Our Founder

Michael R. DeLeon

A successfully acclimated ex-offender who after nearly 20 years of drug addiction, spent 12 years in state prison and half-way houses for a gang-related homicide. Michael plead guilty in a very emotional and complicated case involving the murder of his own mother by gang members tasked to kill him. Since Michael’s release from prison, he has earned 3 Associates Degrees, a Baccalaureate Degree in Business Management, with a minor in Criminal Justice and a CADC Educational Certificate. Michael is now in the process of obtaining his Tobacco Treatment Specialist certification from the University of Kentucky School of Nursing, his Masters Degree in Social Work at Liberty University School of Social Work as well as pursuing his LCADC. He is a published author and an award winning documentary filmmaker.


Michael DeLeon is on a mission: A mission to educate youth to stay on the right path when it comes to serious life issues, especially drugs. He has become the #1 booked school presenter in the country and is the nation’s leading expert on Vaping and THC.

Michael is the founder and powerhouse behind Steered Straight Inc., a non-profit organization formed in 2007 upon his release from prison and designed to carry an important message to youth on the extreme dangers of drugs, gang involvement and associated criminal activity.

Steered Straight’s program reaches out to children, teens and young adults with a message of reality about life-choices and the importance of consequential thinking so they understand that there are consequences to their actions. The reality of the message comes from Michael himself, who was entwined in the life of drugs and traveled a troubled road to get to his future.

Throughout the country, Michael now leads a team of talented speakers who present a realistic and powerful prevention message.  His “no holds back” message resonates well with student assemblies, faculty and parents.

Stay In Your Lane Media, the media arm of Steered Straight, was founded by Michael in 2012, and has produced four award winning documentaries: Kids Are Dying, An American Epidemic, Marijuana X and Road to Recovery. His fifth documentary, Higher Power is currently in post-production. Michael has also produced multiple public service announcements, as well as educational and instructional videos on prevention and Recovery.

Under Steered Straight, Inc., Michael founded “The Recovery Army” with the  mission to recruit everyone to wage war on this pandemic of addiction. He tours the country in a Recovery Army Tour bus, visiting communities with educational resources, films and books. He visits schools, prisons, jails, treatment centers, Churches and community organizations addressing each group with catered messages and presentations. He captures stories of Hope and Recovery and has produced over one hundred video stories on the Recovery Army Website.

Every state in America has experienced Michael DeLeon – one of the most passionate prevention speakers you will ever encounter.  He is a member of many associations, committees and boards, but more importantly, he will take the time to answer questions from any youth and talk with anyone in his audience. Why? As Michael says, “I don’t want to just affect one kid; I want to affect them all.”

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Brief Presentation History

Michael has spoken to more than fourteen million students and young adults in more than 9,200 schools and facilities. As a published author and international motivational speaker and educator, Michael has delivered evidence-based student programs in ALL 50 states and numerous other countries.

  • NJDOL/Workforce Development, 2009 Alumni Award
  • Member of Cumberland County, NJ, Community Justice Panel, Office of Community Justice
  • Member of Vineland, NJ Violence Prevention Policy Board, Project Assistant, 2010-2013
  • Member of Camden, NJ Violence Prevention Policy Board, Project Assistant, 2012/2013
  • Member of Cumberland County, NJ Prevention Policy Board, Project Assistant, 2013-present
  • Appointed to the Cumberland County, NJ, Human Relations Commission
  • Chair of Cumberland County Healthy Communities Coalition, Southwest Council, Vineland, NJ
  • Member of Cumberland County, NJ Juvenile Reentry Team
  • Received the Vineland, NJ Grapevine Publication, 2011 Hometown Hero Award
  • Appointed to NJ Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, Criminal Justice Subcommittee
  • Appointed to Cumberland County, NJ College Board of Trustees, 2012-2016. He is the first ex-offender appointed to a County College Board of Trustees in the country.
  • Re-Appointed to Cumberland County, NJ College Board of Trustees 2017-2020 and served 2 years before moving to Tennessee
  • Appointed to the NJ Minority Concerns Committee, Vicinage 15
  • Member of Ocean County, NJ D.A.R.T. Coalition
  • Past Vice Chair of Prevention Coalition of Monmouth County, New Jersey
  • Member of Cumberland County, NJ, Youth Services Advisory Council
  • Chair of YSAC, Minority Concerns Committee
  • Received three Joint Legislative Resolutions by both Houses of the New Jersey State Legislatur
  • Received a Legislative Commendation from Broward County, Florida
  • Appointed to the NJ State Parole Board Re-Entry Task Force for Cumberland County
  • Appeared as a Keynote Speaker and Presented workshops for hundreds of organizations including the following:
  • New Jersey Drug Court State Conference
  • New Jersey Drug Court County Conferences
  • New Jersey Association of Student Assistance Professionals
  • New Jersey Juvenile Detention Association
  • Southwest Council, Southern New Jersey
  • Gloucester County, NJ Regional Addictive Substances Prevention Coalition
  • Burlington County, NJ Department of Human Services
  • NCAAD – New Jersey
  • New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission
  • Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of New Jersey
  • Probation Association of New Jersey
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Jersey
  • NCAD – National Conference on Addiction Disorders
  • CADCA – Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America
  • Drug Free World Foundation
  • Criminon Foundation
  • Mid-Atlantic States Corrections Conference
  • Vendome Healthcare Media and Addiction Professional
  • S. Journal Training and Behavioral Health and Addiction Disorders
  • Pennsylvania State School Counselor Association
  • Arizona State School Counselor Association
  • New York State School Counselor Association
  • New Jersey State School Counselor Association
  • Hosted a weekly radio show on Recovery Radio.com called “Solutions” that explores the different approaches to solving addiction in America.
  • Hosted a weekly television show on SNJTV.com(Comcast 22, WCAU-NBC) Southern New Jersey/Philadelphia markets, called, “The Road to Recovery” which presented a weekly guest discussing the different aspects of addiction and recovery. This show ran for 5 seasons.

Documentary Filmmaker

  • Wrote, Directed and Produced “Kids Are Dying” a documentary on New Jersey’s Overdose Epidemic, in 2013 that won four Film Festival Nominations and Awards for the REEL Recovery Film Festivals in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Del Ray Beach, Florida. This film also won a Silver Lei at the Honolulu Film Festival and won the Best Shorts Competition in Hollywood in two categories.
  • Wrote, Directed and Produced, “An American Epidemic”, a documentary on the national overdose epidemic plaguing the Country. This film won five Film Festival Nominations and Awards for the REEL Recovery Film Festivals in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale, Florida and numerous other film festivals. It predicted much of what has happened in America as the worst public social health crisis unfolded. It was years ahead of its time.
  • Wrote, Directed and Produced a documentary film on marijuana called, “MarijuanaX” with Congressman Patrick Kennedy and former ONDCP Deputy Director, Dr. Kevin Sabet. The film is geared toward parents and educators documenting the changing trends of marijuana, edibles and THC concentrates. Shot in 2014, it predicted exactly what would unfold as “legalization” became “commercialization”. It has been shown in dozens of film festivals across America
  • Wrote, Directed and Produced a documentary called “Road to Recovery”. The film is the first of its kind on Recovery from addiction, documenting some of the many stories across America of people who have overcome horrendous obstacles to find their path to Recovery. It has been shown in dozens of film festivals across America
  • Currently producing a documentary film on the importance of Faith in Recovery called, “Higher Power” which will document the spiritual foundation in a strong recovery of many people who have found that journey to be guided through spiritual principles.

Published Author

  • Published articles in, “Keys To Recovery”, a national Recovery newspaper.
  • Published article in, “The Program”, a national Recovery magazine.
  • Published article in, “Counselor”, a national online magazine.
  • Published articles in, “Sober World”, a national Sobriety magazine
  • Published articles in “In Recovery Magazine,” a national Sobriety magazine
  • Published articles in “The Grapevine”, a Southern New Jersey newspaper
  • Authored a non-fiction book, titled, “Table Talks” which is a Parent and Family guide to understand the conversations families need to have with kids about drug and alcohol use, misuse and abuse.
  • Currently finishing my memoir called, “Chasing Ruin, Finding Redemption”
  • Currently finishing my second book, “Chasing My Destiny” – The Steered Straight story
  • Co-Authoring a natural-health guide book for parents and families called, “Vaping Me Crazy” about managing and nicotine addiction, especially among adolescents