2009 Advocacy Leader Directory

Christianne Allen is in recovery and was a community representative on the Bucks County (Pa.) County Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and volunteered at Livengrin Foundation, focusing on the detoxification unit. Since moving to New Jersey in 2005, Christianne has taken it upon herself to promote recovery in others and to help non-addicts understand addiction as a disease in order to reduce stigma. She said, “I am very open about my recovery in an effort to to show others by my actions that addiction is surmoutable and that recovery is a cause for celeberation.”

Norwood Allen is the Camden County Alcoholsim and Drug Director. He identifies himself as a onetime consumer of addiction treatment services. In recovery for 21 years, Norwood often speaks to community and faith-based groups about his addiction to show others that recovery is possible. His interest in being part of the Advocacy Leadership Program stems from his recognition that “some advocate, some leader in some position, helped to change my life for the better.”

Kim Borges  is supervisor of three adult partial care programs within Family Services of Burlington County. Her volunteer work has centered on individuals affected by alcohol and drug addiction, including children whose parents’ addiction lead to their being homeless. Kim defines her greatest pleasure as working as a counselor alongside her daughter assisting at-risk youth in Trenton. In the course of her recovery, she discovered in herself a passion to assist others in recovery stay alcohol and drug-free.

Tunisia Crosby  is the Stepping Stone Coordinator of The Bridge in Irvington, which requires her to oversee addiction treatment and other services  related to addicted women involved with the state Division of Youth and Family services. Part of her thesis for her LCADC was on the degree of relapse in African American women and how to improve their chances of long-term recovery. The paper examined treatment needs and other ‘wrap-around’ services. Tunisia participated in the 2009 Advocacy Council in Washington, D.C., and had the opportunity to meet with Rep. Donald Payne to discuss issues related to addiction treatment as well as the aging treatment workforce.

Patricia Dennis  has been an active member of Friends of Addiction Recovery-New Jersey for the past six years and is the organization’s liaison to NCADD-NJ’s Board of Directors. She works in the addiction field as a Mentally Ill, Chemically Addicted (MICA) counselor and has served on the state MICA Task Force and the Camden County Task Force. In her career and profession she has seen the lack of services for co-occurring illnesses, which she said is a driving force in her resolve to bring change to treatment system. Patricia has also been  involved with her local school district’s     Substance Awareness Counselor to advocate on prevention issues affecting teenagers. 

Kathleen Dobbs  is one of the four founding members of Parent-to-Parent, an addiction support group that assists families with a son or daughter with an addition. For more than a decade Kathleen and the other members of Parent-to-Parent have advocated to make more addiction treatment available to New Jersey families. She played an important part in the Just a Nickel a Gallon campaign of 2006, which proposed increasing the alcohol tax by a nickel and have the new revenue dedicated to treatment. Just this spring, Kathleen joined NCADD-NJ at the State House Launch of the Close the Addiction Treatment Gap Campaign, whose theme is “Addiction is a disease - Let’s treat it that way.”

Annette Dwyer is the Board Chair of Shaping Summit Together, a volunteer-driven community organization whose programs encompass alcohol and drug prevention. Annette believes in taking a “psycho-social” approach to prevention, intervention and long-term recovery. Addicted individuals, she notes, need to a holistic approach if they are to enter prolonged recovery. She understands through personal experience what addiction does to families, having witnessed a loved one’s 30-year cocaine addiction, which she helped interrupt through an intervention. Annette’s prevention mantra, which is that of Shaping Summit Together, is “Choose not to use.”

Barbara Edelhauser has a history of advocating for addicted individuals, first and foremost her son, who was addicted to heroin. During her son’s active addiction (he is now clean and involved in drug court program), Barbara observed that health insurers, while claiming to cover addiction, do their utmost to avoid such coverage. To help her son’s long-time partner get treatment for her addiction, Barbara contacted Richard Codey during his tenure as governor. Only through his involvement was the woman admitted into one of the few treatment facilities that had availability. Barbara is currently pursuing her CADC to further her work assisting addicts.

Ezra Helfand  has an extensive background in advocacy and policy, with a focus on addiction issues and the reduction of stigma for people in recovery. Among the issues he has worked on with state Legislators are Prescription Drug Use and Underage Drinking. His professional experience in marketing gives him insight into the psychology of advertising, an important quality in the prevention work he does with NCADD-NJ of Middlesex County. Through his work on NCADD’s Helpline, he has assisted people confronted with difficulties seeking addiction treatment. Ezra is eager to share his unique experience and perspectives with other advocates to expand treatment for addiction and combat stigma.

Eladia Gonzalez  works at the state Division of Youth and Family Services, a position in which she has seen addiction’s toll on countless New Jersey families. Having witnessed these tragedies, Eladia is determined through her participation as an Advocacy Leader to change the lives of families who are affected by addiction. She knows that addicts have many faces and come from many races and social circumstances. And she knows the human and economic fallout of addiction, foster care and escalating health care costs  being uppermost among them. One of her goals as a Leader will be to make treatment available so society will not have to continue to pay these costs.
Jennifer Hall, an Enhanced Care Coordinator with NCADD-NJ, has worked in an array of treatment settings and has become known to providers for her tenacious advocacy on behalf of her clients. Through her work, she has seen New Jersey’s addiction treatment gap and its effects. She has also done some issues advocacy, including having more alcohol tax revenue dedicated to treatment. Jennifer looks forward to the day when treatment is available for all who need it but knows that will not happen without committed citizens being willing to step forward, which is what she intends to do as an Advocacy Leader.

Elizabeth Hill is Director of Blake Recovery Center at Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead. Her work in the addiction field in the state dates back to 1992. Her volunteer work includes serving as a chair of the Morris County Professional Council on Alcohol and Drug Addiction. Elizabeth mentored a protege’ in a Maryland-based leadership institute, an experience she found quite rewarding. She also sits on the Leadership Development Committee at Carrier.  Elizabeth has been involved with Friends of Addiction Recovery-New Jersey to help reduce the stigma that surrounds addiction and recovery.

Kate Holt is the founder of the Black Rock Foundation, whose mission is to promote the healing of addiction and which is named for Kate’s son, Peter Black, who died of addiction. The Black Rock Foundation raises awareness of addiction as a chronic brain disease. Kate, who is a nurse, has worked to reduced stigma towards people with addiction through openness. Through the Advocacy Leadership Program, she wants to use her voice on a larger platform to help influence policy affecting treatment.    

William King has spent his career working with diverse special needs populations. In his current position of Coordinator of Prevention Services with Cerebral Palsy of NJ, he works with disability services providers to raise awareness of the risk of their clients developing alcohol or drug problems. Throughout his career, Bill has noted the correlation between alcohol and drug use and people developing disabilities later in life. He believes in a holistic approach to treatment and would like to see the different treatment areas coordinate their services for the betterment of their clients.  


Marie Kinsella is Director of Paterson Healthy Mothers, Health Babies, managing a staff of 15. She has been an advocate on issues related to women’s use of alcohol and drugs for the past 17 years. Marie is in recovery and knows well the stigma faced by those who have been addicted. For the past 16 years, she had led a recovery service at her place of worship, illustrating to the congregants that recovery returns and restores people to their communities as produtive citizens. Marie sees the Advocacy Leader Program as a catalyst for change in terms public awareness about addiction.

Earl Lipphardt  is the Senior Director of Integrity, Inc, in Secaucus, overseeing the operation of a 179-bed treatment facility. He has used his position to advocate for the needs of the addicted population and heighten public awareness about the disease. Earl notes that discrimination towards addiction only hurts society in the long-run. In his experience, he has found that educating the public is best done through activities that bring people in treatment into the community. Earl sees a leadership vacuum in the field and considers the Advocacy Leader Program as a vehicle to help fill that void.

Michael Litterer  is Director of Community Prevention at Prevention Links in Clark. He has experience at the local level advocating on issues affecting prevention of alcohol and drug use as well as tobacco. Michael’s involvement in the community led him to discover that his true passion lies in advocating on issues that produce changes that better people’s lives. He sees environmental strategies as having the greatest impact preventing alcohol and drug use. The Advocacy Leader Program will allow Michael to overcome envioronmental challenges for the betterment of Union County and the state as a whole.    

Henry Muhammad, President/CEO of Consumer Friends, Inc., considers himself “a product of the evolution of the addiction field.” From the beginning of his own recovery to the present day, a period of more than 20 years, Henry has seen and participated in enormous changes in the field. Henry regards NCADD as the ‘axis’ on which the field has revolved and evolved.   He wants to be part of social change that can only happen when those who are most affected are ‘galvanized, politicized and deputized.” Henry looks forward to another 20-plus years of service in “this marvelous field of recovery, reform and resurrection.”

Bernice Order-Connors  is the Student Assistance Coordinator with the Phillipsburg School District. She has sat on the New Jersey Task Force on Women and Addiction. Bernice has advocated for adolescent treatment and confronted insurance carriers and treatment providers. She considers herself blessed to have worked with Dr. John Slade, who was a role model advocating for addiction treatment. She has used his inspiration to empower youth affected by addiction to help them move from shame and stigma to advocacy and leadership roles. Bernice believes that decision-makers need continued education about addiction, one of the most important goals of the Advocacy Leadership Programs. 

George Pizzo has dedicated himself to educating youth and adults alike about the perirls of alcohol and drug use since his daughter, Amber, was killed by an intoxicated drive in 2005. He is the director of the foundation created in her memory, the Amber Pizzo Foundation. George works with schools, communities and youth organizations on this issue. Following Amber’s death, George resolved to make something positive out of the tragedy, a committment he continues with his membership in the 2009 Class of Advocacy Leaders.

Zina Rodriguez  has advocacy experience dating to her undergraduate studies at Rutgers University, where she lobbied for the Mental Health Parity Act as part of a policy course. She met with a senior aide for Rep. Scott Smith in laying out the case for parity. She has been youth director in her church for community activities designed to keep youth out of trouble. Growing up in the South Bronx, she saw firsthand the ravages of the crack epidemic in the 1990s.  At the age of 16, she saw the movie “Eyes on the Prize,” which has been a touchstone for her ever since.

Lee Ruszczyk is Director of the Outpatient Program for New Hope Foudnation in Freehold and is a field instructor for the Rutgers University Graduate School of Social Work. New Hope advances a client-directed approach to treatment, a philosophy to which Lee was introduced at the Inaugural Training at the Institute for the Study of Therapeutic Change. Through his long experience of direct services, he hopes to use the Adocoacy Leadership Program to address the stigma that addicted individuals face and broaden the awareness of policy-makers on addiction issues.

Jean Taylor-Carrion’s long career in social services had a focus on providing housing for many individuals with alcohol and drug problems as well as mental health issues. She is currently a PAROLE STEPS Case Manager providing Relapse Management/Substance Abuse class. Jean has worked with diverse populations, from youth to seniors to Hispanics. She sees alcohol and drug addiction as being at an all-time high and wishes to join in advocacy to stem this trend. While her work history suggests she has already done so, Jean wants to take part in the Leadership Program so she can give back to her community.  


William Weightman’s experience with drug and alcohol issues includes having conducted a National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) study on high school drug issues. He currently works with the Center for Prevention and Counseling in Newton. William took an advocacy role in pressing to advance drug courts and has worked on issues including syringe exchange programs. He has personal experience with addiction through a family member’s heroin addiction, which brought him into contact with a host of treatment facilities. William vows ‘to give my all” to the Advocacy Leadership Program, which is all that can be asked of anyone.


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