Jessica Brager (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.
Kim Adams (she/her)
Director of Technology and Program Serviceskim@thesoarinitiative.org
Kim graduated from The Ohio State University in 2021 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health and a specialization in Sociology. Kim joined SOAR in 2020 and helped launch the Strip Club Program. After many years of growing and updating the program, Kim began full-time work here. She still runs Strip Club, but now has also taken on Technology responsibilities. Kim is passionate about helping people stay safe, make informed decisions, and find a sense of empowerment through knowing what resources are available to them. Kim is newly and happily married, and she and her husband have a French Bulldog named Remi that they spoil rotten.
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.”
Holly Woodruff (she/her)
Community Outreach Worker (Wooster, OH)firstname.lastname@example.org
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)email@example.com
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)firstname.lastname@example.org
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)email@example.com
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.
Sharona Bishop (she/her)
Community Outreach Worker (Hamilton, OH)firstname.lastname@example.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.
Mark Verhoff (he/him)
Community Outreach Worker (Columbus, OH)email@example.com
IN MEMORIAL: Mark passed away on July 11, 2023. Mark was a fixture at Safe Point and the Reeb Center as SOAR's outreach liaison. He was an activist who was eagerly hoping for an active citywide drug testing program. Mark was an instrumental part of SOAR's team and is deeply missed.
Zee Fishman (they/them)
Social Media Coordinatorzee@thesoarinitiative.org
Zee has a diverse background in Social Media and Digital Marketing and has found their calling in applying those skills to positively impact their community. While new to this field professionally, they found their direction towards Harm Reduction through their own lived experience. They are passionate about informed consent and community support, bringing that into whatever content they create.
Abby Spears (she/her)
Community Outreach Worker (Portsmouth, OH)firstname.lastname@example.org
Abby Spears is a lifelong resident of rural southern Ohio. She has spent over twenty years working, volunteering, advocating, and building relationships and community in the place she calls home. Abby believes in radical love, human rights, dignity and autonomy, and the power of individuals and community to create change.
Jordan Mays (they/them)
Community Outreach Worker (Columbus, OH)email@example.com
Jordan is an organizer, writer and outreach worker in Central Ohio. Their work focuses on meeting the needs of those around their city most affected by capitalist housing and medical austerity policies. Jordan works with a handful of other grassroot community orgs to strengthen the community to organize around those most marginalized by the status-quo.
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.
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.
Pranav Padmanabhan (he/him)
Pranav co-founded The SOAR Initiative in 2019 and graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Geography and Disease Modeling in 2022. He currently works as a Professional Research Assistant at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, conducting quantitative research to study substance use and homelessness and advocating for policy change to address structural determinants of health.