Jessica Warner (she/her)
Jessica has a background in Maternal Child Health and nursing. She fell in love with harm reduction when working in HIV & STI prevention. Jessica’s passion for providing inclusive, affirming, and supportive healthcare helped her open and operate 2 syringe service programs in southwest Ohio. Even with her educational background and career experience, Jessica knows that the lived experience, and empathy born from those experiences, are what drives her work in showing up and helping people where they are.
Sharona Bishop (she/her)
Director of Operationssharona@thesoarinitiative.org
Sharona is a mother of 4 and a new grandmother of 1. She will be celebrating 8 years of recovery on September 15th this year. She has been working in mental health and substance use since 2018, as a peer support, case manager and harm reduction advocate. She also works at Hancock Public Health with the health promotion and planning team.
Kim Maximovich (she/her)
Program Manager, Strip Clubkim@thesoarinitiative.org
Kim is project manager of the fentanyl test strip distribution program. Kim graduated from The Ohio State University in 2021 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health and a specialization in Sociology. Kim works at Covermymeds full time but spends free time doing work for SOAR and has been part of the team since 2020. She loves helping and showing compassion and commitment towards individuals on their journeys to better health and making informed choices.
Lydia Bentley (she/her)
Assistant Program Manager, Strip Clublydia@thesoarinitiative.org
Lydia is a Molecular Genetics major at Ohio State University with hopes to attend graduate school to become a Genetic Counselor. Though her passion lies in genetics, she has always had a special interest in public health and how harm reduction can help the overall well-being of others. Through her role in SOAR, Lydia assists in the analysis and distribution of fentanyl test strips. She’s looking forward to spreading SOAR’s mission and helping those who need it most.
Pranav Padmanabhan (he/him)
Senior Data Analyst & Program Evaluatorpranav@thesoarinitiative.org
Pranav co-founded The SOAR Initiative in 2019 and graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Geography and Disease Modeling. He hopes to become an epidemiologist specializing in substance use, utilizing community-driven research and interventions to improve the health of people who use drugs. As a Data Analyst, Pranav spends his time thinking about how to improve SOAR's operational efficiency and ensure that SOAR's programs are meeting the most prioritized needs of the communities we serve. Pranav joined SOAR to use his skills to help fill a crucial gap in Ohio's response to the overdose epidemic. He hopes to empower people who are often invisible to public health services with the resources and knowledge they need to stay alive and healthy.
Joseph Esposito (he/him)
Director of Technologyjoe@thesoarinitiative.org
Joey is a Data Analytics Major in the OSU College of Arts and Sciences, who will be working as a Machine Learning Engineer at LinkedIn after his graduation in May, 2023. He is responsible for maintaining the technology behind SOAR's Deadly Batch Alert System, and working with the developers behind the SOAR app. He also has an active role in determining the technological future of the organization. He joined SOAR in order to make a difference reducing the harm caused by the opioid epidemic, a cause he has personal connections to. Joey looks forward to helping provide the resources and infrastructure for communities to better understand the problems caused by opioids and help keep themselves safe through a modern, people-centered approach.
Kate Luckerman (she/her)
App Project Manager and Frontend Developerkate@thesoarinitiative.org
Kate is studying Computer and Information Science and pursuing a career in software development. She manages, develops, and maintains the SOAR Columbus app for iOS and Android using React Native. Kate joined SOAR to follow her passion for using technology for good. She looks forward to seeing the mobile app empower and connect communities and expand SOAR’s reach.
Jessica Mitsch (she/her)
Director of Community Relationsjessica@thesoarinitiative.org
Jessica is a Neuroscience major and Pharmaceutical Sciences minor at The Ohio State University. She is interested in pursuing a career in medicine and making healthcare more inclusive. As Director of Community Relations, she would like to share SOAR’s resources and mission with more of the drug-taking community throughout Ohio and beyond. She focuses on fentanyl test strip distribution and creating connectedness and accountability by enrolling people who use drugs, their friends, and their families in the text alert system. She works to increase awareness of the overdose crisis, especially among college students.
Tonja Catron (she/her)
Community Outreach Worker (Troy, OH)email@example.com
Tonja is an outreach worker for SOAR, she has been with SOAR for about a year. Tonya takes care of west central Ohio (Montgomery and Miami Counties, The Miami Valley.) Tonja is passionate about harm reduction and the population she serves. She got into harm reduction work in 2016 because she got tired of seeing her friends die senselessly. She is also the founder and Executive Director of Miami Valley Harm Reduction Ohio. If she’s not on the streets doing boots on the ground outreach or working as an SUD therapist, you’ll find her doing her most favorite thing, being a Grandma to 4 amazing grandchildren, a wife, a friend, a granddaughter, a person in long term recovery, board member and advisor to the board on harm reduction for other agencies, as well as a student at Indiana Wesleyan University studying for her BSW and then on to a Masters in Public Health. Tonja’s favorite quote is “There is no room for EGO in outreach.”
Ashton Rose (she/her)
Community Outreach Worker (Toledo, OH)firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashton is a community outreach worker with a personal passion to help educate and provide resources to people who use drugs. Due to personal lived experiences Ashton pursues the harm reduction field with first hand knowledge and provides views from both sides of this battle. Ashton is currently pursuing all levels of her CDCA and plans to attend college for public health. She would love to continue fighting for safety in the community. Her sole belief is that harm reduction and ending prohibition will truly help cure the overdose crisis. Providing a judgment free environment while promoting safe use is her objective. Building resources, funding and networking with other outreach programs is a main goal of hers.
Holly Woodruff (she/her)
Community Outreach Worker (Wooster, OH)email@example.com
Holly started her outreach journey because she lost her brother and bestfriend in March 2022 to a fentanyl overdose. She decided someone was going to live because he died. She gathered a couple of friends and started Dale‘s outreach. Going door-to-door sitting at the local parks giving out Narcan and harm reduction kits, feeding the hungry and educating people about overdose awareness!
Jessica Collier (she/her)
Community Outreach Worker (Cleveland, OH)firstname.lastname@example.org
Jessica is a member of our outreach team in Cleveland and serves other surrounding areas of Cuyahoga County. She has lived experience as she is a person in long term alternative recovery for 8 years. She became a Naloxone distributor over 2 years ago in an attempt to help those in her community and has been actively adapting since in all areas of Harm Reduction. She has volunteered with many local non-profit organizations and today partners with many different organizations in order to share her resources and knowledge to all in her community. Jessica has a passion for Harm Reduction work and her experience gives her a unique opportunity to connect, collaborate, and advocate for our community.
Ashlee Schleter (she/her)
Community Outreach Worker (Tiffin, OH)email@example.com
Ashlee S. was born and raised in Tiffin, OH. She was introduced to harm reduction when she entered into her “recovery” stage. Harm Reduction is something that she would have LOVED to have been educated on during her use and having access to supplies to use safely. She is also a Narcan distributor and work with several other non profit organizations, along with her full time job. A quote from Ashlee “I’m tired of my friends dying and I just want to educate others and keep them alive in the meantime.”
Jamie Decker (he/him)
Community Outreach Worker (Findlay, OH)firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamie is a father of 4, grandfather of 3 who lives in Hancock County. Jamie has worked for the Hancock County Health Department for 3 years as the Harm Reduction Coordinator/Peer Supporter, as well as working as an outreach specialist for SOAR. He is a person with lived experience who uses his unique perspective and knowledge of resources to help those in his community to live.
Larkin Cleland (he/him)
Larkin Cleland is a current student at Ohio State and a SOAR co-founder. He served as Director of Operations before transitioning to the Executive Board. In addition to his interest in harm reduction in Ohio, he is broadly interested in global public health, especially in the Middle East and Central Asia.
Brittany Carter (she/her)
Brittany is a graduate of Ohio State University’s College of Public Health and has worked in the field of harm reduction since 2018. During her time at Equitas Health’s Safe Point syringe service program, she has launched linkage to care programming, coordinated overdose prevention and response activities, and led initiatives for continuous quality improvement. Brittany’s passion for harm reduction best practices is grounded in person-centered and data-driven programming, with a strong belief in The SOAR Initiative’s mission to reduce harm and save lives through peer-led approaches.
Varshita Chirumamilla (she/her)
Varshita is a first-year medical student at Ohio State University College of Medicine. She is interested in the overlap of public health practices in medicine, especially as it pertains to addiction and the role of providers. Varshita served as a Director in SOAR, working with community partners such as Faith Mission and Project DAWN, and joined SOAR because of her experience growing up in central Ohio and seeing how substance use without proper resources can negatively impact many communities. A co-founder of the Addiction Medicine Interest Group at OSUCOM, she intends to foster an interest in harm reduction-based care amongst her peers. Varshita hopes to combine her non-profit work and medical practice by specializing in addiction medicine after residency training, and support those who use substances in a holistic way.
Dana Lavender (she/her)
Dana Lavender, native of Columbus Ohio has over 5 years of community engagement experience. Dana currently serves as the Opioid Awareness Program Manager for The African American Male Wellness Agency, helping to serve thousands of Franklin County residents in spreading awareness regarding the opioid crisis in the African American community. She is effective and efficient in executing a successful grassroots strategy. Dana possesses a strength in building relationships and has a strong reputation for high performance and exceeding expectations. Dana exudes commitment and drive and will go above and beyond to provide community members with the information and resources needed to make a difference.
Dennis Pales (he/him)
Dennis Pales is a SOAR co-founder and is currently a medical student at The University of Colorado School of Medicine. He graduated from Ohio State in 2022 and served as the Director of Community Relations from SOAR's inception through his graduation.
Anne Trinh, MPH (she/her)
Anne is a trained epidemiologist and the Director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives for the Ohio State University’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Evaluation Studies (HOPES). The Center’s mission is to support health equity and social justice by building capacity for data-informed decision-making. Previously, she managed the university’s Opioid Innovation Fund to stimulate research to address the opioid addiction crisis and worked as a maternal and child health epidemiologist for Columbus Public Health. She has two decades of experience in public health practice and research in different settings, including local and Tribal governments; nonprofits; and universities. She is passionate about implementation and translational science within the context of population health improvement and believes that focusing on prevention, equity, and the social indicators of health can create and sustain thriving communities.
Suzanne Plymale (she/her)
Suzanne is a drug war survivor, agent of change, and advocate who is working to liberate and empower people who use drugs. Suzanne works for multiple Harm Reduction Organizations centering peers autonomy and voices and uplifting any positive change and she believes in Social Justice.
Evan Robinson, MSW (he/him)
Evan works for Equitas Health in Columbus, OH, where he presently serves as the Community Relations Manager of Harm Reduction. He received his MSW from The Ohio State University.