Portrait of Dr. John D. Massella

Dr. John D. Massella, an associate professor at Cal U and a licensed professional counselor, will receive the 2017 NAADAC Addiction Educator of the Year Award Sept. 25 at the organization’s annual conference in Denver, Colo.

The award — from NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals — recognizes a professor who has mentored students, student chapters, colleagues or other addiction professionals, or has made other contributions to enhance the profession.

Massella joined Cal U’s Counseling Center in 2010 after working for 30 years at Gateway Rehabilitation in Monroeville, Pa.

This semester he became director of the Office for Students with Disabilities at Cal U. He still teaches two counselor-education graduate courses during the winter and summer terms.

Massella operates a private practice in McMurray, Pa., and also works with healthcare professionals who may be abusing drugs and alcohol. 

“I am very honored and can’t imagine being considered let alone winning a national award,” Massella said. “I can think of a thousand people that deserve this above me that have done, and are still doing, great work.” 

Mary Van Osdol, a licensed professional counselor and a certified Masters Addiction counselor who has her own practice in Wexford, nominated him for the award. She met Massella in 2002, when both worked at Gateway Rehab.

“He is completely approachable, genuinely concerned for people, and one of the most highly regarded therapists and educators in the state,” she said. “He has impacted so many people’s careers that I felt he would be the perfect candidate for that award, and evidently the people on the selection committee did too.”

Since coming to Cal U, Massella has played a key role in developing the Prevention Awareness Recovery Center, or PARC

Cal U is the first university in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, and one of only 250 nationwide, to have a designated recovery center that provides support, services and resources for students who are struggling with the use of alcohol and other drugs, as well as students who support the recovery of others.

Massella is an advocate for his profession, which involves working with a population that often struggles not only with substance abuse or dependence, but also with associated mental health problems.

“I feel there are plenty of people out there with a lot of compassion and caring for individuals, and I always want to reach those folks and make them aware they are excellent clinicians who can do this work,” he said.

“People … feel if they are not a recovering alcoholic or drug addict they can’t do this work, which is just not true.”


NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, represents the professional interests of more than 95,000 addiction counselors, educators and other addiction-focused health care professionals worldwide who specialize in addiction prevention, treatment, recovery support and education.

Adopted in 1998, the organization’s vision statement iss "NAADAC is the premier global organization of addiction focused professionals who enhance the health and recovery of individuals, families and communities."

The NAADAC 2017 Annual Conference: Elevate Your Practice will take place Sept. 22-26 in Denver.