Twin Cities Recovery Community Loses Transformative Leader
Hearts are heavy at Hazelden Betty Ford and throughout the Minnesota and national recovery communities following the tragic death of Marc Johnigan, founder and CEO of the nonprofit Twin Cities Recovery Project (TCRP), who died Dec. 16 after a car accident in Wisconsin.
TCRP operates recovery community centers in South Minneapolis and North Minneapolis and provides culturally-relevant services primarily supporting the Black community in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Marc founded TCRP just a few short years ago to fill a need and address wide disparities in the availability of culturally-relevant services. His organization quickly became a transformative force of healing and hope, and one of the most visible and impactful recovery presences in Minnesota.
“Marc inspired us to remember that while addiction does not discriminate, neither should recovery,” said William C. Moyers, Hazelden Betty Ford’s vice president of public affairs and community relations. “And after overcoming his own struggle with substances he invested his recovery into a seemingly tireless passion to lift up and help people of all colors from all communities to recover too.”
Marc was a dear friend to many Hazelden Betty Ford employees in Minnesota, and was a highly regarded partner who enriched our organization. He spoke and represented TCRP at several events we hosted, including roundtables with the U.S. Surgeon General in Plymouth and with the White House Director of National Drug Control Policy in Center City; the “Saving Our Communities” conference hosted by the Professional Education and Continuum Solutions team (PECS) with partners working to end overdose and access-to-care disparities in the Twin Cities Black and African American communities; and our recent educational series for Minnesota legal professionals, among many others. He lent his personal experience and deep expertise to videos produced by our Publishing team and was a partner in multiple projects led by our Professional Education and Continuum Solutions (PECS) team. Additionally, he introduced us to many other valued collaborators, helping us diversify our networks.
Hazelden Betty Ford supported TCRP and its important work in many ways, including sponsoring and participating in its Ride for Justice series, which combined recovery advocacy with bicycling for wellness and fellowship, in the months following the murder of George Floyd. The series helped introduce some participants to biking for the first time — and while we weren’t fast, we had a lot of fun.
“Marc seemed to impact everyone he met — whether to do more or to think differently,” said Randi Tolliver, professional education and continuum solutions clinical director at Hazelden Betty Ford. “He lead with a passion for the communities he served. May his message of recovery and hope continue to live through the lives of everyone he touched.”
Though not everyone knew him personally, all of us — as part of the Hazelden Betty Ford family — were blessed to be part of his life, and are grateful for that.
“Marc’s smile reflected the sheer joy of his work and eternal optimism that drove him to do more for the sake of those who still suffer. It is impossible to gauge his loss,” Moyers said. “The heaviness of this moment is relieved only in the truth that his life forever thrives in the hearts and souls of everyone he touched. Me included.”
Marc grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and moved to the Twin Cities to access treatment for his own substance use disorder, and then established the roots in Minnesota that empowered his path to becoming a recovery advocate and service provider. He was inspired by his mother’s recovery and followed suit by passing on the hope, reality and helping hand of recovery to countless others.
In so many ways, Marc embodied the recovery spirit of humility, empathy, grace and love. We will miss him, and will honor his legacy by continuing our collaborative relationship with the Twin Cities Recovery Project.
(Written by Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Director of Communications and Public Affairs Jeremiah Gardner, friend and frequent collaborator of Marc’s)