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Association of alumni-serving professionals will bring on director

December 20, 2013
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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With the word “recovery” being uttered more and more in the addiction treatment industry, and more facilities openly asking about what they have to implement in order to become recovery-focused organizations, the loosely organized group Treatment Professionals in Alumni Services (TPAS) has decided it’s time to take the association to the next level.

Lorie Obernauer, PhD, who formerly oversaw CeDAR’s alumni programming and was the original driver behind formation of a national association of alumni programming directors, confirms that TPAS is searching for an executive director and plans to have someone in that position in the first quarter of 2014.

She says key priorities for the director of services in the first year will involve boosting membership and looking for partnering opportunities with other organizations. TPAS has had around 60 to 70 consistently active participants in collaboratives that it has held in its early history, but at present the only paying members of the association are a dozen treatment centers that agreed to infuse some cash into the association and become charter members.

Obernauer says consultant Dick Dillon has spearheaded the search process for a director, partly by reaching out to professional associations such as the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) and State Associations of Addiction Services (SAAS). Several candidates are already under consideration, though Obernauer adds that the process of identifying candidates has not been officially closed.

The official candidate description for the position includes the wording “experience in treatment and/or recovery industry” among the desired qualifications, but Obernauer adds that the person does not have to be in addiction recovery. However, “We really want someone who lives a recovery life, with values that are in line with reducing stigma and offering equal opportunity—that perspective,” she says.

TPAS has no immediate plans to open a staff office in conjunction with the hire, so the new director will work out of his/her home base. The organization is also in the process of creating a new website.

Obernauer believes the national changes that are occurring in healthcare offer an ideal backdrop for the growth of an organization of alumni-serving professionals who serve as a critical component of aftercare/recovery support.  “All of that will require treatment centers to take a close look at how they’re serving clients,” she says.

And she adds that while recovery services are routinely incorporated into every national conference agenda in the field now, “It still is a new topic that needs to be addressed again and again.”