Francis J. Deisler
Alumni Achievement Award
Francis Deisler, by his own admission, was a juvenile drug abuser who was frequently in trouble with the law. “What turned my life around,” he explains, “was the opportunity to learn and get an education.” He credits the Bachelor of Science he earned from Excelsior (then Regents) College in 1980 as the turning point in his life. Now a licensed clinical psychologist and licensed clinical social worker, he has dedicated his career to treating clients with backgrounds similar to his.
With his bachelor’s degree in hand, he secured a job as an alcohol and drug abuse counselor. Like many Excelsior grads, he continued his education, earning a Master of Arts in counseling psychology from Goddard College and a PhD in psychology from Southern California University.
Deisler devoted 32 years in the mental health field to the care of and advocacy for criminal justice offenders with substance abuse and mental health disorders. In 1987 he founded a statewide chain of Life Skills Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers in Indiana dedicated to assessing and treating low-income and homeless offenders and their families. In 1996 he developed national standards, guidelines, and certification requirements for the assessment and treatment of criminal justice clients, which led to the creation of the National Association of Forensic Counselors (NAFC).
The author of four books, he received the State of Indiana Distinguished Hoosier Award twice as well as the Honorary Secretary of State Award for his work with offenders. He was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel for his work in implementing offenders programs throughout that state. In addition, he received a proclamation from Mayor Richard M. Daly for his development of programs in Chicago. The father of two sons, and the grandfather of six, Deisler is now retired from NAFC and lives in Fort Wayne, Ind.