Founded by Ann Landefeld and Fran King in 1970 as the Shaker Heights Drug Council, the organization soon evolved into the Shaker Heights Youth Center as the need to provide a wider range of services became evident. Over the years, the Center has continued to address the changing needs of adolescents and their families.
In 1977, following part time directors, Kay Sasbauer and Ed Carter, the Center hired its first full time director, Joe Rock. With this hire, the Center initiated a significant partnership with the Shaker Heights City Schools and formed the foundation for the agency as it exists today. Joy Willmott and Jack Angelotta, the Center’s second and third full time Directors, continued this partnership, renewed the agency’s commitment to serving youth and families with chemical dependency issues, and broadened the spectrum of services offered by the Center. John Lisy, Executive Director since 1996, has further expanded the Center’s services by developing extensive academic and prevention programming.
In 2010 the Shaker Heights Youth Center, in partnership with MyCom South Shaker, received the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Human Relations from the Human Relations Commission of the City of Shaker Heights.
The Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ODADAS) recognized the Youth Center for exhibiting excellence in addressing community needs and demonstrating measurable positive life changes in the youth that are served. Awards were given for the following major programs:
- SFY 2005 Award for the Academic Success Aid Program
- SFY 2001 Award for the Comprehensive Community Intensive Prevention Program
- SFY 2000 Award for the Mentoring Project
In 2004, the Youth Center received the following two awards from the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board of Cuyahoga County (ADAS):
- Matthew Dunlap Prevention Service Award
- The Calvin Thomas Community Leadership Award
In 2005, the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors awarded John Lisy, Executive Director, the Advocate of the Year Award in recognition of his efforts on the Workforce Development Project and his statewide work on Licensure of Addiction Professionals. Also recognized was his leadership at the Shaker Heights Youth Center which has seen a 350% increase in funding and a 500% increase in services over the years.