CENTER CITY, Minn. (July 23, 2021)—After a versatile 26-year career leading several divisions within the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and helping double the size, scope and impact of what now is the nation's largest nonprofit system of addiction treatment, mental health care, recovery resources and related prevention and education services, Vice President and Chief External Affairs Officer Nick Motu announced he will retire in September.
"I have been blessed with a fulfilling career working alongside committed staff and colleagues and contributing to the greatest mission of all—helping others—and am grateful to step into life's next chapter knowing Hazelden Betty Ford is a greater force of healing and hope than ever before—poised to broaden its banner and help even more people in the years ahead," Motu said. "When you get to be part of stewarding a mission and cause greater than yourself, it's deeply gratifying."
Motu started as a prevention marketing manager with the Hazelden Foundation in 1995, after several years in the newspaper business and as a marketing leader with St. Paul Companies in St. Paul and Northwestern National Life in Minneapolis, as well as a stint serving on the South St. Paul City Council. He was promoted to vice president at Hazelden in 1998 and became publisher of Hazelden Publishing in 2002. Corporate sales and marketing were added to Motu's portfolio in 2009 and later, after relinquishing the publisher role he had held for more than a decade, he took on corporate communications and public relations as well. Following the 2014 merger of Hazelden with the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Motu also successfully stood up the new Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's business development department and its Recovery Advocacy and government relations function.
President and CEO Joseph Lee, MD, said Motu's vast and varied contributions will positively impact Hazelden Betty Ford and the people it serves for years to come.
"Folks all over the world will continue to draw inspiration and hope from books Nick brought to market like Brené Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection, and students in schools everywhere will continue to gain healthy skills and knowledge from prevention programs such as 'Building Assets, Reducing Risks' and the 'Olweus Bullying Prevention Program,' both of which he helped bring to market with partners," Dr. Lee said. "In addition, patients will continue to be able to utilize insurance to access care thanks to his and his teams' national advocacy and their execution of our strategy to become an in-network partner with payers. I could go on and on because Nick's areas have played a vital role in virtually everything Hazelden Betty Ford has accomplished in the past quarter century. His legacy will be long-lived."
In his role as publisher, Motu helped Hazelden Publishing transition from a predominantly print publishing house—which today still leads the industry in self-help books for people affected by addiction—to a multimedia business offering innovative resources and solutions to individuals, families, community partners and institutions such as schools, correctional facilities and the military.
In business development, Motu and his team helped Hazelden Betty Ford gain in-network status with all major insurance providers and launched a first-in-its-field Patient Care Network (PCN) designed to increase patient engagement, therapeutic alliance, self-efficacy and treatment outcomes through collaborative member affiliations. He personally stewarded several significant PCN partnerships, including one with Turning Point Inc., an African American addiction treatment provider in Minneapolis; and a high-level partnership with Emory Healthcare in Atlanta that led to forming the Addiction Alliance of Georgia.
In marketing, Motu is most proud of shepherding in the rigorous use of data to drive returns on investment and connect more people to the care they need. And in advocacy and government relations, Motu and his teams have contributed to impactful advances nationally, from passage of a federal insurance parity law and the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), to industry reforms curtailing unethical marketing and patient acquisition practices, to crucial modernization of privacy and telehealth laws, to pandemic-relief funding with unprecedented new investments in behavioral health.
"The depth and breadth of Nick's impact on Hazelden Betty Ford is impossible to quantify. Indeed, he's done it all," said William C. Moyers, Hazelden Betty Ford's vice president of public affairs and community relations. "Nick published best-selling authors, helped keep our alums engaged, made sure our expertise and advocacy contributed to the national dialogue, led the charge to reduce stigma, forged community-based collaborations and more – all while never losing sight of the bottom line: helping people and families find the help they needed."
Motu's professional passion has been informed by his own experience as a person in long-term recovery from addiction.
"My first trip to Hazelden was actually in the back of a police car, having been committed to treatment by my mother, who saved my life by getting me the help I needed," Motu said. "On that day, I certainly couldn't have imagined working here for 26 years, but recovery opens the doors to amazing possibilities, and my life and career have been a case in point. Every day has been an honor and a gift—and I will never take for granted the tremendous opportunity I have had to help others and further the mission of this wonderful organization where my recovery began."
Motu joins Chief Medical Officer Marvin D. Seppala in following former President and CEO Mark G. Mishek into retirement. Mishek retired in June and Seppala will retire in October.
"I knew coming in as CEO that we had a group of remarkable senior leaders nearing retirement, and I'm grateful to glean insights from them as we celebrate their legacy, build on their foundation, and grow into an even greater force of healing and hope," Dr. Lee said.
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.