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ASU prof aims to change narrative about alcoholism: a disease, not a weakness.
May 20, 2016

ASU professor creates positive change by fighting the stigma associated with alcoholism, recovery on college campuses

Driven by a passion to educate people about alcoholism and recovery, Arizona State University professor Linda Lederman aims to make a difference in the lives of many by fighting the stigma of weakness and lack of willpower. 

“My work is designed to change the narrative,” said Lederman, a communication scholar who studies health issues. “To get people to understand that alcoholism is a deadly disease, for which there is no cure — but it can be put into daily remission.”

Linda Lederman, professor of health and human communication

Lederman (left) has been selected to receive the 2016 Gary S. Krahenbuhl Difference Maker Award presented by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The annual award was established through generous contributions of faculty, staff and friends of ASU to honor a faculty member who personifies the spirit of difference-making as demonstrated by Krahenbuhl, a former dean of the college.

“Dr. Lederman’s scholarship, service and teaching are seamlessly connected to the health and well-being of the broader ASU community,” wrote Cameron Thies and Mary Margaret Fonow, two distinguished professors and school directors who nominated Lederman for this prestigious award.

A professor and director of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Lederman is nationally recognized for her use-inspired research on alcohol-abuse prevention, alcoholism and collegiate recovery, which has been funded by grants from federal agencies totaling more than $8 million. Her books include “Changing the Culture of College Drinking” and “Voices of Recovery from the Campus,” a collection of stories from people who began their recovery while undergraduate students.

Prior to joining ASU in 2006, Lederman was a professor of communication at Rutgers University, a faculty member of Rutgers Center for Alcohol Studies and the founding co-director of the Center for Communication and Health Issues, which focused on uncovering the role of communication in alcohol use and abuse. 

“Narrative and stories often bridge the ways in which we think about things,” said Lederman. “So I’m trying to destigmatize alcoholism and recovery on the college campus by changing the story. Putting a face on it, a real face, by sharing real stories of people in recovery.” 

Her work focuses on changing two narratives: the culture of college drinking and the negative stereotype associated with alcoholics. The dominant narratives — everybody drinks in college and alcoholics lack willpower — are misrepresentations of reality, said Lederman.

“Narrative and stories often bridge the ways in which we think about things. So I’m trying to destigmatize alcoholism and recovery on the college campus by changing the story. Putting a face on it, a real face, by sharing real stories of people in recovery.”
— ASU professor Linda Lederman

Lederman has designed an undergraduate course, “Communication, Alcoholism and Recovery,” to educate students on alcoholism as a disease and to show how communication can help people understand and recover from the disease.

“I teach the course in a way that encourages students to become messengers,” said Lederman. “By engaging in what people do, talking to one another, they can help other people re-examine their own misperceptions about alcoholism and recovery.”

Lederman has also created the DYK10? (Do You Know 10?) campaign with her students from this course, which will launch in the fall. The campaign is designed to inform students that 1 in 10 people who drink have alcoholism and need help (if they continue to drink) or support (if they are in recovery).

She will present at a national conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education in August, so health educators can use her campaign as a tool for prevention and alcohol awareness on college campuses.

“Through education and intervention, her work has inspired recovery professionals to action on behalf of our students,” said Lederman’s nominators for the difference maker award. “She is one of the most active and innovative people on our campus.” 

Lederman’s impact extends beyond the ASU community. She was invited to give a colloquium about her work on alcoholism and collegiate recovery at the University of Arizona Department of Communication earlier this year. In addition, the Empty Space Theatre presented a performance titled “Recovery,” based on her books and journal articles about communication, alcoholism and recovery. She also was invited back to Rutgers University to be a speaker at the Rutgers Recovery Graduation earlier this month.

“I am honored to have received this award,” said Lederman. “There is nothing I can think of that would mean more to me than winning an award as a difference maker because my life and work are dedicated to making a difference in people’s lives.”


Top photo by Diego Lopez

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Training for Native nations' financial managers

#ASU certification program helps tribal managers navigate complex issues.
May 24, 2016

60 tribal managers from around country at ASU this week for certification as part of executive education program

Anni Leaman has a respectable-sized to-do list when she returns home to Massachusetts later this week.

She’s going to create a couple of new finance committees, check into whether her tribe can issue bonds on construction projects, find innovative ways to reduce her tribe’s debt and establish a first-time fraud hotline.

And that’s just for starters. Her employer, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, is paving the way for a massive 150-acre gaming and entertainment venue in Taunton, Massachusetts.

Leaman was hired by the tribe almost 10 months ago and is a newbie when it comes to working for a tribal government.

“It takes a certain personality to work for a tribal community, and there are lots of challenges,” Leaman said. “I’m so glad I got this training.”

Leaman is referring to the Tribal Financial Certification Training offered through Arizona State University’s American Indian Policy InstituteThe American Indian Policy Institute is based in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. (AIPI), in partnership with the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA). A certification session is taking place this week on the Tempe campus, in which Leaman is a participant.

It’s part of ASU’s Tribal Economic Leadership Program, which is designed to help Indian nations navigate the layers of complicated red tape while also offering educational and professional-development training for tribal government staff, members and leaders to support the long-term economic sustainability of nations.

Tribal Financial Manager Certification conference attendees

Anthony Falcon, who was recently
named acting treasurer for the
Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin,
took the training this week at
ASU to get up to speed.

Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Most people are under the impression that Native nations operate under the veil of sovereignty and are financially accountable to no one.

In fact, tribal governments deal with many more layers of bureaucratic complexity, regulations and compliance issues than most municipalities because of the unique relationship they share with federal, state, county and local authorities.

“There’s a demand for a more systematic and consistent training to understand the relationships that exist between tribes, federal, state, county and local governments,” said Traci Morris, director of ASU’s American Indian Policy Institute.

“Our training not only helps tribal governments through advocacy and leadership development but brings together members of tribes throughout the country to improve networking and improve nation building.”

Approximately 60 attendees from more than 40 tribes around the country — some as far away as Oklahoma, Washington, Alaska, Florida and Massachusetts — came to ASU’s Tempe campus this week to receive their Tribal Financial Manager Certification. The three-day training program, which will end on Wednesday, covered a plethora of complex financial topics. They include Federal Indian Law and Policy, Governmental Accounting in a Tribal Setting, Federal Financial Compliance, Tribal Enterprise-Accounting for Propriety Funds, and Federal, State & Tribal Taxation.

Some believe accounting for tribal governments is much more sophisticated and complex than most municipalities.

“There are a lot of nuances in financial government within a tribal government, and the complexities that we have as a sovereign nation centers around our trust relationship with the U.S. and federal government,” said Maria Dadgar, executive director of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Inc., which has an $18 million annual operating budget.

“Not only do we deal with federal, state, and local entities, but there are various organizations within our member tribes. It’s a lot of reading, memorizing, learning and monitoring.”

The program started in 2009 as a vision of NAFOA, and the AIPI took up the effort to develop and offer the program. With seed funding from the Arizona Board of Regents, the AIPI gathered a team of nationally recognized experts on financial management and Indian law.

Anthony Falcon, who was recently named acting treasurer for the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, said he took the training this week at ASU to get up to speed.

“When I thought about what kind of skills I want to have as far as being active treasurer, I looked at the training and the topics we were going to cover and it’s just what I wanted,” Falcon said. “I want to be able to take information back with me to be able to provide timely and accurate information to our decision makers to help determine what’s best for our investments and business decisions.”

Falcon said his 7,600-member tribe might be small but that they have an operating budget in the “hundreds of millions.” He says that kind of cash flow requires constant vigilance.

In addition to monitoring accounts, investments and improvement projects, he will oversee how grants are administered and whether they follow all guidelines, and he makes sure that all cooperative agreements with state and local governments follows compliance.

That sort of multitasking is not only a tough job, but proof that Indian Country is now big city when it comes to finances.

“Tribes feel that they do have the capacity from within to do complex financial work and are able to contribute and give back to the state economically,” Dadgar said. “It’s not just in Arizona, but in every state.”


Top photo: Attendees participate in the Tribal Financial Managers Certification program at the Tempe campus' Memorial Union on March 23. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now