ADAPAO Award 2020 Recipient: Matt Petersen

Posted on: December 19, 2020 3:00 pm

Matt Petersen was recognized with the ADAPAO Member of the Year Award, presented to an ADAPAO member for exemplary contributions to ADAPAO and its membership through service to or on behalf of ADAPAO. ADAPAO is driven by the dedication of our membership, and this award honors our members' stellar contributions. 

Matt is a prevention specialist with Lake Geauga Recovery Centers in the upper reaches of northeast Ohio. He is engaged in the delivery of a range of prevention services, from school-based prevention education and youth-led prevention to workplace- and community-based prevention programs, and he is credentialed as an Ohio Certified Prevention Specialist.

Like most, Matt’s initial involvement with ADAPAO was simply becoming a member, reading his member e-newsletter, and attending the ADAPAO Conference when his schedule allowed.

In 2017, Matt took his membership to a new level when he became an inaugural member of the ADAPAO Young Prevention Professionals Project, a group created by ADAPAO to provide a voice for our field’s younger professionals. Pre-COVID, the Young Prevention Professionals Project team met quarterly, in person, in Columbus. For nearly three years, Matt diligently made the six-hour round trip from Geauga County to participate in the team’s work, including welcoming and orienting a second cohort into the project in 2019.

Right out of the gate in 2017, the Young Prevention Professionals Project team dug into creating tangible means for professional development and connection for our entire field. They developed and implemented CAPTAIN, an initiative matching ADAPAO members for professional mentoring opportunities. (CAPTAIN is an acronym for Connecting ADAPAO Professionals To Another In Need.) Matt helped create CAPTAIN, and he participated in the first session of the initiative.

Early on, the Young Prevention Professionals Project team also decided that ADAPAO members, as well as prevention professionals and advocates who had yet to join ADAPAO, needed a real-time opportunity to network, seek resources, and ask colleagues for everything -- from opinions on a specific prevention curricula to help finding an ethics training taking place before next Friday!

To meet that need, Matt and his YP-cubed peers created the ADAPAO-sponsored Ohio Prevention Professionals Facebook Group. To note that the Facebook Group has been helpful to our field is an understatement. As of today, almost 450 prevention professionals and advocates in Ohio are members of the group. A few of the ways group members have utilized this online community just in the last month: 

  1. A group member asked for ideas on engaging in advocacy for prevention with legislators.
  2. A group member sought guidance on completing their application for their OCPSA credential.
  3. A group member posted a TikTok prevention contest for teens.
  4. A group member asked for suggestions on Red Ribbon Week activities.
  5. Two group members posted registration information for prevention ethics trainings, including one scheduled before next Friday!

The requests for guidance, information, and resources do not go unheeded. Our prevention community steps up with suggestions, connections, and even, at times, sophisticated discussion on prevention issues.

None of this would be a reality without Matt’s initial commitment to the Young Prevention Professionals Project and, especially, his unwavering dedication to managing the Facebook Group. Matt is a primary gatekeeper for the Facebook Group, vetting individuals interested in joining, monitoring content, proactively sharing resources and information, and often responding to individual posts.

The Young Prevention Professionals Project and the Ohio Prevention Professionals Facebook Group are among ADAPAO’s most valuable initiatives of the last few years, and Matt is a cornerstone to the success of both. His work is an invaluable service to ADAPAO and our membership, and our field is better for his contributions.