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2021 NC Prevention Conference Speakers

Plenary Speakers

  Day 1 Plenaries  

"Prevention Updates" with Jessica Dicken, MSW, Section Chief, Community Wellness, Prevention and Health Integration Team, DMH/DD/SAS

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Jessica has twenty-two years of experience in substance misuse prevention, including thirteen years conducting training and technical assistance to prevention block grant providers, law enforcement, coalitions and collaboratives in Illinois and North Carolina.  She’s passionate about encouraging community strategic planning for ATOD primary prevention initiatives and collaborating with statewide partners, most recently on the impact of Federal Tobacco 21 laws and navigating prevention efforts during and post COVID.  She’s been with DMH since May 2018 serving as the Prevention Block Manager, Interim Section Chief and since July 2019 as Section Chief.  Prior to 2018, she focused on training, TA and instructional design roles with the NC Training and TA Center.   In her spare time, she is a proud mother and spouse, an avid sports fan, gardener, reader, animal lover and weekend explorer of North Carolina beaches/mountains and sites.  Jessica received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Illinois Wesleyan University and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

"Alcohol Policy and the COVID-19 Pandemic" with David Jernigan, PhD


David Jernigan, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Health Law, Policy and Management at the Boston University School of Public Health, and senior policy advisor to CityHealth, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente. He previously directed the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) and was an associate professor in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is a member of the Cannabis Advertising and Social Media (CASM) research group, an advisor to the Maryland Collaborative to Reduce College Drinking and Related Problems, a member of the steering committee of the Global Information System on Alcohol and Health, and scientific chair of the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance. He has served as an advisor to the World Health Organization and the World Bank, and has written more than 140 peer-reviewed journal articles and contributed chapters to seven books on alcohol issues.

"Equity and Prevention" with Dr. Angela Maxwell

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Angela Maxwell is the Prevention and Early Intervention Services Director for Alcohol and Drug Services. She oversees services in ten counties and has worked in substance use prevention for 25 years.  Angela is also the co-founder of Aspire Training and Consulting Group, LLC.  She has a B.A. Degree in English (UNC-Chapel Hill), M.S. Degree in Agency Counseling (NC A&T State University) and Ph.D. in Leadership Studies (NC A&T State University).  After completing her MS, she worked with the local mental center serving youth with severe emotional and behavioral disorders.  Angela is a Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS) and has served as an adjunct professor for Guilford Technical Community College.  Angela serves on several boards across North Carolina to include: NC Substance Abuse Prevention Providers’ Association (Board Chair), NAADAC: National Addiction Professionals Association (President-Elect) and many others.  She has facilitated numerous workshops on the local, state and national level in the areas of substance use prevention, addiction, workforce development, ethics, social justice, strategic planning, coalition development, and workplace wellness.  She is sought after as an authority in the field of primary substance use prevention. Angela has received three statewide substance use professional of the year awards (2008, 2010, 2019).

  Day 2 Plenaries  

"CBD and Marijuana Law and Policy: An Objective Discussion" with Anna Godwin, MS, LCAS, CSAPC and Stacey Worthy, JD

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Anna Godwin, MS, LCAS, CSAPC joined CINC (formerly Families in Action) in 2012 where she serves as the new Executive Director. In 2006, Anna received a Bachelor’s of Science in Recreational Therapy. She then went on to receive a Master’s of Science in Professional and Substance Abuse Counseling and a Master’s of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling and is a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist (LCAS) in the state of North Carolina. Anna has experience working in both residential and outpatient substance abuse treatment and has also worked as an employee assistance consultant.  Anna currently serves on the Addiction Professionals of North Carolina board as Vice President and serves on the Wilson County Substance Prevention Coalition board.


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Stacey Worthy, J.D. serves as counsel for Aimed Alliance and is a principal attorney at Sequel Legal. Ms. Worthy provides counsel to nonprofit organizations; health care programs and providers specializing in pain and addiction medicine; clinical laboratories; and pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies in various aspects of their legal, regulatory, and business affairs. Ms. Worthy advises health care programs, providers, and laboratories on a wide range of federal and state health regulatory, fraud and abuse, and reimbursement matters, including anti-kickback, false claims, self-referral, fee-splitting, marketing, billing and coding, and licensure issues. She also counsels clients on the development, implementation, and evaluation of their compliance programs. She prepares practitioners for U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration inspections, responds to licensing board complaints, drafts policies for urine drug testing, and assists with third-party billing and collections. Ms. Worthy frequently authors scholarly articles for publication and presents at national conferences on topics concerning health care regulatory matters; best practices and the standard of care for prescribing controlled substances; fraud and abuse; and improving patient access to quality health care. Ms. Worthy is a graduate of George Mason School of Law, where she served as Articles Editor for the George Mason Law Review. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English and graduated magna cum laude from Boston’s Suffolk University in 2006.

"Working During COVID: Challenges and Opportunities?" with Wilson County Substance Prevention Coalition, Orange Partnership for Alcohol & Drug Free Youth, and Alcohol & Drug Services.

"Attorney General's Report (TREC) recommendations" with Steve Mange, J.D. & Jasmine McGhee, J.D.

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Josh Stein was sworn in for his first term as North Carolina’s 50th Attorney General in 2017 and his second term in 2021. As Attorney General, he is focused on protecting North Carolina families from crime and consumer fraud.  Stein has made combatting the opioid epidemic a top priority. His office drafted the STOP Act to reduce the number of people who become addicted to opioids through smarter prescribing practices, the HOPE Act, which gives law enforcement additional tools to stop the flow of prescription pain pills into the drug trade, and the Synthetic Opioid Control Act to crack down on the trafficking of illicit fentanyl. All three laws were passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper.  Stein is leading the effort to identify, track, and test untested sexual assault kits. Testing these kits will help law enforcement identify and prosecute criminals, prevent future crimes, and bring closure to victims.

As Attorney General, Stein has also worked to protect taxpayers, seniors, students, and military families from fraud. His Department of Justice won awards or settlements of more than $80 million from scam artists. He is working to improve data security and is leading a national effort combat robocalls. Additionally, his office has recovered nearly $50 million from tax cheats and health care providers defrauding Medicaid over the past two years.  Stein is also focused on protecting our state’s natural resources. He opposes offshore oil drilling along North Carolina’s coast and fights to ensure that polluters are held accountable to clean up the messes they create.  Stein previously served as a state Senator and as Senior Deputy Attorney General in the North Carolina Department of Justice. In those roles, he successfully led efforts to put more violent criminals behind bars by expanding the state’s DNA database, wrote the School Safety Act and the Identity Theft Protection Act, worked to protect kids from online sexual predators, and helped run payday lenders charging loan shark interest rates out of the state.

Stein grew up in Chapel Hill, is a graduate of Dartmouth College, and earned law and public policy degrees from Harvard University. He and his wife Anna have three children – who all attend or attended North Carolina public schools, like Anna and he did. 

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Steve Mange serves as Senior Policy & Strategy Counsel to North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, where his current focus is on strategies to address the opioid epidemic.  Steve previously worked as Senior Policy Advisor to the Illinois Attorney General, Executive Director of the Illinois Meth Project, and consultant to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws.  He has a B.A. in History from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, an M.A. in Latin American History from the University of Chicago, and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.

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Jasmine S. McGhee serves as Special Deputy Attorney General and Director of the Public Protection Section at the North Carolina Department of Justice (NCDOJ). The Public Protection Section is the forward-facing unit of the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office and handles public safety policy, outreach, and related litigation, including on gender-based violence, criminal justice reform, and consumer protection. Ms. McGhee is the Lead Counsel for the Governor’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice, which in December 2020 published and is working to implement 125 recommendations to improve racial equity in North Carolina’s criminal justice system.  She is also the Attorney General’s representative on the NC Human Trafficking Commission and supervises the office’s participation on the NC Domestic Violence Commission, the Financial Literacy Council, and the Victim’s Compensation Fund. Ms. McGhee also serves as a member of the Statewide Reentry Council Collaborative, including its Steering Committee.  Prior to joining NCDOJ, Jasmine worked as a litigator in the areas of white-collar crime and government investigations and had an active pro bono practice on civil rights and human trafficking matters. She practiced at both K&L Gates in Raleigh, NC and WilmerHale in Washington, D.C. Jasmine also clerked for Judge Andre M. Davis, then on the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with honors and distinction and from Columbia Law School, where she was a Paul Robeson Scholar and an essay and review editor for the Columbia Law Review. 


Charity Anderson, MPS

Charity currently serves as the Youth and Family Engagement Specialist with Community Impact NC, under the Division of Coalition Support. She previously served as a Social Emotional Generalist and Community Liaison with GOAL High School in Colorado Springs, supporting at-risk youth with life skills development, substance misuse prevention, recovery support and crisis intervention. Charity has over ten years advocating for youth in program settings, namely by leading efforts to increase social emotional support and community connections in order to decrease student disengagement. Charity Anderson received her master’s degree in prevention science and is currently working toward her prevention specialist certification. She is also a certified recovery coach.

Michael C. Barnes, JD

Michael C. Barnes is Chairman of the Center for U.S. Policy, a not-for-profit organization advancing solutions to the nation’s substance misuse, mental health, and incarceration crises. He is also Principal Attorney at Sequel Legal, where he practices health and drug law and policy. Mr. Barnes previously founded and managed DCBA Law & Policy, a law firm recognized nationally for its work in health care and drug policy. He co-created and successfully exited a global health care and policy consulting firm and a private residential substance misuse treatment program. Mr. Barnes has provided legal, political, and issue analysis for national news networks, including Fox News, Fox Business, CNBC, CNN, and HLN. He has been a member of the advisory board for the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit since 2011, the National Sheriffs’ Association’s Drug Enforcement Committee since 2014, and the editorial board for the Journal of Opioid Management since 2015. Mr. Barnes was a political appointee under President George W. Bush, having served as confidential counsel in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Catherine Thatcher Brunson, B.S.

Ms. Brunson has worked in the field of prevention for over 20 years and has served as a consultant and trainer with the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America (CADCA) for over 10 years supporting community coalitions in all aspects of the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF). She facilitates opioid task forces in both urban and rural communities with a focus on engaging healthcare leadership and advocating for non-opioid alternatives for the treatment of pain. Ms. Brunson was the recipient of the FBI’s Community Director’s Leadership Award and received a Presidential appointment to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Drug Free Communities Advisory Commission. She has a B.S. in business from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Steven Burritt

Steven Burritt is the Regional Executive Director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving in South Carolina and North Carolina.  He took on the Executive Director title in South Carolina as of January 2018 but performed a similar role under the title of Program Director since he joined MADD in July 2013.  During his seven years with MADD SC, the staff has grown from two to nine along with increased mission activity in victim services, court monitoring, underage drinking programming, and law enforcement support.  Steven is in charge of the state office’s fundraising, grants, partnerships, and media presence.    In January 2021, Steven began working in a similar role with the team in MADD North Carolina.  Steven has a Masters of Public Health from the University of North Carolina along with an undergraduate Broadcast Journalism degree from the University of South Carolina.  Before MADD, he was involved in many major South Carolina statewide substance abuse prevention projects in the areas of underage drinking, youth smoking, and DUI during his 12 years working for the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.  He lives in Lexington and is married with two daughters.

Gayane Chambless

Described as a "conduit," Gayane's mission is bring people together. She is passionate about empowering and supporting youth to be their best, fostering healthy communities for them to thrive. As a youth, Gayane lived in Washington DC, Mississippi and Austria, exposing her to numerous cultures of alcohol use. She came to North Carolina in 1981 to attend university, and never left, finding her forever home with her college sweetheart in Hillsborough. Gayane received her undergraduate degree from UNC -Chapel Hill, and her Master of Arts in School Counseling from North Carolina Central University. She brings a long history of volunteer activism, particularly in Orange County and at the state level, where she advocates especially on behalf of building resilient youth. She served as an original member of the NC DHHS Opioid and Prescription Drug Abuse Advisory Committee. She served as the Orange Partnership for Alcohol and Drug Free Youth Program Coordinator from 2011 until 2018, when she became the Program Director. When not working or advocating, she enjoys spending time outside with her husband and grandson. She particularly loves to travel, which she looks forward to doing again in the (hopefully!) near future.

Ben Cort

Ben’s passion for recovery, prevention and harm reduction comes from his own struggle with substance abuse. Sober since 6/15/96, Ben has been a part of the recovery movement in almost every way imaginable; from a recipient to a provider to a spokesperson Cort has a deep understanding of the issues and a personal motivation to see the harmful effects of drug and alcohol abuse minimized. From non-profits to hospitals to private programs Ben has been a leader inside of many forms of addiction treatment and prevention. From 2017-2020 Ben was a consultant to various treatment programs, state governments, professional and collegiate athletics and labor. He is now CEO of the Foundry Steamboat Springs, an inpatient treatment program for men in the mountains of Colorado.Ben is a Jr Fellow at the University of Florida inside of their drug policy institute, a board member for NALGAP (National Association of Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender treatment providers and their allies), a Board member at SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) and faculty at numerous institutes. He is a published author (Weed Inc, Simon and Shuster 2017) and his TED talk “Surprising Truths about Legalizing Cannabis” has been viewed over 3.5 million times.

David Ezzell, MPA, Paramedic

David Ezzell, MPA, Paramedic, is the EMS Education Consultant for the N.C. Office of EMS. His primary responsibilities include community paramedicine, emergency operations, data management/research, and working as a liaison between the NC College of Emergency Physicians and the NC Medical Board. Prior to working at the NC Office of EMS, David spent many years working as a Paramedic and Field Training Officer in progressive, high-volume EMS systems.

Dr. Michelle Geiser, EDd, LCMHC-A, LSC

Dr. Michelle Geiser, EdD, is a trauma specialized mental health professional who serves as the Program Director for Hope Coalition. Michelle works with children, adolescents and families to regain their personal power through education, prevention, advocacy and recovery. Michelle believes that empowered people build strong communities. She works to provide and sustain services to the community as a whole in order to build resilience. Michelle has helped to secure nearly 2 million dollars in federal funding for Henderson County to support those in need. Michelle serves as an appointed member to the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council. She is a National Board-Certified Counselor, a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counseling Associate, a Licensed School Counselor and Certified Trauma Professional. Michelle is a graduate of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) National Coalition Academy. She is also a certified Nurturing Parenting Provider, Catch My Breath Provider, You Quit Two Quit provider, In-depth provider, and SBIRT certified. Michelle holds a Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling, Traumatology, and a Masters of Education in School Counseling.

Doug Green

Doug serves as the Eastern Regional Director of Community Support under the Division of Coalition Support for Community Impact NC. He has experience working in public safety areas and the technology services field with Law Enforcement, Emergency Medical Services, Fire, and 911. Doug has received training from Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. He is a graduate of CADCA's National Coalition Academy. He is a trained Recovery Coach and received training as a Crisis Intervention Team member.

Deeanna Hale-Holland

Deeanna is a Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS) and is the Prevention Director for Coastal Horizons. She is the current Secretary of the North Carolina Prevention Providers Association (PPA) and has served on various advisory boards and coalitions at the state and local level to support quality improvement in programming and practices. She facilitates support for policy advocacy involving alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drug misuse. Deeanna has experience providing technical assistance and training on evidence-based programs, best practices, and community policies for substance misuse prevention. Most of all, she is passionate about building partnerships and creating opportunities for positive problem solving to address complex issues.

Jeff Hill

The Wilson County Substance Prevention Coalition employs an Executive Director, Jeff Hill who has experience serving vulnerable at-risk populations experiencing substance misuse and other challenges. Jeff has worked with impoverished demographics within the Wilson County limits for the past four years, in prior community roles as well as his current position as the WCSPC Director. His experience is focused around serving populations ranging in various ages, ethnicities, and educational affluence within a non-profit (501c3) work environment. His areas of proficiency include educational development, workforce related training, and personal/behavioral skills training/counseling. Jeff was certified to both implement a behavioral risk/need assessment known as the Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (LS/CMI) by the “Alma Institute” in September of 2017 and as a certified Recovery Coach via the “Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery” (CCAR) in October 2018.

Julie Huneycutt

Julie Huneycutt has worked in the non-profit world for over 20 years. She has been the Director of Hope Coalition since 2014. In 2010, after losing her 20 year-old daughter to an opioid overdose, she and her husband founded Anna’s Hope, a fund dedicated to raising awareness about prescription drug misuse. Since then, she has been active both locally and regionally, appearing on multiple news shows, speaking at addiction conferences, civic, political, and social clubs sharing a story of hope while emphasizing the dangers of substance misuse. Julie has a BS in Psychology from NC State University, a certificate of Non-profit management from Duke University and a certificate in Fundraising Management from Indiana University. She is a graduate of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) National Coalition Academy, a former appointee to the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council and has served on the North Carolina Legislative Task Force for Sentencing Reforms for Opioid Drug Convictions.

Jennifer Lichtneger

Jennifer Lichtneger came to Mothers Against Drunk Driving in North Carolina as the State Program Director in September 2018.  Prior to MADD, Jennifer spent over 10 years of her professional career with two major nonprofit health organizations, working for causes she is passionate about.  Along with a proven record of development and fundraising, her nonprofit experience has provided her knowledge and expertise in the areas of grant management, advocacy, relationship development, volunteer organizing, and budget planning.  In North Carolina,  she leads a team of four dedicated staff members and a network of committed volunteers who work every day to advance the MADD mission in NC.   Jennifer lives in Raleigh with her husband, son, and golden retriever.

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Emily Nicholson

Emily S. Nicholson is a Prevention and Early Intervention Services Consultant for Alcohol and Drug Services. She provides services in Moore and Richmond counties and has worked in substance use prevention for 13 years. She has a A.A. degree in Health Care Management Richmond Community College) B.A. Degree in Health Care Management (NC University Gardner Webb), M.S. Degree in Agency Counseling (NC University at Pembroke) and Certification in Adult Education (Walden University) Emily enjoys visiting local nursing homes and hospitals to offer guidance and assistance to residents and families. She is also a Guardian Ad Litem Volunteer and Ameri Corps Supervisor Volunteer. Emily serves on several boards Drug Free Moore County, Richmond County JCPC Board Member (Monitoring and Funding Committee Member), and Richmond County Endangered Task Force. She has facilitated numerous workshops in the areas of substance use prevention, and she continues to provide specialized training in addressing prescription drug abuse to coalition partners. She also promotes use of environmental strategies to reduce prescription drug abuse through Operation Medicine Drop take back events, reducing access to drugs and alcohol through school/communities’ policies such as drug free contracts. In addition, she provides alcohol and drug prevention consultation, training, information and materials to various communities and local leadership. Emily has received a certificate of appreciation from Drug Free Moore County for her prevention achievements in Moore County, October 2008.

Jeff Spargo, MDiv

Jeff Spargo, MDiv is the Program Manager for the Mitchell-Yancey Substance Abuse Task Force, a coalition under the non-profit Partners Aligned Toward Health (PATH). Jeff guides the coalition in substance use prevention, harm reduction and treatment/recovery education across rural Mitchell and Yancey Counties in western North Carolina. Jeff has served in this capacity for over 4 years and brings a unique lens to the work based on previous experiences in ministry and as a Violence Prevention Specialist for various non-profit entities.

Gretchen Summerville

Gretchen Summerville (she, her, hers) is a NC native, mom, outdoor enthusiast, and social justice advocate. She graduated from North Carolina State University with a BA in Political Science and has been working in the field of community health prevention for over two decades. She is currently the Director of Community Health Initiatives for Western Youth Network (WYN), a non-profit dedicated to supporting healthy, equitable communities for youth and families in the High Country region. WYN offers evidence-based services including youth programs, mentoring, and public health, as well as initiatives addressing health equity and integration. Gretchen is passionately committed to addressing the root causes of complex community health issues across systems. She is deeply honored to serve and work with partners at the local, regional, state, and national level.

Kelly Teague

Kelly joined Community Impact NC in 2018. She is a Regional Coordinator under the Division of Coalition Support. Kelly received a B.S. in Business Administration from Western Carolina University. She started her first 501(c)(3) in 1996 to address physical fitness and family wellness in her county. During this time, she received training in adolescent mental health from SAMHSA and certification in Therapeutic Child Care. Her position at Haywood Community College started in 2002. She was an Adult High School Biology teacher, math instructor, and a then recruiter. She assisted her department in securing a grant to pilot an andragogical contextualized instruction program for parents of young children. She attended American Grant Writing institute and was awarded title of Certified Grant Writer, CGW©. She moved into the grant writer and grant manager position under the president at Haywood Community College. She became a coalition coordinator in 2014 and received Coalition Academy training through Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America.

Aileen E. Vazquez

Aileen E. Vazquez was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. She is the mother of 3 children: 2 boys and a girl. She has been married for 5 years to her wonderful husband, Aileen moved to North Carolina about 7 years ago from Springfield, Massachusetts. Aileen is a graduated from Forsyth Technical Community College with multiple certifications in Human Services Technology~ Substance Abuse Counseling, Social Service, Domestic Violence Intervention, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Peer Coaching. After excelling in her class making the Presidential and Dean List’s, she also became an active member with Phi Theta Kappa honor roll society. Aileen is not only family oriented and community driving but is a very dependable person to all her friends and peers. She has been working for Alcohol and Drug services for Guilford County since October of 2016, as a Prevention and Early Intervention Consultant, and a Lifestyle coordinator for Guilford County schools. In 2017, Aileen’s volunteer efforts were recognized by Hayes Taylor YMCA, where she was awarded The Latch Key Award, for outstanding volunteer services in the community. Her motto has and will always be to “Keep pushing and keep hope alive!”

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