Gateway exec to retire after 35 years in leadership

By Vicky O. Misa | | (405) 214-3962 | Twitter: @Vicky_NewsStar
The Shawnee News-Star

Leadership at Gateway to Prevention and Recovery is changing — for the first time, actually, since longtime Executive Director Sallie McLaughlin has guided the nonprofit from its beginning and through the past 35 years.

She is set to retire Dec. 31.

Gateway’s board has named longtime staffer Jon Greenwood as interim executive director.

“I am humbled and excited about having the opportunity to move into this role,” Greenwood said.

In the beginning

McLaughlin assumed the nonprofit’s leadership role in 1986 as its sole employee, after serving as board treasurer.

Now, three and a half decades later, there are 60 Gateway employees providing treatment, behavioral health services, education and support for individuals and families affected by addiction and mental health disorders.

During McLaughlin’s tenure, Gateway’s service area has expanded to include Lincoln and Seminole counties.

In 2014, Gateway increased its scope of practice to provide medically-assisted treatment as a Certified Center Addiction Recovery Center.

Still growing, Gateway recently bought property to build a new facility that will house the organization’s treatment and prevention services at a single location.

McLaughlin said the community is the reason for Gateway’s continued success.

People support what they create, she said, referencing decades of support by Shawnee, Chandler and Seminole communities.

She said she believes the same thing today that she believed in 1986.

“Local people solve local problems,” she said.

McLaughlin has overseen many projects, initiatives and partnerships on behalf of the nonprofit, which include several years of school team training; the placement of support counselors in area schools; securing a 5-year federal grant for the Shawnee Fighting Back coalition; and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation NIATX grant.

About Greenwood

A Shawnee resident since 1987, Greenwood earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Family Development from Oklahoma Baptist University.

In January of 2001 Greenwood took on the role of community youth coordinator at Gateway, and has served as the organization’s director of prevention since 2016.

Greenwood and his wife, Melanne, have two sons, Parker and Payton.


Greenwood said McLaughlin is the reason Gateway has a bright future.

“Anything that is going to stand the test of time has to have a solid foundation,” he said. “Sallie has created and served as that foundation for Gateway.”

Gateway’s work — whether the organization is collaborating with community partners to promote prevention or through clinical services for patients — is relationship-based, he said.

Under McLaughlin’s leadership, he said Gateway’s prevention and treatment services have grown to make a significant impact on the local communities and on people’s lives.

“Continuing to grow these relationships and building new ones to help communities and people heal are some of the things that excite me most about this new role,” Greenwood said.

The transition will be a process.

For the next five months — in a role as Gateway president — McLaughlin will serve as an advisor to Greenwood.

Once retired, McLaughlin said she plans to continue to serve the community as a volunteer in her church, along with other interests. She said she also plans to travel and spend time with her children and grandchildren.