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Public Policy

2014 Award Recipients

Legislator of the Year Award

Senator Rob Bradley
District 7
Alachua, Bradford, and Clay Counties

Rob Bradley, a former prosecutor, was elected to the Florida Senate in 2012 and immediately began making a positive impression on criminal justice issues and supporting smart justice policy and funding. This year, Senator Bradley successfully passed legislation (SB360) revising the minimum mandatory sentencing laws for drug trafficking in oxycodone and hydrocodone to better reflect an individual’s addiction. For the second consecutive year, Senator Bradley passed “bath salts” legislation (SB780), adding new compounds to the list of Schedule I controlled substances. He also passed legislation (SB384) revising juvenile justice sentencing to reflect U.S. Supreme Court decisions and co-sponsored legislation (SB224) prohibiting the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.

As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, Chairman Bradley began restoring community drug treatment beds lost over previous years. Under his leadership, almost 250 beds have been restored. For the past two years, Chairman Bradley placed funding in the budget for electronic monitoring and guaranteed that drug treatment was a key component of all new reentry initiatives. This year, he included funding for naltrexone to treat opioid and alcohol addicted offenders. His most significant funding achievement, however, was his leadership to replace funding to the Department of Corrections contracted substance abuse treatment providers.

Dr. Donald “Jerry” Feulner Award - Leader of the Year

Doug Leonardo, LCSW
Executive Director
BayCare Behavioral Health
New Port Richey

Doug Leonardo is recognized for his innovative leadership and unwavering commitment to promoting quality substance use disorder and mental health services to Floridians in need of care. Mr. Leonardo is a tireless advocate for alcohol and substance abuse treatment, a thought leader among his peers and in his profession, and a long-standing contributor to the work of the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association. His leadership on emerging issues including veterans’ services, treatment for pregnant women, and integrated care has resulted in new funding and enhanced service delivery. Mr. Leonardo has successfully integrated behavioral health services into ten hospitals and emergency departments. In addition, he has integrated with nearly 100 physicians in ten traditional Primary Care Provider clinics as well as Federally Qualified Health Centers in order to improve access for clients who present with both physical and behavioral health needs and are in need of treatment. FADAA and Florida have benefited from his keen insight, tenacious attitude, and commitment to quality.

Volunteer of the Year Award

The Center for Drug Free Living, The Village House Program
PhDs (Push, Haul, and Drag items for Program)

The Village House Program started in 1997 and for the past 17 years, six volunteers have devoted countless hours and offered their homes to the children of Ivey Lane and its surrounding areas. These committed residents volunteer their homes to be a safe haven for children in emergency situations. Their homes also serve as activity centers after school and on weekends. Over 1,500 children have participated in the Village House program since its inception in the City of Orlando. Village House has focused its efforts on improving youth behavior, school grades, truancy and suspension and has consistently met or exceeded its outcomes for funders. Village House kids have chosen to remain drug and alcohol free as a result of their direct involvement in the program. The kids attend the program weekly and receive a variety of positive alternative activities to help them grow both academically and socially. They receive weekly tutoring and life-skills presentations. They are also rewarded with field trips and are required to perform monthly community service projects. These dedicated volunteers open their doors not only to the children, but to their parents. Parents attend special meetings and one-on-one meetings with other community organizations at the Village Houses, including school administration. The Village House concept provides needed services and reinforcement to families in their natural setting. The Village House Program has another 20 volunteers who support the program by volunteering to chaperone on field trips, facilitate life-skills classes and assist where needed. The Village House program could not exist without these vital community volunteers; they have been and will continue to be the backbone of the “Village.”

Professional of the Year Award – Northeast Region

Dietangal Heard, MS, CAP, CMHP, ICADC
Associate Vice President of Courts and Community Services
River Region Human Services, Inc.

Dietangal Heard is the Associate Vice President of Courts and Community Services for River Region Human Services. She has been working in the behavioral health field for the past 27 years. She is a Master’s level Certified Addictions Professional, Certified Mental Health Professional, and an Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Her career has focused on providing quality co-occurring services to children, adolescents, and adults to improve the quality of life for families and the community. Ms. Heard is involved in Duval County’s System of Care Initiatives and the State’s Prevention efforts.

Professional of the Year Award – Central Region

Marnie L. Williams, MS,
LMHC Director of Prevention
ASPIRE Health Partners

Marnie Williams started her career with The Center for Drug Free Living 18 years ago as a counselor in the school-based prevention program, Alpha. As an Alpha counselor, Marnie was able to provide prevention services to approximately 200 students annually. Marnie quickly moved up in the agency, becoming the Director of Alpha, Back on Track and FOCUS Prevention Programs. With multiple funding sources, Marnie negotiated contracts to continue funding and expand Prevention Services. In 2007 Marnie became Director of Prevention, which expanded her role to include leadership of 12 prevention programs in three counties with a budget of two million dollars annually. These programs provide a variety of services and programming to many populations in-need, from students and families in Title I schools to transitional housing to women and children facing chronic homelessness. In this current position, Marnie supervises a staff of more than 40 professionals.

Professional of the Year Award – Suncoast Region

Ed Monti, AS, BA, MS
Director of Clinical Operations
BayCare Behavioral Health
New Port Richey

Ed Monti is the clinical director for BayCare Behavioral Health with a passionate commitment to serving others while improving the lives of children, families and adults living with behavioral health needs. His professional career in behavioral health spans over 30 years in leadership as well as roles as a school social worker, alternative HS coordinator, Odyssey house clinician, special needs crisis counselor and a VA social rehabilitation counselor. He is also a U.S. Army veteran with tours in Vietnam and Europe. Ed received his undergraduate counseling degrees from Middlesex College and the University of Massachusetts and a graduate degree in consulting psychology from Harvard University.

In 1990, Ed and his wife Lisa, a special needs educator, moved to Tarpon Springs where Ed began his leadership role with BayCare by deploying a newly funded adolescent substance abuse residential program. Since then he has led numerous strategic innovation projects, initiated multiple grant awards/proposals and has designed and directed a variety of therapy and treatment programs in residential, outpatient and community settings. He possesses highly effective skills with the ability to lead culturally diverse teams through decisive change management and daily operations to achieve results.

Professional of the Year Award – Southeast Region

Carolyn J. Thomas, LCSW, CAP, ICADC
Clinical Supervisor, BS, MSW
Drug Abuse Treatment Association, Inc.
Ft. Pierce

Carolyn Thomas has dedicated 35 years to the field of substance abuse and mental health treatment. She has worked as Clinical Supervisor of Treatment Services for Outpatient and Residential clients in Circuit 19 for the Drug Abuse Treatment Association, Inc. since March 2011 and also was Prevention Supervisor for a year with local schools in her community. Ms. Thomas has excelled as a supervisor and facilitator of quality treatment. She has been very instrumental in implementing and providing evidence-based treatment to the population that we serve. She is also a strong advocate for staff and has done a fi e job of promoting job satisfaction. She is always in the front of the line when it comes to effecting positive change. She is very solutions oriented as demonstrated by every aspect of her professional career.

Professional of the Year Award – Northeast Region

Ernest Day, BS
Counselor III Adolescent Assessment & Juvenile Addictions Receiving Facility
Gateway Community Services

Ernest Day has dedicated his career to helping others achieve the best they can be after dealing with difficult circumstances. Ernest holds the position of counselor for the Adolescent Assessment and Juvenile Receiving Facility at Gateway. He has been a dedicated member of the staff since October of 1999. He brings his expertise, time and talent to the organization and works well with the teens he counsels in his group and individual sessions. Ernest is a graduate of the University of North Florida and holds a degree in Psychology.

Patient, caring, compassionate and determined to make a difference are all descriptive words that can be used when talking about Ernest. He is able to reach out and provide understanding to teens and help them work through problem situations. He is well respected by teens and enjoys helping mentor young adults on the road to success. Ernest conducts group therapy sessions with teens discussing the negative consequences of drug and alcohol use and its effect on the entire family. He understands and firmly believes that if he can touch the heart of just one struggling teen and assist them in changing their life, he has accomplished a true service to the community. Gateway is proud to have such a hardworking, dedicated member on its staff.

Clinician of the Year Award – Central Region

Katie Van Matre, MS, CAP
Correctional Counselor
Bridges of America
Port St. Lucie

Having raised an adopted son from the streets who had an addiction, Katie Van Matre found that the treatment he received from a correctional setting was invaluable to him maintaining recovery from substance abuse. As a result of this, she became intrigued on how her son managed to stay clean when no other setting had helped him. This spurred her desire to work with mandated inmates. Her son has been clean for over ten years. Ms. Matre is a Certified Addiction Professional and has a Master’s of Science from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She has been working in the addiction field for approximately ten years. She has been a case manager and has conducted drug testing for probation. Most recently, Ms. Matre has been working in a correctional setting as a substance abuse counselor.

Clinician of the Year Award – Suncoast Region

Wallace Neal, MSW, CAP
Director of Residential Adult Services
SalusCare, Inc.
Fort Myers

Wallace Neal began his service working in the substance abuse treatment field in 1996, shortly after earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services. Since then, he has worked in all areas of the treatment venue, acting as case manager and intake assessor. Mr. Neal worked his way through clinical roles and then into supervisory positions. Mr. Neal earned his Master’s Degree in Social work in 2001. In 2004 he became a Certified Addiction Professional. His first work experience was in a 200 bed therapeutic community, and then other substance abuse agencies. His move to Southwest Florida brought him to Charlotte Behavioral Health as a therapist, then to Southwest Florida Addiction Services, now known as SalusCare, Inc. He began his role at SalusCare as the Clinical Director of Adult Residential Programs, and now Program Director. During his tenure at SalusCare, he has worked across all areas and levels of residential programming, as well as supervised a cadre of clinicians, case managers, and support staff. During this time, he also taught at the Florida Addiction Institute, helping students obtain their educational hours toward obtaining substance abuse certification. Mr. Neal also sits on the advisory board for Drug Free Southwest Florida, and is an active church member. He provides time to the community by providing Professional Ethics trainings. In addition, he works closely with the School of Social Work at Florida Gulf Coast University, supervising several interns each year.

Clinician of the Year Award – Southeast Region

Beverly Shurelds, BS
Interventions Counselor
Drug Abuse Treatment Association, Inc.

Born in Jacksonville Beach, Beverly Shurelds relocated to West Palm Beach, Florida in 1999 and began employment with the Juvenile Justice system. In 2004, she started working at the Drug Abuse Treatment Association as a Case Manager at the Juvenile Assessment Center and later transitioned to her current position as an Intervention Counselor. Ms. Shurelds works with children, adolescents and families experiencing problems with substance abuse and/or juvenile delinquency. Ms. Shurelds loves the opportunity to impact youths to become responsible, productive members of their communities. She relies heavily on her faith which helps her integrate and utilize the appropriate skills to do her job well and serve the community. She is an active member of a local church and has been previously involved in various charitable projects within the community.


Other Past Award Recipients

2016 Award Recipients

2015 Award Recipients

2013 Award Recipients

2012 Award Recipients

2011 Award Recipients & Nominees


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