CENTER CITY, Minn., Sept. 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Mark G. Mishek, president and CEO of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, announced today he will retire in 2021 after 12 successful years at the helm of the nation's largest nonprofit provider of addiction and mental health care, recovery resources, and related education, prevention and advocacy.
Mishek, the third-longest-serving leader in the organization's 71-year history and architect of the historic 2014 merger of the Hazelden Foundation and the Betty Ford Center, says he will step down when his successor is hired – likely in the first half of next year. Until then, he will continue to lead the addiction treatment leader through the pandemic, which has increased demand for Hazelden Betty Ford's services, and advance the innovation, collaboration and growth that have defined his tenure.
"While I'm excited about the next chapter in my life, I'm equally excited about the future of Hazelden Betty Ford and know that our mission is more important than ever before," Mishek said. "In this extraordinary time, I remain 100% focused on our employees, the people we serve, and the hope and healing that so many individuals, families and communities need right now."
When Mishek assumed leadership of the Hazelden Foundation in 2008, the Center City, Minnesota-headquartered nonprofit had six sites nationwide. Today, after several acquisitions and start-ups, as well as the pivotal merger with the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California, the new Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation has 17 sites and is on its way to offering virtual care in all 50 states through its industry-leading RecoveryGo behavioral health service. Major construction projects are also under way and planned to enhance and expand the organization's two largest campuses in Center City and Rancho Mirage. In addition, the organization is serving a growing number of people nationally through its graduate school of addiction studies, publishing division, research center, professional and medical education branch, school- and community-based prevention programs and public advocacy arm.
During Mishek's tenure—a period marked by seismic shifts in healthcare and rapid escalation of the opioid epidemic—Hazelden Betty Ford has more than doubled the number of patients it serves annually to well over 25,000. Mishek empowered that growth by moving away from a mostly self-pay model and instead positioning Hazelden Betty Ford as a quality healthcare provider whose care is available in-network through most major health plans. Today, almost 95% of Hazelden Betty Ford's patients access care with insurance benefits.
"Mark is a rare combination of vision, management dexterity, and rigorous honesty," said Lester Munson, of Chicago, who chairs the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Board of Trustees. "He sees the possibilities, he transforms them into realities, and he does it all with empathy and respect for those who suffer addiction. Mark not only brought two storied institutions together and significantly expanded our presence, but he also made our lifesaving care accessible to millions more people. His steady hand has guided the organization through a remarkable transformation into an efficiently-run, national system of care that provides quality treatment and services, demonstrates strong outcomes, and is valued and trusted by patients, families, partners and payers alike.
"Rarely have I met a leader who is so exceptionally competent or whose disciplined, methodical style is so reminiscent of our patients' one-day-at-a-time approach to changing their lives," Munson added. "For 12 years, Mark has consistently taken the 'next right step' for Hazelden Betty Ford, and over time, those steps have added up to a huge expansion of the organization's reach, influence and impact."
A pioneer and longtime leader in its field, Hazelden Betty Ford has continued its history of innovation under Mishek. In 2012, he and his clinical leaders responded to the emerging opioid epidemic by making Hazelden Betty Ford the first major addiction treatment provider in America to integrate the use of medications such as buprenorphine and naltrexone with psychosocial therapies and peer support to create a comprehensive new approach to treating opioid addiction. By redefining abstinence-based treatment to include use of prescribed medications and confronting decades of resistance to such ideas, the move drew criticism from both traditionalists who felt such medications were antithetical to recovery, and medical providers who saw little need for peer support and therapy. The approach has since been recognized by policymakers, researchers and healthcare leaders as a model for improving outcomes and has propelled Hazelden Betty Ford's larger, ongoing shift from a more programmatic treatment model to an increasingly individualized, person-centered approach that engages patients longer across multiple levels of care.
"Nothing is more fulfilling than talking to one of our many patients who has found freedom from opioid addiction," Mishek said. "Given how tragic the overdose epidemic continues to be, I only wish we could expand our reach even further, and faster."
One way Hazelden Betty Ford is extending its influence under Mishek is through aggressive and strategic collaboration, including development of a first-in-the-field provider network to ensure more people in more places receive quality addiction care and recovery support. Other notable collaborative efforts include: groundbreaking research with Mayo Clinic into genetics and precision treatment and with the American Bar Association into behavioral health needs in the legal profession, and consultative work with Sesame Street in Communities on education and support for children affected by parental addiction—just to name a few. In addition, Hazelden Betty Ford has established itself as one of the most trusted public voices on addiction prevention, treatment and recovery issues. Mishek personally testified before Congress on the need for stronger consumer protections and quality standards in the treatment industry, and has helped mobilize efforts to educate people everywhere about the hope and science of recovery.
The lifelong St. Paul-area resident, who previously was a leader in the Allina health system, is not keen on reflecting just yet. He says he remains focused on the work in front of him, including important diversity-equity-and-inclusion efforts; a bold, new $500 million fundraising campaign; and significant expansions in virtual services, prevention, professional education and consultation, and New York City outpatient services. As president of the accredited Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies, he also recently welcomed the school's largest-ever incoming class.
"Having planned for several years to retire in 2021, it is gratifying to approach this pending personal milestone knowing Hazelden Betty Ford is as fundamentally strong and healthy as it has ever been, and it's exciting to continue pursuing so many important priorities. Even amid the challenges of the pandemic, we are growing, innovating and diversifying," Mishek said. "The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is on a positive strategic course and is now poised for a new leader to step in, build upon our substantial foundation and usher in the next exciting era in the organization's rich and meaningful history. Until that time, I intend to keep working as passionately and ambitiously as ever."
Susan Ford Bales, trustee for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and daughter of former First Lady Betty Ford, says that by every measure—financial health, lives touched, brand recognition, employee engagement, patient satisfaction, market share, donor support—Mishek has built a high-performing, high-impact, world-renowned organization—one that is well-positioned to address the complex challenges of addiction in a rapidly changing healthcare environment. However, she has been most impressed, and is most grateful for, the heart and spirit with which he has led.
"Like my mother, Mark cares deeply for everyone affected by substance use and mental health disorders and for the employees, trustees, donors, partners and allies that make Hazelden Betty Ford a force of healing and hope," Bales said. "Mark knows personally–like I and countless others do–what it's like to have addiction, and then recovery, in the family, and is driven by a determination to help as many people as possible. He has honored my mother's legacy and helped carry it forward in tremendous ways that will benefit many generations to come. She would be proud, and I am forever grateful."
About the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. As the nation's leading nonprofit provider of comprehensive inpatient and outpatient addiction and co-occurring mental health treatment for adults and youth, the Foundation has 17 locations nationwide, with expansive on-site and telehealth solutions and a network of collaborators throughout health care. With a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center, the Foundation today also encompasses a graduate school of addiction studies, a publishing division, an addiction research center, recovery advocacy and thought leadership, professional and medical education programs, school-based prevention resources and a specialized program for children who grow up in families with addiction. Learn more at www.HazeldenBettyFord.org and on Twitter @hazldnbettyford.
SOURCE Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation