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Flood will become CEO of Ashley in January

September 28, 2017
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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After 13 years at the helm of a California treatment facility that has become a leading presence in women's treatment and recovery services, Rebecca Flood will return to the East to become president and CEO of storied Ashley Addiction Treatment in Maryland, it was announced Thursday.

Flood has served for more than a decade as CEO of New Directions for Women, and has indicated that she will maintain her seat on New Directions' board of directors. In moving to Ashley as of Jan. 1, she will join an organization that embraces the rich, spiritually driven legacy of its charismatic co-founder, Father Joseph Martin, but also one that in 2016 initiated a significant rebranding from the former Father Martin's Ashley name in order to convey its mission and services more clearly to the community.

“It's feeling like I'm coming home in a multitude of ways,” says Flood. “Father Martin was my first mentor.” She first met him when he visited the center where she received treatment, and she recalls their sitting in rocking chairs on the facility's porch.

“I was always touched by his laughter, his humor, his simplicity, his love for human life,” Flood says of Father Martin. She says she sees her latest career move as an act of faith, living by the mantra “More is required of you.”

As Flood takes over as Ashley CEO, Father Mark Hushen will transition from that role to the title of chief mission and legacy officer, with functions that will include “providing spiritual support to the entire Ashley community,” according to a news release from Ashley.

Flood, who spent 26 years at Seabrook House in New Jersey before moving to New Directions for Women, was honored by Ashley last May at its 10th annual Mae Abraham Luncheon, named after Ashley's other co-founder. “Like our co-founder, Mae Abraham, Becky has dedicated her life to breaking down the stigma of drug and alcohol addiction while making quality treatment available to more women in need,” Ashley director of development and alumni services Martha Meehan-Cohen said at the time.

The joint presence of Flood and Hushen in the organization should reinforce efforts that continue to honor Ashley's past (Father Martin's “Chalk Talk” lectures continue to inspire and entertain scores of individuals in early recovery) while diversifying for the future (priorities in recent years have included building a stronger presence in outpatient services, attracting complex patients whose care requires a multidisciplinary approach, and establishing a niche in treating individuals affected by addiction and chronic pain).

“As the problem of addiction grows and evolves, standing still is not an option,” Ashley vice president of treatment services Bernadette Solounias, MD, said last year when the organization rebranding was unveiled.

Flood says she embraces the need to balance the old and the new, whether the discussion is about venture capital vs. nonprofit programming on the business side or abstinence-based treatment vs.medication strategies in clinical care.

Wider impact in field

Flood has served as a blogger for Addiction Professional for several years. Her posts often discuss clinical aspects of women's treatment, but she also comments on broader issues affecting the field, from funding constraints to professional ethics.

This big-picture perspective also has characterized Flood's work as a board member at the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP).

“She is as committed a professional as we have,” Carl Kester, who has served as NAATP board chair and is president and CEO of Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers in Washington state, tells Addiction Professional. She has been equally involved in membership development for NAATP and the establishment of ethical standards that can foster trust in treatment centers among struggling patients and families, Kester says.

Flood explains how New Directions soon will be coming full circle. Founded by three women who “talked about recovery when it was not the chic thing to do,” she says, the organization now will form a similar trio of women to carry the organization forward as Flood departs.

Flood arrived at New Directions at a time when the organization was suffering mightily from the effects of managed care, and shepherded its growth into a $6 million company treating around 30 women a day in residential services and another 20 in outpatient care.

While she is now moving to an organization that serves women and men, Flood expects that she will remain a voice on women's treatment issues. “I believe that when a woman gets well, generations heal,” she says.