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SAAS Conference Recap

August 27, 2007
by Howard Shapiro, PhD, and Jim Scarborough
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This article appeared in the August 8, 2007, edition of Behavioral Healthcare

's e-newsletter. The 2007 SAAS National Conference for Executives and Senior Managers in Addiction Services brought together 450 attendees and sponsors/exhibitors in Chicago for workshops and plenary sessions on a broad array of management challenges and opportunities. Over two-and-a-half days, CEOs, COOs, program directors, clinical supervisors, and other senior managers shared experiences and learned from national experts in more than 30 workshops and plenary sessions on business and finance, quality improvement, information technology, public policy, and workforce recruitment and retention.

Dr. Terry Cline, SAMHSA administrator, opened the conference on July 9 by sharing his vision for the work of SAMHSA in the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders. Following these remarks, he met with SAAS member state association presidents or executive directors for an informal dialogue on a wide array of topics affecting providers, federal programs, state addiction services agencies, and other stakeholders.

Attendees were particularly stimulated by plenary speakers such as Marilyn Moats Kennedy, who presented a humorous and insightful analysis of generational change and its impact on the workforce and recruitment/retention. Her presentation explored how successive generations in the workforce differ along many dimensions, such as motivation, teamwork, rewards, and employee loyalty—all factors to be considered in recruiting and retaining the future workforce.

Attendees were also motivated by Charles Fred, whose “Breakaway” model has enabled businesses and nonprofit organizations to outdistance competitors, and by Robert Egger, who challenged attendees to utilize the economic and people power of nonprofits to bring about political change.

Receiving the SAAS National Excellence in Leadership Awards were Art Schut, CEO of the Mid-Eastern Council on Chemical Abuse (MECCA) of Iowa and a founding member and former SAAS president, and the Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment (NIATx). These awards annually recognize one individual and one organization that exemplify excellence in leadership in advocating on behalf of addiction treatment and prevention.

Howard B. Shapiro, PhD, is Executive Director of the State Associations of Addiction Services (SAAS). Jim Scarborough is SAAS’s Director of Research and Special Projects. For more information about SAAS, visit