Lieutenant, Houston Police Department , Narcotics Division
Steve Casko has been with the Houston Police Department for twenty-seven years. He was first assigned as a case agent in Narcotics in 1998 and has been back in the Division as an “initiative commander” with the HIDTA Targeted Narcotics Enforcement Team initiative since 2014. Previously, he was assigned to the Gang Division for 7 years where he developed and implemented the Crime Reduction Unit, a group of 70 officers assigned to the Gang Division who were sent around the city to address gang related and other violent crimes. He co-teaches a mandatory in-service class on “the opioid crisis” that, by August 31st, the entire department will have attended.
Representative Garnet Coleman
District 147, Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse
Representative Garnet F. Coleman has served the people of District 147 in the Texas House of Representatives continuously since 1991. Throughout his years of service, Representative Coleman has earned a reputation as a diligent leader in the areas of health care, economic development, and education. He is currently the senior ranking member of the Public Health Committee as well as the Chairman of the County Affairs Committee. Representative Coleman also served as a member of the House Select Committee for Mental Health during the 84th Legislative Session and is currently serving on the House Select Committee on Opioid and Substance Abuse. Representative Coleman’s legislative efforts have been recognized in numerous ways. On two occasions, he was named to the prestigious Texas Monthly Ten Best Legislators List and in 2005 he received the Eli Lilly Reintegration Award for his efforts to increase services and decrease the stigma associated with mental illness. He has also been awarded the American Psychiatric Association Jacob R. Javits Public Service Award.
Sheriff Ed Gonzalez
Sheriff Gonzalez was elected Harris County Sheriff in 2016. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston Downtown and a master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas. Sheriff Gonzalez served 18 years in the Houston Police Department, rising to the rank of sergeant. After retiring from the HPD in 2009, Sheriff Gonzalez won election to the Houston City Council, serving three terms as the District H representative. He served as Mayor Pro-Tem in 2012. Sheriff Gonzalez has worked to improve public safety – breaking new ground with initiatives to guard seniors against elder abuse, expand the fight against human trafficking, reduce the risks of stray animals, protect cyclists and pedestrians, and protect online shoppers and sellers from predators.
Andy Keller, PhD
President of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute
Dr. Keller is a psychologist with more than 20 years of experience in behavioral health policy and is a recognized leader in health and human services integration, behavioral health financing, and implementation of empirically supported practices for adults and children. Dr. Keller was also a founding partner of TriWest Group, a national behavioral health systems consulting firm focused on human service evaluation, community collaboration and management. His work has centered on helping local systems implement evidence-based and innovative care, as well as helping local and state governments develop the regulatory and financial framework to support them.
Sherry Lachman, JD
Founder of Foster America
Sherry Lachman is the founder and executive director of Foster America, an organization that brings together top talent from the public and private sectors to improve the lives of orphaned, abused and neglected children. She previously served as a domestic policy advisor to Vice President Biden, a senior policy advisor at the Department of Education, a senior education counsel in the Senate, and an attorney at the Juvenile Law Center. Since founding Foster America, she has been recognized as a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Taubman Center for State and Local Government and as a Draper Richards Kaplan Entrepreneur. Sherry earned a J.D. from Columbia University and a master's in public policy from Harvard. Her commitment to child welfare stems from her experience in foster care as a child.
Jane Maxwell, PhD
Research Professor with the Addition Research Institute at The University of Texas at Austin
Jane Carlisle Maxwell, Ph.D., is a research professor with the Addiction Research Institute at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin. She has been a member of SAMHSA’s National Advisory Council, a consultant to the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control, a Fulbright Senior Specialist, a member of the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Community Epidemiology Work Group and NIDA’s National Drug Early Warning System. She has over 45 years’ experience monitoring changes in drug use patterns in Texas, the United States and internationally.
Elinore McCance-Katz, MD, PhD
Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and Head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in the Department of Health and Human Services (CME Certified)
Elinore McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D. is the first Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. She obtained her Ph.D. from Yale University with a specialty in Infectious Disease Epidemiology and is a graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. She is board certified in General Psychiatry and in Addiction Psychiatry, and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry with more than 25 years as a clinician, teacher, and clinical researcher. Most recently she served as the Chief Medical Officer for the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals and as the Chief Medical Officer for the Eleanor Slater Hospital system which is Rhode Island’s state resource for patients with the most serious mental illnesses and medical illnesses. She was also Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University. Dr. McCance-Katz was one of the architects of Rhode Island’s plan for addressing the opioid epidemic including new approaches to treatment in the form of a statewide system of Centers of Excellence in the treatment of opioid use disorder, new approaches to training in the utilization of DATA 2000 (Drug Abuse Treatment Act of 2000) to bring DATA waiver training to medical students, and legislative/regulatory work addressing safe use of opioids in acute pain.
Jennifer Potter, PhD, MPH
Associate Dean for Research in the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Jennifer Sharpe Potter, Ph.D., M.P.H. is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Anesthesiology and Associate Dean for Research in the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Dr. Potter is also on the graduate faculty with the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at San Antonio and an Associate Professor with the University of Texas School of Public Health, in the Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Potter received her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Georgia and a Master of Public Health in behavioral science from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.
Representative Four Price
District 87, Chair of Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse
Representative Four Price, a fourth generation Texan from Amarillo, is serving in his fourth term in the Texas House of Representatives where he has the privilege of advocating for constituents residing in five Texas Panhandle counties – Carson, Hutchinson, Moore, Potter and Sherman. He is Chairman of the House Committee on Public Health which has jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to the protection of public health; mental health, the development of its programs, and the prevention and treatment of mental illness; oversight of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, the Texas Department of State Health Services, and 22 other health or health related state agencies, such as the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. Representative Price was recently selected to also chair the newly created House Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse which has been tasked to develop and present concrete principles and action items to reduce the scourge of opioids and substance abuse in Texas. Additionally, Representative Price serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources and the House Committee on General Investigating and Ethics. For his legislative work, Representative Price has been recognized by many diverse organizations, including 2017 Top Ten Best Legislator List as published in the July 2017 issue of Texas Monthly magazine and 2017 Legislative Champion Award presented by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.
Eric Sevingy, PhD
Associate Professor Criminal Justice and Criminology at Georgia State University
Eric Sevigny is Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Georgia State University. He received his Ph.D. in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006. His research interests lie at the intersection of drugs, crime, and public policy, particularly around issues of sentencing and incarceration, the measurement of drug-related problems, the collateral consequences of mass incarceration, and the impact of medical marijuana laws on drugged driving and other outcomes. Dr. Sevigny’s research on drug problem measurement is currently supported by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Dace Svikis, PhD
Deputy Director of the Departments of Psychology, Psychiatry and Obstetrics/Gynecology at Virginia Commonwealth University
Dr. Svikis is a Professor in the Departments of Psychology, Psychiatry and Obstetrics/Gynecology at VCU. She also serves as Deputy Director, VCU Institute for Women's Health and Director of the AWHARE Program (Addiction and Women's Health: Advancing Research and Evaluation). More recently, she has assumed a leadership role in the development of an Academy of Mentors for VCU with a focus on creating a solid institutional infrastructure that supports faculty and students in the conduct of interdisciplinary clinical and translational research. Dr. Svikis' own research efforts have focused on identification and treatment of perinatal addiction, with specific attention paid to both the clinical and economic efficacy of alternative intervention strategies. She has over 100 publications and serves on a variety of NIH study sections and journal editorial boards.
Co-Founder of Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative
Charles Thibodeaux LCDC, BAAS, is a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) since 1992 and has worked in the substance abuse field for over 28 years. During that time, he worked in residential treatment settings for adults as well as adolescents. He worked at a community based MHMR where he supervised an HIV prevention street outreach program for 12 years which followed a harm reduction philosophy whose target population was active IV drug users and sex industry workers. He worked for the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) for 10 years. At DSHS, he worked for HIV division for one year and the remaining 9 years he worked for the substance abuse/mental health division. He is one of the pioneers who helped get the first underground syringe exchange program started in Texas. He has also presented on harm reduction topics including overdose awareness and prevention for several years at the statewide DSHS HIV Street Outreach Conference as well as the DSHS Behavioral Health Institute Conference. Charles is currently a co- founder of the Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative (TONI) which brings overdose awareness and opioid overdose prevention education trainings throughout the entire state of Texas. He also works as a Patient Navigator and Consultant with Linkage to Care in getting individuals tested, treated, and cured of Hepatitis C.