Every two years, NAADAC members have the opportunity to select a Regional Vice President who will represent their state affiliate on the NAADAC Executive Committee, with four of NAADAC’s eight regional positions being up for election each year. All 2019-2021 terms will begin on October 4, 2019, immediately after the NAADAC 2019 Annual Conference in Orlando, FL.
This year, the Mid-Central, North Central, Southeast, and Southwest Regional Vice-President positions came up for election. NAADAC only received one nomination for each of the open Regional Vice President positions. Accordingly, each of the nominated individuals will take office as the Regional Vice President of his or her respective region without an election.
The Mid-Central Regional Vice President Elect, representing Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Wisconsin, is Gisela Berger, PhD, MAC, LPC, NCC. Berger spent several years in various leadership positions within NAADAC’s Wisconsin affiliate, Recovery and Addiction Professionals of Wisconsin (RAP-WI), including serving on the Board of Directors, as Vice President and as President. As a leader of RAP-WI, Berger has advocated for the interests of addiction professionals in the state legislature, facilitated a leadership retreat, and contributed to the growth of the now vibrant and flourishing state affiliate organization. Berger has also presented at several local and state-wide conferences, as well as at several NAADAC webinars.
Berger has served clients in many stages of recovery, supervised clinicians in many stages of development, and taught both undergraduate and graduate level students across many disciplines. As an educator, training the next generation of counselors and substance use disorder treatment specialists has allowed Berger to work with some exceptional young leaders. Her philosophy of inclusion has also been recognized at several levels of university leadership.
Berger believes that the addiction workforce has come a long way in promoting best practices, integrating medical advances, and promoting psychological well-being in every sense of the word. In looking to the future of NAADAC, she believes that the current challenge is in crafting an identity that serves to both inform the public and potential clients of our many, varied services, as well as indicate to governing and legislating bodies our professionalism.
The North Central Regional Vice President Elect, representing Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota, is James ”JJ” Johnson, Jr., BS, LADC, NCAC II, SAP, ICS. Johnson started his career in addiction treatment and recovery in 1990 with Franciscan Skemp Healthcare in LaCrosse, WI. While working with Franciscan Kemp Healthcare, he had the privilege of working with a Sister City project that took him to Russia to help develop Outpatient Treatment programs in cities outside of Moscow. In 2001, he accepted a position as Coordinator of Substance Abuse Services for New Ulm Medical Center; he remained at New Ulm Medical Center until accepting a position in St. Paul for HealthEast-Addiction Care. He is now Director of Residential Programs for NorthStar Regional in Chaska, MN.
Johnson’s involvement with NAADAC started in Wisconsin over 20 years ago and he has been an active member since. He served as President of Minnesota Addiction Professionals (MNAP), the NAADAC Minnesota affiliate, for ten years until 2014, and served as NAADAC North Central Regional Vice President during the 2016 – 2018 term.
Johnson believes that NAADAC has a bright future and that NAADAC needs to be at the forefront of all issues related to addiction treatment and recovery. Johnson stated that at NAADAC, “[w]e welcome all addiction professionals and that in and of itself makes us leaders in our own right.”
The Southeast Regional Vice President Elect, representing Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, is Marvin M. Sandifer, LCSW, LCAS. Sandifer has been a member of Addiction Professionals of North Carolina (APNC), NAADAC’s North Carolina State affiliate, for several years and is currently serving as APNC Regional Vice President. As APNC Regional Vice President, Sandifer facilitates regional training opportunities that provides licensure credits and exposes professionals to the growing science of substance use disorder treatment.
Sandifer has worked in the field of substance use disorder for 26 years. During this time, he has worked in both publicly and privately funded institutions and has first-hand experience with the challenges and strengths of the different funding environments. In response to the opiate crisis, Sandifer initiated the formation of a community coalition of public and private providers, which included the involvement of public health and safety, and public education. The mission of the community coalition is to reduce provider fragmentation and to reduce barriers to treatment access.
Sandifer believes that NAADAC is an essential voice of reason and science that cuts through the emotional issues of substance use disorder and its effect on individuals, families, and communities. He believes that NAADAC and its state affiliates play a vital role in creating a narrative that promotes current evidence-based science on brain disorder and its effective treatment, which can influence policy development and resource acquisition that is effective in treating substance use disorder.
The Southwest Regional Vice President Elect, representing Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, & Utah, is Thomas P. Gorham, LMFT, CADC II. Gorham has been a member of NAADAC since 2001. He has participated as both a speaker and attendee at the Advocacy in Action Conferences and NAADAC Annual Conferences over the past several years. Gorham was a founding member of Addiction Professional Association of California (APAC), NAADAC’s California affiliate, and continues to serve as its President.
Gorham has a rich personal history of homelessness and incarceration that allows him to clearly see the needs of specialized populations. Before becoming the Program Director of Options Recovery, a large non-profit treatment facility, he was the Clinical Director, which qualifies him both in the business and treatment aspects of the substance use disorder field.
Gorham believe NAADAC needs to continue to lead the way in the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders. He believes that NAADAC needs to support, expand, and train the addiction workforce to meet the demands of the “Affordable Care Act.”
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NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, represents the professional interests of more than 100,000 addiction counselors, educators and other addiction-focused healthcare professionals in the United States, Canada, and abroad. NAADAC's members are addiction counselors, educators, and other addiction-focused health care professionals, who specialize in addiction prevention, treatment, recovery support, and education. An important part of the healthcare continuum, NAADAC members, and its 47 state affiliates work to create healthier individuals, families and communities through prevention, intervention, quality treatment and recovery support.