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UPDATE: Hunsicker dismissed as CEO of treatment providers association

May 13, 2010
by Gary A. Enos, Contributing Editor
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Unspecified findings of an independent accounting firm are cited in decision

The tenure of the administrator who rebuilt the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) from plummeting membership into a vibrant national voice for the country’s most prominent treatment centers ended with a termination vote last week. NAATP members learned this week that president and CEO Ronald J. Hunsicker, DMin, has been dismissed and that former Valley Hope Association CEO Dennis Gilhousen has agreed to serve as NAATP chief executive during a transition period.

The NAATP board’s May 6 termination vote comes just over a month after Hunsicker was suspended from his position amid the launch of a review of NAATP by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. A statement received this week by NAATP members and obtained by Behavioral Healthcare says that according to NAATP board chair Cathy Palm, “this change in leadership was made at the conclusion of an investigation initiated by the NAATP Board, as a result of findings of an independent accounting firm and further discussion with the office of the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

Palm has declined to comment in recent weeks on the nature of the events that led to Hunsicker’s suspension and ultimate firing. Yet the mention of an independent accounting review in the NAATP statement dated May 10 appears to be the first official confirmation that the issues are of a financial nature. The state Attorney General’s office has not confirmed or denied that it is investigating the Pennsylvania-based association.

Although this week’s e-mail communication to NAATP members is labeled a “press release,” the announcement as of mid-week was not posted in the news and press section of NAATP’s Web site. Hunsicker’s name has been removed from the roster of NAATP leaders on the site and has been replaced with that of Gilhousen, a nationally known treatment leader who served for more than a decade as chief executive of Valley Hope, a Kansas-based organization now operating treatment facilities in seven Plains and Southwest states.

Before retiring from Valley Hope, Gilhousen had served for many years on the NAATP board and is a former board chair for the association.

“With this change in leadership completed, we confidently look forward to devoting all of our energy and resources to the important work of the NAATP,” Palm said in the statement. The association’s annual conference in San Antonio begins on May 22.

Hunsicker’s departure ends a period in which he became a leading national commentator on policy and programmatic issues affecting the addiction treatment community. His efforts to grow NAATP and to work in cooperation with other field groups have been widely praised, and the news of recent weeks has stung for many longtime leaders in the addiction treatment arena.

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