Congratulations to Athena Haddon on her Salute to Excellence Award

Published On: December 8th, 2023Categories: News, Spectrum Corrections

An incredible amount of effort is needed in our mission to provide a comprehensive continuum of addiction treatment and recovery supports. That’s why Spectrum Health Systems is proud to employ individuals that are skilled, qualified—and most importantly—passionate about recovery.

One employee that embodies these characteristics every day is Athena Haddon. Athena has worked at Spectrum three separate times in her career, currently serving as our Executive Director of Peer Services and Recovery Supports. Recently, Athena won the Moe Armstrong Award for Peer Leadership as part of the Association for Behavioral Healthcare’s 2023 Salute to Excellence.

Honoring Exceptional Individuals in the Addiction Treatment Field

The Salute to Excellence is held every year to recognize “individuals and groups, often clinical and direct care staff, who have made outstanding contributions to community-based behavioral healthcare in Massachusetts.” Awards are offered in eight categories relating to mental health and addiction treatment, and a celebration is held to honor the winners.

The category Athena won was established “to honor Moe Armstrong for his courage and conviction in advocating for the critical role that peer leaders play in helping people recover from mental health and addiction disorders.” As an integral part of Spectrum’s peer recovery support centers, Athena is a natural fit for the award.

Elevating Voices in Peer Recovery

Athena is a peer to those in recovery in the truest sense of the word. Not only does she manage all four (soon to be five) of Spectrum’s peer recovery support centers, she is also in long-term recovery herself. In nominating Athena, Spectrum’s Chief Clinical Officer, Lisa Blanchard, wrote that Athena’s role at Spectrum was created specifically “to elevate the voice and expertise of those with lived experience.” It’s Athena’s unique experience—combined with her dedication and drive—that make her an asset to the peer recovery program.

Athena’s efforts in peer recovery have been recognized throughout her career. She was the recipient of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) Consumer Peer Leader Award in 2011 and was recognized as a Woman of Consequence by the City of Worcester in 2014.

Advocating for At-Risk Women

Much of Athena’s work has also been devoted to assisting women who have histories of trauma and exploitation. She has been involved in projects such as Developing Alternatives for Women Now (DAWN) to help women involved in prostitution-related crimes, and the Worcester Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (WAASE), which was formed in 2012 with the goal of eliminating sex trafficking in Greater Worcester.

Helping Spectrum Provide Lifelong Recovery Resources

In recent years, Athena’s exceptional leadership skills have played a key role in the expansion of Spectrum’s peer recovery program. “Spectrum was awarded a contract to add a center in Lynn but faced significant difficulty in finding a location and moving the center forward,” Lisa wrote. “Once Athena rejoined the Spectrum team, she knew exactly what to do to make the center happen.”

In a few short months, Athena was able to find a perfect location and assembled a committed advisory group comprising individuals in Lynn’s recovery community. In July, the center held a formal opening ceremony, attended by 180 people. With the Lynn location in service, Athena now works to prepare for the opening of Spectrum’s fifth peer recovery support center in Southbridge.

Offering Support on the Recovery Journey

In addition to her work with Spectrum’s peer recovery support centers, Athena has played a pivotal role in the revitalization of our alumni association. This group helps people who have gone through Spectrum’s programs maintain contact with each other and access recovery resources. She has also been instrumental in finding and enlisting the help of recovery coaches to work alongside treatment and clinical staff, offering support to everyone entering treatment at Spectrum.

With the countless contributions and unique experience Athena brings to our organization, we are truly grateful that she’s part of our team. “Athena is humble despite her accomplishments,” Lisa wrote, “but anyone who has met her knows the power of her voice, her example, and her advocacy.”

For information about working at Spectrum Health Systems and available job opportunities, visit the careers page on our website.

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