Nic Sheff to speak at TheEconomic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series Young Professionals Presentation on Feb. 11

For a second season, The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series, hosted by The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College, is presenting a professional development and networking event for young professionals in the region when it welcomes author, recovering addict, and subject of the major motion picture Beautiful Boy Nic Sheff on Tuesday, February 11, at 7:30 pm. Tickets are on sale now to the public.

Sheff’s heartbreaking and inspiring struggle with substance abuse disorder is the story of Beautiful Boy, starring Timothée Chalamet as Nic and Steve Carell as his father, David. The film, which earned Golden Globe and SAG nominations for Chalamet, is based on Sheff’s New York Times bestselling memoir, Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines and David’s bestseller of the same title. Sharing an unglamorized, authentic and heart-touching story of substance abuse and recovery that is deeply rooted in mental illness, Sheff has been recognized as “a life-changing speaker.”

Sober since 2011, Sheff continues to write and travel the country speaking about substance abuse, mental health, bipolar disorder, and recovery. His talks cover areas ranging from prevention and talking effectively to teens to using prayer and meditation to quiet the unquiet mind.

Sheff is also the author of four books on these subjects: High: Everything You Want to Know About Drugs, Alcohol, and AddictionTweak: Growing Up on MethamphetaminesWe All Fall Down: Living with Addiction; and Schizo, his critically acclaimed novel about a teen’s downward spiral into mental illness.

Sheff drew upon his own history of self-harm and attempted suicide as a writer for Netflix’s controversial series, 13 Reasons Why and upon his experiences in rehab as a writer for ABC Family/Freeform’s series Recovery Road. Sheff was also a writer on AMC’s crime drama The Killing and has written several features and developed TV series with Warner Brothers, USA, Amazon, and Paramount Television. He has also appeared on The Oprah Winfrey ShowThe Today ShowFresh Air with Terry Gross, and on CNN with Sanjay Gupta and ABC with Diane Sawyer.

A passionate voice and inspiring speaker, Sheff hopes that the intense notoriety and media attention being paid to the film version of Beautiful Boy will elevate awareness, create more empathy for those who struggle with substance abuse disorder, and inspire more to recognize danger signs and get help. A self-identified “bipolar addict,” he also seeks to raise awareness of dual diagnosis and the frequent interconnection between substance abuse and types of frequently untreated mental illness.

Honest, authentic, and able to connect with a wide range of audiences, Sheff tells the story behind what promises to be the most important film about substance abuse and its impact in decades, making a struggle that has touched millions of families deeply personal, urgent, and unforgettable.

In his presentation “Tweak: A Harrowing, but Hopeful Portrait of Addiction,” Sheff puts a compelling human face on our nation’s substance abuse epidemic, encouraging those who struggle to embrace help and bringing hope to all who are touched by it.

A pre-presentation Dinner & Discussion event will be held in newly renovated Grand Upton Hall. The buffet dinner begins at 5:30 pm. At 6:30 pm, a panel discussion titled “The Local Path Forward from Opioid Addiction” will be presented. According to the State of Michigan, there were more deaths in 2018 from opioid addiction than from car accidents. This panel of addiction specialists will examine how the opioid epidemic is affecting our local community, discuss the treatment pathways available for those struggling with addiction, and the harsh stigma that so often prevents individuals from seeking that treatment.

Panelists are:

Jeannette Holton, LBSW, CADC, MPA, is West Michigan Division Leader for Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Services. She leads a residential treatment facility in Berrien Center, recovery housing in Benton Harbor, peer-based recovery support in local Emergency Departments, and outpatient services in Watervliet. Before that, she was a counselor at a local outpatient medication-assisted treatment program, where she witnessed the devastating effects of stigma on people receiving treatment with methadone for heroin use disorders. Her focus there was helping women who have experienced severe trauma. She also served as a medical and psychiatric social worker and in healthcare management for 20 years with the predecessor organizations to Spectrum Health Lakeland.

Cara Poland, MD, M.Ed, FACP, DFASAM was trained in internal medicine at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and in addiction medicine at Boston Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. She has an interest in educating healthcare providers and providers-in-training to improve care for patients with substance use disorders and alcohol use disorders. She is an assistant professor at Michigan State University, is the past president of the Michigan Society of Addiction Medicine, and is the medical director of addiction medicine at Spectrum Health and collaborates with other providers in Spectrum Health’s GREAT MOMs program to treat pregnant women with substance use disorders.

Kaye Sanders is a licensed professional counselor currently employed with Community Healing Centers as the Berrien County supervisor, supervising the Niles outpatient staff and Carol’s Hope. She is also the Women’s Specialty and Recovery House Coordinator overseeing six recovery houses and the pregnant and parenting program. Sanders has focused her counseling career on trauma informed care and has spent the past three years focusing on gender specific care specifically, working with women who suffer from substance use disorder. Sanders owned and operated her private practice for five years before joining the Community Healing Center team. Sanders has a Master’s degree in Professional Counseling and specialized training in interpretive arts counseling, missing and exploited children, and EMDR therapy.

Panel moderator Kendall Troyer serves as vice president of organizational excellence and quality and chief quality officer at Spectrum Health Lakeland where his goal is to ensure safe, high-quality patient care. Since beginning his career in the Lakeland laboratory, Troyer has served the organization in a number of positions including as director of outpatient services at the Lakeland Health Park, project director of Lakeland’s electronic health record system, and chief operating officer for Lakeland Medical Practices. Troyer holds a bachelor’s degree in clinical laboratory science from Michigan State University, a master’s degree in health services administration from the University of Michigan, and is currently enrolled at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health anticipating a doctoral degree in public health in 2022.

Following dinner, ticket holders for Sheff’s presentation will take a short walk through The Mendel Center to their reserved seats in the Mainstage. Dinner and presentation tickets are sold separately. Reserved presentation seats ($20 – $50) and dinner tickets ($35) are on sale now at, by calling 269-927-8700, option 1, or by visiting The Mendel Center Box Office in person. The box office, located in the Grand Upton Hall Lobby, is open weekdays from 10 am to 6 pm.

This Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series event is sponsored by Spectrum Health Lakeland, and presented in collaboration with Benton Harbor Promise and The First Tee of Benton Harbor

About The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series

Established in 1943, the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan has brought more than 430 world leaders, policy makers, experts, and other newsmakers to the region. Its goal is to provide unique opportunities for personal and community growth. By presenting national and international speakers from a wide range of fields and expertise, this non-partisan series is dedicated to the discussion of social, economic, and public policy questions important in today’s complex society.

About The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College

The Mendel Center is 30 minutes from Niles and 40 minutes from the Kalamazoo and South Bend areas. It is located on the Lake Michigan College campus at 2755 E. Napier Avenue, Benton Harbor, Michigan, one mile east of I-94 (Exit 30) and one mile west of the US 31 Bypass (exit 24). Its GPS mapping address is 1100 Yore Avenue, Benton Harbor, MI.