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Supervisor Spotlight: Lisa Johnston

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Casa Di Vita has gone through some exciting changes over the last few months thanks to the direction of the program’s new Site Supervisor, Lisa Johnston. She previously served as the Assistant Program Director at Visions Place and strived to ensure proper placement of that program’s residents while it was closing. After the transition to Unity House was off to a solid start, Lisa took up permanent residence at Casa Di Vita where she’s been since June. Since then, she’s brought a host of innovations to the program. She also heads the Events Committee and serves on the Wellness Committee.

Lisa is willing to experiment and to fix what needs fixing. The changes she’s brought to Casa Di Vita have been due to observing what works and what doesn’t. She noted that “it’s a process and there has been some trial and error,” but that’s exactly what makes this journey so exciting and impactful. “We’re getting a lot of positive feedback from the residents,” she said. The program has recently added an “Adjustment Group” in which new residents meet weekly for their first thirty days to discuss how things are going.  You can read about some of the other developments in the upcoming issue of the Cazenovia Compass. Perhaps most importantly, Casa Di Vita has seen an increase in successful discharges since Lisa assumed responsibility due to the revisions within the program.

While the changes are impressive, Lisa strives to include residents in decision-making processes. Her enthusiasm for providing trauma-informed care is palpable, as every modification can be seen through that specific model of care. According to Lisa, “we always ask, ‘what do they need individually?’” The staff and residents of Casa Di Vita are discovering what works best for everyone individually and for the program as a whole. This has created a great environment for residents and staff alike. Lisa particularly enjoys seeing her staff “happy and invested.”

Like most Americans, Lisa has family members struggling with substance abuse. She has experience working in mental health, as well, but she decided to switch gears in order to give back and better understand the effects of the disease. Lisa finds working in recovery to be “very rewarding.” Having her expertise at Casa Di Vita has certainly awarded the program with insight and compassion. She’s quite happy to see the program moving “into a good place right now.”

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