OUR TEAM

Meet the hardworking experts who bring The SOAR Initiative’s work to life. From students to peer recovery specialists, our team is diverse and skilled.

Administration

Pranav Padmanabhan (he/they)

Executive Director
Pranav studies Geography and Public Health at Ohio State University and hopes to become an epidemiologist specializing in substance use. As Executive Director, he manages SOAR’s daily operations, strategic direction, and community partnerships. 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.

Sydney Sauer (she/her)

Director of Operations
Sydney is a senior studying sociology at The Ohio State University. She manages SOAR's finances, day-to-day operations, and organization. Sydney sees harm reduction as an important tool to enhance public health and move towards a racially equitable society. After graduation, she plans to continue engaging with communities of PWUD and pursue her PhD in Sociology.

Kim Maximovich (she/her)

Strip Club Program Manager
Hi there! My name is Kim and I’m the project manager of our fentanyl test strip by mail program. I am a recent graduate from Ohio State University with an undergraduate degree in Public Health and a specialization in Sociology. I work full-time at Covermymeds here in Columbus, and spend a lot of time outside of my 9-5 doing work here at SOAR. My love and passion are helping people while showing them compassion and commitment to their journeys towards better health and making informed choices. I am honored to play such a small role YOUR life and in keeping Ohioans safe. Turn on screen reader support

Andrea Hefferan (she/her)

Marketing Manager
Andrea is a second-year Marketing major with a minor in Design Thinking. She is interested in outreach and making harm-reduction resources accessible to as many people as possible. She is also excited to work with community members and help expand SOAR.

Lydia Bentley (she/her)

Assistant Program Manager, Strip Club
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.

Technology

Joseph Esposito (he/him)

Director of Technology
Joey is a Data Analytics Major and Mathematics Minor in the OSU College of Arts and Sciences, who would like to become a Data Scientist upon graduation. 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 Developer
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.

Community Relations

Jessica Mitsch (she/her)

Director of Community Relations
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 a member of SOAR, she would like to contribute by spreading their mission and expanding their services throughout Ohio.

Tonja Catron (she/her)

Community Outreach Worker
Wife, Mom, Grandma, AoD Therapist, Harm Reduction Ohio chapter director for Miami County, person in long term recovery, student at Indiana Wesleyan University studying for my Master's in Social Work, favorite quote "There is no room for EGO in outreach"

Jereme Maffei (they/them/he/him)

Community Outreach Worker
Jereme has a bachelors degree in Psychology with a minor in Public Health. They are hoping to pursue a Masters and Ph.D in Neuroscience and Psychopharmacology. Jereme started Peer Delivered Harm Reduction, their own non-profit, in 2017. Their work focuses on allocating supplies and resources to people who use drugs and others who are impacted by the War on Drugs. They firmly believe that through harm reduction and policy changes, the overdose epidemic can be halted. Jereme hopes to research alternative recovery medicine such as psychedelics, dissociatives, and other medication-assisted treatments.

Matthew Ellis (he/him)

Government Affairs Coordinator
Matthew is a Senior at the Ohio State University studying Political Science. He leads our Government Affairs effort at the Federal, State, and Local level as well as outreach in the Mahoning Valley. Matthew believes harm reduction is vital to reversing the trend of tragic loss throughout Ohio due to the overdose crisis. Having worked for the U.S. Representative Tim Ryan and State Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan, Matthew realizes the value in policy advocacy. He plans to pursue his Master of Urban and Regional Planning following graduation.

Executive Board

Larkin Cleland (he/him)

Chair of The Board
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)

Board Member
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)

Board Member
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 maternal medicine, with hopes of becoming an OB/GYN after graduation. 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. She hopes to combine her non-profit work and medical practice by specializing in addiction medicine and caring for the maternal population who use substances in a holistic way.

Dana Lavender (she/her)

Board Member
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.