"My passion is to break the chains binding women who are oppressed by the stigma of addictions, poverty, violence, trauma, family caregiving, sexism, racism, ageism. I'm compelled to action seeing joyful families celebrate recovery milestones and by the tragedies of those who’ve died trying. Welcome wounded healers to my world of proven workable strategies to unleash motivation that launches recovery."
Maya Hennessey - Consultant & Trainer, Author specializes in treatment and recovery of pregnant and parenting addicted women and their families and the power of inter-agency collaborative teams to improve outcomes through experiential skill building cross training.

Maya Hennessey is an accomplished and achievement-oriented consultant, trainer and author specializing in experiential skill building training, research-to-practice and inter-agency collaboration that improves outcomes for addicted women and their families.
As the women’s specialist for the Illinois Department of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (IDASA), Maya was appointed to First Lady Hillary Clinton’s committees on treatment and recovery, to improve outcomes for pregnant and parenting addicted women and their families. Maya managed the award-winning Project SAFE (Substance Abuse Free Environment) a federally funded program that achieved phenomenal outcomes and expanded from 4 pilot sites to 95 sites across Illinois, and spread to other states. Project SAFE and Maya were featured in the Bill Moyers PBS TV series titled “Close to Home” on the power of collaboration to restore families ravaged by addictions. and poverty.
As a consultant for SAMHSA/CSAT, Maya presented trainings across the U.S. to state directors of substance abuse and child welfare on Project SAFE, an award-winning evidence-based model. Maya presented inter-agency collaborative cross-trainings, conducted in-depth reviews of policies and client files, corrective action plans, technical assistance and trainings to improve treatment outcomes for impoverished families.
Maya is a seasoned clinician, masterful at rapid rapport, reading clients, designing experiential skill building exercises for professionals in the fields of addiction, trauma, child welfare, criminal justice (judges, drug/family court, parole/probation and corrections), domestic violence, sexual assault, child development, public health and family caregiving. In the 1980s Maya was an on-call chaplain certified in lay ministry. Maya’s leadership style includes a large body of evidence-based strategies on engaging and retaining clients, group dynamics and stage-appropriate addiction and trauma techniques to foster healing.
Maya is a certified facilitator, helping teams create a collective achievable vision, performance measures and action plans that empower agencies to become Recovery-Oriented-Systems-of-Care (ROSC), i.e. learning environments beneficial to the growth of clients and staff.
Maya is highly regarded by co-workers, colleagues and clients as empathic, articulate, respectful and witty, with a keen ability to identify and empower upcoming champions in systems.
The following are two examples of highly successful projects that demonstrate Maya’s in-depth experience and competencies in the power of collaboration.

Inter-Agency Collaboration: Project SAFE (Substance Abuse Free Environment)
Project SAFE is in the federal data base of evidence-based models. As director/supervisor of Project SAFE at two treatment agencies and statewide manager of SAFE as the women’s specialist for IDASA, Maya created the following collaboration-enhancing products:
• Cross training materials
• Addiction screening tool for child welfare staff
• A women’s training manual
• An outreach manual on rapport building to engage and retain women in treatment
• Inter-agency agreements
• State contracts, forms, policies & procedures
• Status reports for SAFE families in child welfare and criminal justice systems

Maya established performance measures, analyzed data and cross trained professionals on best practices in addiction treatment and recovery, child welfare, public health, domestic violence, sexual assault and criminal justice. After cross training, child welfare staff communicated more effectively with clients cognitively impaired by alcohol and/or other drugs and trauma.
Sharing new frames of reference about addictions, child welfare, child development and domestic violence staff became vital participants in weekly case reviews at treatment agencies.
As a result of Project SAFE’s exceptional outcomes, the Illinois Conference of Women Legislators (ICOWL) lobbied the governor to increase funding for Project SAFE. The Governor doubled the Project SAFE budget from $6.7 Million to $13.4 million to expand Project SAFE across Illinois. Here are a few excerpts from the three-year evaluation:
• Eighty-five percent of Project SAFE moms completed treatment and remained abstinent.
(Moms who relapsed, called treatment & got back back on the path of recovery)
• The children’s issues from the investigation were resolved; the kids healthy and happy.
• SAFE evaluations for 3 years had only 6.25% subsequent reports to child welfare.
• Under Maya’s leadership, Project SAFE grew from 4 pilot sites to 95 Project SAFE sites across Illinois.
Project SAFE proved to be amazingly cost effective. Treatment services for moms and children were a fraction of the costs of medical care for a drug-affected infant OR children in foster care or supervising families in child welfare and family/drug courts. Along the path of self-directed recovery Project SAFE families were preserved or reunited, with a diminishing need for services. The human tragedy prevented by Project SAFE is priceless.

Intra-agency Collaborative Project: Cook County Jail Women’s Justice Services (CCJWJS)
Having trained thousands of staff in addictions, child welfare, and criminal justice, Maya was hired contractually in 1999 by CCJWJS to co-develop a skill building training for correctional officers, counselors, case managers, and administrative staff to work more effectively with addicted women in CCJWJS services.
After meeting with WJS administrative staff and the advisory committee, Maya conducted three separate focus groups: 1) counselors/mental health staff, 2) officers and 3) female detainees in CCJWJS. Maya created experiential skill building exercises to address focus group concerns. After the curriculum and training were completed, Maya designed a train the trainers (TTT) for officers who were natural leaders, who in turn, transferred the competencies to officers via formal and informal trainings. The basic, advanced and train-the-trainers became part of the academy orientation for future officers. Here are a few highlights from the evaluation:
• Administration said officers, who participated in the trainings, took fewer sick days; there was greater cooperation between officers, counselors and detainee; and improved outcomes for women in CCJWJS.
• Incidents (such as threats, shoving, or fights) in the trained units went down to zero.
• Officers said their jobs were less stressful once they applied techniques from
the neuroscience of addictions, mental health, the psychology and plight of female addicts using stage-appropriate interventions.
• Women detainees said they knew which officers had been trained. Those officers looked them in the eye, listened and responded respectfully.
Maya earned a B.A. from Northeastern Illinois University and has 48 master level credits from DePaul University & Governors State University. Maya’s intellectual curiosity and passion to improve outcomes resulted in certifications in addictions, group dynamics, lay ministry and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) excellence in communication and leadership programs.
Maya authored “If Only I’d Had This Caregiving Book”, a workbook with 50+ exercises for family caregivers to create an effective network of support to ease the stress of 24/7 demands.
see Maya's website (www.mayahennessey.com) for her articles on addicted women. Learn more about her book: If Only I'd Had This Caregiving Book.

Other Works

  • Just for Women: Cook County Jail Women's Justice Services

  • Substance Abusing Women: Is it a fault or a flight from the past?

  • Women & Substance Abuse: From Denial to Recovery


Awards and Recognition

  • Featured in Bill Moyers TV series on addiction titled "Close to Home"
  • Keith Keesey Memorial Award to Maya for her leadership and progressive approaches for pregnant and parenting addicted women
  • July 2010, at the SAMSHA Women's Conference, the Illinois Advisory Council Women's Committee award for women's treatment & recovery outcomes
  • Certification in Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, year long intensive training programming.