NAADAC Celebrates National Addiction Professionals Day by Announcing 2020 NAADAC 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. As part of its National Addiction Professionals Day celebration, NAADAC honors its 2020 NAADAC Award Winners. This year, NAADAC presented awards to six outstanding individuals and one outstanding organization for their extraordinary service and contributions to the addiction profession. NAADAC traditionally presents its annual awards during its Annual Conference. Because this year's Annual Conference is virtual, each reciepient was presented with their award by NAADAC leadership in their home state while following physical distancing guidelines. Vidoes of these award presentations can be found on the NAADAC website.

"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: Margaret Smith, EdD, MLADC

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

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This year’s recipient of the Addiction Educator of the Year Award, Margaret Smith, EdD, MLADC, is a compassionate addiction educator, mentor, and advocate. She has been teaching addiction studies since 1992 and has devoted her career to leading the next generation of addiction professionals into the workforce. Her students describe her as a motivational and hands-on teacher who helps them meet their personal and professional goals. Smith is an Addiction and Pre-Professional Mental Health Option Professor in the Public Health Department of Keene State College. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Rio Salado College and an Adjunct Professor at Ottawa University. She has presented at many national and regional conferences and published several articles in journals such as the Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, the Journal of College Student Development, and the Journal of Addiction, Research and Theory. Recently, Smith co-authored a textbook entitled A Comprehensive Guide to Addiction Theory and Counseling Techniques. Smith also serves on the board of the International Coalition for Addiction Studies Education (INCASE) and the board of Phoenix House.

Mel Schulstad Professional of the Year: John Lisy, LICDC-CS, OCPC, LISW-S, LPCC-S

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.

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John Lisy, LICDC-CS, OCPC, LISW-S, LPCC-S, this year’s recipient of the Mel Schulstad Professional of the Year Award, has over 35 years of experience working in public policy and addictions treatment, prevention, and capacity building. Lisy has been the Executive Director of the Shaker Heights Youth Center for the last 25 years. He has served on the NAADAC Executive Committee for ten years as Secretary, Treasurer, and Mid-Central Regional Vice President, and he is currently a member of the NAADAC Public Policy Committee. While serving in leadership roles at NAADAC, Lisy helped to secure workforce training and development funding for NAADAC and the state of Ohio. He has served as Past President of the Ohio Association of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Counselors (OAADAC) and now serves as OAADAC’s State Legislative Chair. He was also a founding member of the Coalition for Chemical Dependency Licensure and currently serves on the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Licensing Board. Lisy is known as a leader in the field of addiction, and he is nationally respected as an innovator, educator, and mentor to agencies and individuals alike.

Lora Roe Memorial Addiction Counselor of the Year: Theora Noble, LPC-S, LCDC, AADC, NCAC I, ICADC, Certified Therapist in EMDR

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.

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This year’s Lora Roe Memorial Addiction Counselor of the Year is Theora Noble, LPC-S, LCDC, AADC, NCAC I, ICADC, Certified Therapist in EMDR. Noble currently works as a therapist at the Woodlands Family Institute in Texas and has worked in the field of addictions and co-occurring mental health disorders for over 35 years. Noble has presented at many conferences throughout her career and has mentored and encouraged her fellow addiction professionals. She has a reputation for being both compassionate and highly skilled. Noble has founded numerous programs in Houston, Texas, and supervised interns and professionals new to the field as they move from the classroom to the workforce. She is a member of the advisory board for the Master's Counseling Department of Sam Houston State University and has advocated for the inclusion of training for the treatment of co-occurring substance use disorders and clinical psychiatric disorders. She also serves as the Chair of Lone Star College Human Services Technology Department Advisory Board and has helped develop one of the state's most respected human service programs. 

Organizational Achievement Award: Above and Beyond

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.

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Above and Beyond, located in Chicago, Illinois, and this years' recipient of the Organizational Achievement Award, has a reputation for being an innovative addictions treatment center that integrates creativity with evidence-based practices. Above and Beyond is unique because it offers its treatment services for free, and its drop-in center model makes it easy for clients to access treatment without having to wait for an appointment. The receptionist at Above and Beyond has a Master's degree in psychology because, according to Executive Director Dan Hostetler, "We wanted to make sure that the first person clients had contact with in person or by phone had a clinical background and exudes empathy." Treatment services include CBT, RET, Logo-Therapy, yoga, mindfulness, and experiential therapies. Above and Beyond also has a weekly client graduation ceremony to uplift their clients and empower their recovery.

Lifetime Honorary Membership Award: Phyllis Prekopa, PsyD, RN/BSN, CARN-AP, LCADC, FIAAN (IntNSA), SAP

The Lifetime Honorary Membership Award recognizes an individual who has established outstanding service through a lifetime of consistent contributions to the advancement of NAADAC, the addiction profession and its professionals.

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This year's Lifetime Honorary Membership Award winner, Phyllis Prekopa, PsyD, RN/BSN, CARN-AP, LCADC, FIAAN (IntNSA), SAP, has been known as a leader in the field of substance use disorder treatment for over 25 years. Prekopa has been a Registered Nurse since 1986 and a Doctor of Psychology since 2010. She is also a Certified Addictions Registered Nurse-Advanced Practice. She served as Nurse Manager of the Bergen Regional Medical Center detox unit for five years, where she taught and trained medical and counseling staff. Currently, she serves as an evaluator and peer group facilitator for the Recovery and Monitoring Program (RAMP) in New Jersey. In this capacity, she helps nurses find recovery and return to work. Prekopa is a Substance Abuse Professional who makes presentations to companies mandated by the Department of Transpiration and the Federal Aviation Administration. Prekopa also co-owns a specialty drug and alcohol testing and consulting company covering mandatory drug testing for local companies and airports. She is known as a mentor and role model who influences change and inspires her fellow addiction professionals. 

 William F. “Bill” Callahan Award: David Semanco, MS, MAC, CAADC, CSAC, CAC-AD

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

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NAADAC’s own Director of Membership and Affiliates, David Semanco, MS, MAC, CAADC, CSAC, CAC-AD, is the recipient of this year’s William F. “Bill” Callahan Award. Semanco has over 15 years of experience in the addiction profession, working in various treatment settings, including hospital, residential, and outpatient, where he provided direct care and developed programs for adolescents and adults. Prior to working in the addiction field, Semanco had a successful career in music, which he incorporated into his clinical practice. He has represented the addiction profession by serving on the Board of Directors and as President of the Virginia Association of Addiction Professionals (VAAP). He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Virginia Summer Institute for Addiction Studies (VSIAS), one of the premier training venues for addiction professionals in the Mid-Atlantic and was Chair of VSIAS in 2015 and 2017. He has helped advance the addiction profession through mentorship and by providing training and workshops for various organizations. He is dedicated to minimizing the stigma of addiction and is an ardent proponent of innovative treatment methods that are underutilized in conventional treatment.

Davida Coady Gorham Medical Professional of the Year: Kevin Leyden, BSN, RN, CARN

The Davida Coady Gorham Medical Professional of the Year Award is presented to a medical professional who has made an outstanding contribution to the addiction profession.

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The recipient of this year’s Davida Coady Gorham Medical Professional of the Year Award, Kevin Leyden, BSN, RN, CARN, has been active in the addiction profession for over three years. He is a member of the International Nurses Society on Addictions (IntNSA) and is a Certified Addictions Registered Nurse. Leyden currently serves as the Clinical Care Manager at Integrity House in Newark, NJ. At Integrity House, Leyden oversaw the Bates Program, which focused on treating boys aged 13-18 for substance use disorder. Most of these boys were mandated to go into the program in place of jail time. He has been commended for creating a safe space for the boys in this program to talk and receive guidance. Currently, Leyden works within the Medication Assisted Treatment Program at Integrity House, assisting clients who want to use Vivitrol and Naltrexone. His coworkers state that clients have great respect for him as he is not only compassionate but well educated in the treatments available.

These dedicated addiction professionals were given awards by NAADAC leadership in their home states over the past month. You can find videos of their award acceptance speeches at www.naadac.org/2020-naadac-award-winners. 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, which aims to increase awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use disorders and celebrate people in recovery.

For more information on Recovery Month, please visit www.rm.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org.

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