The mission of the New York State Harm Reduction Association (NYSHRA) is to introduce and promote harm reduction in New York State as a scientifically based treatment appropriate for substance use disorder, as well as a lifestyle approach to people who use substances.
The mission of the New York State Harm Reduction Association (NYSHRA) is to introduce and promote harm reduction in New York State as a scientifically based treatment appropriate for substance use disorder, as well as a lifestyle approach to people who use substances. NYSHRA fulfills this mission on behalf of clinical and other providers, and the consumers they serve, through public policy and advocacy, public awareness, clinical education, and research dissemination.
NYSHRA conducts the following activities on behalf of its members:
Provides members with access to cutting-edge clinical and peer trainings rooted in harm reduction
Advocates for policies that make harm reduction the preeminent treatment modality across New York
Collaborates with partners working at the intersection of race, gender, and class to end the opioid epidemic
MEET OUR BOARD
The NYSHRA Board of Directors is a diverse group of highly experienced leaders with deep expertise across a broad spectrum of disciplines including law, healthcare, advocacy, public policy, community planning, and education. Their commitment to advancing the work of the organization is unwavering, as is their belief in the mission and vision.
Alexis Pleus (Co-Chair)
Truth Pharm is deeply committed to criminal, social and racial justice issues. It is also a NYS Registered Overdose Prevention Program, providing instruction and distribution of Narcan kits. Truth Pharm has developed and continues to provide many educational and support programs for the community.
Alexis is a licensed Professional Engineer with over 25 years of experience in engineering and management. She has also been a corporate trainer for over 20 years and worked for nine years as an adjunct professor at SUNY Broome. She is an artist, a writer, a public speaker, a community organizer and volunteer, and has received numerous awards and honors for her work in harm reduction.
Joseph R. Turner, JD (Co-Chair)
Joseph R. Turner, JD, is the co-founder and current President/CEO of Exponents, Inc., in New York City. Exponents is the first known harm reduction substance use treatment program, beginning in 1988. Exponents is founded on the principles of “engagement, community and advocacy.” Abstinence is not required for admission, participation or completion of any of Exponents programs, which have served over 10,800 NYC substance users. Mr. Turner was born and raised in Brooklyn’s Brownsville, and continued his path through the streets, drugs, prison, treatment, wellness and activism.
As an attorney, Mr. Turner has worked for Harlem Legal Services, National Conference of Black Lawyers, and in a private practice that focused on the representation of political prisoners, criminal defense and community development. He previously served as Chief Operating Officer of Harlem United, Executive Director of the Fountain Avenue Community Development Corporation, and Chairman of the Board of Friends of Recovery – New York (FOR-NY). He has provided consultant services to various social justice organizations. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Exodus Transitional Services and co-chair of the OASAS Recovery Implementation Team. Mr. Turner’s recovery and activism is anchored and maintained upon the same harm reduction principles as Exponents: “meeting folks where they are…but not leaving them there.”
John Barry (Treasurer)
Marcy Thompson (Secretary)
Marcy Thompson, Chief Strategy Officer for the Alliance for Positive Change, has worked diligently on behalf of diverse communities impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic for nearly 20 years and advocated on behalf of people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses in New York City through involvement in community planning in partnership with government agencies, medical institutions, Managed Care Organizations/Special Needs Plans, Health Home/PPS Networks and a multitude of service organizations.
Marcy is a long-term voting member of the NYC HIV Health and Human Services Planning Council & currently serves as Co-Chair of the Needs Assessment Committee. Throughout the years, she has participated in several state & city-wide forums including but not limited to: DOH MRT Health Home-Managed Care Workgroup, AIDS Institute Technical Assistance Group, iHealth Inc., CCMP HH Governance & Operations Committee, NYP PPS IT Financial Committee, MSPPS Clinical Quality Committee and OCHPPS Strategic Advisory Workgroup. In addition, Marcy participated in the Health Home Learning Collaborative, Greater NY Hospital Association (GNYHA) DSRIP Care Plan-RHIO Collaboration and served on the FPWA AIDS Leadership Coalition Steering Committee.
Justine Waldman, MD (Member)
Justine Waldman is board-certified in addiction medicine and emergency medicine, and is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. For 15 years she practiced emergency medicine, primarily in Ithaca, NY. Her interest in medicine has always been driven by access to care and health equity issues. In 2005, she spearheaded the opening of the Ithaca Free Clinic, a volunteer multidisciplinary clinic open to the uninsured. In 2014, she was part of the Harm Reduction Team that gave recommendations for the Ithaca Plan: A Public Health and Safety Approach to Drugs and Drug Policy.
Since her involvement on that team, she has focused most of her work on health equity. In December of 2016, she began providing medical services at the first health hub at a syringe exchange program in New York State at the Southern Tier AIDS Program in Ithaca. At the health hub, Dr. Waldman provides low-threshold medication-assisted therapy, hepatitis C treatment, and acute care to people who use drugs. She is currently the Medical Director of Reach Medical in Ithaca, NY, a medical practice offering integrated primary care and low threshold harm reduction services for people who tend to face stigma in the current medical system. Reach Medical offers full primary care, medication assisted therapy with buprenorphine, hepatitis C screening and treatment and medical cannabis. Reach Medical is a tax-exempt PLLC under The REACH Project, a non-profit providing Respectful Equitable Access to Compassionate Health, of which Dr. Waldman is the President of the Board of Directors.
Charles King (Member)
In 2014, Charles served as community co-chair of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic Task Force and he currently co-chairs the Ending the Epidemic Subcommittee of the New York State (NYS) AIDS Advisory Council. He has been a vocal proponent of expanding HIV rental assistance statewide. In November 2018, Charles was appointed to the first-ever State Hepatitis C Elimination Task Force and he has been a vocal proponent of expanding access to the cure for hepatitis C.
Charles authored the 2012 MRT proposal to have OASAS recognize harm reduction as a drug treatment modality and then led the effort to develop the first OASAS-approved harm reduction policy and procedure manual, pioneering the use of harm reduction in an 822 program. He is also the founding chair of the Board of Research for a Safer New York, an entity seeking to introduce overdose prevention centers as a harm reduction service in New York State.
Charles also serves on the Value Based Payment (VBP) Workgroup charged with reforming the State’s health care system to improve health outcomes for patients and decrease avoidable emergency room visits. He co-chaired the VBP subcommittees on Social Determinants of Health and Privacy and Protection of Patient Information.
At the national level, Charles currently co-chairs the ACT Now: End AIDS Coalition, a national ending the epidemic coalition that has worked alongside sixteen states and jurisdictions to create and announce plans to end their local HIV/AIDS epidemics. He is also on the Visioning Committee of the National AIDS Housing Coalition, and served on the governing body of UNAIDS as a member of the NGO Delegation to the Programme Coordinating Board (PCB).
Charles holds both a Law Degree and a Master of Divinity from Yale University, and is an ordained Baptist Minister.
Emma Fabian, MSW (Member)
Emma holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University at Buffalo. In her position at Evergreen Health, she oversees harm reduction and drug user health services at sites in Buffalo and Jamestown, NY. She participates in several local and statewide workgroups that are addressing issues that impact people who use drugs, including buprenorphine and Hepatitis C prevention and treatment. She is also a part time instructor at the University of Buffalo School of Social Work and a local activist.
Robert Suarez (Member)
Robert Suarez has been a leader with VOCAL-NY for more than 8 years leading on campaigns including NYS Hepatitis C testing and treatment. He is a member of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Hep C Advisory Board. He is a former member of the Board of Directors for the International Network of People who Use Drugs.
He currently sits on the Board of Directors as the Board Chairman for the North Carolina Survivors Union. He is also the National Coordinator/Organizer for the Urban Survivors Union, a national drug user union and a member of the leadership team. Robert is currently working to help develop a regional network within the United States and Canada entitled the Pan American Network of Drug Using Activists (PANDA). As an international advocate, Robert has been quoted, referring to people who use drugs, as “….among the most talented, gifted and blessed individuals on the planet.”
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