A Retrospective Look at the Importance of Business Development
by Gina de Peralta Thorne, MS
If you had asked me 20 years ago if I would be working in the field of addiction treatment I would have looked at you funny. The idea of working with recovering addicts and alcoholics was never intended to be a part of my world. I had family who suffered from addiction, but I didn’t know them and I never had any personal issues with alcohol or drugs. My only exposure to AA was hearing about Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA’s) Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA’s) from a mother who self- identified as an ACOA.
So how did I end up being such a strong ambassador for recovery and wellness? I tell people, that I didn’t choose this career path, rather, it chose me. My first time exposure to working with people in recovery was 10 years ago as Director of Business Development for a treatment program in Virginia. I was so nervous, unsure how I could contribute to helping people live a life in sobriety? I remember the first time an alumnus asked me if I was in recovery, I was uncomfortable to share that I wasn’t. He stood for moment, looked at me and said, “That’s okay, and you’ll do.” At the time, his response didn’t give me any tangible reassurance, but today, I understand.
With over a decade of ushering individuals and families into treatment, I know that it wasn’t pivotal for me to be in recovery to do this work. I have been awed and inspired by what I have learned from working side by side with those in recovery. I have learned how to recognize my own character defects, practice the discipline of restitution, (making amends for my mistakes), find gratitude daily for all things in my life and recognize, “this too shall pass”. I believe my role in this field has helped people find the connections and resources necessary to make their lives that much better and what an honor it is to be given this responsibility.
Today, the landscape of business development and marketing is challenging. There are some big shifts in perception regarding our work. Referrals are skeptical of our intentions, trust is questioned and our efforts to work collaboratively can be tested. But I believe “doing the right thing” will win out every time. We are “Ambassadors for Recovery” charged with the responsibility to help mentor and coach those new to the field, teaching the ethical, transparent and collaborative approach to helping people get well.
We are not about “heads in beds”, or labeling our clients as insurance contracts. Our purpose is much greater. We are the frontline of recovery for many of the families and individuals suffering. Our role is vital and compelling. Never sell yourself short as being “just a marketer”. We are the connectors, the bridge to hope and opportunity and “we’ll do”!
Gina de Peralta Thorne, MS – Chief Marketing Officer with Harmony Foundation is a graduate from Florida State University with a degree in Health Education and Masters from University of West Florida in Health Education and Management. She has over two decades of experience working in the field of prevention, intervention, addiction treatment and recovery. Her background in health communications and health promotions has evolved in both the public and private sectors working in local, regional and national organizations, hospitals, and institutions of higher learning in Florida, New York, Ohio and Virginia. She has worked in marketing and business development for residential treatment programs in Virginia and Florida. A recent transplant to Colorado, Gina was Vice President of Marketing for Lakeview Health providing leadership and oversight to brand management, digital marketing communications, outreach support and alumni services. She is an industry leader speaking about Ethics, Recovery Oriented Systems of Care and Marketing and Business Development best practices. She is a member of the Treatment Professionals Alumni Services (TPAS) Board and an active member of the Addiction Treatment Marketing Organization (ATMO). Gina philosophically believes that change happens when others stretch across the divide and work together.