Recognizing Health Care Heroes at NatCon22


Every day and across the country, individuals and organizations are stepping up to connect more people to high-quality, comprehensive care. From April 11-13 at NatCon22 — the largest conference in mental health and substance use treatment — we recognized several health care champions through our 2022 Awards of Excellence program. Learn more about this year’s winners:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award: David J. Woodlock
    David’s impact in the mental health care arena spans nearly five decades, having served in various leadership positions within the not-for-profit sector, government and hospitals. Before retiring, David was CEO of ICL, a health and human services organization whose innovative programming – like an integrated care hub in Brooklyn, New York – has transformed neighborhoods. Under David’s leadership, ICL took on the moniker, “People Get Better with Us,” and the organization became a premier innovator of whole health care. Learn more.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: John F. Kelly, Ph.D.
    A renowned practitioner, researcher and public advocate for individuals with substance use disorders and mental health challenges, Dr. John F. Kelly continues to have a profound impact in and beyond health care. As the Elizabeth R. Spallin Professor of Psychiatry in Addiction Medicine at Harvard Medical School and founder and director of the Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Kelly has dedicated his life’s work to helping individuals in need achieve long-term recovery. Learn more.
  • Peer Specialist of the Year Award: Kathy Raney, CRSS
    As a Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) for more than a decade – and with 27 years of experience in the social work field – Kathy Raney (pictured) has dedicated her life to serving others. In her role as a Care Access Coordinator for Centerstone of Illinois, Kathy works with an intensive and difficult population and is able to use her own recovery journey to assist others in need. Kathy has increased Centerstone’s presence in the community by reaching out to gain partners within counties served. Learn more.
  • Peer Specialist of the Year Award: Tina Simpson, CPS
    A Certified Peer Specialist (CPS), recovery coach, WRAP and WHAM facilitator, and advanced-level WRAP facilitator, Tina Simpson has overcome many obstacles to become a servant in the peer community. Through her faith and persistence, Tina was able to turn her “mess into a message” and use her trials as testimony in support of others in need. Tina currently serves as a Peer Specialist Supervisor for Spindletop Center, a community center system in Beaumont, Texas. Learn more.
  • Behavioral Health Leadership Award: Vibrant Emotional Health
    In July 2022, the U.S. will have a direct three-digit line (988) to life-saving support delivered by trained crisis counselors. Vibrant Emotional Health is working every day to make the transition to 988 a reality. They created and funded planning grants to support states’ efforts to prepare for the transition and are collaborating with SAMHSA and the Lifeline network to build capacity, fortify national backup centers and provide leadership to the country. Learn more.

Congratulations to our 2022 Awards of Excellence winners! On behalf of our member organizations and partners, we are grateful for your passion and purpose. Thank you for advancing mental health and substance use treatment in and beyond your communities.

Guest Author

Nicholas Thomas
Director of Content Marketing
National Council for Mental Wellbeing