From the Desk of David Semanco President, VAAP Board of Directors

Dear VAAP Community,

Happy New Year! 2023 was certainly a productive year for our organization. It was a year that included several “firsts” for us, along with some changes and improvements to our operations. As President of the VAAP

Communications Specialist: Beginning in March, we hired our first (and only) staff member. After a nationwide search, Claire Lynch joined us as our Communications Specialist. She has taken over management of our email communications, newsletters, job listings/solicitations, as well as social media postings, website changes and content writing. We look forward to continuing to work with Claire as she streamlines and fine-tunes our internal and external communications so that we function more efficiently while getting the word out about all that VAAP offers.

Annual Meeting and Training: After careful thought and deliberation at our annual meeting in March, the Board of Directors voted to change the name of our member organizations from “Sustaining Members” to “Community Partners”. We felt that “Community Partners” better illustrates the relationship we seek to forge and nurture with the various behavioral health centers, clinics, rehabilitation facilities, community service boards, etc. that are an integral part of the VAAP community. We’re all in this together and “Partners” evokes this relationship more accurately.

Speaking of which, I’d like to thank all 29 of our Community Partners for their contribution to our communities in 2023! We’ll make a difference together!

(Please mark your calendars for the 2024 Annual Meeting and Training that will take place on March 15th at the Four Points Sheraton in Richmond. Keep an eye on your inbox for more details and registration information.)

2023 VSIAS: The 2023 Summer Institute of Addiction Studies was a huge success. The 2023 VSIAS included 290 attendees, 33 exhibitors, and 20 vetted speakers for our training sessions which provided up to 23 Continuing Education Credits.

We are currently in the planning stages for the 2024 training which is titled “Facing Challenges, Finding Solutions”, so please mark your calendars: The 2024 VSIAS is scheduled for July 21st – 24th at the Woodlands Hotel and Suites, Williamsburg. Stay tuned for more information on attendee registration and supporter information. We hope to see you there!

Mobilize Recovery – Williamsburg: Under President Elect Jessica Swan’s leadership, VAAP created an Events Committee consisting of smart, dedicated individuals who help plan, manage and execute our various events. The Committee piloted an event as part of the nationwide “Mobilize Recovery” effort. On September 16th, “Mobilize Recovery – Williamsburg” was held at New Quarter Park. The event was well-attended and included a wellness expo with VAAP Community Partners, free food, a corn hole tournament, and a lineup of speakers. Many thanks to the Events Committee and we look forward to growing “Mobilize Recovery” in 2024 and beyond!

NAADAC Annual Conference: In October, I personally attended and represented VAAP at the NAADAC Board of Directors meeting and Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado. I received updates, had the opportunity to provide input on our members’ needs, and updated the NAADAC Board on legislative activities in Virginia. I am pleased to report that VAAP continues to be one of the strongest and most active NAADAC affiliates!

Advocacy Matters: VAAP Advocacy Chairman, Chuck Wilcox, recruited and organized a committee that strategically contacted Virginia General Assembly candidates to discuss issues important to VAAP members. Their objectives focused on Barrier Crimes and Recovery Residence Certification Oversight. Thank you to Chuck and his Advocacy Warriors for their time and fearlessness with these initiatives! Stay tuned for updates on these matters.

VAAP’s future looks brighter than ever and we look forward to continued growth and success in 2024 as we support, promote and educate Substance Use Professionals throughout Virginia.


David Semanco
President, Board of Directors
Virginia Association of Addiction Professionals