Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment Leader Retiring After 46 Years of Addiction and Housing Advocacy

CEO Gary Olson also recipient of inaugural Gary P. Olson Visionary Award

The Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment (CADT) says goodbye to its chief executive officer after 46 years with the organization.

Gary P. Olson announced his retirement recently and was celebrated by the CADT staff earlier this week and by his friends and colleagues from around the region and state in an event today honoring the man and his legacy.

Olson’s distinguished career was largely in the chemical dependency field, during which time he advocated for enlightened public policy regarding chemical dependency. Coming to Duluth from his native California in the early 1970s, he started with what was then the Center for Problem Drinking as a clinical assistant and shortly afterward became a counselor and later, program director. In 1989, he left the Center to serve as Center City Housing’s first executive director and returned to CADT in 1992 as its executive director.

Olson was a pioneer in the field of working with homeless alcoholics, instrumental in the vision and development of the San Marco Apartments, supportive housing for chronic alcoholics, garnering him the Minnesota Supportive Housing Consortium’s PiiNZHO Award for significant contributions in supportive housing.

He was a co-founder in the 1990s of the Minnesota Association of Resources for Recovery and Chemical Health (MARRCH), a professional association of addiction treatment professionals and organizations striving to raise awareness about addiction and the power of recovery, served a number of times as its Board of Governors president over the years, and and received its first Gary Olson Leadership Award in 2013.

Olson was also a driving force behind organizations such as State Associations of Addiction Services (SAAS), a national organization representing state associations from around the country; Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network (ATTC), serving as an advisory board member; and the National Institute of Addiction Treatment (NIAT). He currently serves on the board of the Victory Fund, a private foundation helping communities in northeastern Minnesota identify, address and resolve chronic health issues.

In recent years, the CADT’s ClearPath Clinic, a medically assisted treatment program and Pathfinder, a detoxification unit for opioid withdrawal, have become realities under Gary’s vision and leadership.

CADT Board president Laurie O’Neill says, “It’s been Gary’s vision, knowledge and gift for nurturing a dedicated and talented staff that has made the Center the apex for alcohol and drug treatment and recovery in this region. Respect for his leadership in the field of addiction recovery stretches out from Duluth to St. Louis and neighboring counties to the state Capitol.”

Tina Silverness, the CADT’s chief operating officer, has been named its provisional CEO.

The Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment is a non-profit community agency founded in 1961 that provides treatment and recovery services for people with chemical use addictions and the problems associated with drug and alcohol abuse and gambling problems. Its programs include residential inpatient treatment; outpatient treatment; detoxification facility and special detoxification unit for opioid withdrawal (Pathfinder); DWI programs; medically assisted treatment (ClearPath Clinic); and long-term residential programs and aftercare.