There are thousands of remarkable people whose daily work profoundly impacts the lives of silently suffering children of alcoholic and drug addicted parents and helps them to come out of the shadows and begin to heal. These are the Champions for Children, and NACoA wants to shine a spotlight periodically on a few of them and to thank them publicly for the light they bring into the lives of these children.

We are always adding more Champions for Children.

Jack Fahey

Jack Fahey has worked in the field of addictive disorders for over 35 years. He began his career as associate producer of many of the films starring Father Martin and Dr. Joseph Pursch, both early pioneers in alcoholism communications and training. His early works include one of the first films on women and substance abuse, "The Secret Life of Sandra Blaine," and he produced some of the earliest television commercials for addiction treatment programs. A long-time friend of NACoA, Jack was the producer and director of more than 25 ground breaking videos including "Children of Denial," the first film dealing with children of alcoholics and solidifying the three dysfunctional family rules, Don't Talk, Don't Trust, Don't Feel; "Family Roles" which helped to disseminate the seminal work about the impact of roles for children; and "Sound of Silence," acknowledging the relationship between physical and sexual abuses and living with addiction. Over the years, he has contributed to multiple additional videos, most of which continue to be seen by thousands of people in treatment programs worldwide. While semi-retired and living in the Pacific Northwest, Jack is still active in the production of videos and works to spread the word about children of addicted parents by arranging foreign rights to publishers in other countries. His contributions to alcoholism and family impact awareness education helped to build the base of understanding about the disease upon which so much has followed. Countless thousands of children of alcoholic parents have benefited from Jack's work, and NACoA says "Thank You."

Mona M Johnson MA, CPP, CDP

Mona Johnson serves as Director of School Behavioral Health at the U.S. Army Medical Command Child, Adolescent, and Family Behavioral Health Office located at Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis McChord where she has responsibility for the development and management of an Army School Behavioral Health outreach project and staff. Previously, she was the Director of Learning and Teaching Support at the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Mona has been an advocate for vulnerable children across her career path. She has been a national leader in student assistance, work that has been especially impactful on children of alcohol and drug dependent parents. For her years of advocating and providing services for these children, NACoA thanks this "Champion."

Robert A. Zucker PhD.

Dr. Zucker is a professor of psychology in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Michigan and directs the Psychiatry Department's Substance Abuse Section. He is also director of the university's Addiction Research Center. Over the past 30 years his research has described the course of early risk development for alcoholism and other substance abuse at multiple levels of function involving behavior and social context, brain functional response systems, and genes. His early identification and intervention studies have focused on preschool through adolescence since this is the interval when risk is most heavily developing. He is currently a member of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's Select Panel on Underage Screening, which has been developing national guidelines and screening techniques for the very early identification of drinking problems and risk for later disorder. In the last decade he has also been working with central and eastern European researchers and government agencies to disseminate these findings to professionals and health care agencies in these countries. In 2010 he was awarded the Distinguished Researcher Award of the Research Society on Alcoholism. Dr. Zucker's research, begun more than 30 years ago, addressing the impact of heavy parental drinking on young children, has followed the children and their parents into adulthood and has made a major contribution to our knowledge of parental drinking influences on their children. In 2008, Dr. Zucker presented the history of research on children of alcoholics at a special symposium of the Research Society of America's annual conference honoring NACoA's 25th anniversary year.

Lynn Guelzow

Lynn Guelzow, CPP, Former Director of Prevention & Community Education at Hanley Center (now Hanley Center at Origins) in West Palm Beach, has provided more support services to children in schools and community programs throughout Palm Beach County, in addition to implementing a children's program for children of clients in treatment at Hanley Center. She has supported training at Hanley Center for prevention and education personnel from multiple agencies and schools to use the Children's Program Kit, developed by NACoA, to implement supportive education for impacted children in their organizations and schools, and she organized and helped Hanley Center to provide education to clergy and other pastoral ministers to facilitate their ability to support addicted persons and their family members in local congregations. Lynn now works as Manager, Volunteer Services at OneBlood, Inc.

Constance Weisner, PhD

Constance Weisner, DrPH, LCSW, is the Associate Director for Health Services Research, at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, and a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Weisner's research over many years on the impact of an individual's addiction on the health care costs of family members has shone a light on the emotional and physical side effects suffered by family members when they live with active addiction in a loved one. The research has also demonstrated that when an addicted individual enters treatment and begins recovery, within a year the medical costs of the family members diminish measurably. Dr. Weisner shares her findings to benefit impacted children and families across the country, in medical journals and internationally. NACoA thanks Dr. Weisner for providing scientific information and insights that supports the work of advocates for family treatment and recovery and for preventive interventions and support programs for children of addicted parents.

White Bison Inc.

White Bison has been a champion for children and families hurt by multigenerational alcoholism and trauma across Native American populations since 1988. It assisted in the creation of the Native Children's Program Kit and trained hundreds to use it to implement programs for children of alcoholics in Indian Country. White Bison created the Wellbriety Movement bringing training and prevention and recovery tools to Native communities across the country to support the recovery of addicted persons and their children and families across

Maria Marquez-Ramirez

Maria Marquez-Ramirez has spent nearly 20 years providing direct services to children and families in crisis with Uplift Family Services, formerly known as EMQ Families First in Campbell, CA. As a Learning Partner for the Foster Care and Adoptions Services Program, Maria supports the development and delivery of trainings to resource/foster parent as well as professional working with children and families.

Maria has worked in the field of parent education for the last 17 years, through Uplift family Services and other non-profit organizations, including the YWCA. Beyond being a passionate believer, facilitator and trainer of the Celebrating Families! Curriculum, Maria is also certified through Cornell University to deliver Therapeutic Crisis Intervention training for professionals (TCI), family caregivers (TCIF) and for schools (TCIS). In addition, Maria is a Family Wellness Facilitator, Positive Discipline Educator and delivers workshops on the Search Institute’s Essentials of Asset Building in order to promote the Developmental Asset framework to promote positive youth development for her organization and for the community.

In addition to her role as a Learning Partner, in 2008 Maria joined the Addiction prevention Services Program at Uplift Family Services as a Celebrating Families!TM Group Leader. Witnessing the impact the curriculum was having on families, Maria became increasingly motivated about the use of the curriculum for the Spanish speaking community. Eventually, Maria accepted the role of Lead Adaptation Consultant for ¡Celebrando Familias! and was instrumental in the translation and adaptation. She supported the project to its completion in 2012. In other words, Maria has made it possible for hundreds, possibly thousands, of Spanish-speaking children and families struggling with the impact of addiction to find understanding, support and recovery. For that we call Maria a Champion for Children.

Maria continues to lead Celebrating Families!TM groups at Uplift Family Services.

Iris E Smith, PHD, MPH

Iris Smith holds a doctorate in Community Psychology from Georgia State University and a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Emory University. She is recently retired from her position as an Associate Professor in the Behavioral Sciences and Health Education Department at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health where she taught graduate courses in Program Evaluation, Substance Abuse, Social Determinants of Health, and Mental Health Capstone course. In addition to teaching Dr. Smith served until retirement as the Coordinator for the Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies (CAPT) Southeast Resource Team for SAMHSA's Center for substance Abuse Prevention. Previously, as Deputy Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, she worked to improve mental health and substance abuse services for youth incarcerated in Georgia’s long term residential detention facilities and was a co-investigator on the first study to document the prevalence of mental health and substance use disorders among detained youth in Georgia.

From 1979-1992, Iris was Principal or Co-Investigator on a number of studies on prenatal drug exposure and substance abusing women and their children at Emory University’s School of Medicine. Her work included the design, implementation and evaluation of outreach, intervention and treatment programs for substance abusing women and their children. She is currently a member of the NACoA Advisory Board and has served on advisory boards for the Atlanta Association for Developmental Disabilities, Dekalb County Center for Torture and Trauma Survivors, Georgia NOFAS and the Marcus Institute. Throughout all of these professional positions, Dr. Smith was a powerful voice for children impacted by addiction in the family. She advocated for them unceasingly, taught about them and what they needed across systems and positions, and she helped all of us see the whole picture of the troubled child and the child in trouble. She understood resiliency and the importance of evaluation to light the way for bringing building resilient youth.

Since the 1980s Dr. Smith has been a Champion for Children.


In an effort to combat substance abuse BABESWORLD has been promoting BABES Communities: groups of people living, loving, and working together to create an environment in which all, especially children, feel healthy, loved, safe, and protected from ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs) abuse. It does this by: providing resilience-based programs that decrease the risk factors and increase the protective factors that result in healthy, drug free young people, particularly between the ages of 0-19; and providing transformational learning opportunities for individuals and systems brought about by education and activities which result in a deep and pervasive shift in the behavior of the individual and the surrounding community. BABESWORLD is the natural progression of BABES (Beginning Alcohol and Addictions Basic Education Studies), the primary prevention program founded in 1979, which by 1988 was reaching more than one million children in forty states and four foreign countries each year. BABESWORLD views substance abuse prevention efforts as a part of a broader, generic health promotion and disease preventing effort.

Children and Family Futures

For decades, Children and Family Futures (CFF) has been changing the lives of vulnerable children with specialized expertise in improving collaborative practice and policy among the substance abuse, child welfare, Tribal child welfare and family judicial systems. CFF consults with government agencies and service providers to ensure that effective services are provided to families. CFF advises Federal, State, and local government and community-based agencies, conducts research on the best ways to prevent and address the problem, and provides comprehensive and innovative solutions to policy makers and practitioners. To view a video detailing their work and commitment to children, parents and families affected by trauma, substance use and mental health disorders, visit their website.