strategic Planning Team, she was able to identify key objectives critical to our operational growth in the new administrative year.

Wow! You coordinated the creation of the first ever LifeRing Strategic Plan? You Are Amazing! Thank you for helping us find the way to realize our mission and vision to be global leaders in positive recovery support.

—  Anonymous


Emily Marcus Community Impact Award

The Emily Marcus Community Impact Award recognizes the person who created recovery resources that have the greatest impact on the LifeRing Community. 


Image of LifeRing Emily Marcus Award Winner Michael ToalMICHAEL TOAL

Over 60% of LifeRing members access our website with a handheld device. Michael Toal recognized the importance of serving this population in the environment in which they are most comfortable and created the LifeRing App. Now people can easily access our meetings posted in real-time, post blogs, chat with one another, and access an abundance of LifeRing recovery resources. Check it out yourself: LifeRing App for Androids  | LifeRing App for iPhones.

The LifeRing App is a longtime dream — Michael and the Tech Team brought it to life. 

—  Anonymous


Emily Marcus Expansion Impact Award

The Emily Marcus Expansion Impact Award recognizes the person who made the greatest impact on introducing LifeRing to outside organizations.  


Image of LifeRing Emily Marcus Award Winner Mary Beth O'ConnorMARY BETH O'CONNOR

We are honored to recognize Mary Beth for her tremendous efforts to introduce LifeRing to other recovery communities, healthcare providers, treatment professionals, and yes, judicial organizations. This recognition is a testament to her hard work and dedication in driving our outreach efforts forward and increase LifeRing visibility across myriad recovery channels. We are grateful for all of their contributions and look forward to continuing this successful partnership in the future!

Mary Beth is opening doors for LifeRing we didn’t even know about!

—  Everybody


Emily Marcus Development Impact Award

The Emily Marcus Development Impact Award recognizes the person who initiated or improved processes to foster growth within the LifeRing Community.  


Image of LifeRing Emily Marcus Award winner sort ofCHRIS SMITH

Chris has been with LifeRing for a long time and has served in many roles during his tenure. The most easily quantifiable impact he's made is breathing new life into California. Chris has worked with the LifeRing Community to resuscitate 12 in-person/local online meetings and create 3 new in-person meetings in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Without Chris, California would have fallen off the map!

—  Anonymous


In Her Own Words

image of Emily Rose Marcus

For me, lockdown in 2020 led to a grave diagnosis and total transformation. (Although perhaps that is not the correct word, because, what? I transformed from a normal healthy and furloughed person to a terminally ill cancer patient with a stunningly bad prognosis. At least it’s the truth.)

My point is, I’m delighted to be able to support the work LifeRing is doing, the support and methodology it continues to provide, and its grand expansion, now and in the future.

— Emily Marcus, December 7, 2021


Remembering Emily

Thank you for your incredible contributions, Emily. Not just monetary, but also for donating so much of yourself to support people in substance use recovery. I only wish we had a chance to work together on the Board. I bet you'd be a real driving force in our outreach efforts this coming year. (We have a seat open if you want to come back to the table!)

— Sue


I'm sorry for your loss and that Emily is now gone. I was the Executive Director of LifeRing when Emily served on the LifeRing Board. I worked with her on various LifeRing projects during her tenure. The world has lost a good person.

— Robert


Emily joined our little group at the San Francisco Sat AM meeting at the LGBT Center and quickly integrated there and near her home where she convened a meeting at the Oakland Kaiser facility. I convinced her to serve on our board and we were able to take advantage of her professional writing skills in revamping many policy documents including our Mission Statement, Meeting Opening Statement, and several of the brochures we offer. I had the pleasure of dining with her 1:1 each year, to celebrate our December birthdays at her place of employment, Chez Panisse. We traveled to multiple LifeRing Annual Conferences together over the years and she made a huge impression on our community with her strength and resilience.

— Njon


I am writing on behalf of LifeRing in appreciation of Emily’s very generous gift. We will be able to accomplish so much more with it than we were expecting at this point in our path. We will be able to hire professionals for projects such as updating the website and marketing our program online. We may be able to hire a professional grant writer. We will be able to support more meetings, both online and in person. 

I knew Emily in 2014 through 2016 when she was on the LifeRing Board of Directors. We met at the 2014 Annual Meeting in Santa Rosa. I sought her out and asked her to run for the board because she was so articulate and thoughtful. At first she declined, saying she wasn’t sure she was up to being on a board of directors. But I worked on her for the next few minutes and convinced her to run. During her tenure on the board, she used her writing skills to revise all of the LifeRing brochures. She also helped with the beginning of editing the book of stories, Humanly Possible. Her writing was consistently clear and clever, she was always a pleasure to communicate with.

— Kathleen


This is the saddest news I’ve heard in quite some time… Emily and I were friends on Facebook and that’s how we somewhat kept in touch. 

I am so sorry to hear about her passing. We worked on the board together, but not for long, and I remember Emily telling me that actually her aunt was the writer of the “Dear Abby” column here at the San Francisco Chronicle and Emily took it on to use her own journalistic talent to promote LifeRing wherever possible. She was very well liked.

— Carola