Alcoholics Anonymous Selects Two ‘Friends of A.A.’ to Serve as Trustees

For Immediate Release

August 22, 2019

New York, NY:  Sister Judith Ann Karam, congregational leader of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, of Cleveland, Ohio, and Dr. Al J. Mooney, a pioneer in the field of addiction medicine, of Cary, North Carolina, have been selected as Class A (nonalcoholic) trustees of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous.

A.A.’s General Service Board is comprised of 21 trustees, 14 of whom are recovering alcoholic (Class B) trustees who are members of A.A., along with seven nonalcoholic (Class A) trustees whose professional backgrounds touch on aspects of service vital to A.A. Chosen for their professional or business backgrounds and the unique personal experience they can bring to A.A., the seven Class A trustees have always been able to do certain things the 14 Class B trustees cannot do, such as addressing the media head-on in connection with A.A. or using their full names in public without being in conflict with A.A.’s principle of anonymity for its members at the level of press, radio, film and other public media. The part played by such nonalcoholic trustees is, according to A.A. cofounder Bill W., “quite beyond reckoning.” “In the days when A.A. was unknown,” he continues, “it was the nonalcoholic trustees who held up our hands before the general public.... Their very presence on our board was quite able to command full confidence and the respect of many faraway groups. Meanwhile, they assured the world around us of A.A.’s worth. These are the unusual services which indeed they still render.”

As part of her career as a health administrator, serving as president and CEO of the Sisters of Charity Health System from 1998 to 2013, Sister Judith Ann Karam has consistently advocated for Alcoholics Anonymous. “A.A. has always been a part of my journey,” she says. “Alcoholism is a disease for which there is no cure, but A.A. provides a continuum of service in keeping alcoholics sober and has also been concerned, from the beginning, with family members, a very important element in recovery.”

Sister Judith Ann first considered the idea of becoming a Class A trustee for Alcoholics Anonymous at A.A.’s 80th International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia in 2015 when then-General Service Board Chair Terry Bedient presented her order, the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, with the ceremonial 35-millionth copy of the book Alcoholics Anonymous, the Fellowship’s basic text. In her role as Congregational Leader of the order, Sister Judith Ann was there to accept the token of A.A.’s appreciation for the work of Sister Mary Ignatia, a member of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine who, in A.A.’s earliest days, cared for thousands of alcoholics at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron and later at Cleveland’s Saint Vincent Charity Hospital. Sister Judith Ann will now carry on that legacy as a Class A trustee, working with what she calls “the tremendous and caring community of A.A.”

Born in 1948 in Statesboro, Georgia, the oldest of three boys, Dr. Al J. Mooney is the son of a physician and surgeon whose wounding in World War II led to excessive use of alcohol and opiates. His successful practice destroyed, Dr. Mooney’s father was sentenced to prison for writing illegal prescriptions for narcotics. But when his father returned from prison, Dr. Mooney says, “it was like a different person inhabiting the body of the Dad I knew.” The reason was that his father had gotten sober in Alcoholics Anonymous.

The 11-year-old Dr. Mooney became curious about what type of program could make “a new person move into an old body.” He would soon learn a great deal more about A.A. His mother, also an alcoholic, got sober and she and his father opened their home to recovering alcoholics—at one point, there were as many as 25 people living there. Dr. Mooney began to travel with his parents to A.A. meetings, conferences and forums. Alcoholics Anonymous simply “became a part of the way I looked at the world,” Dr. Mooney says.

Dr. Mooney has devoted his career to addiction treatment and recovery. An addiction specialist and family practitioner in Cary, North Carolina, he has served as Director of Willingway Hospital in Statesboro, founded by his parents to help alcoholics and addicts recover, and is still on its board. He was one of the first physicians in the U.S. to be certified in Addiction Medicine and is also co-author of a book on addiction and recovery.

“I’m extremely grateful to have been given this honor of serving as a trustee,” Dr. Mooney says. “I have always loved the term ‘friend of A.A.’ I’ve called myself that for years and I hope during my time as trustee I can reach out to other friends of A.A. who are as passionate about Alcoholics Anonymous as I am.”

For Media, contact: Public Information Desk at the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous at 212-870-3119 or publicinfo@aa.org.

What Is A.A.?

Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of people who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about their drinking problem. For additional information visit the Press/Media page at www.aa.org.

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