2011 Advocacy Leader Directory

Rebecca Alfara has spent the past six years as a State Alliance Coordinator with the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse in Ocean County. She is liaison to GCADA’s Treatment Subcommittee and was involved in the Day of Advocacy that brought hundreds of addiction advocates to the State House in Trenton. She is pursuing a master’s degree in social work. Rebecca has traveled to Chile and the Dominican Republic to assist people living in poverty. She sees the Leader Program as way to further her interest in creating a stigma-free world. Policy change, she said, is and will continue to be an important part of her life.
Legislative District: 10; Team: 4

Joseph Baldassarre works for Integrity, Inc., with a responsibility of seeing that the agency is meeting New Jersey’s and the federal regulation and accreditation standards for treatment. He has had some experience already testifying at state budget hearings about recovery from addiction. Joseph is deeply involved in the agency’s strategic planning. He recognizes the obstacles posed by stigma of addiction and would like the opportunity presented by the Leader Program to detail for lawmakers how stigma impacts many lives. The state economy and its effect on services, he said, only makes the need for advocates all the more pressing.
Legislative District: 11; Team: 4

Christie Cianciosi is a substance abuse counselor at Greystock Park Psychiatric
Hospital in Morris Plains. Her experience includes working with co-occurring illness. She said she shares the perspective of the writer Carlo DiClemente, who said of addiction, if it is viewed as an illness, it will be treated. Christie knows that society as well as the individual will benefit from treatment. Conversely, “the skewed perceptions” towards addiction and mental illness harm not only the patient but also society. She recognizes that people in recovery from addiction and mental illness may need a mentor in their corner, and she is willing to be that person.
Legislative District 16; Team: 5

Angela Conover is director of Media, Marketing and Community Relations with the Partnership for a Drug Free-New Jersey. Her work is focused on prevention and treatment campaigns to help reduce addiction and to demonstrate that treatment for addiction works. She was deeply involved in the planning of New Jersey’s annual addiction rallies for recovery. Already with a wide-ranging network, Angela is always looking to expand her associations with the goal of reaching people who most need alcohol and drug prevention and treatment, and to empower those groups to help shape addiction policy in New Jersey.
Legislative District: 13; Team: 4

James DeAnnunitis is a community advocate in Atlantic City where he works to connect addicted and mentally ill individuals to available local services. He has dedicated himself for the past six years to running a dual recovery group at Atlantic City’s Rescue Mission. James has been in recovery for 16 years and has given back in any number of ways, including feeding the homeless and trying to have people placed in treatment. James wants to take his experience of helping addicted people at the street level to the state level. As he says, the “stigma is massive,” and therefore a great need exists to educate people, including elected officials about addiction being a disease.
Legislative District: 1; Team: 1

Kathy Dingle gives much credit for her recovery to the Bridge, where she met an important mentor. She has completed her program with the full compliment of the necessary for recovery. Kathy is involved in Family Drug Court and is regarded by the other woman in her group as the ‘go-to’ person.  She looks forward to completion of drug court and entering a mentoring program. Through the Leadership Program, she wants to show suffering families understanding while recognizing they may not welcome it right away.
Legislative District: 28; Team: 8

Delia Downes has nearly 30 years in recovery. She is involved in fund-raising for Daytop-New Jersey, an adolescent treatment facility. Of addiction, Delia said, it is costing us some of the best of the generation. She recognizes the responsibility of the individual in their own recovery, but said society certainly has a role to fulfill, beginning with addressing the stigma in its midst. Delia, who has had a corporate career, said she is far from done learning, which is where the Leader program comes in. She said if she can change one person’s mind about addiction, her time will have been well spent.
Legislative District: 30; Team: 3

Megan Faulkner is a graduate of Rutgers University, where she said the efforts to eliminate the stigma towards addiction was a cause close to her heart, as she recently marked her seventh year in recovery. She was the RA of the Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program house at Rutgers. Megan is now involved with New Hope Foundation’s fund-raising committee. A public relations professional, she worked on the Hero program to raise awareness about drunk driving by college students. Through the Advocacy Leader Program, she wants to further her efforts to use her personal story as an example to others and in the service of closing the state’s addiction treatment gap.
Legislative District: 24; Team: 7

Samantha Fiedler fell into addiction at a very early age, and began her recovery at the tender age of 15. She is a recent graduate of Rutgers and of that university’s Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program. Her youth gives her a sense of the particular challenges of recovery at such an early age and the stigma that accompanies it. She wants to share her experience so others who might be skeptical will understand that addiction can indeed take hold of someone so young. Samantha also sees in the Leader program an opportunity to educate people about addiction being a disease, not a matter of one’s will.
Legislative District: 18; Team: 6

Devin Fox is pursuing his MSW at Rutgers University. He works at the university’s Center for Alcohol Studies and the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services in helping to develop an addictions certification program for students at the school to become licensed addictions counselors. Devin has experience in advocating on addiction issues, serving on the advocacy committee for the Association of Recovery Schools. He believes that a crucial part of leadership is recognizing the need and stepping up. Devin is ready to respond to the current need, saying, “The time is right. My time is now.”
Legislative District: 17; Team: 5

MJ June Goodwin volunteers for Womanspace and for City of Angels, an addiction support organization in Hamilton Township. She said her work at City of Angels has been a huge influence and has redoubled her commitment to addiction issues and to adolescents whose lives become imperiled by drug use. MJ said she intends to be “an advocate until I’m old and gray. I want young kids, who are really all of our kids, to stop dying from this disease.” Her interest in becoming and Advocacy Leader will allow her to “lead the way for ‘my people.’”
Legislative District: 30; Team: 3

Jeanette Grimes commitment to recovery from addiction is evident from her volunteer and work history. As a community organizer for Friends of Addiction Recovery-New Jersey, she organized the state’s Addiction Recovery Walk and Rally until 2008. Jeanette has coordinated learning circles for various recovering groups, including in the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton and in half-way houses. She wants to put her talent and experience as an organizer toward helping people who cannot advocate for themselves at present.
Legislative District: 15; Team: 5

Adrian Hollywood has worked for the past 13 years in the behavioral health community, primarily as a counselor. His most recent position, as a Treatment Consultant, enabled him to help individuals get placed in treatment throughout New Jersey and the rest of the country. Adrian has been a member of the New Jersey Employee Assistance Professionals since March 2010, working with hospitals, unions, and professional groups regarding addiction needs. Adrian feels strongly “it is my duty to stand for those in need and ease their obstacles in their communities.”
Legislative District 11; Team: 4

Jim Keller is the vice chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Community Prevention Resources of Warren County. In a career spanning three decades, Jim has been privileged to participate in both the administrative and clinical sides of a number of programs as a volunteer and paid professional in working with individuals afflicted with addiction in New Jersey. He is also a recovering addict for more than 22 years who is deeply involved in service work in his 12 Step Fellowship. Jim has brought 12-Step meetings to state prison facilities and county jails. He has also spoken at several VA facilities to veterans in treatment for substance use disorders.
Legislative District 23; Team: 7

Thomas King is an administrative specialist/counselor intern at Integrity House based in Newark, NJ and has been for the past eight years. Tom is a member of the Essex County Re-Entry Task Force, which has been working on “Ban the Box”, an effort to remove the “Have you been convicted of a felony” question from employment applications. Tom believes the Advocacy Leader Program will “provide me with a platform for change, and add an additional sense of fulfi llment with knowing that I can be directly involved in something this important.”
Legislative District 28; Team: 7

Suzanne Kinkle is a program coordinator for the Perinatal Addiction Prevention Project based out of Pennsauken. In this position, Suzanne provides education to the local county jails addressing substance use and the effects it has on pregnancy and has worked with the jails to ensure that pregnant women continue to receive methadone while incarcerated. She has worked in the field of addiction for over 20 years and has served in a number of positions on the executive board for the International Nurses Society on Addiction (IntNSA.) Suzanne recognizes the stigma society places on people suffering with addiction and “will not give up until the disease of addiction is treated like other chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension.”
Legislative District 4; Team: 2

Gail Kross is a drug and alcohol counselor for a private practice based out of Livingston. Gail has been in recovery for 17 years and likes to deliver the following messages while sharing her story, “as long as a person has the willingness to listen, anything is possible,” and “no matter how far down the road you have gone, there is always a way of turning your life around.”  Her goal as an Advocacy Leader is to build a bridge between herself and the people in her community.
Legislative District 26; Team: 7

Irene Morris-Nann is the Metuchen municipal alliance coordinator and Chairperson. As Chairperson for the Alliance she has worked diligently to engage new members, secure new support, reduce stigma and bring understanding to the community through prevention, education and awareness efforts. She has more than 20 years of leadership experience from her work in the private sector and has served as Chair for Daytop New Jersey’s Family Association Political Action Committee. Irene feels that she is a good fit with the advocacy leader program because “it will give me an opportunity to connect with other people who are passionate about reducing stigma and closing the treatment gap.”
Legislative District: 18; Team: 6

Carole Mosley is currently an executive Board Member of the Coalition for Healthy Communities based out of East Brunswick.. In this position Carole works with other health agencies to educate community members and leaders on issues relating to substance abuse prevention and treatment. She would like “to learn how to affect change” in her community through legislation and policy as it relates to addiction treatment and recovery.
Legislative District: 18; Team: 6

Kurt Ohlson is a financial assistance specialist at Career Opportunity Development Inc. (CODI) in Egg Harbor City, NJ. Due to a chronic back problem Kurt began taking narcotic pain medication and became addicted. Consequently, he received treatment and has been sober for some time now. Kurt assists men and woman after their incarceration in dealing with the consequences of their addiction. Kurt has said, “I have made it my life’s mission to help others and I am truly grateful for the experiences I have had.”
Legislative District: 2; Team: 1

S Kamisha Parson has worked as a substance abuse counselor at Catholic Charities for over six years. She focuses on client based practice, and believes in matching the client with the program most benefi cial to the client’s needs. S Kamisha also presents in the public school system focusing on strengthening families’ workshops, and introducing information to help prevent the experimental and recreational use of illicit substances to parents and children of varying ages. She applied for the leadership program because “on the streets, the pain and problem still remains.” She also advocates for nutrition as part of a person’s recovery.
Legislative District: 28; Team: 8

George Rosemond-Griffith focuses his efforts in helping others sustain their recovery, primarily regarding assistance in job readiness, and help working through common barriers people in recovery face in education and criminal history. George is the Job Readiness Coordinator at Eva’s Village and works to help build the self esteem of people in recovery. His interest in empowering others and their families is a hope that they will educate and empower others about the issues people in recovery face day in and day out. He wants to be a “voice for the voiceless.”
Legislative District: 36; Team: 8

Brenda Sorrentino is a registered nurse and volunteers as a health educator and health care leader to identify, prioritize, and resolve the countries health concerns. In 2010 Brenda started her own nonprofit to help those suffering from co occurring disorders. Brenda applied for the Advocacy Leadership Program because she wants results! She wants to “see positive changes in the current system and improve the quality of life for all, and is willing to devote her time, skills, and energy to make this happen.”
Legislative District: 6; Team: 2

Arthur Townes is the director of Alumni for the Community Education Centers in New Jersey, which offer resources and support services to help former offenders back into their communities and reduce recidivism rates. He has testifi ed and was involved with a number of reentry bills before the state Legislature. Arthur is a part of the state’s Integrated Justice Alliance, sits on a number of advisory boards and reentry task forces, and mentors youth in his community. Of the Advocacy Leadership Program he said, “ I feel it is my calling and I look forward to the challenge and responsibility.”
Legislative District: 28; Team: 8

Dewey Upshaw is an intern at Consumer Friends, Inc., in East Orange, and is working to get first-hand experience in assisting others in the process of recovery. This volunteer work has led him to lead group sessions such as meditation to assist in others recovery. Dewey is also currently taking classes to be a Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor at Essex County College and is a member of Prodigal Sons and Daughters dealing with ex offenders and at risk youth. He applied to the Advocacy Leadership Program to give him a platform to help his “city and state to better aid those in need of good recovery policies.”
Legislative District: 29; Team: 8

Francis Walker is an addiction counselor at Integrity House and is “interested in ending the stigmatization and discrimination experienced by people in recovery.” He continually sees the damage caused by these issues and wants to be a voice on issues that include increased funding for addiction services and treatment instead of incarceration. Francis wanted to join the Advocacy Leadership Program “to be able to make a positive change in the addictions treatment and prevention field.”
Legislative District: 22; Team: 6

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