Alaska Addiction Rehabilitation Services, Inc. (AARS) seeks a skilled nonprofit leader who will work in partnership with the Board of Directors to continue AARS’s legacy of providing high-quality treatment to people who suffer from a chronic substance use disorder (SUD). The next Executive Director has the opportunity to build on AARS’s unique and successful residential treatment model and its decades of service to Alaska to strengthen the organization as a critical player in Alaska’s continuum of substance use treatment. The ideal candidate will be a compassionate leader with solid experience in the field of addiction and rehabilitation services who is skilled at building fiscal stability and recruiting and retaining high quality staff through a transitional period and has demonstrated success at building and maintaining strong community partnerships.
Alaska Addiction Rehabilitation Services, Inc. is located in the outskirts of Wasilla, Alaska where for nearly forty years it has been the only agency in the state to offer long-term residential and work-based substance use treatment. AARS operates a 116-acre working farm that grows and sells hay, vegetables, flowers, and pigs. The farm provides residents opportunities through work therapy to learn life skills and habits that help gain new skills for staying sober and develop habits that support them in remaining substance-free for the rest of their lives. AARS is known for its low recidivism rate (approximately 50% remain substance free for two years after leaving); it has a strong partnership with Alaska’s court system, and judges routinely send individuals to AARS who have not been successful in previous treatment programs.
In 1971, under the name Alaska Health and Social Services and located in Anchorage, Leonard and Henrietta Nugen founded the treatment program. In 1981, the name was changed to Alaska Addiction Rehabilitation Services, Inc., and it began to do business as Nugen’s Ranch. AARS was led by the Nugen family until 2018. Under leadership of the previous Executive Director and now an interim Executive Director, the organization has strengthened its long-term financial viability by shifting to a fiscal model of Medicaid reimbursement. Medicaid standards are compelling the organization to integrate a medical necessity treatment model and to build out its accountability infrastructure.
Eleven passionate and dedicated staff operate both the treatment and farming components of AARS with a budget of just under $1M. In addition, a physician and a psychiatrist are on contract to attend to individual residents’ therapy and prescription needs, and they make regular visits to do so. AARS is governed by a Board of Directors who have shown many years of dedication to the organization. AARS’s commitment to providing high-quality, individualized, and caring treatment to hardest-to-treat substance users guide its decisions and actions. Its client base is approximately 73% Caucasian and 18% Alaska Native, with the remaining comprised of a diversity of ethnic backgrounds, including Samoan and Hmong.
Services and Programs
AARS’s facilities support the two integrated components of its operation – substance use disorder treatment and the ranch operations. The treatment facility houses administrative offices, resident accommodations, and meeting, recreational, and training spaces.
The facility has a 26-bed capacity, and is currently utilizing 16 beds. The ranch operation includes a large greenhouse, a hay barn, and a livestock barn and pens, along with various equipment needed to raise livestock, grow vegetables, hay, and flowers.
AARS’ therapeutic level of care approximates ASA Level III.1; treatment is client-centered with a range of services that are tailored to the severity of the client’s substance use disorder. The Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-Step model is an underpinning of the treatment model, as well as a structured work-based therapy that brings a sense of self-worth to residents. Residents care for livestock, help market seedlings, plants, and produce from the greenhouse and gardens to the public, and build farming structures – fences, gates, etc. – in an outside workshop. A workout room, as well as a computer lab and arts and crafts are also available to residents.
In addition to AA meetings, residents attend anger management and topic-based life-skills classes and engage in a minimum of five hours of clinical therapy each week. Staff and residents also participate in the community with such activities as entering crafts and greenhouse produce in the Alaska State Fair and creating parade floats and amateur theater productions. Strong continuing care programs following discharge help to insure the success of the treatment and add another pillar of support to the individual’s recovery effort: many former clients continue to attend on-site AA meetings and volunteer in a variety of capacities to support AARS, including peer support of program residents.
AARS produced a business plan in 2018 that propelled it toward shifting to a more financially viable Medicaid reimbursement model, which reaped its first rewards in late 2020. This shift requires showing the medical necessity for client’s residence at the agency, setting client’s recovery goals and objectives, documenting client’s progress, meeting client’s recovery goals and objectives, and assisting client’s transition into the community. The Medicaid model is consistent with its long-term treatment structure that has contributed to the strength of AARS’s program. The adoption of the Medicaid model will overall strengthen AARS’s program. It will ensure the accountability and quality treatment associated with Medicaid.
Long- and mid-term priorities include:
· Develop a business model that creates a sustainable future and provides revenue options beyond Medicaid reimbursement,
· Build an organization and treatment model that exemplifies best practices and operates within the confines of Medicaid requirements and Alaska’s changing SUD treatment system, while maintaining the integrity of AARS’s successful treatment program,
· Continued AARS’s treatment practices and model in compliance with CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) standards,
· Strengthen and maximize the farm and ranch operations for therapeutic and revenue purposes, and
· Build out AARS’s staffing structure to a level that ensures the highest quality of treatment; improve wages and benefits to attract and retain staff, and to build a supportive work culture throughout the organization.
Short-term priorities include:
The incoming leader will be expected to focus on the following priorities over the next twelve to eighteen months:
· Continue to deliver a high-quality treatment program to AARS clients, assisting them with the transition to their community, so that they remain substance-free after leaving the agency,
· Maintain a therapeutic and high performing atmosphere that is grounded in teamwork and professionalism,
· Assist AARS through the CARF re-certification process,
· Build and strengthen relationships with other Alaska SUD treatment agencies as partners in Alaska’s continuum of care; leverage partnerships to create additional options for long-term residential treatment for substance users,
· Build and strengthen the staff and treatment program to increase the number of available beds beyond the current 16,
· Continue to elevate AARS’s level of professionalism in its operations,
· Increase community outreach to build new brand and attract support, and
- Build and strengthen communication with and between staff and board, and continue to inform the Board of Directors so that it can remain a strong governing body that provides oversight of AARS,
The Leadership Opportunity
- Maintain continuity of service/safe practices during COVID.
AARS has undergone leadership transitions in recent years and shifted from a grant-focused revenue model to a Medicaid billable model, which has improved its financial standing and is consistent with and supports its long-term treatment approach. Under the direction of an interim Executive Director, the organization has overcome a major hurdle in implementing Medicaid reimbursement billing and is making the treatment and infrastructure adjustments needed for this new system.
During this transitional period, AARS has continued to provide high-quality treatment to its clients. Its continued strength through change can be attributed to the deep commitment that both Board of Directors and staff members hold for AARS that extends beyond the job to a sense of community, and to the strength of its treatment model, which is known for its success in turning lives around of those hardest to treat and for its low recidivism rate. Former clients testify to the strength of the program with such comments as “AARS saved my life! I built my foundation there and it set up for a successful life in recovery”.
With these strengths and a new financial foundation in place, AARS is poised to soar under new leadership. The incoming leader has an opportunity to bring expertise in substance use treatment as well as strong leadership and management skills to build a sustainable future for AARS and position it to grow into the next phase of its important work. This will include building new partnerships that contribute to Alaska’s SUD continuum of care, increasing outreach to build AARS’s brand and attract support, and diversifying funding streams. The incoming leader will work closely with AARS’s decided staff and Board of Directors to maintain and build upon AARS’s dynamic treatment approach and build greater resilience through expanded and diversified revenues.
The Executive Director is the internal driver and external face of AARS who oversees its day-to-day affairs. Specific responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
Qualifications of the Ideal Candidate
- Support the mission and core purpose of AARS – helping people with substance use disorder live better, happier, substance-free lives,
- Provide visionary and strategic leadership and translate that vision into measurable strategies and concrete actions that advance the mission,
- Actively seek out partnerships with community members and agencies to engage in and enhance Alaska’s SUD continuum of care,
- Promote positive communication and working relationships with community partners and funding agencies,
- Ensure compliance with all Federal, State, and CARF regulations,
- Oversee all programs at AARS including agriculture operations for the agency,
- Design, implement, and coordinate treatment services consistent with the policies and philosophy established by the Board of Directors,
- Promote positive communication and strong working relationships with the Board of Directors and work in partnership with the Board President to build and maintain a strong governing board,
- Maintain a strong, positive, and professional work environment that attracts, develops, motivates and retains qualified staff; manage staff according to sound organizational principles,
- Oversee the business operations of the organization, including personnel, benefits, public relations, and facilities, and ensure fiscal responsibility and security, including grant management,
- Oversee the development of AARS’s budget for submission to the Board of Directors; manage the budget in a fiscally responsible manner,
- Develop, expand, and oversee strategies for sustainable revenue and fundraising efforts; oversee or prepare grant proposals, and
- Act as a spokesperson for AARS at the local, state, and national levels.
While no one candidate will embody all the qualifications enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:
With a demonstrated passion for substance use treatment, the ideal candidate will understand and believe in the AARS 12-Step approach and philosophy of individualized treatment and work-based therapy,
High emotional intelligence who listens well with empathy and is able to create positive work relationships and environments,
An even-tempered, organized professional who leads staff with compassion, respect, integrity and transparency,
A visionary leader who continually seeks opportunities and is open to new ideas, and
A collaborative nature, eager to engage and partner with the board and community.
Skills and Experience:
Significant experience in the field of addiction and rehabilitation services,
Leadership experience in a nonprofit for a minimum of five years,
Experience managing a staff team and building internal relationships,
Demonstrated experience building community relationships and partnerships,
Experience administering a multi-source budget, and efficiently and strategically aligning and maximizing resources,
Demonstrated familiarity with Medicaid regulations and structure, and the management of federal and state grants,
Demonstrated success in diversifying and expanding revenue streams,
Demonstrated skills in working effectively in partnership with a Board of Directors to carry out the mission of the organization,
Demonstrated skills in transparency and informing the Board of Directors, so that the Board of Directors can fulfill its duties,
Confident communicator with exceptional written and verbal communication skills,
Personal/lived experience with recovery is preferred,
Experience in and knowledge of Alaska and its substance use field and players is desired, and
A Master’s degree in social work or a closely related field is required.
The salary range is between $95,000 and $120,000 annually, commensurate with qualifications and experience, and benefits. To apply, email your credentials to email@example.com
. Applicants should include a resume and cover letter describing interest and qualifications. Please indicate in your cover letter where you learned about this position. For questions, contact Catherine Bradshaw, lead recruiter, at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Communications will be treated in confidence and resumes will be accepted until the position is filled. Resume review begins immediately.
Alaska Addiction Rehabilitation Services, Inc. is committed to creating a diverse environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age or veteran status. Alaska Addiction Rehabilitation Services, Inc. is especially interested in candidates whose background and experience have prepared them to grow to our commitment to engagement and inclusion with culturally diverse audiences.