NAADAC Celebrates National Addiction Professional Day by Announcing 2019 Award Winners

Every year on September 20th, NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, takes time to recognize and celebrate vital players of the health system and continuum of care in honor of National Addiction Professionals Day.

Started by NAADAC in 1992, the day was established to commemorate the hard work that addiction professionals do on a daily basis. NAADAC is the largest membership organization for addiction-focused healthcare professionals and represents the professional interests of more than 100,000 addiction counselors, educators and other addiction-focused health care professionals in the United States, Canada and abroad. 

As part of its National Addiction Professionals Day celebration, NAADAC honors its 2019 Award Winners. This year NAADAC will present awards to seven outstanding individuals and one outstanding organization for their extraordinary service and contributions to the addiction profession.

“We are honored to be awarding such deserving and dedicated addiction professionals this year,” said Cynthia Moreno Tuohy, BSW, NCAC II, CDC III, SAP, NAADAC Executive Director. “The important work that these awardees do every day saves lives, families, and communities.”

Addiction Educator of the Year: Kirk Bowden, PhD, LPC, NCC, MAC

The Addiction Educator of the Year Award is presented to the educator who has made an outstanding contribution to addiction education.


This year’s recipient of the Addiction Educator of the Year Award, Kirk Bowden, PhD, LPC, NCC, MAC, is an outstanding, addiction educator, mentor, role model and advocate with years of experience in the addiction profession. Bowden is the chair of the Addiction and Substance Use Disorder Program at Rio Salado College and professor-in-charge of the Addiction Counseling Program Ottawa University. He is a past president of NAADAC the Association for Addiction Professionals and past chair of the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC). Bowden has written more than 30 addiction counseling courses and spends countless hours with students in-person, on the phone, and electronically to help them succeed and achieve their educational goals.  He has worked diligently to build outstanding addiction counselor education programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. As a mentor to many, Bowden leads by example and shows his students how to navigate the addiction profession and provide the best care for the clients they serve.    

Mel Schulstad Professional of the Year: Chris Budnick, MSW, LCSW, LCAS, CCS

The Mel Shulstad Professional of the Year Award recognizes an individual who has made outstanding and sustained contributions to the advancement of the addiction counseling profession.


Chris Budnick, MSW, LCSW, LCAS, CCS, this year’s recipient of the Mel Schulstad Professional of the Year Award, has been working in the addiction treatment and recovery field since 1993.  He has personally demonstrated his passionate and tireless commitment to the clients served, their families, his staff, the recovery community, and the future of the addiction profession. He currently serves as the Executive Director at Healing Transitions, a non-profit organization that serves homeless, uninsured, and underserved individuals with substance use disorders.  In this role, he has expanded on-demand access to low-threshold, compassionate shelter services for homeless individuals with substance use disorder while continuing to provide a meaningful pathway to recovery. Budnick also created a network of leading addiction clinicians by organizing book clubs for addiction professionals who regularly teleconference to discuss issues of import to their programs and the field. The recovery-focused book clubs he organized for his staff at Healing Transitions have now spread to other organizations, forming a unique model for staff development and professional self-care.

Lora Roe Memorial Addiction Counselor of the Year: Linda Mazak, LADC-1, CADC, LMHC, SAP, MA-PGS, and Suzanne Lofton, LCDC, ADC, SAP

The Lora Roe Memorial Addiction Counselor of the Year Award, renamed for Lora Roe in 1988, is presented to a counselor who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession of addiction counseling.


Linda Mazak, LADC-1, CADC, LMHC, SAP, MA-PGS, the co-recipient of this year’s Lora Roe Memorial Addiction Counselor of the Year Award, is currently the Clinical Director of Recovery Homes at Victory Programs in Boston and has worked in the field of addictions and co-occurring mental health disorders since 1995. In addition to her contributions at Victory Programs, Mazak worked at SPAN, Inc. as the Reentry Services Coordinator and SUD counselor where she provided prisoner reentry services to incarcerated and recently released HIV+ adults.  Additionally, she was recruited as Program Director to develop and manage the new Substance Abuse Intensive Out-Patient Program at Arbor Counseling in Norwell, MA.  In every position Mazak has held in her career, she has mentored and encouraged her fellow addiction professionals and has a reputation for being both compassionate and highly skilled in treating clients from a variety of backgrounds.


Suzanne Lofton, LCDC, ADC, SAP, the co-recipient of this year’s Lora Roe Memorial Addiction Counselor of the Year Award, has been actively involved in the substance use disorder profession since 1997.  Lofton is Coordinator for the Family Recovery Court and has a private practice working with individuals and family with substance use disorders and Recovery Support. She is also the current Past President on the State Board of the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals and served on the Fort Worth TAAP board for 9 years. As the president of the Fort Worth board, she helped to start the Tarrant County Recovery Rally and served on the Tarrant County ROSC committee. Lofton held in high esteem by peers and clients alike and is known for forming caring and meaningful relationships with her clients. She meets with her clients on a weekly basis and makes herself available 24/7 for questions, concerns, and advice. Lofton also provides mentorship and support for her fellow addiction professionals, often molding recently graduated addiction professionals into leaders in the addiction profession.

Organizational Achievement Award: NUWAY

The NAADAC Organizational Achievement Award is presented to organizations that have demonstrated a strong commitment to the addiction profession and particularly strong support for the individual addiction professional.


NUWAY, located in Minnesota and this years’ recipient of the Organizational Achievement Award, was has a stand-out reputation among treatment providers in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul. All of NUWAY’s programs are co-occurring, LGBTQIA+ safe and friendly, trauma-informed and medication-assisted treatment/recovery friendly.  NUWAY is known for its commitment to support clients in recovery housing in addition to treatment. NUWAY uses an empowerment model to frame the housing benefit as something that clients earn by attending treatment. In this way, the client is motivated to continue to attend treatment and is invested with feeling of self-efficacy, pride, and self-esteem that they are self-supporting for their housing needs. NUWAY has also shown incredible commitment to the emerging addiction profession by providing nearly 50 organized and robust graduate and undergraduate internship placements in their treatment programs. Interns are provided with an intensive, challenging, and rewarding experiences with knowledgeable and supportive staff.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Nancy Deming, MSW, LCSW, MAC, AADC-S

The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an individual or entity who has established outstanding service through a lifetime of consistent contributions to the advancement of the addiction profession and its professionals at a national level.


This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Nancy Deming, MSW, LCSW, MAC, AADC-S, has been known in West Virginia as a leader in the field of substance use disorder treatment for the past 40 plus years. Deming has been involved in the design, development and implementation of some very unique treatment services including the first SBIRT grant West Virginia received and a grant that focused on more open access to treatment and some of the earliest uses of medication assisted treatment in north central West Virginia.  Outside of work, Deming has been an avid proponent of care for those afflicted with the disease of addiction.  She has been a member of the West Virginia Association of Addiction Professionals and NAADAC since 1987.  She has served as President of the West Virginia Association of Addiction Professionals, was a two term Regional Vice President of the Mid-Atlantic region for NAADAC, has served on the Public Policy Committee, the old NAADAC PAC and now Chairs the NERF for NAADAC. Deming has devoted her life’s work toward the expansion of services for individuals with substance use disorder and has provided leadership bot clinically and as an advocate for the addiction profession. She exemplifies what is means to be an accomplished addiction professional.

William F. “Bill” Callahan Award: Keith H. Liles, LCDC, ADC III, ICADC, NCAC II, and William Heran, PhD, LCSW

The William F. “Bill” Callahan Award is presented for sustained and meritorious service at the national level to the profession of addiction counseling.


Keith H. Liles, LCDC, ADC III, ICADC, NCAC II, the co-recipient of this year’s William F. “Bill” Callahan Award, has over 25 years of experience in the field of addiction treatment. Liles is known nationally in the treatment industry for his contributions to professional development, legislative advocacy, student mentorship and more.  He was inducted into both the Houston and Texas Counselor Hall of Fame and was recognized by the National Association of Addiction Professionals as the National Addiction Professional Counselor of the Year which is the highest award given in the United States for addiction care.  In June 2014, he began volunteering with the Harris County Criminal Justice System in the STAR Drug Court Program and within a year was a part time employee as the Addiction Treatment Specialist.  By October 2016, he was promoted to Program Manager and Clinical Director.  In 2019, the program moved under the Harris County Community Supervision and Corrections Department; Liles now manages four treatment teams consisting of criminal judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and probation officers who come together to offer habitual criminals drug treatment and counseling instead of prison through a deferred adjudication process.  He is known for his enthusiasm and passion towards guiding his clients to recovery.


William Heran, PhD, LCSW, the co-recipient of this year’s William F. “Bill” Callahan Award, has over 28 years of experience as a clinician, researcher, author, educator, spiritual advisor and program developer. He has developed programs and provided clinical services in hospitals and treatment centers throughout the country including Jamaica, Hawaii, New York, and Boston. Heran has also consulted and worked with Physicians Health Programs, attorney assistance programs, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the NFL. He has worked with professionals for many years and serves as an evaluator for State Licensing Boards, State Boards of Medicine, Pharmacy and Nursing. To both his fellow addiction professionals and the clients he serves, he is known for his dedication, compassion and knowledge. Heran’s ability to successfully develop effective treatment plans for individuals working in safety sensitive positions along with his commitment to appropriately advocate for impaired professionals is a value to those he serves.

These dedicated addiction professionals will be honored during the President’s Awards Luncheon at the 2019 NAADAC Annual Conference taking place on September 28 – October 3, 2019 in Orlando, FL. The winners will also be celebrated in the Fall Issue of NAADAC’s magazine, Advances in Addiction and Recovery.

National Addiction Professionals Day is held in September as a part of National Recovery Month. Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), National Recovery Month aims to increase awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recovery.

For more information on Recovery Month, please visit


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