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Darryl Coates: “Never Cheat a Child”

dc426In April 1989, Darryl Coates began his service with the Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network under the leadership of his friend and mentor, founder and former director, the late James J. Mills.

Just as his predecessor, Coates was a foot soldier in the war on drugs and gang violence in the City of Philadelphia. Early on Coates demonstrated his leadership abilities as coordinator of several PAAN programs including the UJIMA Project, which focused on providing positive youth development and character building activities for at-risk youth in schools and communities in Philadelphia.

In 1992, Coates left PAAN to pursue his passion to work with African-American boys and girls as the founder and executive director of Nu-Sigma Youth Services (NSYS). However, during his leave, Coates, through his agency, NSYS, collaborated with PAAN on the Youth Alternative Athletic Program (YAAP), a seasonal sports league to develop youth athletic and social skills in a safe and constructive environment.

Coates returned to PAAN in June 2005 at the request of Mrs. Jacqui Mills, the wife of the late James Mills.  She entrusted her husband’s beloved agency to the capable hands of Coates as its Executive Director.  As the organization’s Commander-in-Chief, Darryl compassionately, courageously, tirelessly and skillfully lead PAAN in the arduous work in the war on drugs and violence in the City of Philadelphia.

A product of the inner city, Coates had an intimate and personal understanding of the complex and multifaceted risk factors that plagued these communities. He led PAAN as a formidable advocate for quality education and services for our youth.  His competence and expertise in the field of social services working with youth and families gained him audiences and the respect of dignitaries on local and national levels.

During his administration, Coates was invited to visit with President George W. Bush and hosted White House and other Washington, D.C. officials at PAAN headquarters in North Philadelphia.  He participated in and facilitated panel discussions and conferences, as well as the implementation of programs that address the challenges of youth violence and the drug epidemic. Darryl was instrumental in the organization and coordination of the Philadelphia Drug-free Coalition made possible by a federal grant from Communities Anti-drug Coalitions of America (CADCA).

Darryl continued the practice of his predecessor and mentor of hiring individuals who came from the communities.  He believed that people who were indigenous to the neighborhood had a vested interest in the community’s ability to survive and thrive.

PAAN served hundreds of families during the seven years of Darryl’s leadership.  He oversaw multiple city and government funded programs from June 2005 until his illness in May of 2012.  Mr. Coates died in October 2014.

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