Keith Lease ’02
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Social Work
Career: Executive Director of Coulee Council on Addictions
At one time, Keith Lease’s life was quite different than it is now. He suffered from chemical addiction and was no stranger to the local court system.
He woke up one morning at the age of 24 and decided to get clean, starting his life on a much brighter path.
“I kept doing things I regretted,” he said. “I was suffering from depression, anxiety, and I was having thoughts of suicide.”
Lease went to his first recovery group meeting that day. He would go for the next 111 days in a row. Clean and sober at age 26, he enrolled at Viterbo University as an adult student, majoring in social work.
"What I liked best about Viterbo were the small class sizes and the close relationships I had with my advisor and the social work faculty,” Lease said. “Returning to school was intimidating, but I was able to sit down with my advisor and develop an academic plan. That made me comfortable and confident in the direction I was going and in my ability to succeed. My close relationship with the faculty was also very important to me.”
Lease worked several years as a substance abuse counselor before becoming the executive director of Coulee Council on Addictions, a non-profit outpatient substance abuse clinic, in November 2012. Over 17,000 people utilized the agency’s services in 2012, and it is on pace to greatly eclipse that number in 2013.
One highlight of his career so far sticks with him, finding an 18-month sobriety key tab in his mailbox with a note reading, “I couldn’t have done this without you.”
“The Viterbo social work program laid the foundation for all that I do here,” he said.