Alumni Profile

Michael Fatula MA ’10

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Alumni Profile

Michael Fatula MA ’10

Michael Fatula gives hope to the hopeless by helping those with substance use disorders.

Summer 2023 | Judy Roberts

In This Article

Michael Fatula MA ’10 sees his work with people who have substance use disorders and are involved with the justice system as an opportunity to give hope to the hopeless.

Michael, who received a master’s degree in counseling from Franciscan University in 2010, is the manager of the Statewide Substance Use Disorder Program for the Virginia Department of Corrections. In 2019, he was chosen from among 13,000 employees as Employee of the Year for the corrections department, which is the largest state agency in Virginia.

“Many times, when people have addiction, which is a chronic medical condition and wrongly stigmatized as a moral failure, they feel like there’s no hope for life, for the future,” he says. “We have the opportunity to provide hope that recovery and a brighter future are possible.”

One way his department offers that hope is through a peer recovery specialists’ program, which hires people who were formerly involved with the criminal justice system and have been in recovery long term. They, in turn, work with those who are either incarcerated or on probation. The program, Michael says, is about second chances because it exclusively hires those with criminal backgrounds.

“Our mission statement says we’re in the business of helping people to be better. A big part of what we do is show people they can be productive members of society when released from incarceration.”

When Michael began studies for his master’s degree, he planned to eventually work in public mental health, a direction confirmed by his internship with the Veterans Administration in Ohio. He went on to work for Community Services Boards in Virginia for four years before taking a job in 2016 as a mental health clinician with the Department of Corrections, working with clients on probation and parole.

He met his wife, Lucille Christine, when he moved to Virginia. The couple have two sons, ages 5 and 3.

A native of Steubenville, Michael did his undergraduate work in sociology and applied criminology and criminal justice at Walsh University in Canton, Ohio, but chose Franciscan for graduate school because he liked the counseling program and wanted to continue his education in a Catholic setting. His father, Dave, works as the events coordinator at the University and his mother, Faustyna (Januszkiewicz ’78), is a retired employee of the bookstore.

“Franciscan gave me the ethical and moral guiding principles I needed to combine a mental health, substance use disorder treatment, and corrections career,” he says. “Every time I come back, I think, ‘I really hope my kids go to school there.’ The environment is amazing. It’s like an oasis in the desert.”


Judy Roberts writes from Graytown, Ohio.

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