Hanley Center Takes Flight

Written by Ted Jackson 
April 2006
Several decades ago, Mary Jane Hanley was living in St. Louis as the wife of an ambitious corporate executive who had moved to the city to become CEO of chemicals and agricultural giant Monsanto. It was a different time, one in which young women were expected to support their husbands careers, a role that more often than not required extensive participation at company and executive social events. Mary Jane willingly participated, but it was not easy for her. “There was a lot of entertaining when Jack was moving up the ladder,” she said. “I was shy and I found out that a few drinks helped me get through it.”

But the problem for Mary Jane, like so many others, eventually became one in which a few drinks just didn’t do the trick anymore. “So a few drinks became a few more, and the next thing I knew I was embarrassing Jack, who would become very upset. It became apparent that my drinking had become a quite serious problem.”


The first thing that was tried was to send Mary Jane to a psychiatrist, which “didn’t work.” Next came treatment at a center on the outskirts of St. Louis called Edgewood, which Mary Jane recalls was located in a rather run-down converted motel. But the venue is never as important as willingness, and apparently Mary Jane was willing to do what it takes to get sober. Since her time at Edgewood, Mary Jane Hanely has been without a drink, now living in South Florida with her husband and with many decades of sobriety under her belt.

Up the LadderWhile Mary Jane was grappling with getting sober, Jack Hanley was dealing with running Monsanto at a very critical juncture in its history. At the height of the petro crises that dominated economic discourses of the 1970s, Hanley became disenchanted with Monsanto’s chemicals focus as too cyclical, encumbered with huge environmental risk and overly dependent on the vagaries of the oil markets. Being highly interested in the work of his company’s scientists, Hanley eventually became very close to biotech pioneer Dr. Ernest Jaworski, who helped convince him that genetically engineering plants to protect themselves might eventually be a bigger business than selling pesticides. One of the earliest business movers in biotechnology, Hanley set Monsanto on a course that would lead to its position today as the leading bioagricultural player in the world.

Upon retirement in the early 1980s, both Mary Jane and Jack looked around and asked themselves what they were most grateful for, quickly coming to the conclusion that it was Mary Jane’s sobriety, an event that had quite literally saved their family. Hanley wanted to give something back and became interested in the possibility of setting up a nonprofit treatment center in South Florida, specifically in tony Palm Beach. “I was national chairman of the United Way at the time,” recalls Hanley. “So I gave a half a million dollars to the national United Way and another half a million to the local Palm Beach United Way committee. There was a specific understanding that if we were ever to get the South Florida non-profit idea off the ground, that these monies would be donated by the United Way toward the founding of the new institution.”

The million dollars donated by Jack and Mary Jane Hanley was the financial genesis behind the Hanley Center, a now thriving treatment facility located in northern Palm Beach County, one that is viewed without a doubt as the premier non-profit center in the region.

Under the direction of CEO Terry Allen, who took over the reins four years ago, the Hanley Center has moved through a period of rapid change in an environment of strong growth. Unquestionably the biggest change came in 2004, when the Hanley Center was still called Hanley-Hazelden and was managed by Hazelden under a contract arrangement that went back nearly twenty years to the founding of the facility in 1986. “One of the things I was very high on from the start was to have Hazelden manage the new center in Florida,” said Jack Hanley, adding that Hazelden management wasn’t too keen on the idea at the time, but that some adroit political manoeuvring at the Hazelden board level got the deal done. But almost two decades later that deal began to unravel as Hanley-Hazelden filed suit against Hazelden alleging efforts by Hazelden to stall growth plans at Hanley-Hazelden, which was pushing to launch a major capital expansion.

In late 2004 the suit was resolved out of court, with both sides agreeing to go their separate ways. Caron Foundation CEO Doug Tieman, who was brought in by Jack Hanley in 1983 to get Hanley off the ground and later worked at Hazelden, says the parting was difficult to watch: It’s like seeing two friends get divorced when you’re still friends with both of them.” Nevertheless, the separation appears to have been smooth and professionally handled by both sides.

Early DaysWhen Jack Hanley started planning in earnest to found the Hanley Center, he approached Hazelden to do a market research study to determine whether or not it was feasible to launch a major treatment initiative in Palm Beach. With the close proximity of one of the world’s largest concentrations of wealthy donors just across the intracoastal waterway in the town of Palm Beach, there seemed little doubt that support might be forthcoming, and Hazelden confirmed that there was indeeed a strong market need for the center.

“There is no question that Hanley was a pioneer in opening up the South Florida market for private treatment,” says Doug Tieman, adding that few centers were in the area then. Of course, South Florida, and especially Palm Beach County, has since developed into one of the nation’s premier regions for addiction treatment, rivaling other top areas like Minnesota, Arizona and Southern California.

In the early days during the mid 1980s, despite the fact that the treatment business was going through its biggest boom time ever based on then generous commercial insurance reimbursement policies, the Hanley Center found it difficult to turn a surplus. Nevertheless, the facility managed to attract a loyal following: “I was in outpatient at Hanley back then,” said Ileana Ross, who remembers being in treatment with a group of men mostly from Pratt & Whitney, a big former corporate client of Hanley’s that at the time had major operations in Palm Beach.

But these struggling days are now just a distant memory, with the Hanley Center now far more engaged with the type of problems that come from strong growth. Over the past five years, Hanley has seen its revenues increase dramatically. In 2006, the center forecasts its revenues will hit $20 million, up over 40 percent from $14 million in 2001. Overseeing everything from marketing to information technology at Hanley, COO Joe Monastra says that much of the non-profit’s recent growth has come after 2002, when Terry Allen ascended to the CEO post.

Allen is currently overseeing the largest expansion of Hanley Center’s campus in its history as he positions the center for even more growth in coming years. “We see a bright future for the treatment industry and Hanley’s place within it,” says Allen. “Our current growth plan will ensure that the Hanley Center continues to be among the nation’s premier providers of addiction treatment services.”

Under Allen’s direction, Monsatra says that Hanley has committed itself more than ever to the provision of gender specific treatment, an area in which the center is recognized as a clinical first mover. Especially important to the growth plan is the expansion of Hanley’s Older Adult Program, which under Carol Colleran has emerged as unquestionably the leading and most pioneering of its kind in the nation. With the progressive graying of the population that is forecast for the coming years, Hanley’s Older Adult Program will likely tap into the rich South Florida market for seniors to spur growth, with the program also potentially providing a launch vehicle for expansion outside of the region. For the moment, though, Hanley has its hands full with its plans to drastically increase the size of its campus, located in north West Palm Beach.

For years Hanley had leased its land, 6 acres, from St Mary’s Hospital, which had been instrumental in the founding of the non-profit. But in 2001, Tenant, then an aggressive acquirer of hospitals in its effort to build a national chain, bought St. Mary’s. “It was then that we entered into negotiations to buy the land, at which time we also picked up a few more acres in addition to the six we leased,” said Terry Lehman, EVP development at Hanley. The purchase was to sow the seeds of the capital plan currently in place at Hanley, which calls for a more than doubling of the size of the campus from its current six acres to 13 acres.

Lehman is leading a fund raising effort that has just topped $5 million in donations, with the ultimate goal being to raise $12 million. “We are currently working with a number of potential donors, so we anticipate that we will see a large amount of donations this year,” says Lehman. A coup for Hanley came in the form of the availability of a former blood bank building on the St. Mary’s campus that the center recently scooped up. “This building is very important for us, because it allows the campus to now open up to 45th Street, which is the major throughway near the center,” said Terry Allen. Lehman says the new building, which is tentatively being called the Hanley Resource Center, will house the more public operations of the center, including outpatient, Hanley’s fast growing education and outreach operations, as well as a coffee house, a book store and a major public auditorium.

The Hanley Resource Center is slated to open its doors at the end of 2006, according to Lehman. The capital program also calls for a big increase in patient capacity at Hanley, which when completed will see capacity rise by 65 percent to 136 beds from its current level of 82 beds. A new wellness center and meditation center are planned, with corresponding increases in support facilities to match the growth in capacity. Plan completion is roughly slated for 2009. TJ