Stairway to Heroin History

The Stairway to Heroin educational series began in 2014 in Oconomowoc, WI as an effort to address the growing opiate and heroin use by youth in our community.  It was created through the collaborative efforts of Your Choice to Live, Inc., Rosecrance, the Oconomowoc Parent Education Network and the Oconomowoc Area School District.  Provided by Your Choice to Live, Inc. and Rosecrance,  Stairway to Heroin has presently evolved into a model program for education, prevention and recovery used in communities and school districts across the state of Wisconsin and in parts of Illinois with a mission of making a difference in the lives of families.    



Katie Westerman, Ashleigh Nowakowski,  Sandi Lybert, Scott Bakkum

Katie Westerman, Ashleigh Nowakowski,  Sandi Lybert, Scott Bakkum

Katie Westerman
Katie is a certified K-12 School Counselor and former Rehabilitation Counselor.   Her experience includes working as a counselor for the Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, an advisor/program manager for the Student Accessibility Center at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and most recently, the coordinator for the Oconomowoc Parent Education Network (OPEN) in the Oconomowoc Area School District for the past 8 years.  In addition to working as a substitute teacher, she has also been an avid volunteer in the schools for the past 14 years.  Working closely with Your Choice team members, she currently helps coordinate the Stairway to Heroin educational events.  Her passion is to help empower parents and provide them with the resources, support and information they need to raise a drug free child. 


Scott Bakkum, School Counselor/AODA Program Coordinator
Oconomowoc High School
Scott is completing his 28th year in the field of education. He was a high school social studies teacher for 10 years before becoming a school counselor.  Scott has worked with many regional school districts in SE Wisconsin, parent/student outreach organizations, community treatment and prevention providers as well as local law enforcement in Waukesha County to battle drug addiction issues.  He has been a high school counselor in the Oconomowoc Area School District for the past 18 years and is currently serving as the AODA program coordinator for the school district as well. 


Ashleigh Nowakowski, MPA
Executive Director, Your Choice to Live, Inc.
Ashleigh Nowakowski has been working in the substance abuse prevention field since 2009. Her work includes speaking in middle and high schools, teaching in health classes, and working with high risk youth in the Detour program. Ashleigh is also employed by Rosecrance running groups of concerned others, high risk youth and prevention at Oconomowoc High School. Ashleigh has her Master’s degree in Public Administration.


Sandi Lybert
Founder of Your Choice to Live, Inc.
Sandi's personal experience with her son, Tyler's addiction and her passion for helping others led her to leave her career in banking to start Your Choice to Live, Inc.  Your Choice is a drug and alcohol abuse prevention, education and awareness program for students, parents and communities.