Tom Vicini has been named President and CEO of Operation UNITE.

Vicini began his duties as UNITE’s fourth President & CEO effective October 1.  He previously served as the non-profit organization’s Deputy Director.

Members of the UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education) Board of Directors, at its September meeting, tapped Vicini to succeed Nancy Hale, who retired after eight and one-half years in that position.

“I am deeply honored and humbled in the faith the UNITE Board of Directors has placed in me,” Vicini stated.  “I am committed to continuing the prevention, treatment, recovery, and enforcement initiatives that are showing positive impacts on stemming the drug epidemic, not only in the Commonwealth of Kentucky but across the nation.”

“For more than 17 years, Tom Vicini has demonstrated his leadership abilities across the broad spectrum of UNITE initiatives,” said Jackie Steele, Chairman of the UNITE Board of Directors.  “Tom’s knowledge of the issues and ability to interact with people across our 33-county service region are exceptional.  His passion to help youth live substance-free lives, to assist families impacted by drug misuse, and to manage state and federal grants made this an obvious decision.”

Vicini joined UNITE’s education team in June 2006, serving as a Coalition Coordinator for counties across southern and eastern Kentucky.  He was promoted to Deputy Director in August 2015, continuing to work with coalitions in addition to filling roles as Law Enforcement Coordinator and Human Resources Manager.

Prior to joining UNITE, Vicini served 13 years as Mayor and an additional 12 years as City Councilman for the City of Lynch (his hometown), was manager of Human Resources and Quality Control for Southeastern Kentucky Rehabilitation Industries in Cumberland, and worked in various capacities of the coal mining industry for 25 years with U.S. Steel, Arch Mineral Corporation, and S&S Service.

Vicini has been a volunteer coach for the Tri-City Little League in Harlan County for 45 years.  In 2012, he was honored by The Partnership at (now Partnership to End Addiction) and Major League Baseball Charities with their third annual Commissioner’s Play Healthy “National Coach of the Year” Award.

In 2012, he received the “Hal Rogers Leadership Award” for outstanding leadership and dedication to Operation UNITE and a Congressional Tribute from Congressman Rogers for working with youth through Operation UNITE and Tri-City Little League Baseball.  In addition, he served as President and Coach in the Lynch Recreational Basketball league for 17 years.

Vicini is a member of Dione Baptist Church in Harlan County where he has served as Youth Bible Study Teacher and, for the past 13 years, as an Adult Sunday School Teacher.  He also serves as a Board Member for the Harlan County Boys and Girls Club and is a member of the Foundation Board for the Harlan Appalachian Challenge Academy.

Hale began working as a volunteer with the Rockcastle County UNITE Coalition shortly after UNITE’s inception in April 2003.  Following 34 years as a school teacher, career counselor, and administrator, she joined UNITE as Co-Program Director for the UNITE Service Corps (AmeriCorps) Program in September 2012 and was named UNITE’s third President & CEO in February 2015.


Tom Vicini
Oct. 1, 2023 to present

Nancy Hale
Feb. 9, 2015 to Sept. 30, 2023

Dan Smoot
May 15, 2013 to Feb. 9, 2015

Karen (Engle) Kelly
April 7, 2003 to May 15, 2013

Nancy Hale, who served as Operation UNITE President & CEO for eight and one-half years, receives an award “in recognition of her inspired leadership, dedicated service, and passion for UNITE’s mission” from 2003 through 2023 during a retirement reception held September 29. The award was presented by Tom Vicini, who was named to succeed Hale as UNITE’s fourth President & CEO.