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Mullens named National Collegiate Recovery Advocate of the Year

Susie Mullens, program coordinator for the West Virginia Collegiate Recovery Network (WV CRN), has been named the national Collegiate Recovery Advocate of the Year, an honor organized by the Association of Recovery in Higher Education.

An employee of the Marshall University Research Corporation, Mullens manages the day-to-day operations of the WV CRN, a project of the Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern West Virginia. Since February 2020, the WV CRN has served more than 3,600 West Virginians with training, services and support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mullens has worked in the mental health and substance use disorder field for more than 29 years and worked in different fields throughout recovery. She’s a licensed psychologist, licensed professional counselor, certified advanced alcohol and drug counselor, and a master addiction counselor and supervisor.

As the program coordinator of the WV Collegiate Recovery Network, Mullens works to expand recovery efforts on seven campuses in southern West Virginia, including Marshall University. She was formerly the interim director of the West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP). While at ODCP she was responsible for generating $100,000 through grants for five collegiate recovery programs in West Virginia.

Sara Payne Scarbro is the operations chair of the alliance, which houses the WV CRN.

“Susie brings a wealth of knowledge, compassion and sincerity to her job every day,” Scarbro said. “Our statewide network has created a great recovery support ecosystem for those in recovery or for those who know someone in active addiction, so students have the peer support they need to reach their higher education goals. It is so fitting that Susie receives this national award because she is a major reason this statewide program so successful.”

“Susie Mullens is a powerful advocate for all things collegiate recovery,” said Carolyn Canini, the director of behavioral health programs at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. “She is committed to elevating others’ voices — always open to collaboration and to fostering students toward their leadership potential. She is the strongest force for collegiate recovery in the state of West Virginia, and has done much to educate and advocate for student wellness and recovery both in West Virginia and across the country.”

“I can think of no one more deserving of this award than Susie Mullens,” said Dr. Matthew Christiansen, director of West Virginia’s Office of Drug Control Policy. “She is a tireless advocate for recovery and has helped countless West Virginians in their journey to long term recovery.”

Mullens hosts a show on the West Virginia Library Commission Network called “Solutions, Service and Serenity,” which helps raise awareness for recovery programs across West Virginia. To learn more about the WV CRN, visit online at or on Facebook at @CRNWV.

Pathways appoints chief executive officer

Pathways Inc., a community mental health center serving ten counties in northeastern Kentucky, has appointed Jennifer J. Willis, RN, PMH-BC, as chief executive officer.

Kevin Harrison, Pathways board chair, made the announcement to staff on Thursday, April 14, 2021, stating, “The board unanimously extended a vote of confidence in Ms. Willis. We believe she will continue to be pivotal in helping Pathways staff meet the challenges of an ever changing behavioral health landscape. The Board looks forward to working with her and the executive team.”

Willis has served as interim CEO since March 2020.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, she worked diligently to make sure staff and consumers were well-informed, and health and safety measures were in place for minimal negative impact.

Willis was also pivotal in opening the Crisis and Residential Recovery Unit (CRRU) West, a critical crisis and residential recovery service in Montgomery County. Willis also provided leadership for the widespread launch of telehealth services during the pandemic.

Funded by a grant from United Healthcare, these telehealth efforts have led to national recognition for the initiative. Her leadership was also key in securing three grants totaling over $750,000, including funds to launch Pathways To Go, a new mobile behavioral health clinic; additional funding for sustaining A Mother’s Journey, a residential program for pregnant/post-partum women at risk for substance use disorder; and funding to initiate certified community behavioral health clinic efforts in Boyd County.

Willis joined Pathways in November 1999 and previously served as a psychiatric nurse/outpatient therapist, Greenup County coordinator, and director of nursing and medical services and chief clinical officer.

“I am honored to be given the opportunity to lead Pathways,” Willis said. “I look forward to working with each Pathways team member and the Board to meet the challenges of navigating the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic process and leading strategic efforts to respond to post-pandemic mental health challenges.”

Pathways serves Bath, Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Greenup, Lawrence, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan and Rowan counties, providing a comprehensive array of behavioral health services including intellectual and developmental disabilities support, outpatient mental health, and substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery services.

Czarapata named Kentucky Community and Technical College System president

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) Board of Regents selected Paul Czarapata as the new president of KCTCS after a national search.

Czarapata has been serving as the interim president of the system since October. Prior to that he was a KCTCS vice president and chief information officer responsible for the technology needs of the 16 colleges and the Versailles office.

He joined KCTCS in 2000 and has served in technology leadership roles leading up to his appointment of vice president. Before joining KCTCS, he was a software consultant and served as a manager with PeopleSoft.

He also served as an adjunct professor at Bluegrass Community and Technical College and University of the Cumberlands.

Czarapata earned a bachelor’s degree in operations management and information systems from Northern Illinois University. He earned a master’s degree in business administration and a doctorate in instructional technology leadership from Morehead State University.

“We are so fortunate to have a leader of Dr. Czarapata’s caliber,” KCTCS board chair Gail Henson said. “His lengthy background with the system is valuable because he understands our students and our colleges. We are especially excited about his plans to position KCTCS to prepare our students for the workforce of the future. The board is extremely pleased to have Dr. Czarapata lead KCTCS.”

Czarapata transitions to his new role soon, Henson added. He is the third person to serve as KCTCS president. The system was created by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1997.

“I’m incredibly humbled and honored to become the third president of KCTCS,” Czarapata said. “As soon as it’s safe to do so, I plan to get out to all corners of the state and make sure everyone knows the face of KCTCS. We are Kentucky’s largest provider of postsecondary education, and I want to make sure Kentuckians understand what we offer them.”

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