A longtime educator from Rockcastle County has been named head of the Operation UNITE anti-drug initiative in Southern and Eastern Kentucky, according to a news release.
Nancy Hale takes over as president and chief executive officer of UNITE Feb. 9. She replaces Dan Smoot.
Hale retired in 2012 after 34 years as a teacher, career counselor and administrative coordinator, UNITE said in its news release.
She then joined UNITE, helping coordinate a program under which AmeriCorps members provide tutoring and anti-drug education in schools.
Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers set up UNITE in 2003. In addition to conducting drug investigations, the initiative provides substance-abuse prevention programs and money for treatment. It covers 32 counties.
"Nancy is a passionate advocate for drug abuse prevention and education," Smoot said in a news release. "Like many residents of the region, her family has endured the anguish and uncertainties of dealing with substance abuse. She is a well-respected and capable leader that brings a strong perspective to UNITE's important mission."
Smoot spent 22 years with the Kentucky State Police before joining UNITE in 2003.
He has taken a job as director of drug prevention and education at the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
The HIDTA program provides funding for drug investigations, coordinates investigations and analyzes data about drug problems in parts of Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee.
Executive director Frank Rapier said the organization wants to spread UNITE's success in fighting drugs, including the emphasis on educating young people, to other areas of Appalachia it covers.
"Dan has proven to be a true professional and tireless worker," Rapier said in a release. "We want to utilize his skills to continue coalition-building and find new ways to be more effective in stopping the cycle of abuse."