An alumna plays a key role in saving Athena House when its fate was uncertain

Brooke’s Story

In March of 2023, Buckelew Programs Board Member, Brooke Igleheart Ross, was named “Sonoma County Woman of the Year” by US Rep. Mike Thompson, who cited her commitment to supporting others in their recovery, saying, “She is an outstanding figure in our community, helping those who struggle with substance abuse to reintegrate into the workforce.” Brooke understands the value of support for those in the grip of addiction and commendation was especially sweet given Brooke’s formidable early life challenges and trauma. She turned to alcohol at an early age and soon found herself in and out of five different programs – all private and expensive. None of these worked. Living in her untreated addiction, she found herself facing its consequences, including mistakes at work and damaged personal relationships. And then, she was offered treatment at Athena House.

By the time she entered Athena House, Brooke was ready to change her life and quickly recognized that she had landed in a program that was right for her. “Athena House was an environment I’d not experienced before,” Brooke says. She recognized the compassion of Athena House counselors and staff and that clients, many of whom had recently experienced dire circumstances before arriving, were treated with dignity. “Staff have experience working with people with all kinds of addiction,” she says. “I learned to let go of shame and be honest with myself and about who I was.”

After successfully completing treatment at Athena House, its aftercare program offered a continuum of care that supported her nascent sobriety while living in the community. She started volunteering, then landed a job in sales. Soon, she had built a successful career and family life. “I did it one day at a time,” she says. Brooke continued advancing in her career, serving as director of sales and marketing at a Healdsburg hotel and earning her real estate license, which fortuitously put her in the right place at the right time to change the fate of Athena House when its closure was imminent. Brooke became one of the key role players in raising awareness about the need to save Athena House and in fact, brokered the sale with Bill and Cindy Gallaher.

Entering the Athena program for many, like Brooke, is about becoming part of something bigger than oneself and growing stronger through helping others. As Rep. Thompson says, “Ms. Igleheart is a prominent member of the business and recovery communities and is deeply passionate about supporting others who have overcome alcohol and substance abuse challenges.” Today, Brooke continues to support others in their recovery and remains committed to supporting her local Sonoma County community.