Big Hearted Adventurer
Dr. J. Jay Flicker
He’s a Minnesota native who has always been drawn to water so it’s no wonder J. Jay Flicker headed south at age 22 and made Florida home.
Now the Chief Compliance Officer for the Drug Abuse Treatment Association (DATA) in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, Jay arrived in Florida to pursue a Doctor in Psychology degree at Florida Institute of Technology. “When interviewing at the school, I was asked, ‘what brings you to Florida?’ I said ‘To be honest sir, I want to learn how to surf.’” True to his word, he bought a surfboard the day after moving to Melbourne.
High energy with a robust sense of humor, Jay has been enjoying Florida’s great outdoors ever since. He now lives on the Intracoastal in North Palm Beach which allows for easy access to kayaking and snorkeling. He relishes his daily drive between home and DATA’s corporate headquarters in Jupiter. “I take A1A home along the water and I love knowing it’s all right there, the ocean, Intracoastal, breezes, sand and sun.”
A Floridian for 20 years, Jay still points to his upbringing in the small town of Monticello, Minnesota as a major influence on his life. He credits his parents, Marie and Marn Flicker for teaching him the value of balancing work and play. They owned a TV and appliance store and their two sons were expected to help out. “I don’t think I was yet 10 years old, and Tom and I would be up early cleaning a fleet of trucks. We worked hard but we also had toys – snow mobiles, four wheelers, boats.”
He attended Catholic schools run by the Benedictine Order, which emphasizes an allegiance to community. “We were taught to help each other out because it’s the right thing to do.” He readily connected with special needs students at his school because of his mother. She lost her leg to cancer before Jay was born. “She’s a cancer survivor who has always been active and involved with people with special needs so I was always comfortable with physical differences.”
Those life lessons serve Jay well at DATA where the mission is to move teens away from addiction by setting them up for success. Jay handles a plethora of duties as Chief Compliance Officer that includes reviewing and evaluating program components within the agency. As an example, he points to a teen’s length of stay at one of DATA’s residential treatment centers. “The average stay is four to six months; so I look at that window. What’s the difference between what’s accomplished in four months compared to six? Is there a gender difference? Why are results different at our two residential centers in West Palm Beach and Fort Pierce? It’s a constant puzzle.”
Of course, all the systems Jay analyzes and works to improve are for DATA’S clients. Struggling teens, often in court ordered treatment because of behaviors that landed them in trouble. DATA’s goal is to develop a plan with each teen so they can taste success. “The more we can set them up for success the better. A lot of our teens have not known success.”
Jay believes anyone can hit a rough patch and clients deserve to be propped up and put on the right path, and he concedes that working with young people can be difficult. “Everyone has potential but they are a product of their environment and eventually they return to that environment, mom, dad, coach and friends.” For that reason, Jay emphasizes the importance of DATA’s community partners and DATA’s school-based prevention and intervention programs in close to 40 schools, “Our dream would be to have a counselor in every school.”
What Jay likes best about his work at the nonprofit is that a new adventure presents itself every day. “I can’t sit still. So I love that there’s always something new to look into or explore.”
Just like Florida’s great outdoors.
F – French fries or tater tots? Tater tots, definitely!
R – Right brained or left brained? Yes!
E – Email or carrier pigeon? Email
S – Sunshine or moonlight? Sunshine!!
H – Homebody or party animal? Homebody…unless the sun is shining!