Mariel S. Hufnagel battled with addiction, bipolar and bulimia throughout her teenage years – leaving her bankrupt emotionally, physically and spiritually. Mariel entered abstinence-based recovery in 2007 at the age of twenty-one. Once homeless, formerly incarcerated, a convicted felon and a sex trafficking survivor; Mariel embodies transformation and uses her experience to share hope, smash stigma and help create recovery-informed systems of care. Mariel is recognized as a dynamic and passionate advocate, servant leader and motivational speaker. She has been acknowledged locally and nationally with numerous awards and featured in countless media outlets.
Since 2012, guided by an unwavering dedication to what she believes is her life’s calling, Mariel has immersed herself wholeheartedly into addiction, mental health and criminal justice work – in an effort to demand the civil rights of anyone who has ever suffered from a substance use and/or mental health disorder and bring a face and a voice to recovery. She fights for the innate worth and dignity of all human beings through health equity; holistic, trauma-informed and person-centered systems of care; and, the vital and urgent need for a robust continuum of care for addiction – including most importantly, recovery support services. She is driven by a deep desire for all people to be able to access and sustain recovery regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, criminal record or chosen recovery pathway.
With six years in recovery, Mariel returned to a local community college, unsure if she was ‘smart enough’ and afraid she would fail. Only five years later she graduated Summa Cum Laude with Distinction (4.0 GPA) from Kean University with a Master of Arts in Public Administration. Mariel attributes much of her personal and professional success to returning to college, and believes that education is indeed, the great equalizer and the most powerful weapon.
Mariel’s now impressive career began as doe-eyed intern who simply wanted to make a difference. She remains grateful for the individuals and organizations that took a chance on her, empowering and investing in her as a young female professional and leader. Currently, Mariel serves as Executive Director for The Ammon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Ammon Labs, a New Jersey-based organization whose mission is to empower individuals in addiction recovery through combating stigma and providing strategic support to enable personal success. As such, the Foundation provides scholarships for individuals in recovery to pursue education and aims to support recipients with personal and professional support. With Mariel – her tenacity and tireless work ethic – at the helm, the Foundation has grown leaps and bounds in only a short time and impacted countless lives. Prior to Ammon, she worked as an Advocacy Organizer with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence – New Jersey (NCADD-NJ) and as the National Chapter Manager for Young People in Recovery (YPR).
During her spare time, she can be found traveling, practicing yoga, running, drinking black coffee and spending time with her fabulous husband, Anthony, and their pups, Bentley & Eleanor.