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Jim Vance – Hero dinner_committee_from_invitation


Jim Vance anchors News4 at 6 with Doreen Gentzler, his broadcast partner for more than 25 years.  Vance also files special reports for all NBC4 newscasts.

Vance has been part of the News4 team since 1969. He started as a General Assignment reporter then moved to the anchor desk in 1972. For more than 40 years, he anchored News4 at 11 before stepping down from that role in May 2015.  Vance also provides special reports on a wide variety of issues. His reporting has taken him all over the United States and to several countries including El Salvador, South Africa and Vietnam.

Vance began his reporting career with The Philadelphia Independent newspaper and radio station WHAT-AM, all while teaching in the Philadelphia public school system. In 1968, he accepted a position as a reporter for WKBS-TV in Philadelphia.

Vance has earned numerous awards and honors.  In 2007, the National Association of Black Journalists inducted Vance into its Hall of Fame.  Other honors include 17 Emmy Awards, induction into the Journalists Hall of Fame, and membership in the Silver Circle of the Washington Chapter of the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences. He also holds the Ted Yates Award for outstanding community service and has been honored as a “Washingtonian of the Year.”

A native of Ardmore, Pennsylvania, Vance holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education from Cheyney University in Cheyney, Pa.

Jim Vance has bravely shared his battle with depression and substance abuse. Please watch this clip of our 2017 Hero as he is interviewed by Doreen Gentzler.


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Thomas J. O’Connor M Ed, CRC – Wayne Fenton Memorial Award

Thomas J. O’Connor, MEd, CRC began his career in 1987 at the Life Experiences Activities Program  (LEAP) in Silver Spring, providing supported employment and rehabilitation services. From 1990 – 2000, Tom provided vocational services at Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services in Fairfax (PRS) and became a disciple of the clubhouse model of consumer empowerment and having agency in determining the services they received from their healthcare providers.  While at PRS, Tom developed supported employment services that helped PRS attain a standing as a national model in psycho-social rehabilitation.  He managed a demonstration project to employ psycho-social rehabilitation techniques in return-to-work for executive women with depression and bipolar illnesses later named as a National Innovative Program by the American Psychiatric Association.  During this era, Tom trained disability insurance companies and human resource executives around the US on strategies to retain workers with psychiatric conditions who otherwise would be placed on disability and never returned to the workforce.  In 2001, Tom founded O’Connor Associates, LLC a private psychiatric care management group serving families here in DC and across the US. Over its tenure, O’Connor Associates reduced inpatient days by 80% and day program days by 50% for its clients over the first 12 months of service for their clients. In 2014 began DFS Family Services to work exclusively on behalf of parents to help them become competent consumers of behavioral healthcare for their loved ones.  Today, Tom works in the DC area coaching parents on how to be competent consumers of behavioral healthcare for their loved ones, performs as a private guardian, and conducts psychiatric interventions for parents nationwide.

Mr. O’Connor’s work has been the subject of multiple media related to providing psychiatric rehabilitation and recovery services, including The New York Times, Psychiatric News, National Public Radio, and The Washington Business Journal. In 2016, Tom published an article by The Family Court Review journal outlining a new model for parent recovery and recognizing parents as valid stakeholders in treatment and legal planning for their loved ones.

Tom received his bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Maryland, and has been living in Potomac, MD for 30 years with his wife Maureen.


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