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

Thank you to the more than 70 VAAP members who
attended the 2024 Annual Meeting and Training! We planned this year’s theme, “Clinician Self-Care”, around feedback we received from our members. As a Substance Use Disorder professional myself, I get it! Assisting people with SUD, who are in pain and struggling, can drain our energy and affect our emotional state. Having the proper tools to remain positive and focused are essential to our wellbeing and positivity.

The two continuing education sessions “Empowering Resilience: Yoga Therapy as a Tool for Managing Compassion Fatigue and Burnout among Addiction Professionals”, and “The Self-Care Toolbox for Addiction Professionals”, proved to be both insightful and practical for attendees. It’s the simple things we can do (like breathe!) throughout the day that shift our focus and ease our stress.

In addition, the exhibit tables were buzzing with activity and conversation. Our Community Partners shared valuable information about their organizations and, of course, provided fun giveaways!

Continue your journey of Substance Use Disorder education and training by registering for the 2024 Virginia Summer Institute for Addiction Studies, “Facing Challenges, Finding Solutions”, July 21-24 at the Woodlands Hotel and Suites in Williamsburg. Registration is now open!

It is a pleasure to be a part of the VAAP community of smart, dedicated, compassionate individuals and empowering, transformative organizations!

With Gratitude,

David Semanco
VAAP President

“At the start of the training, I was feeling the effects of my own stress; pain, brain fog and desperate for chocolate! By the end of the day, I felt refreshed and rejuvenated. I hope others gained the same benefit.”
Jessica Swan
Jessica Swan
VAAP Events Committee Chair, President Elect

The Sessions

Session 1, “Yoga Therapy as a Tool for Managing Compassion Fatigue and Burnout” was lead by Ali Webb, yoga therapist and trauma-informed yoga teacher. The workshop explored the principles of yoga therapy, and its ability to rebalance the nervous system by shifting from a sympathetic (stress response) to a parasympathetic (relaxation response) state. Participants learned about regulation tools like breathwork, gentle movement, and meditation.

Ail Webb discusses mindfulness mediation

Attendees explored the principles of yoga therapy, learned practical techniques for managing burnout, and developed personalized self-care routines.

"Ask less of the body and it is able to do more."
Ali Webb
E-RYT® 500, YACEP®

Session 2, “The Self-Care Toolbox for Addiction Professionals” was led by Thomas Capshew, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Ph.D. in Social Work from Florida State University. The presentation provided tools and strategies to identify, assess, manage, and reduce acute and chronic stresses encountered in working in this field.

Participants assessed the source of stress in their lives, and learned relaxation techniques and coping strategies which included cognitive restructuring, behavior modification, journal writing, art therapy, humor therapy, creative problem solving, communication skills, time management, hobbies, forgiveness, and prayer and faith.

“Forgiveness is a cognitive process using our rational brain to override emotional memories.”
Thomas Capshew

The Annual Meeting

Lunch was served during the Annual Business Meeting and members were updated on the accomplishments of VAAP during the past year, including advocacy efforts, events, expanded communications, and upcoming initiatives. Members also elected the 2024-26 officers and board members and had the opportunity to address the board with their questions and comments.

David Semanco continues as president until our next election. The VAAP Nominations Committee presents the following slate of officers for 2024-2026:

  • Jessica Swan President-Elect
  • Jesalyn Moore Treasurer
  • Craig James Secretary
  • Charles Wilcox Vice President Northern Area
  • Robert D. Taylor Jr Delegate at Large
  • Nee Allison Delegate at Large
  • Chris Coleman Delegate at Large

In addition, VAAP has two new Board members: Willetta Wilson and Chrissy Chow. Congratulations to all and thank you for your service to VAAP!

Back row: Chuck Wilcox, Chrissy Chow, Craig James, Chris Coleman. Front row: David Semanco, Jessica Swan, Wiletta Wilson, Nee Allison, Robert Taylor

The Exhibitors

We had a full house of VAAP Community Partners exhibiting. Thank you to for providing great information and fun merchandise for the participants!  


  • Mainspring Recovery
  • Sandstone Care
  • SAARA of Virginia
  • ProActive Behavioral Services
  • Faith Recovery
  • NCTR
  • Recovery Journal LLC
  • Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board
  • Fellowship Hall
  • Recovery Consulting
  • Life Center of Galax
  • Conscious Healing, Inc.
  • Richmond Behavioral Health
  • FIRST Recovery
  • The Farley Center
  • True North Clinic – Intercept Health

VSIAS Scholarship Winners

The Annual Meeting and Training wouldn’t be what it is without our VSIAS scholarship awards! Five attendees won scholarships to the 2024 Virginia Summer Institute for Addiction Studies that will take place July 21st-24th in Williamsburg.  This year’s focus is “Facing Challenges, Finding Solutions”. Information and registration are available here.  

Congratulations to VSIAS Scholarship Winners: (pictured with Event Committee Chair, Jessica Swan):

  • Mikhail Warith-Muhammad

  • Heather Spivey

  • Kaitlyn Collins

  • Clarence Harris

  • Helen Kellett

"I was disappointed that I couldn’t attend VSIAS last year. So I was DOUBLY excited and VERY grateful to win a scholarship to this year's event - thank you to VAAP for making it happen!"
Heathey Spivey

Speaking of VSIAS...