WVAAPP's own Joe Deegan was featured on Solutions, Service & Serenity recently and was interviewed by Susie Mullens about Advocacy. Click to watch the video!
WVAAPP Enlists New Government Relations Firm
In December 2021, our Public Policy Chair, Joe Deegan learned that Hallie Mason with Mason Consulting
was stepping down as our government relations specialist at the end of December 2021. Hallie is taking
on a full time position with another association and will not be able to continue in her role with
WVAAPP. Hallie has been an excellent representative for our association and has been extremely
responsive in our working relationship over the past several years. We wish her well in her new
To fill the void brought on by Hallie’s departure, the WVAAPP Board appointed a committee to find and
interview a new firm that could meet the needs of our association. Hallie had actually given Joe Deegan
several names including Amber Perry with TSG Consulting in Charleston. As a coincidence, Joe, Chair of
Public Policy was already thinking of inquiring with TSG given a relationship he has acquired in recent
years with Phil Shimer who works closely with Amber.
A Committee of Board members met with Amber and Phil in late December and a decision was made in
mid-January to engage in a contract for 2022 with TSG Consulting working primarily with Amber and
Phil. We are hoping that this relationship will enhance our efforts given that Amber is a Licensed Social
Worker and Phil has been working with the West Virginia Legislature on issues related to substance use
disorders for many years.
Scope of Services: TSG will deliver those services customarily provided by a state government relations firm, including:
• Regular monitoring and reporting of legislative activity on issues of broad interest to WVAAPP members to include:
o Distribution by e-mail to all WVAAPP members of TSG's weekly Legislative Update, during the session and monthly the remainder of the year.
o Distribution by e-mail of any Special Legislative Update, published from time-to-time as circumstances may warrant, e.g., the calling of Special Legislative Sessions, major announcements of the executive, etc.
Other duties will include:
• Attending and representing WVAAPP at legislative committee meetings
• Advocating on behalf of WVAAPP at relevant executive branch agency meetings
• Participating in other meetings of groups of interest to WVAAPP
• Providing timely feedback on specific questions raised to it by WVAAPP PPC
• Reviewing specific legislation and proposed amendments
• Issuing advance alerts (to the extent practical) on legislative activity specific to issues determined by the PPC as priority issues
• Assisting, as warranted in drafting position statements, preparation of "talking points",
testimony or other supporting documentation on WVAAPP legislative priority issues related generally to the stigma, treatment, recovery, and general wellbeing of individuals experiencing substance use disorder.
Phil and Amber, as TSG's designated representatives under this engagement will provide their best efforts to advance WVAAPP's legislative and public policy agenda. TSG will strive to advance WVAAPP’s position as an important representative of professionals of substance use disorder and mental health care at both the state and federal level.
TSG's understanding of issues currently identified by WVAAPP includes the following:
• Strengthening its relationship with both the state's executive and legislative branches
• Identifying key legislators for advocating its positions
• Monitoring proposed legislation, policies and legislative rules related to substance use disorder and mental health
• Connecting it directly with state government officials by arranging meetings and/or representing it at meetings related to substance use disorder and mental health law
• Meeting on a regular basis with its board, including participation in the Board's Fall Retreat
• Assisting in the planning, developing, and scheduling of activities related to its sponsorship of an annual Recovery Advocacy Day
• Assisting in planning Recovery Month activities in conjunction with the WV Office of Drug Control Policy
• Assisting in planning, developing, and scheduling legislative roundtable events in conjunction with statewide partner
organizations including the West Virginia Behavioral Health Providers Association (WVBHPA), the Appalachian Recovery Alliance (ARA) and others
• Assisting in and/or responding on its behalf to legislative questions/concerns on issues affecting addictions professionals in West Virginia
• Informing its representatives on state-specific processes and procedures including the state's budget process and regulatory system
• Assisting in the development and maintenance of relationships with key state agency officials including the Department of Health and Human Resources' (DHHR) Bureau for Behavioral Health (BBH), Bureau for Medical Services (BMS), Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP), Department of Corrections, Higher Education Policy Commission, and other state agencies where substance use disorder concerns play a role.
• Assisting to connect WVAAPP with West Virginia's congressional delegation on issues that may arise at the federal level.