Treatment Services Director
Larry James has been our Treatment Services Director since 2001. Prior to moving to Hood River he managed a residential program for delinquent boys in Roseburg, his home town. He graduated from the same high school his mother went to and considers himself a 4th generation Oregonian.
“I grew up listening to stories about my family homesteading in the Umpqua Valley and the harmonious relationships with the local Indians. My great aunt started a small church in the valley in the late 1800’s and my wife and I were married there. We still have the piano that one of my great aunts used to play. We have a tradition and history here and are proud to call Oregon our home.” Larry and Marlene live in Parkdale with their child, Jade Cat (Catherine), who came into their lives from China.
After graduating from Roseburg High School in 1968 Larry went into the Navy and served 2 tours in Vietnam. After being discharged he worked as a tech for a major wood products industrial supplier, drove a produce truck, and sold real estate.
Larry also enjoys fast cars and did some racing with two Triumph TR-6’s and a factory production VW Bug with close to 140 horsepower.
Larry decided to go to college “once I discovered I had a brain.” While attending community college he became interested in history and philosophy. “One of the greatest mistakes my mother ever made was picking up a book by Paul Tillich, an Existentialist thinker, believing it would be good for me. And it was.” He received a dual BA in Philosophy and in Religion from Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho. While in Nampa, Larry volunteered at a shelter for juveniles and at the Idaho State correctional facility. Following graduation in 1980 he moved to Denver to attend the Iliff School of Theology where received his MAR in Philosophy in 1982.
Larry entered the PhD program at the University of Denver and began working with children with developmental disabilities such as autism and Down Syndrome. Before long he had become a member of a team working on autism research at Denver Children’s Hospital. “During my second year of doctoral studies I found that my heart was not in the ivory tower of academia but in the lives of kids. I had written and presented papers at national conferences on philosophy, sociology and religion and this just did not give me life like being with these special kids.”
Larry completed what was required for another Master of Arts in philosophy (1986) and the following year a Master of Divinity with an emphasis on developmental education (1987) He returned to Roseburg in 1988 and went to work at the Pitchford Boys Ranch, a treatment program for adolescent boys who exhibit criminal behaviors. The program was recognized by the state as a leader in the implementation of evidence-based practices. While in Roseburg Larry returned to academic life and received a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.
Here at NDI Larry has once more provided leadership to implement the best evidence-based practices in child and youth treatment and mental health. He has improved and increased the array of services as well as increasing the number of children and youth served for both Child Welfare and Oregon Youth Authority. The state continues to recognize NDI Treatment Services as a leader in Oregon. Larry enjoys stretching and challenging the limitations and restrictions the state bureaucracy appears to have in serving foster children.
As if all that and having a teenage daughter was not enough to do, Larry also teaches Philosophy and Sociology at Columbia Gorge Community College and serves on a number of non-profit boards and school committees. He very much enjoys the area and the many outdoor activities available. “But I do miss the university; I may just need to go back for another degree.”