Nely Meza Andrade ’12 MBA, executive director and CEO of Casa Treatment Center in Pasadena, says that helping those with an addiction to drugs and alcohol has been a rewarding journey, one that came about through the Mount’s MBA program, where she specialized in entrepreneurship.
“It was actually someone in my cohort who told me about a person in the MBA program who was also in the leadership at SPIRITT Family Services,” says Meza Andrade. “She was able to get me a position at her organization and that started me on my way.”
Meza Andrade was able to call on the skills she perfected in the Mount’s MBA program as a new quality assurance manager at SPIRITT in 2013. Immediately recognized for her keen business sense and leadership skills, she was soon promoted to director of programs and quality assurance then became director of mental health services at Phoenix House in 2016.
After taking over as senior director of adolescent services for Phoenix House California in 2018, she received an offer from Casa Treatment Center to become the executive director and CEO in June of this year. Casa has been a lifeline for women with addiction for more than half a century, and Meza Andrade believes deeply in Casa’s mission. “As a gender-specific treatment center, we really can focus on issues women are dealing with, including trauma, family responsibilities and the crushing stigma associate with addiction that many women face. Stigma far greater than the one faced by their male counterparts.”
Through all levels of care — from in-patient, out-patient, and even a place where they can live after treatment — Casa is there for these women. “It is one of the few all-women treatment facilities in California, and it provides women with the opportunity to learn about their triggers, their strengths and begin their journey to recovery,” she says. “Every day they have group and individual therapy, learn interests and sometimes even find a new identity. Depending on when they started drinking or using drugs, it may be an identity they’ve known all their life.’
“Like the Mount, Casa has a strong alumni program that really helps provide a support system,” Meza Andrade says. “Our alumni often go on to be AA sponsors. “We even have an aftercare treatment, so once people have completed the program, they can stay with us if they choose. From the medical director to 24-hour on call nurse to the clinical director and counselors, it’s a team approach. It’s also the power of women in helping each other.”
Meza Andrade views her time in Mount’s MBA program as a turning point. “One of the great powers of the program is that you become a part of a respected professional community.”
She knew early on that the nonprofit world was for her and that, despite the stigma some people attach to nonprofits, having a strong business acumen is crucial for an organization’s success. Today, she is a board member of Mount Saint Mary’s MBA Association of Professionals. She recognizes that her time at the Mount was a vital turning point in her quest for business understanding to further her calling. “The school cares so much about its students and that comes through from the academic program it built to the professors it hired,” she says. “They were all so knowledgeable, and they were the kind of people who want to help others.”
Helping others. It’s easy to see how Meza Andrade can relate.