Meet LifeRing’s new Executive Director, Kathleen Gargan

The recently concluded LifeRing Annual Meeting saw the Board of Directors electing a new Executive Director for our organization. Kathleen Gargan, the driving force behind LifeRing Colorado’s rapid growth in recent years, takes over the top spot from Craig Whalley, who just completed a year in the post. Craig asked to be relieved from some of his responsibilities, finding them a bit too stressful. He will, however, continue as Chairman of the Board and will still do much of the day-to-day work. Kathleen, who lives in Denver, will be the third person to hold the leadership role after founding C.E.O. Martin Nicolaus and his successor, Craig.

Kathleen wrote a brief introduction of herself for those who don’t know her:

“After every LifeRing Annual Meeting, I feel delighted and relaxed because I get to spend time with my secularly sober “peeps”, (though as a former teacher I believe the correct spelling should be “peops”). This year’s meeting was just as exhilarating, fun and fattening as all the others, with excellent speakers, a full day of workshops, attendance of LifeRingers from far and wide (notably Maggie Ryan from Dublin, Ireland!), plenty of donuts and a delicious dinner in Jack London Square.

“This year’s meeting was even more meaningful than usual for me, however, since I assumed the role of LifeRing’s  Executive Director. The position of Executive Anything is one that I never, in my low profile life, expected to occupy, so I step into this space with a bit of trepidation. I do so despite the apprehension because it is so important to me that we not live in a world where, as far as most people know, there is only One Way to get and stay clean and sober. I’m willing to go to some trouble for the cause, and have even become somewhat “zealoty” on the topic of choice of recovery paths since I retired from teaching in 2003.

“I got sober in AA in 1981, and over the years, I  grew to appreciate the wisdom of the 12 steps and 12 traditions. I made many wonderful friends and learned valuable skills for living as a sober person. However, throughout the same years, I had ideas and questions about the meaning of addiction and sobriety that seemed out of place, and felt unwelcome in the “rooms”.  My experience led me to seek a less parochial understanding of recovery, and in 1999, I found LifeRing.

“In 2003, Kirk D, who is still happily sober, started a LifeRIng meeting in my hometown of Denver, Colorado. At that point, I made it my priority to grow LifeRing in Colorado, and today, we have eight LifeRing meetings and a great community of sober friends.  I was elected to LifeRing’s Board of Directors in 2007, and again in 2010, and this spring decided to see if I could imperfectly help Craig take on some of the stresses of LifeRing’s executive position.

“I have two goals for the coming year. First, I would like to support, and grow, our “outlying” face to face meetings. We have single meetings in four or five locations throughout the country that could really use our support. For this project, I’ll be looking for volunteers for tasks like calling treatment professionals who don’t know that LifeRing meetings exist in their area and helping local convenors keep up their craigslist and local newspaper notices. My other goal is to have our brochures, and other basic information, translated into Spanish. In our Denver LifeRing community, we are fortunate to have Filberto A., a professional translator, who has generously offered his services.

“I love meeting LifeRing people. This gives me energy and always puts a smile on my face, so please write or call me if you would like, either via the LifeRing Service Center or via”

Craig has made clear that he is not pulling back from his commitment to LifeRing: “I love LifeRing and want to do anything I can to strengthen it,” he said, “but at the same time, like all of us with a history of addiction, I have to be careful to protect myself from becoming overwhelmed. I’m very much looking forward to dividing the work with Kathleen, who brings great intelligence and experience with her to the position.”

Here is a photo of Craig Whalley, outgoing Executive Director, and Kathleen Gargan, his successor, at the 2011 LifeRing Annual Meeting:


  1. kathleen on September 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Omg Panchali – so nice to hear from you! I’m on my way to look you up!

  2. Panchali Null on September 13, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Congratulations, Miss Girl!!! How happy I am to see your gorgeous face and to know what great work you are doing. Best wishes for a wonderful and well-deserved term of service. My big love to you, always! xoP

  3. anonymous on August 12, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Kathleen, thank you for your service and beautiful smile! Thanks also for inviting someone to Lifering who I became friends with later via the online chat room. It is because of your generous spirit that we’ve enjoyed one of the richest relationships of our lives for nearly 7 years.

  4. kathleen on June 20, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks to you, Jack, especially for your sobriety, and all that you have done for Lifering!

  5. Jack McNeil on June 20, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Cogratulations Kathleen. Excellent choice by LifeRing and your open-minded approach will prove to be a great benefit to the organization at this time, I am sure.

  6. kathleen on June 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    thanks so much, ed!

  7. Ed on June 17, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Very best wishes in your new role as Executive Director at Lifering.