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Cuyahoga County Wins Big at the ADAMHS Board Awards

by Christopher Harris , Cuyahoga County Communications Specialist
The mood in Landerhaven was warm and bittersweet, as hundreds of people representing several community partners and organizations, gathered to bid farewell to ADAMHS Board CEO, William Denihan. On Monday, May 15th, Chief Denihan addressed the crowd with stories and inspiration at the ADAMHS Board’s Annual Meeting and Awards Presentation, his last before he retires on August 1st. 

Chief Denihan, 80, has been with the ADAMHS Board for 15 years, but his impact on Cuyahoga County started long before he arrived at the ADAMHS Board. With over 35 years of government experience, he has served in many leadership positions such as Executive Director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family ServicesCuyahoga County Director of Personnel, Acting Cleveland Police Chief, and much more. 

“My father taught me how to be a man. My teacher taught me how to be professional, and Bill Denihan has shown me how to be a public servant,” said Dr. Gilson.

While Chief Denihan was the star of the event, he made it a point to show gratitude and personally thank nearly every ADAMHS Board employee in attendance that helped him throughout his career. 

During the awards presentation, one thing was apparent – Cuyahoga County leaders were well represented. The first award of the program was presented to Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish for “Legislator of the Year”. The ADAMHS Board recognized and acknowledged Executive Budish’s commitment to tackling the heroin epidemic in Cuyahoga County. 

Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson was awarded the “Chief Executive Officer” Award for his exemplary efforts in fighting the heroin epidemic in our community, providing accurate statistics, and expertise with the media to make sure the public is well-informed. 

Dr. Joan Papp received the award for “Addiction Treatment Professional of the Year” for her efforts in bringing Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided with Naloxone) to the community. To date, this program has saved over 900 lives and counting. 

Additionally, the Mental Health Response Advisory Committee (MHRAC) earned the “Community Partner Collaboration” Award for their efforts finalizing the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) policies. Cuyahoga County MHRAC members in attendance included Judge Hollie L. Gallagher and Judge Joan Synenberg. 

Though the event was filled with laughs, smiles, and tears – the message remained clear. Alcohol, drug addiction, and mental health organizations need support now more than ever. Factors such as the evolving opioid epidemic continue to strain many of our public health organizations. Furthermore, as funding becomes more scarce, our health professionals are asked to do more with less resources. 

As we continue to find new and creative ways to tackle public health issues, the ADAMHS Board Awards serve as an encouraging reminder that we have many local leaders already making a difference. 

See the full list of award recipients below: 

Legislator of the Year Awards 
Armond Budish, Cuyahoga County Executive 
Mike Summers, Mayor of Lakewood 

Client Involvement Award 
Ron Patton 

Family Involvement Award 
Greg McNeil, Cover 2 Resources 

Community Partner Collaboration Awards 
Crisis Intervention Team, Cleveland Division of Police 
Commander Gary Gingell, Cleveland Division of Police 
Chief Joseph Grecol, Berea Police 
Chief Matthew Vanyo, Olmsted Township Police 
Katie Kurtz, MSSA, LISA, City of Lakewood 
Charles See 
Judge Hollie Gallagher, Mental Health Response Advisory Committee – Policy 
Judge Joan Synenberg, Mental Health Response Advisory Committee – Policy 
Gabriella Celeste, J.D., Mental Health Response Advisory Committee – Policy 

Contract Agency Collaboration Awards 
Zsuzsa Csepanyi, JFSA 
LaVedia Smith, R.N.C, Murtis Taylor Human Services System 
Clare Berry, Stella Maris (Special Dennis Madden Award) 

Media Awards 
Brian Flynn, WOIO-TV/WUAB-TV 
Kristin Volk, WEWS NewsChannel 5 

Advocates of the Year Awards 
Craig Dunson 
Duane Deskins 

CEO Award 
Thomas Gilson, MD, Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner 

Addiction Treatment Professional of the Year 
Joan Papp, MD, MetroHealth 

Mental Health Professional of the Year 
Charles Luther, MD, Southwest General Hospital