Betty Ford Center Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Addiction treatment and mental health care leader to mark milestone with events throughout year, starting April 7
Learn About Hazelden Betty Ford

Rancho Mirage, Calif. (April 5, 2022) – The Betty Ford Center, a trusted source and global symbol of healing, hope and love since 1982, is celebrating its 40th anniversary as an addiction treatment and mental health care leader with numerous events throughout the year, starting with a series of West Coast community forums on April 7 honoring the sobriety birthday of its co-founder, the late former First Lady Betty Ford.

"We love our history and are excited about our future," said Joseph Lee, MD, president and CEO of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the nation's leading nonprofit system of addiction treatment, co-occurring mental health care, recovery resources and related prevention and education services. "As we expand and establish a bold vision for broadening our banner and reaching more people, we will carry forward and build upon the remarkable legacy of Mrs. Ford, whose courage and candor in confronting stigma and sharing about her own experience with addiction and recovery set the stage for all of the advocacy and progress we've seen since—both nationally and globally."

The Betty Ford Center is a crown jewel in the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's national system of care. Its 40th anniversary arrives one year into a four-year, $30 million transformation project that will enable the world-renowned treatment center in Rancho Mirage to meet increasing demand for services, expand accessibility, and help more individuals, families and communities.

"Betty Ford has said that her greatest legacy is the alumni of the Betty Ford Center," said Hazelden Betty Ford's California Region Vice President Tessa Voss, administrator of the Betty Ford Center. "Our campus transformation honors the history of the last four decades while paving the way for the next for 40 years of alumni of patients, families and children who will find care and support at the Center. With needs rising alongside growing public understanding of addiction as a health condition deserving compassionate care and support, I can think of no better way to honor Mrs. Ford's legacy—one that especially shines a light on women in recovery—than to build capacity so we can help even more people."

On April 7, 1978, Betty Ford initiated her recovery from addiction to alcohol and prescription medications following a family intervention. Already an icon for her public service and support of women's rights and breast cancer awareness (a disease she also survived), Mrs. Ford launched into an inspiring new chapter of life that led to co-founding the Betty Ford Center four years later with her friend, former U.S. Ambassador Leonard Firestone.

To commemorate that pivotal date, Hazelden Betty Ford will kick off the Betty Ford Center's 40th anniversary activities on Thursday, April 7, 2022, by hosting three free, public lunch-and-learn events in the following communities:

  • Bellevue, WA: The Bellevue Club at 11:30 a.m. PDT, featuring speaker Samantha Pauley, director of Hazelden Betty Ford's virtual services nationally and also director of Hazelden Betty Ford in Beaverton, OR
  • San Jose, CA: Winchester Mystery House at 11 a.m. PDT, featuring Betty Ford Center addiction counselor Sarita McGowan and California Region Vice President and Betty Ford Center Administrator Tessa Voss
  • Palm Desert, CA: Hotel Paseo at 11:30 a.m. PDT, featuring Hazelden Betty Ford Chief Medical Officer Alta DeRoo, MD; Hazelden Betty Ford Associate Director in Development and former Mrs. Betty Ford assistant Janice Hart; retired healthcare executive and former Betty Ford Center leader Jerry McDonald; retired 37-year Betty Ford Center staff member Carolyn Friend; and former National Children's Program Executive Director Jerry Moe

"Soon after that historic April 7 date, Betty Ford spoke publicly about her addiction and the treatment she sought—creating a long-overdue national dialogue about the disease, lifting some of the shame and stigma associated with it, and unlocking the door to recovery for millions of others, especially women and families," Voss said. "It's a humbling privilege to spend every day helping individuals and families heal through some of their toughest challenges, and to support schools, primary care providers, employers and other community partners who share a stake in reducing the negative impact of addiction. That was Mrs. Ford' vision and we're proud to carry her trailblazing work forward at each of our addiction treatment locations. In fact, it's more important today than ever."

Among other special activities and recovery events planned in this 40th anniversary year of the Betty Ford Center are:

  • A new season of The Awareness Hour, the longest-running public recovery speaker series in the United States, kicking off Saturday, May 7, in Rancho Mirage. The season-opener, relaunching the series after a pandemic hiatus, will feature national recovery advocate William C. Moyers interviewing NHL Hall-of-Famer Grant Fuhr and three-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Carrie Bates about their lives as elite athletes and people in recovery from addiction. The free event—to be held next door to the Betty Ford Center at Eisenhower Medical Center's Helene Galen Auditorium—will offer inspiration and education as well as fellowship and connection to local community members attending in person and others around the country tuning in to the live online broadcast. 
  • The Grant Fuhr Celebrity Golf Invitation in Palm Desert, Calif., on May 14. Dozens of sports and entertainment legends including Ken Griffey Jr. and Bo Jackson, among many others, will come together to raise money in support of the Betty Ford Center's $30 million transformation.
  • Betty Ford Center 40th Anniversary Weekend in Rancho Mirage on Nov. 11-13. This multiday event—open to thousands of former patients, donors and invited guests—will include incredible speakers, inspiring activities and opportunities for fellowship and quiet reflection as well. 

About the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. As the nation's leading nonprofit provider of comprehensive inpatient and outpatient addiction and mental health care for adults and youth, the Foundation has treatment centers and telehealth services nationwide as well as a network of collaborators throughout health care. Through charitable support and a commitment to innovation, the Foundation is able to continually enhance care, research, programs and services, and help more people. With a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center, the Foundation today is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in its services and throughout the organization, which also encompasses a graduate school of addiction studies, a publishing division, an addiction research center, recovery advocacy and thought leadership, professional and medical education programs, school-based prevention resources and a specialized program for children who grow up in families with addiction.