OCT. 29, 2002
CONTACT: Roger Perez, 661/664-2456, rperez@csub.edu
Or Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456, mstepanovich@csub.edu

Joe Giannantonio, longtime faculty member in California State University, Bakersfield's Extended University Drug and Alcohol Studies Program, has received the first ever award in his name. The first Joseph G. Giannantonio Outstanding Educator Award was given on Saturday, Oct. 26, at the statewide conference of the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC), held at the Holiday Inn Select in Bakersfield.

Mike Angelo, president of CAADAC and director of STEPS, a drug and alcohol counseling center in Bakersfield, presented Giannantonio with the award. He credits Giannantonio with giving him the skills and passion he needed to get where he is today. "Through his work Joe has helped so many people," Angelo said. "We thought is fitting to name the award after him."

Due to his poor health, Giannantonio was unable to attend most of the annual conference this year. He was, however, able to receive his award in person because of the generosity of Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall. Hall donated an ambulance to transport the honoree to and from the event.

The award will be given to outstanding educators by the association on an annual basis, and was named after it's first recipient by unanimous vote of the CAADAC board of directors.

Giannantonio founded the Drug and Alcohol Studies Program at CSUB 1987, and built it from the ground up. "He was a counselor and wanted to expand the program," said Roger Perez, director of marketing and public affairs for the CSUB Extended University. "Many people credit Joe with helping them become what they are today."

Brenda Cusick, the former director of marketing and public affairs for the CSUB Extended University, who now lives in Thousand Oaks, echoed Perez. "Joe has influenced people all over the state," she said. "He's helped so many people, and turned so many lives around."

The program has grown since its inception. ìWe now have eight instructors,î Perez said. ìItís our largest program by far. We usually have 80 people per session. They receive a certificate from the CSU once theyíve completed the certificate course. They then take a state test to become a state certified drug and alcohol counselor. We place people in city, county, state, and private counseling centers. We also run the program in Antelope Valley.î

Giannantonio has a master's degree in psychology, and is a licensed marriage and family therapist. He is the past president of CAADAC, and was on the national licensing board for National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors. Giannantonioís wife, Connie, an attorney, also teaches in the program.

If you would like to learn more about the Drug and Alcohol Studies Program, please call Perez at (661) 664-2445.