Kim Johnson Named New Director of Center for Substance Abuse Treatment

Submitted by: 02/08/2016 by Maureen Fitzgerald

Kim Johnson, NIATx Co-Deputy Director, has accepted a new position as Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. She replaces Dr. H. Westley Clark, who held the position from 1998 through 2014.

Kim joined NIATx (a division of the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies) in 2007 after serving as director of the Office of Substance Abuse Services for the state of Maine from 2000 to 2007). One of her first roles with NIATx was to direct the Adopting Changes to Improve Outcomes Now (ACTION) Campaign. This national initiative was supported with funding from public and private funders that included the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The goal of the ACTION Campaign was disseminate use of the NIATx model across the United States. At the time, state budget cuts were having a big impact on publicly-funded treatment providers. The NIATx process improvement model offered a low-cost way for agencies to meet the demand for services and in many cases, increase their admissions and revenue.

“We thought it would take a year to recruit 500 agencies to join the ACTION Campaign in a year, but we met that goal in the first four months,” says Kim. “As a result we increased our projections and received additional funding, so what was intended as an 18-month project became a three-year effort that introduced almost 3,000 providers to NIATx.”

In her role as Co-Deputy Director for NIATx, Kim led a number of other projects that focused on expanding the use of the NIATx model beyond improving access to and retention in addiction treatment to address other areas of behavioral health, including mental health, criminal justice, and child welfare.

“We found that the NIATx model could be adapted to help almost any organization improve its processes and systems. We also began NIATx initiatives targeted to helping the field prepare for health care reform.”

During this time, the Center also launched several projects focused on building health information technology tools for behavioral health.

“I will miss being involved with the cutting edge health care technology that the Center is developing,” says Johnson.

Johnson managed NIATx projects while also earning a Ph.D. in population health sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.

Since 2012, Kim has also served as the Co-Director of the National Coordinating Office for the Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) Network. The ATTC Network consists of 10 regional centers, four national focus area centers, and a Network Coordinating Office.  The goal of the Network is to help the addiction treatment field improve addiction treatment and recovery outcomes through use of  evidence-based practices. In her role with the ATTC, Kim promoted a systems change perspective to implementing evidence-based practices.

“Kim has been a wonderful leader in our research center,” says Center Director Dave Gustafson. “She brought creativity, insight, drive and knowledge at both the policy and practice level that is almost impossible to find in one person. We will miss her very much but take comfort in knowing that she is moving to a position of national influence in our fight against misuse of alcohol and other drugs.” 

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