Monday July 15, 2013

ELIZABETH CONKEY

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- Thursday, the staff of Bennington’s United Counseling Service gathered to celebrate the retirement of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Director, David O’Brien.

O’Brien joined UCS on May 16, 1978, as the substance abuse coordinator and has held a variety of positions throughout his career, including special projects director and deputy director of outpatient services.

As a licensed alcohol and drug counselor in the state of Vermont, O’Brien provided supervision to the outpatient mental health and substance abuse programs for children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly, supervised the agency’s employee assistance programs, and provided consultation to businesses and industry.

O’Brien was very active in regional and state organizations focused on prevention, intervention, and treatment of substance abuse.

He is also a founding member and current chair of the Vermont Alcohol and Drug Advisory Council, and is past president of the Vermont Association of Alcohol and Drug Program Directors.

O’Brien has an M.A. and certificate of advanced graduate study in rehabilitation counseling from Assumption College in Worcester, M.A. and has also earned a B.A. in psychology and history from Johnson State College in Johnson.

During the retirement celebration, UCS Executive Director Ralph Provenza delivered a brief but heartfelt speech, describing O’Brien as an altruistic and thoughtful employee.


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"David will leave us," Provenza said, "but his efforts to make this place a better one will not. He has made a permanent contribution here and he will be missed."

O’Brien, although self-admittedly a bit nervous about addressing a room full of his co-workers and friends, was clearly surprised and pleased about the celebration and his upcoming retirement.

"I’ve been doing this for a long time," he said. "I’m looking forward to the next chapter and for a break."

O’Brien’s last day at Bennington’s UCS facility is July 18.

Contact Elizabeth Conkey at econkey@benningtonbanner.com. Follow her on Twitter @bethconkey.