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"I didn’t choose to be in the addictions field... 
It “chose” me through recovery. " Tom Hill

Tom Hill, MSW
Senior Associate
Altarum Institute
Johnson Institute’s 2006 America Honors Recovery Award Recipient

Established leader Tom Hill, a community organizer and social worker, had been an artist most of his life until he began his journey of recovery in the early 1990’s. On this path he earned an MSW in Community Organizing from Hunter College and little did he know, would start his addictions career working at the Lesbian and Gay Community Center. 

How did you choose to be in the addictions field?
I didn’t choose to be in the addictions field. It “chose” me through recovery. My progression in this field can all be chalked up to what I’ve learned in recovery. It taught me how to mentor others (sponsorship), run meetings, speak in public, and serve others. Recovery also guided me through doors to work in the areas of anti-stigma, recovery and addiction, HIV/AIDS, and community organizing. 

Did you have mentors along the way?
Yes. I’ve been fortunate to have a string of women along the way who have mentored me. They encouraged me to take risks and offered a safe environment where I was allowed to make mistakes.

Through this mentoring process, what was the most meaningful advice you’ve received? 
What I heard from my mentor(s) was “You can do this! I will support you and I believe in you.” As an emerging leader, having this kind of support and interest in me was invaluable. These messages were very important for me to hear.

What advice would you give to emerging leaders?
It’s okay to take a chance and make mistakes. This process is instrumental in professional and personal growth. Your mentor will be there to support you.

Do you mentor others and if so, what are the benefits?
Yes. What I’ve learned in recovery is that when we do service, we get helped in return. I get as much or more back from mentoring as the person I’m mentoring. It’s important to me to return what was given. Mentoring is an obligation and a joy!

Have you participated in the Leadership Institute?
Not yet! I suppose you could say that I’ve had my hand in it behind the scenes. I served on the Partners for Recovery (PFR) steering committee and was recently involved in a Robert Wood Johnson fellowship in the Developing Leadership in Reducing Substance Abuse initiative.

Tom’s fellowship project, called CommonStrength, employs the principles of servant leadership and critical consciousness to build and support grass roots leadership in the recovery community and promote a recovery movement based on social justice and liberation

Tom Hill's Bio

Tom Hill has over twenty years of both recovery and community organizing experience. He is a skilled trainer and facilitator in leadership development, addiction and recovery issues, and diversity/cultural competency. In addition, he has worked, both as a professional and a grassroots community leader, in areas such as recovery and addiction, HIV/AIDS, LGBT and reproductive rights. He has served as faculty at many learning institutions, including the Servant Leadership School in Washington, DC. and several state and regionally sponsored summer schools for addiction professionals

Tom Hill is a former member of the ATTC Network Advisory Group, and previously served as the Deputy Project Director for the Recovery Community Services Program, an initiative of CSAT. Presently he is the Deputy Project Director providing technical assistance for CSAT’s Access to Recovery (ATR) Program.

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