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Fawn Montanye- Aspire. Believe. Achieve

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

Fawn Montayne tries to help by dropping other people’s names in the right rooms, in the hopes

that it does for other people what it’s done for her in her personal and professional lives. She

hopes that coming together, much like what Leslie Swedish has done with Moxxi bringing

women together, is one of the contributing variables to why she’s been nominated as a Fearless

Female. When she lived in the Saratoga Springs area during a time she was transitioning

professionally from a more corporate position to a non-profit space, there were a couple of

powerful networks of women starting to pop up and culminate and attract one another.

After working for a short time at Saratoga Economic Opportunity Council, Fawn had the

privilege to be on the pioneering team of the Healing Springs Outreach and Community Center

in Saratoga Springs, NY, the first recovery community and outreach center Saratoga Springs had

seen. The area had a very active community group called Recovery Advocacy that worked

together with the Prevention Council of Saratoga to bring the center forward, and the group

was awarded a grant that was quite substantial covering six counties, allowing three centers to

be opened. Fawn was at the flagship Healing Springs center in Saratoga Springs that went from

zero people and just a handful of help to realizing about 130 volunteers in the first month and

seeing operational hours of nine o’clock in the morning to nine o’clock at night and even

opening for kids to have a fellowship meeting at the midnight hour and it was just a

tremendous community that came together in the first year that she was there.

What prompted Fawn’s transition from corporate to nonprofit would be her own personal

recovery and lived experience at the height of her corporate career when she thought she was

doing her best as a single independent woman who had just invested in herself and had always

been a single mom of two really remarkable kids. Within a year of having gastric bypass surgery,

Fawn became a full-blown alcoholic and really fast it really accelerated before anybody’s eyes

The amount of control that was lost took her to a place where she’s thankful for where she is

today and for every experience that she’s had that’s gotten her here. For Fawn, it’s been a long

road, and it came with losing not just her job, her kids, her house, her dignity, a lot of

professional relationships and contacts, and having to really start at point zero and rebuild in

her mid-30s right back to where it is that she finds herself today. This includes a reunified

family, a beautiful family in recovery, and her work in the nonprofit space helping recovery

community organizations professionally develop and really transition from being charities to

nonprofit organizations that are worth investing in and having in the community.

Most recently Fawn was really pleased to be part of the authoring team for a $515,000 grant to

pioneer a program for peer-to-peer advocacy from the State of Vermont, the largest the entity

she was working for at the time. For Fawn, it was just substantial to be in this space after

managing a federal grant award in the state grant award in a state database transfer and all

these things she was doing in her everyday duties to also have this award approved for this

amount because of the corporate nature of what she saw for the nonprofit community. Fawn

shared that for her “it really took the idea of having a leadership academy for people coming up

in the field of peer-based recovery to have an opportunity to become professionalized and

work with the state and the grants and understanding where core funding comes from and

then how to diversify and sustain in meaningful ways so that they would be an everlasting part

of their community.”

Fawn stepped away from that organization in 2021 and into another organization that she was

a board member of. This move was to take a step further and really deal with the population of

individuals involved with treatment port in Vermont. She felt that it was an underrepresented,

underfunded, underutilized, really useful tool that represented social justice reform, correct

utilization of community-based services but really investing in peer-to-peer recovery for that 18

to 24 months that we know is needed to help people rebuild and actually live their life in a new

way before we expect that they just have it all and in 90 days can just be free to do it on their

own. Treatment court in Vermont is under the judiciary so it’s not available in all regions, one

of the legs was to bring equity and make it statewide. Right before leaving this position in

August, Fawn was on the authoring team of a grant for $15,000 from the Ben and Jerry’s Social

Justice and Equity Fund out of Waterbury. These unduplicated funds have been directed

towards what this organization was intended to do, participant support and program quality.

When somebody hits a barrier with being able to participate with treatment court ,their case

manage can make an appeal for direct funds to help out with that; the organization has a

mission to help people with dental care if somebody is getting back into the career force and

they need dental work that would be an option; housing expenses for sober housing are just

crazy at this point in time and limitations of space so really any barrier to accessing treatment

or participation in anything. The organization also does a lot for parents in recovery, helping out

if there’s a way to help with childcare. Basically, any resource that the case management team

can come to the organization and say this person would like there to be there, this is what’s

preventing them from doing it – a CV jaunt in a car is often a very legitimate call that we will

get when it’s a 50 mile trip to and from where you’re going in rural Vermont and there’s no

funds available to fix the car that you have and because you have a car you can’t qualify for a

Medicaid ride or another subsidy.

There is always hope and there are opportunities to come together on regular occurrences

about limitations with the system. Leslie shared that she had recently heard a phrase that is

often associated with recovery, and it is “we recover loudly so that those behind us don’t have

to suffer in silence.” She asked if Fawn would say that her path over the course of the last few

years really embodies that and that’s what she’s trying to accomplish with her personal path.

Fawn knew she had to make a choice in rehab. In the halfway house when she was navigating

going back to work, she had to start rebuilding a resume. The choice was right then and there,

was she going to keep her recovery this hidden part of her life and not let any of her co-workers

or the interview team or anybody know that alcoholism and dependency on pharmaceuticals in

any way were a part of her life and that she was in recovery from these things. Fawn asked

herself, “Why was that going to be a secret?” She had to at least make that choice for herself,

though she feels that people have to choose for themselves what works in their life. Fawn felt

that “for me, I didn’t want to live a dual life. I knew that I was going to not be quiet. We have

addiction in my family, we have cycles and different things, and I didn’t want to keep quiet, I

didn’t want to make that something I hid.” She had hid so much when she was an active

alcoholic and all the things that came with that from a lifestyle perspective of where your

behaviors take you in that place. Fawn is really proud to be able to say that consuming alcohol

isn’t something that she does at all. There are reasons behind that, and she’s a different person

today and is a better person. Fawn notes, “I’m a better person to hire. So, for me it was a

professional decision.” She knew then that she was going to recover out loud professionally

because in her personal life her passions had become advocating for other people who didn’t

have a voice. Her decision had nothing to do with the fellowship that she was in or any kind of

treatment that she was partaking in to get herself well or to remain well. Fawn found a voice in

advocating for other women and other families who were overcoming their struggles and the

potential they had in the contributing factors that they also offered their communities. She

knows she’s not a liability.

Fawn is not still with the organization dealing with some of the issues involved in drug court.

She had a hybrid role, and it was really great, working not only with the nonprofit entity that

she most recently left but also a public benefits company in Vermont that was a supportive

employment company. Fawn recently separated with both organizations, sharing she

“separated in mid-August over some ethical conflicts if you will and things that I just didn’t

know were going on and couldn’t be a part of.”

Fawn is intentionally not mentioning any company or individual names because she is not

bringing this history up in any way to harm. She shared, “the fact of the matter is that I’m

hoping more people will use their voice to help others. I was blatantly put in a situation where I

unknowingly was representing somebody who had been convicted of sex offenses under 18 and

represented that in their second chance employment opportunity that they were ultimately

going to be face to face with sexually victimized people and people that were in very vulnerable

places in their lives. And as a survivor of sexual victimization myself I felt very violated that I

was knowingly informed that I was supervising people who had sex offenses in their history and

doing so without issue. However, the coworker that I was being sent out of state to support and

be an ambassador of, I was never informed, and it was really damaging to say the least. And

there has been a few hard weeks that we’ve just really pushed through personally me to go

through what it's brought up but then professionally to separate employment, to be actively

looking for a position when I had just started one but to know that the non-monetary ask of

improved policy amongst practice and the organizations that you partner with was declined

that was alarming.”

Leslie noted to Fawn that “it doesn’t seem to me like it’s possible to advocate for victims of

sexual abuse or survivors of sexual abuse in that position that you were put in.”

Fawn disagreed with Leslie, “from a position of social reform and social justice, there’s many

contributing factors and when we look at anyone who has the sex offense in their background

it’s not an automatic disqualifier. There’s many levels and different things and the most often

one that comes to mind as I think about these scenarios is where you have an 18-year-old man

who is carrying a lifelong offense and something on his registry because he was with a girl who

was 16 or 17 and perhaps it was supported at one point in time and the families were okay. But

life Is life and this person wound up in a situation where they were over 18 and this was the

outcome. There are other scenarios. And this is why everybody gets a second chance, and when

you present and you’re looking to rebuild your life and you say what you’re doing and how you

want to do it and there’s a level of transparency, there’s a level of accountability, and there are

some different roles and placements for people.”

In Fawn’s specific situation, a person who is an account manager in a position is, in her view,

something parallel to an intake coordinator. This person is receiving personal information, they

are not in the supervised capacity, they’re one on one with an individual, it may be the same

sex or the opposing sex. A person who might have offended 10 years ago and has had 10 years

to live in our communities and, in Fawn’s words, “prove that they’ve rebuilt their lives

authentically and are doing meaningful things and doing it in a way that blends” is very

different than having a recent offense and not having those same opportunities to even

reintegrate. She goes on to say, “You don’t know the background. But I know what I read as the

offense, and I know that that isn’t somebody that I would in any capacity when I was a peer

coach or when I was the director of a recovery center that I would feel comfortable sending

someone that I was working with to go and sit for a job. Well, without the transparency there is

no choice and when choice is taken away that’s a problem. That was the absolute pinnacle and

that was in my email to my employer as we were going through all this, was I didn’t understand

why I was being informed four months later when I was actually working to design services for

sex offenders that we served in their second chance employment roles in manufacturing

facilities or any placements where we had the opportunity to allow people to go and have a fair

chance at a second chance employment opportunity. And with that, when you work for this

company, you’ve got peer coaching once a week for an hour a week. And in as the director of

the peer support team we have to have appropriate supports in place and tools, so it’s my job

to make sure that we’re supporting people appropriately. And when somebody has probation

and parole criteria that coaches should be informed of to ensure that they’re helping the

person they’re coaching comply with, perhaps it would be beneficial to have some information

form domestic violence and other professional that deal with and have trauma-informed

services to see how coaches could best be doing their job to support an offender who’s looking

to do the things that they’re being asked to do, which is socialize and get involved with things

and how to do that and be socially responsible. And it was only at that point that I was told a

coworker was a factor to be considered and how I was designing things. And it was four months

after I was hired, it was two trips after being out of state and in a car along with somebody and

reporting back both times behaviorally and something was amiss and I wasn’t comfortable and I

was trying to figure out how we could support this individual do a better job at the job that

they were doing because that’s what I was sent to do and not being transparently told why

there might have been some anxiety, why there would be the behaviors that I experienced

happening. Rather than giving me the choice because it’s like I told them at the beginning we

would have been in a completely different situation had I been told at the onset upon hire, you

know what, as a member of the leadership team here’s who you work with and it no different

than anything that I’ve ever expected or done for the teams that I work with. It’s just mind-

blowing to me that asking for more transparency, and if you say that this is what you’re doing

as a business and you say that your full team supports this and your full team doesn’t know,

that goes against. And to be asked to just keep somebody’s confidentiality and their dignity in

the foremost after sharing that. It has damaged me in such a way given my lived experience and

how I’ve been treated personally and professionally.”

Fawn also learned in recovery, and thinks it bothers her the most because she works in

recovery, is that “when somebody that has harmed us approaches and shares the harm that’s

done, you don’t get to say no I didn’t. And that happened not once but twice and that’s the

position that I’m left in.” So, Fawn forgot about severance and all of that kind of stuff she felt is

so superficial and trying to change one person’s mind about the fact that harm was done. Fawn

would much dedicate the time and energy to bringing light to the issue, that “we have practices

in place at organizations, that peer-driven services providing organizations are unaware of and

in my six years of professional experience I’ve never had to develop a business agreement or a

memorandum of understanding and build in the criteria of asking what the hiring practices are

of the partnering organization.”

At this point in time, Fawn is actively pursuing where she can align herself professionally, and

exercising everything in her practice that taught her the right thing will come at the right time.

She feels she is supposed to be where she is, that right now she is supposed to be talking to

Leslie and everyone listening, and not keeping quiet like she was told. She knows her house is

being sold, there’s a bear tearing apart her shed, her transmissions leaking, and as she puts it, “I

could pity party it up and I’m super grateful I had every one of these things, to listen, the

opportunity to talk about it today in continuous recovery, not having to be a mom that needs a

Cosmo or my favorite bottle of Kim Crawford and bring light to the fact that we have a number

of opportunities before us to allow people to do better just by knowing what’s going on. I think

that it’s really important to show more people and pave the way for using your voice and not

keeping quiet about a lot of different things because I think that we are conditioned to not

making waves, taking the easier way, staying quiet at the threat of how difficult things can be if

you don’t.”

Fawn went on to admit, “It's really difficult Leslie when this is the second time now because I

did it in the space of recovery before. I left a previous organization and supported multiple

centers and recovery organizations together, but now I’m doing it again and you become the

spokesperson and you make the stance and everybody agrees this is wrong, this shouldn’t have

happened. But then you blow the whistle and there’s nobody there to answer, there’s nobody

there at the local level, there’s nobody there at a regional level, there’s nobody there at the

state level, there’s nobody there at the private level. So great, now we’ve raised issue to this

and it goes on your YouTube and I push it out on social media a little bit and what happens

now, how many organizations are going to revisit their policy and procedure manual and take a

pulse on their organizational wellness and bring their staff bodies in for an in-service and talk

about practices and procedures.”

Fawn continued that she is not pointing any fingers or pointing anybody out. In general, she

feels “we say we have a team culture or an organizational culture and that we value the team

members, how are we showing them that and what organizations are going to come together

and revisit their business agreements and their memorandums of understanding and go

through line by line and start doing a proper risk analysis and acting like non-profit entities and

not like charitable grassroots organizations that just don’t have to do this because they’re just

doing the best they can.”

This is going on, it’s a fact. As Fawn stated, “we know that whether an offender, anybody, it’s so

difficult because people that get caught aren’t … there’s a big enough problem with people that

we don’t know about. And then we know about who we know about.” From that we have the

benefit of learning about people. We know that with certain offenders in certain categories of

people, just like treatment court is meant for one classification of people who would do best in

that program, there are certain contributing factors to sex offenders who groom people, who

collect information, who have practices embedded in its behavior that need to be taken into

consideration. “We need to ensure that if we have practices in place, that we’re transparent

with the people that we serve and the that fund us,” Fawn shared.

Leslie agreed that it is a reasonable ask of pretty much any entity doing anything for

“transparency in what they’re doing so that people can make choice and safeguards for the

people that they either employ, serve, or both.” She was “surprised that with a non-profit that’s

dedicated to serving others that they wouldn’t be more compelled to put in some safety

measures, even if it was something that, it doesn’t sound like it was maybe super intentional

but maybe just something that slipped through the cracks. And mistakes happen and things get

to a certain point. But when it’s been pointed out to you maybe just acknowledge and address


Fawn agreed, and shared “that’s kind of where I saw the opportunity to come.” Fawn made

sure to clarify that the company she left is a public benefits corporation, and that there are

people investing in the corporation, that it’s private and it serves the public by developing

relations with service providing non-profits. That “even more, being an investor-led entity, you

would hope again that your investors were as clear on your policies and practices and it’s

supportive of them as the employees and there would be no problem hiring a workforce that

supported the same and aligned with every value that the leadership team wanted. You could

absolutely design and build that, there’s nothing restricting that. But I know for me that wasn’t

what happened. I know for co-workers I know there that I shared why I left with, they weren’t

informed of it. [And] I know from the emails that I’ve received from leadership that there will

not be any change in practice, along with my ass and so that’s exactly where it can stay.”

Fawn is much more concerned about other people who are providing services, who have a

tremendous number of things to think about in the course of any day when they’re providing

critical services to very vulnerable people. She noted the last thing they need to think about is

“As I’m driving this person to an appointment or when I’m sending them along to go meet with

somebody, can I potentially be putting them in harm’s way?” She asked, “If we were to be

speaking directly to a population who is utilizing services, are there any questions that people

can be informed to ask so that they might then gain information that’s not being given to them

transparently?” in this situation, she would say it goes right back to just asking directly about

what your hiring practices are. With any non-profit that she’s operated with, Fawn shared

“background checks are the norm. With a background check you know it’s not a disqualifier,

but there’s a criteria of what’s acceptable.” If you’re going to be doing business with a new

business partner, Fawn knows that she will be much more upfront and inquiring about what

their hiring practices are because “I have no say or knowledge about who they feel is qualified

and what criteria equates to them being in any position that would impact those that I am


Leslie agreed with this as well, sharing that she thinks “that’s probably an important question

for anybody to ask any employer in or outside of non-profit. If they have trauma in their past

that could be triggered by the knowledge of what a particular co-worker may or may not have

in their own past.”

Fawn went on to share, “I think it’s very very good to get the knowledge out there, that it’s a

good thing to ask, to be aware that maybe these organizations and entities aren’t being quite as

forthright as they should be, and to advocate. Always continue to advocate for yourself, always

continue to advocate for others, always stand up and use your voice when there’s injustice and