ADAPAO Award 2020 Recipient: Donna Dickman

Posted on: December 6, 2020 10:00 pm

Donna Dickman has been recognized with the 2020 ADAPAO Advocate Award, presented to an ADAPAO member for exemplary efforts in advancing ADAPAO’s mission: ADAPAO employs the power of dialogue, education, networking, and advocacy to amplify a united voice for prevention in Ohio.

Donna assumed the role of director of Partnership for Violence Free Families, a small grassroots organization in Allen County, in the early 2000s. And by “small grassroots organization,” we mean one staff person: Donna.

In those early days of PVFF, Donna focused on a range of programming centered around personal wellness through violence prevention. She was involved in the ACT Raising Safe Kids initiative, provided bullying prevention programming, and presented to innumerable young people about safe dating practices.

Donna’s car was her literal office for a time as she addressed community needs and stringently managed every dollar of PVFF’s limited funding. She was a catalyst for dialogue on violence and the best approaches to prevent it within the community, especially as it affected youth.

Never one to let capacity be a limitation, in the late 2000s, Donna recognized the need to address suicide in northwest Ohio. She formed suicide prevention coalitions in Auglaize, Hardin, and Allen Counties, understanding the importance of networking and collaborative approaches to address complex community challenges. She also became one of the first Ohioans to become a trainer of both Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid, applying, as she did with violence prevention, education and skill development to respond to community needs. 

As she expanded services, Donna also grew PVFF, adding a few staff members and securing office space for the organization’s work.

Because of these myriad efforts, Donna was increasingly viewed as an advocate for healthy communities, and the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize, and Hardin Counties took notice. The Board began funding PVFF to deliver prevention services, and Donna dove head first into the world of prevention.

Donna immediately became a tireless prevention advocate, earning her prevention credential, ensuring her staff received essential training, and asking the Board for more funds to continue to expand PVFF’s work. And she’s never stopped. 

Fast forward to 2019. PVFF changed its name to PASS -- Prevention Awareness Support Services –- to better reflect its expanded services, which now include school-based curriculum delivery, youth-led prevention, suicide prevention, parenting education and support, mental health promotion, bullying prevention, senior health and wellness, Crisis Intervention Training, and multiple postvention services -- all delivered by a staff of more than 20 professionals, each of whom is either a credentialed prevention professional or actively pursuing their credential.

PASS also expanded to Union County, funded by the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Union County to deliver prevention services there. Donna drove 60 miles each way for an entire year to open and grow PASS’s Union County office.

None of this is happenstance. Donna embraced the power of dialogue, education, networking and advocacy to amplify a united voice for prevention, and, even as she’s transitioned to semi-retirement, that commitment has borne fruit for the communities she serves and the agency she led for many years.

For being a mighty advocate for prevention, ADAPAO is honored to present Donna Dickman with the 2020 ADAPAO Advocate Award.