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Stark County, OH (June 6, 2019) – Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery (StarkMHAR) presented five HOPE Awards and two Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Awards to honor local people, organizations and law enforcement officers who are making strides and influencing change to advance behavioral health in Stark County on June 5 at the StarkMHAR Leadership Breakfast at First Christian Church.
The following were presented with HOPE awards: Diane Mang (Professional of the Year); Kara Vogt (Advocate of the Year); Kelly Williams (Innovation Award); Speak Life of Perry High School (Community Champion Award); Simple Starters, Inc. (Young Advocates of the Year).

Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Awards honor people who are advancing best practice in encounters involving those who may be struggling with substance use and/or a mental illness. Gibran Baskerville, a recently retired Canton City Police Officer, was named the CIT Officer of the Year and Sergeant Craig M. Riley received the CIT Champion of the Year award. The half-day event also included the presentation of a workforce scholarship.

“It is so important to take a morning to formally recognize the strides we are making,” said John Aller, executive director of StarkMHAR. “The individuals we honored today are examples to us all of how when we set stigma aside, and work on something we believe is possible, we help the whole community move forward.”
Keynote speaker Lisa Ryan, of Grategy, facilitated a group conversation on employee engagement initiatives and strategies that help keep top talent from becoming someone else’s. (Her company’s name, Grategy, is a combination of “gratitude” and “strategy.”) Ryan is an award winning speaker and Amazon best-selling author of ten books. Ryan was chosen, in part, because Stark County is currently working to address the need to attract and retain professionals in the field of behavioral health. More than 130 guests were registered for the event, many holding leadership positions at local agencies.

About Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery
Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery is a multi-faceted organization of expert professionals, dedicated volunteers and concerned community leaders close to mental health and addiction needs right here at home. StarkMHAR is responsible for planning, funding and monitoring public mental health and addiction prevention, early intervention and treatment services delivered to the residents of Stark County. It is one of approximately 50 boards coordinating the public behavioral health system across Ohio. StarkMHAR also advocates for residents with behavioral health issues at both the local and state levels and provides educational opportunities for local providers and other community stakeholders. For more online about the work of StarkMHAR, visit