Our Presenters

Adriana K. Kijko

CRPA, CARC, Senior Recovery Outreach SpecialistCentral Nassau Guidance COTI Mobile Recovery Unit

Adriana first started at Central Nassau Guidance as a Peer Advocate with (Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic/ Integrated Counseling & Recovery Services) (CCBHC/ICRS). Adriana is a person in long-term recovery that has been engaged in treatment herself and is able to walk hand-in-hand with her clients by providing support, and her own personal experiences. Adriana has her Master’s degree in Education, but has switched her direction to the Substance Use field because that’s where her heart and passion is. Adriana is now certified as a Certified Recovery Peer Advocate (CRPA), as well as a Certified Addiction Recovery Coach (CARC). Additional certifications Adriana holds include: Mental Health First Aid, Peer Supervision, and Narcan Training Specialist.  Adriana is also now in school to obtain her CASAC.


Allison Weingarten

Director of Policy, Friends of Recovery – New York (FOR-NY)

Prior to joining FOR-NY, Ms. Weingarten served as an Empire Fellow at both the New York State Division of Budget (Nonprofit Coordination Unit) and the New York State Commission on National and Community Service. She was the Program Director for the After School Enrichment & Summer Discovery Day Camp at the Queens Community House (QCH) in Forest Hills, New York. Prior to working for QCH, Allison served as Legislative Director of the NYS Assembly Subcommittee on Workplace Safety under its Chair Assembly Member Rory Lancman (now, a New York City Councilman). Allison’s achievements have resulted in several honors including being named one of New York State Nonprofit News’ “40 Rising Stars under 40” (2016) and New York State News’ “40 Rising Stars under 40” (2010). Allison holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and a Masters in Social Work; Community Organization, Planning and Development from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College.

As Director of Policy, Allison works to build recovery capital and recovery advocacy leadership throughout New York State.  She also keeps her eyes and ears on policy decisions being made in NYS and at the Federal level in order to inform the recovery community about decisions that may impact the recovery community.

Anita Kennedy

Peer Engagement Specialist, East Harlem New York Community

Anita is a Peer Engagement Specialist, working within the East Harlem, New York Community.  She works at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Opioid Treatment Program, where she helps her peers remove barriers to recovery through providing linkages to recovery support services.  Ms. Kennedy is passionate about providing Narcan Training and education for Opioid Overdose to those in the surrounding neighborhoods.  She has a Bachelor of Science in Education, is a Certified Recovery Peer Advocate, and is a board member for National Alliance for Medication Assisted Recovery.

Arlene González-Sánchez

Commissioner, NYS Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS), MS, LMSW

Arlene González-Sánchez was appointed Commissioner of the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (NYS OASAS) by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Jan. 3, 2011.

Commissioner González-Sánchez has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of behavioral health services administration, health policy development, and medical research. Under the Commissioner’s leadership, OASAS works to realize her vision for transforming the current system of care for individuals with substance use disorders into a comprehensive, patient-centered and family-focused system. Commissioner González-Sánchez serves on the Governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) Behavioral Health Subcommittee. She is co-chair of the State’s Behavioral Health Services Advisory Council, and a co-chair of the Responsible Play Partnership which addresses problem gambling in New York State. Governor Cuomo also appointed Commissioner Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez to serve as Member of the Council for SUNY Empire State College for a term, which expires in June 2024.

To help ensure that culturally competent services are available to address the specific needs of various populations, Commissioner González-Sánchez has been instrumental in the establishment of numerous helpful programs for these communities. This includes first-of-its-kind adolescent substance use disorder clubhouses and recovery centers in various counties across the state, such as The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in New York City, and The Pillars Recovery Center in Harlem. She also provided funding and support for multiple youth clubhouses and one recovery center serving the Native American Community. Additionally, she expanded specialized outreach by launching the educational program “Nueva Esperanza, Nueva Vida con OASAS” which aired in Spanish on Telemundo and Univision. This programming was the preface for the “New Hope, New Life with OASAS” television broadcast which was developed for a broader audience to inform and educate New Yorkers about addiction prevention and recovery services, substance use disorder, and the reduction of the associated shame and stigma.

Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez​​ was named to City & State’s 2020 Health Power List (15th) which includes 100 of the most powerful people in the health care community. She was also named to their 2019 Nonprofit Power 100 List (34th) which honors the 100 most influential people working in non-profit organizations focusing on civil rights, criminal justice, health care, education, immigration and legal services.

On a national level, Commissioner González-Sánchez serves as the First Vice President of the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD) Board.

Commissioner González-Sánchez holds a Master of Social Work degree in Administration and Community Organization from the Hunter College School of Social Work; a Master’s of Science degree in Cell Biology, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology; both from Fordham University. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker.

Ashley Livingston

CRPA, Person in Long-Term Recovery

Ashley Livingston is a person in sustained recovery.  Is co-chair of Friends of Recovery Warren & Washington RCO which educates, motivates our communities to advocate for better policies and procedures for treatment and recovery at a local, state and federal level. She is currently working in our communities as a Recovery Advocate at the Hope & Healing RCOC helping individuals and families find and enhance their personal recovery.

Barb Klein

Barb Klein is the author of 111 Invitations: Step into the Full Richness of Life and the founder of Inspired Possibility.
Barb believes that life is for living, even when there are storms brewing and even when people you love are struggling.  Barb loves helping women who’ve given so much to others, often at their own sacrifice, reclaim and recover their lives.

Barb is a professional life coach, meditation instructor, retreat leader, writer, wife and mom to two young men, one of whom struggles with substance use disorder. She is grateful to be a Power Mom Team member at MomPower.org, an organization whose mission it is to help moms with addicted children find strength, wisdom, perspective, sanity, and hope.

As a mom who has navigated her own life while also loving her son through his addiction for more than a decade, she is committed to creating something positive and meaningful out of this experience.  She helps women come home to themselves and supports those who have been impacted by a loved one’s addiction to make their own well-being a priority and to find peace and possibility beyond the pain.

To learn more about Barb and her work, visit her site at www.inspiredpossibility.com

Benjamin Riker

YVM Youth Recovery Program Coordinator, Friends of Recovery – NY/Youth Voices Matter (YVM)

Ben is a father of two, a person in long term sustained recovery and a passionate advocate for intelligent evidence-based policy surrounding education, treatment and recovery from substance use disorders. His professional background includes all aspects of organizational peer-professional integration and programming including training, coaching, and supervision as well as community and professional education and outreach.

Ben is a New York State Certified Recovery Peer Advocate (CRPA), a Certified Peer Specialist and a Friends of Recovery – NY Best practice Trainer.

“For me, sustained recovery came as I began to make honest human connections with others whom I shared similar lived experiences. Through those connections I found my voice and my purpose. As the Youth Recovery Program Coordinator, my goal is to empower my team to facilitate dynamic and engaging opportunities for youth and young adults from all over New York State to create meaningful and supportive peer-to-peer connections.”

Chacku Mathai

Chacku Mathai is an Indian-American, person in recovery, and one of the founding board members of FOR-NY. He became involved in mental health and addiction recovery advocacy when he was only 15 years old. Chacku’s personal experiences as a youth and young adult with trauma, suicide attempts, and disabling mental health and substance use conditions, launched Chacku and his family towards a number of efforts to advocate for improved services, social conditions, and alternative supports in the community.

He has since accumulated over thirty years of experience in behavioral health systems transformation in a variety of roles including youth leadership, community organizing/advocacy, psychiatric rehabilitation practitioner/trainer in community mental health centers and residential programs licensed and certified by the Office of Mental Health.

He served in executive leadership roles such as the CEO for the MHA of Rochester; the Executive Director for the NAMI STAR Center, a SAMHSA National Technical Assistance Center; and as the Associate Executive Director for the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services. He has extensive training and technical assistance experience through NYAPRS as an implementation partner for the New York State Center of Excellence for the Integration of Care (CEIC), the SAMHSA Northeast Addiction Technology Transfer Network, the SAMHSA Recovery to Practice Resource Center for Behavioral Health Professionals and the SAMHSA Bringing Recovery Supports To Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS-TACS).

Chacku was active in state policy leadership by leading a statewide Employment Campaign, became the Chair for the Most Integrated Settings Coordinating Council’s Employment Data Integration Team, and was appointed to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Credentialing Board. He is a former member of the Commission that oversees the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA) Certification Program for Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioners (CPRP).

He is a founding board member and President of Friends of Recovery – New York. He also serves as a board member for the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA). He is a National Advisory Council member for the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health in Texas and the National Center on Advancing Person-Centered Practices and Systems. Chacku serves on a number of advisory boards and teams for key research initiatives at Boston, Columbia, Lesley, and Rutgers universities. Chacku is also an appointed member of the New York State Integrated Block Grant Committee.

Chacku currently serves as a SAMHSA Project Director with the Center for Practice Innovations OnTrackNY team focused on supporting youth and young adults with early psychosis to achieve their goals for school, work, and relationships.

Colleen DiLello

Colleen DiLello, CRPA-P and  Community Peer Specialist

Colleen DiLello is employed as a CRPA-P at Central Nassau Guidance with the Mobile Recovery Unit since January 2020. Colleen is a person in recovery with 38 years of life experience. In recovery Colleen has gotten her GED, become a CRPA-P and has a passion for helping others with SUD and MH issues.  Colleen is motivated to becoming a CASAC and learning and growing in this field.

Constance Wille

Constance (Connie) Wille is a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Master Counselor, and has worked in the addictions field for the past 33 years with over 28 years of management experience.  Connie earned her MS in Health Services Administration from Sage Graduate School.  She has served as the Chief Executive Officer of Champlain Valley Family Center (CVFC) for the past 20 years.  CVFC is a community based not for profit provider of substance abuse education, prevention, intervention, and treatment services in Clinton County, NY.  Champlain Valley Family Center also delivers specialized programming and related services to the adolescent population.

Connie serves on the Board of Northwinds IPA, is the Chairperson of Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery of Clinton County (SPARCC), and was honored by the New York State Senate as a Woman of Distinction in 2016.

Crystal Costello

Crystal Costello, CRPA-P

Crystal Costello is a person and long-term recovery, surrounded by love, and full of gratitude for the life that she now has.   She is currently working as the Advisory Committee Chair for Friends of Recovery Westchester.

Crystal is filled with a desire to help others and find a life of fulfillment and she dedicated herself to offering the message of HOPE to anyone who is willing to receive it.

David McNamara

C.A.R.C, CASAC-T, Mindfulness Instructor, CRPA Trainer, Executive Director and Founder of SAMADHI Recovery Community Outreach Center

Mr. McNamara founded the Samadhi Recovery Community Outreach Center and has been a mindfulness and meditation teacher for over 10 years. He is a Certified Addiction Recovery Coach (CARC)and Supervisor.  Mr. McNamara is also certified as a trainer for the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy. He has been the executive director of the SAMADHI Recovery Community Outreach Center and the main instructor for the SAMADHI Recovery Coach Academy since its inception in 2018.  He has also started a 24-hour addiction crisis hotline staffed by 16 recovery coaches trained at the center.

Deborah Koivula

Deborah Koivula RN, BSN, CARN

As the SPAN Eastern Regional Coordinator, Ms. Koivula is a respected advocate for nurses who personally struggle with substance use disorder. Ms. Koivula has successfully aided many nurses including nurse anesthetists to establish their own meaningful recovery. She assists nurses in navigating the complexities of licensure, legal consequence, treatment and employment related issues while dually protecting public safety interests.

Debra Rhoades

Founder of Rhoades to Recovery

Debra (Deb) Rhoades has worked in the field of Addiction and Recovery for over 35 years.  Deb is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, CASAC (Master) and most recently obtained her Certified Addiction Recovery Coach (CARC) credential.  She has worked in the field as a clinician, manager, and administrator.  She is a family member in recovery and has served on the FOR-NY Board of Directors since 2014 and was appointed to Vice President in March 2017.

In 2019 Deb became self-employed to pursue other opportunities including training supervision. Her passion is to train and provide support to the addiction and recovery clinical and peer workforce. She is now the proud owner of Rhoades to Recovery Consulting, Training and Clinical Services and provides consulting and training services to Addiction and Recovery organizations across New York State.

Denis King

CASAC-T, CARC, CRPA, Director of Peer Engagement and Recovery Services

Denis King obtained his Associates degree from Johnson and Wales University and has been working at Champlain Valley Family Center (CVFC) since 2013.  Since his employment, Denis has earned his Certified Addiction Recovery Coach (CARC), Certified Recovery Peer Advocate (CRPA), and Credential Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor-Trainee (CASAC-T). Denis is a trainer for Peer Engagement and Recovery Services in the areas of: Recovery Coach Academy, Ethics in Recovery Coaching, Recovery Coaching in the E.D., SOAR, Peer Supervision, Recovery Basics for Parents, Coachervision, Professionalism and Recovery Coaching, and CRPA-Family. Denis is currently the Director of Peer Engagement and Recovery Services at Champlain Valley Family Center in Plattsburgh, NY.



Dr. Angelia Smith-Wilson

FOR-NY Executive Director

Dr. Angelia Smith-Wilson brings over 20 years of human service and addiction experience to Friends of Recovery-New York. Angelia’s career spans across working with human service agencies that have served individuals with mental health, substance use, residential, and homeless issues. She has worked as an intensive case manager, a primary therapist, a director of client services and eventually progressing to level of vice president throughout the greater Rochester area.

Angelia has centered her career around improving treatment outcomes for those in recovery, as well as exploring research designed at substance use counselor development. Her doctoral dissertation, entitled, “Examining the Relationship between the Substance Abuse Counselor Knowledge of the Models of Disability and their self-assessment of cultural competence working with the Deaf Sign Language User,” afforded her the opportunity to learn and study addictions from the counselor’s perspective.

Dr. Smith-Wilson has a B.S. in Psychology from SUNY Brockport, Master of Social Work from Roberts Wesleyan College and a Doctorate in Education from St. John Fisher College. Dr. Smith-Wilson is adjunct faculty at the School of Social Welfare, Undergraduate and Graduate MSW Program, University of Albany, where she teaches Macro Practice Social Work and Organizational and Community Theory.

Emma Fabian

Associate Vice President of Harm Reduction, Evergreen Health 

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 work groups 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.

Erin Wiggins

CRPA, Recovery Coordinator Coach, Center for Family Life and Recovery

Erin is a mentor for those who seek balance and wisdom and wellness in their lives. A leader for women who are finding their way into self-love and an advocate for self-care practice!

She is a practicing CRPA, employed at Center for Family Life and Recovery, Inc. as the Recovery Coordinator and coach!

Jonathan Westfall

Peer Support Program Manager, ROCovery Fitness

Jon has been heavily involved with ROCovery Fitness since 2017. He started as a volunteer engaging in the Wayne County expansion project, at the forefront of the community/street level outreach pilot project and the annual 5k. In July 2018, he started full-time with the organization, which allowed him to marry his love of fitness with his passion for community service. Jon has become a cornerstone of the peer recovery movement in the Rochester region. He is heavily involved in community outreach programs, grassroots recovery community organizations, and advocacy groups/events. Jon also serves as ROCovery’s Boxing Conditioning Coach, ASFA Certified Kettlebell Instructor, and Outdoor Program Team Member. Jon is a NY State Certified Recovery Peer Advocate (CRPA), CRPA-Family, Certified Addiction Recovery Coach (CARC), a CCAR curriculum trainer and is currently working towards his CASAC credentialing. Jon is a proud father of four, a long-time fitness enthusiast, graphic designer and artist.

Joseph R. Turner

JD, Co-Founder, President & CEO of Exponents

Joe Turner is the co-founder and current CEO of Exponents, a 30-year-old community based human services and harm reduction program in NYC.  Exponents provides compassionate and person-centered drug treatment, recovery and wellness services to the most vulnerable New Yorkers.  Since its founding in 1988, over 11, 000 program graduates have completed its programs-many of whom are in management positions of nonprofit agencies.  At Exponents, “…we meet people where they are, but we don’t leave them there”!

Joe was born and raised in Brownsville, (never ran…never will) Brooklyn, NY. Inspired by the courage of civil rights lawyers he attended and graduated from Hofstra University School of Law, where he went on to practice law in the fields of criminal justice, civil rights and general practice. He has worked for the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Community Action for Legal Services.  For the past 35 years, he has soldiered for social justice, compassionate human services and recovery.

As CEO, Joe led Exponents through the disruption of COVID-19, enabling the agency to continue to provide drug treatment and crisis management services without interruption. Quickly turning to tele-health and tele-visual individual and group counseling sessions, as well as establishing a 24-hour crisis hotline, Exponents retained over 95% of its program participants.   Joe has often said that “…every crisis shines a bright light on our strengths and weaknesses”.  Indeed, the strength of Exponents that was gleaned from the COVID crisis, was the forging of a “community of hope”.

He is  co-chair of the New York State Harm Reduction Association,  a member of the Board of Directors of Exodus Transitional Communities, co-chair of the Harm Reduction Committee of the Association of Substance Abuse Providers of NYS, a member of the New York Certification Board and the Executive Committee of the NYS OASAS Recovery Implementation Team. In addition, Joe is the, as well as the former president of President of the Board of Directors of Friends of Recovery –NY (FOR-NY);

Katharine Pettit

NYC based Director/Choreographer and Artistic Director/Founder of Katharine Pettit Creative – KPC

Katharine Pettit Creative – KPC spotlights social injustices using dance as our universal language, changing minds by opening hearts through movement.

Through lived experience, with her sister as her qualifier, Katharine developed an alternative therapy for substance use disorder, a Pathway to Wellness through Movement. KPC now serves as The Educational Alliance Center for Recovery and Wellness movement and dance consultant, sharing our programming and dance musical, I COULD NEVER LOVE ANYONE… with folks in treatment and continuing their journeys in recovery.

Kathy Hochul

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul began her career in public service on her local Town Board before serving as Erie County Clerk, and then as a member of Congress for New York’s 26th Congressional District.  

Since 2015, she has served as the highest-ranking female elected official in New York State government. 

Lieutenant Governor Hochul co-chairs the State’s Heroin and Opioid Task Force, an essential part of New York’s efforts to combat the epidemic through prevention and expanded access to treatment and recovery services. 

She has also successfully spearheaded numerous initiatives and leads the administration’s economic development and job creation efforts across the state, working every day to advocate for policies that help all New Yorkers make ends meet. 

Keisha Graham-Wilson

Project Director, Central Nassau Guidance COTI Mobile Recovery Unit

Keisha has served as the Project Director for the Central Nassau Guidance COTI Mobile Recovery Unit for over 2 years.  Keisha has 23 years of  field work experience.  Keisha’s extensive social work experience includes working with families where the children are at risk of foster care placement, working with adolescents and families struggling with substance use disorders, mental health concerns, domestic violence, homeless families, and survivors of sexual abuse.  Keisha also has extensive experience supervising and providing concrete and clinical supervision to ensure that appropriate lines of communication are developed and maintained between administration, staff and clients.


Laurie Santiago-Hooper

CARC, CRPA-P, Recovery Coach, Save the Michaels of the World

Laurie Santiago-Hooper specializes in working with folks in various stages of recovery from substance use disorders and providing education and resources for family members to better understand addiction. Laurie is a founding member of The Niagara Frontier Peer Collaborative.

Leah Kaufman

Assistant Director of State Engagement for Shatterproof’s National Treatment Quality Initiatives

Leah Kaufman acts as Assistant Director of State Engagement for Shatterproof’s National Treatment Quality Initiatives. In this role, Leah manages stakeholder engagement within states participating in Shatterproof’s ATLAS® quality measurement system for addiction treatment programs.

Prior to joining Shatterproof, Leah spent five years as External Relations Manager for the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) where she managed strategic partnerships and directed the Partners in Quality program, developing and providing oversight for regional and national multisector partnerships aimed at implementation of advanced primary care models. During her tenure at NCQA, Leah worked in conjunction with health plans, physician associations, and other healthcare organizations to implement initiatives aimed at increasing patient safety, reducing cost and improving patient outcomes. Her areas of expertise include stakeholder engagement, physician quality measurement and value-based payment transformation.

Before relocating to the Washington D.C. area, Leah managed provider outreach for a Denver area safety net clinic aimed at providing pro bono services to immigrant and uninsured populations. She also served as Manager of Education and Outreach for the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians, where she directed and managed two public health grants aimed at increasing provider participation in the state immunization registry and meaningful use of electronic health records. Leah’s experience includes extensive work with LEAN process improvement/PDSA methodologies and expertise in clinician education and advocacy, health equity and access, social determinants of health, and the design of care compacts across clinical settings. Leah studied Political Science at the University of Colorado at Denver.


Lila Boyer

CEO/ Founder of H.O.P.E. Helping Other People Everyday

Lila has worked in the field of substance use disorders since 1991. She started as a peer volunteer working in a women’s shelter.  In 1992, she received recognition for outstanding volunteer service with the Adult Services Administration NYC HRA for her work at the women’s shelter.  In her various roles of direct care provider, supervisor, and assistant director she has successfully worked with various populations, including the formerly incarcerated and homeless population, persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, mental health disorders, and victims of domestic violence.  She has a Masters of Public Administration and Affairs, and a Bachelor of Human Services – Professional Studies.  Additionally, she is a Certified Alcoholism Substance Abuse Counselor- Advance (CASAC-A).

Since 2010, she has been a NYS OASAS Educational Training Provider, and in 2014 became a TOT (Train the Trainer) for Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR).  In 2014, she became the Founder and CEO of Helping Other People Every day, known as H.O.P.E., where she provides Recovery Coach Academy Training, Peer Ethics, CASAC Training, and specialty trainings to numerous organizations for professional development. Lila is a Certified Addiction Recovery Coach (CARC) and a Certified Recovery Peer Advocate (CRPA). She serves as a consultant to the Expanding Peers in Community Services (EPICS) committee team.


Linda Rosenthal

Chair, Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse

Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF- Manhattan) represents the 67th Assembly District, which includes the Upper West Side and parts of Hell’s Kitchen. She has passed more than 120 laws since taking office in 2006, and in 2015 became the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. As Chair, she has led the fight for greater funding for prevention, treatment and recovery providers, worked to expand availability of treatment and recovery services, including access to medication assisted treatment, and has passed laws expanding access to naloxone, increasing availability of telehealth services and ensuring proper coverage of medication assisted treatment for Medicaid recipients.  She is the sponsor of legislation to establish overdose prevention centers in New York State, to decriminalize the possession of buprenorphine, establish a medication assisted treatment program in all jails and prisons statewide and to expand and enhance recovery housing. Part of her mission as Chair is to help eliminate the stigma around substance use disorder and to advocate for harm reduction as an integral part of drug policy.



Lisa Nichols

ROCovery Fitness Southern Tier Services Coordinator

Lisa Nichols, with ROCovery Fitness in upstate NY, is a peer advocate, CrossFit coach, nationally ranked Olympic weightlifter, mom, teacher, goofball, poet, and most importantly, a grateful human in recovery.

Marialice Ryan

Recovery Bureau Office of Addiction and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS)

Marialice Ryan has been in the substance use disorder field for over twenty years. She joined OASAS in 2005, working in Statewide and Local Planning, the Mid-Hudson Field Office, and the Recovery Bureau.  Marialice obtained her bachelor’s degree at Northeastern University and was employed as a certified substance abuse counselor from 1990-95 in Boston.  Moving back to her home town, Peekskill, New York in 1995, Marialice then obtained a Master’s in Public Administration from Pace University. Ms. Ryan was subsequently employed at Pace University in Manhattan for five years as the Research Manager in the Office of Philanthropy. Most recently, Ms. Ryan transferred to the Recovery Bureau in OASAS in May 2017 and has developed a Monthly Reporting system for all OASAS Recovery Support providers. Marialice coordinates learning collaboratives and technical assistance for all OASAS Peer Engagement Specialists, Family Support Navigators, Hospital Diversion and Wrap Around service providers, and aids with peer integration for all OASAS outpatient providers.

Meghan Hetfield

CRPA, Trainer, WEConnect Health Management

Meghan is currently working as a Peer Recovery Support Specialist for WEConnect Health Management. Her focus as an advocate is on Harm Reduction and ending the racist War on Drugs. She spends most of her free time exploring the Catskill Mountains foraging for edible/medicinal mushrooms and plants, and spreading the message of radical compassion through Harm Reduction.

Patty McCarthy

Chief Executive Officer of Faces & Voices of Recovery

Patty McCarthy, M.S., has been the Chief Executive Officer of Faces & Voices of Recovery since 2015. Prior to joining Faces & Voices, she was a senior associate with the Center for Social Innovation (C4), where she served as a deputy director of SAMHSA’s BRSS TACS initiative.  Patty served for a decade as the director of Friends of Recovery-Vermont (FOR-VT), a statewide recovery community organization conducting training, advocacy and public awareness activities.  In addition to public policy and education, her work has focused on community mobilizing, peer-based recovery support services, and peer workforce development and was instrumental in the development of a national accreditation standards for peer recovery support service providers. She holds a master’s degree in community counseling and a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and has been in long-term recovery from alcohol and drug addiction since 1989.

Peter Harckham

NYS Senate

Pete was elected to represent New York State’s 40th Senate District in November 2018.  Pete is currently the Chair of the Committee on Alcoholism & Substance Abuse, and the founding Co-Chair of the Senate Joint Taskforce on Opioids, Addiction and Overdose Prevention. One of the biggest investments of Harckham’s time and effort during his first term was the Opioid Task Force. This task force focused on the challenges and opportunities that patients, doctors, municipalities, law enforcement, and treatment providers are facing.

As a result of the report that the Opioid Task Force issued, the Senate passed a package of bills designed to end the stigma of Substance Use Disorder (SUD), overcome barriers to treatment, stop patients from falling through the cracks, and expand access to MAT and Narcan. Despite all the good work that has been done, Harckham’s office continues its work in identifying areas where the state can better serve those with SUD.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, Harckham has worked to ensure SUD providers are treated the same as other healthcare providers. Legislation that Harckham sponsored, now signed into law, puts the state’s Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) at the table with the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) for disaster planning and crisis response efforts. Another bill recently passed in the Senate will allow SUD peer counselors to bill for tele-health like all other health care providers.

Harckham continues to use his platform to destigmatize substance use, educate the public, and introduce legislation to ensure that every New Yorker struggling has a pathway to recovery.

Rachel Fitzpatrick

RFMH Assistant Project Director, STR, SOR 

After dedicating several years to behavioral health programming and direct care, Rachel Fitzpatrick has served as a policy analyst at the NYS Office of Mental Health. Since 2017, Rachel has worked as the Assistant Director  for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Opioid Response Grants with the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). In this role, she has spearheaded implementation of 20 new Centers of Treatment Innovation (COTIs) across the state, designed to expand access to person-centered addiction treatment through tailored community models utilizing mobile services and tele-practice.

Richard Buckman

CASAC, LCSW-R, Long Island Recovery Association (LIRA) Founder and Executive Director and FOR-NY Founding Member

Richard is a person in recovery since 1988 and a founding member (2000) of the Long Island Recovery Association (LIRA), the first ever Recovery Community Organization (RCO) in New York State. A multiple term LIRA President, he was also the founding President of Friends of Recovery – New York (FOR-NY) and served on the board for 8 years. He was elected to the Board of Directors of Faces and Voices of Recovery in Washington, DC in 2013.  He served as Chairman of the Board from 2014-2018, and remains a board member today.  He serves on many committees, advisory boards and task forces on Long Island, and at the state and national levels. He is a go-to person on addiction and recovery issues.

By trade, Richard is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Employee Assistance Professional, Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor, Level II Certified Experiential Therapist, Certified Recovery Peer Advocate and Certified Addiction Recovery Coach.  Since 1990, he has worked in addiction treatment and Employee Assistance, including nearly 5 years as Senior EAP Specialist and clinical supervisor of the FDNY Counseling Services Unit utilizing EMDR in extensive trauma resolution work with members of service who were impacted at the world trade center on and after 9-11.

Since 2009, he has managed LECSA EAP, a not-for-profit employee/member assistance program affiliated with the Long Island Federation of Labor, the 4th largest central labor council in the US representing more than 250,000 union members.

The many awards he has received include the Advocate of the Year Award from the Association of Addiction Professionals of New York State in 2005, and the Social Worker of the Year Award from the National Association of Social Workers on Long Island in 2011, both recognizing his years of tireless advocacy work.

Robert A. Kent

Vice President of Advocacy and General Counsel for the American Association of Orthodontists

Robert A. Kent currently serves as the Vice President of Advocacy and General Counsel for the American Association of Orthodontists (“AAO”) where he represents the interests of AAO nationally.

Mr. Kent previously served as the General Counsel for the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (“OASAS”).  In this role, Mr. Kent provided overall legal support, policy guidance and direction to the OASAS Commissioner, the Executive Office and all divisions of the agency.  Robert lead the OASAS efforts to implement Governor Cuomo’s Heroin and Opioid Task Force recommendations including the Combat Addiction/Heroin Campaign, the Federal Opioid Targeted Grant program, and Medicaid Redesign Team initiatives including implementation of historic legislation to increase access to treatment.  Robert has co-authored articles on patient confidentiality and sober homes and has presented nationally and throughout New York State on the OASAS system of care.

Mr. Kent previously served as an Assistant Counsel with the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH). Prior to Robert joining OMH, he was engaged in the private practice of law where he focused on regulatory and governmental affairs matters.

In 2011, Robert was recognized by the Caron Foundation with their Legal Professional Public Service Award.  In 2013, Robert was recognized by the Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies with their Leadership Award.  In 2016, Robert was recognized by the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence with their Nyswander/Dole “Marie” award; the Long Island Recovery Association Friend of Recovery Award; and the Northern Tier Providers Coalition Public Service Award.  In 2018, Robert was honored by the Friends of Recovery New York with the Charles Devlin Recovery Advocate Award and by Christopher’s Reason with the Outstanding Leader in the Recovery Community Award.  In 2019, Robert was honored by NYAPRS with its Public Policy Leadership Award and by the MHANYS with their CEO Award.  In 2020, Robert was honored by the NYS Justice Center with their Champion Award.

Mr. Kent lives in Voorheesville, N.Y., with his wife, Elizabeth, his sons, Samuel and Maxwell, and their Golden Retrievers, Madison and Franklin.

Ronnie Sells

CEO, Life Continues Recovery

I am a person in long-term recovery.  I spent over 35 years in active addiction and depression. In 2014 I surrendered to the disease of addiction, asked for help, and am now celebrating a life more adventurous than ever before.  Problems with relationships, financial management, and legal issues have become solutions based in a true transformation of life. Life Continues after addiction. I have worked in providing coaching, peer support, counseling, and education since 2014. I currently hold several professional credentials in those area including a National Recovery Coach Level II credential.


Ruth Riddick

Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers of NYS (ASAP) Community Outreach, Peer Recovery Trainer, Credentialed Recovery Coach

Ruth Riddick is an NYCB Certified Addiction Recovery Coach (CARC) with a practice at Sobriety Together™, an authorized and experienced Recovery Coach Academy trainer (CART) and a designated Recovery Coach Professional (CCAR). Appointed in 2016, she serves as New York city-based ASAP-NYCB Community Outreach, supporting professional peer recovery development and certification throughout the prevention, treatment and recovery field. She also serves as consultant to the NYCB Ethics Committee and as ASAP-PWI administrator.

Shannon Zawiski

COO, Independent Living, Inc.

Shannon began working at Independent Living, Inc. in Newburgh, NY in 2002. In her first role with ILI, Shannon worked with local high school students with disabilities and assisted them in making plans and connections to services for their post high school lives. Shannon was provided with the opportunity to grow with the organization in 2008 when she was promoted to ILI’s Employment and Family Services Manager, overseeing the agency’s services to individuals with developmental disabilities and supervising a staff of 20. Shannon became ILI’s Director of Quality Assurance and Compliance in 2015. In this role, Shannon developed, implemented, and maintained policies and procedures for the operation of the compliance programs and its related activities to prevent illegal, unethical, and improper conduct. She was also responsible for supervising the agency’s Consumer Directed Personal Assistant Services (CDPAS) program which serves over 350 individuals across 5 counties. In 2017, Shannon was promoted to her current role of Chief Operating Officer where she provides leadership to the agency’s 32+ programs and services over 7 locations in a 7-county region.

Shawn Moodie

Founder/ President, Moodie Bluez Consulting

In 2013, Shawn Moodie founded Moodie Bluez Consulting, a MWBE certified credit services practice focused on helping people repair, improve, or maximize their credit. Since its inception, Shawn and Moodie Bluez have helped hundreds of people not only maximize their credit scores, but also achieve their financial goals, including home ownership.

Shawn is passionate about financial literacy and enjoys helping people who may have experienced life events such as divorce, bankruptcy, medical emergency, or job loss.

Mr. Moodie’s long career with Bank of America as a senior leader and team manager gave him the perspective necessary to appreciate the needs and credit challenges of his clients. With an additional decade of experience with companies such as Kay-Bee Toys, and national companies such as Mosaic Sales Solutions, he also developed the marketing and sales skills necessary to build his current practice. Mr. Moodie has developed key strategic partnerships to ensure he can offer holistic solutions to his clients.

Mr. Moodie has served on the Board of Directors of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Capital Region for 5 years, and is a currently a member of the Capital Region Chamber, Adirondack Chamber, and Capital Region Black Chamber of Commerce. He also serves as Regional Director for the Gold-Star Referral Club in Albany, NY.

A New York State native, originally from Long Island, Mr. Moodie resides in Albany, NY with his wife and son, Cristian Blake.

Sheri Zacharczenko

BS, CRC, Center for Problem Gambling

Sheri is a CCAR Certified Recovery Coach (CRC) who specializes in working with individuals in recovery from problem gambling. Sheri has served in this position for 4 years. Sheri has a BS in Pharmaceutical Science.

Stephanie Campbell

NYS Behavioral Health Ombudsman Program Director

After receiving her MA from Columbia University, Stephanie worked as a journalist until she was hired by Powers, Crane & Company. Lobbying led her to the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate, where she honed her policy and legislative skills. While working for a former chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Stephanie pursued her MS in Adolescent Education at the University at Albany to become a high school social studies teacher. After teaching for a few years, she went on to receive her MSW/CASAC-T training at the New York University Silver School of Social Work. It was there that she began working at the macro level on a variety of legislative advocacy issues focused on addiction and recovery. Stephanie joined Friends of Recovery – New York (FOR-NY) in 2015 and worked at the state and national levels to reduce stigma, advocate for changes in public policy, and promote a culture of recovery. In 2018 Stephanie joined the Office of Addiction Supports and Services (OASAS) as the NYS Behavioral Health Ombudsman Program Director.  Stephanie is also a grateful person in sustained recovery; mother; social justice advocate; policy wonk and adventurer.

Stephen White

Stephen is a person in long term recovery. Stephen has worked for the past 17 years in Behavioral Health focusing on Substance Use Disorder and recovery support services. Stephen current lives in the Buffalo Area and he is a founding member of the Buffalo/Niagara Peer Collaborative.

Theresa Knorr

FOR-NY Director of Recovery Education and Training

Theresa is a family member in recovery and works her own process addiction recovery program. She comes to FOR-NY with over 30 years of professional experience in counseling, coaching and case management, specializing in addiction treatment and recovery. She has been teaching, training & developing curriculum focused on wellness, staff and client self-care, relapse prevention, and personal growth for more than 15 years. She has also been volunteering in the community teaching meditation and esoteric psychology for over 17 years, and Tai Chi since 2001.


Tracie M. Gardner

Vice President of Policy Advocacy, Legal Action Center

As Legal Action Center’s (LAC) Vice President of Policy Advocacy, Tracie spearheads major initiatives and fosters strategic partnerships that support LAC’s mission. Tracie has worked almost 30 years in the health and social services policy arena as a policy advocate, trainer and lobbyist. From 2015-2017, Tracie served as the Assistant Secretary of Health for New York State, where she oversaw the state’s addiction, mental health and developmental disabilities agencies. Tracie received a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College.


Xavier McDaniel

CRPA, CARC, New Choices Recovery Center

Xavier is a Certified Recovery Peer Advocate and a Certified Addiction Recovery Coach at the New Choices Recovery Center in Schenectady, NY.  In addition to his role as a Recovery Coach at New Choices, Xavier is the co-facilitator for the Capital Region Peer Professional Learning Collaborative, where he assists in providing skills and support to his peer professional colleagues in the Capital Region.  Xavier is a dedicated and committed advocate in the recovery community and will go above and beyond to help those in, or seeking recovery.