The SHARP Network is a peer learning network project funded by the Centers for Disease Control's Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) initiative.
In our 1st year, we interviewed practitioners to identify:
Existing coalitions engaged in harm reduction work across our 7-state network
Best practices in harm reduction within our region
Barriers to putting effective strategies into practice
Preferred ways to network and learn with regional partners
Our ongoing activities focus on:
Providing a platform for networking, mutual support, and technical assistance
Facilitating opportunities for horizontal skill-sharing/information exchange between practitioners
Strengthening partnerships between community groups, health department staff, and public health researchers
[Image description: Art showing a highway with a flower growing through cracks, and the words “Harm reduction finds a way.”]
Our core project team is made up of representatives from the North Carolina Injury & Violence Prevention Branch and the University of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center. This initiative has brought together a strategic planning committee with representatives from a group of seven central Appalachian states (NC, VA, WV, OH, KY, TN, and GA). The committee includes harm reduction practitioners and overdose prevention experts from across these seven states who have provided guidance to the core project team on establishing the learning network.
Strategic Planning Committee Members
Lillie Armstrong, Senior Manager, Drug User Health, NASTAD
Orisha Bowers, Regional Director, HepConnect Initiative
Corey Davis, Senior Attorney, Network for Public Health Law
Donald Davis, Founding Member, Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition
Judith Feinberg, Professor, School of Medicine, West Virginia University
Amanda Kiger-Stoffel, Regional Organizer, Unharming Ohio
Robin Pollini, Associate Professor, School of Medicine & School of Public Health, West Virginia University
GINA MUSA, CPSS, CARC
Rural Linkage and Networking Coordinator
Gina Musa, CPSS, CARC, has worked in the fields of recovery and harm reduction since 2017. Gina is responsible for recruiting network members and implementing member-led events to provide horizontal skill-sharing opportunities. Gina is also a regional consultant with NASTAD's drug user health team, providing technical assistance for syringe service providers. She frequently presents on panels, and engages in advocacy and education work centering PWUD. Before coming to UNC IPRC, she provided statewide linkage to care at the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC). Gina connects those in need to appropriate resources, while providing hope and using a non-judgmental, person-centered approach.
Prior to working for NCHRC, Gina worked at Healing Transitions, providing wraparound services to people who have survived a non-fatal opioid overdose as well as other trauma from substance use. Gina is a person who has been directly impacted from substance use disorder, a former sex worker and person who injects drugs. Gina is a person in long term continuous recovery and a proud mother of three amazing kids.
BLYTHE RHODES, MSPH
Blythe Rhodes, MSPH, is responsible for planning and conducting research to support the network and for report writing. This research includes interviewing our members and their program participants to understand their needs and ways in which this network may support them. In addition to research, Blythe writes our quarterly network newsletter and supports the planning of our annual network gathering. She works closely with Gina in each of these efforts.
Blythe is also currently a doctoral candidate in the department of Health Behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. She is passionate about conducting research that can be directly applied to improve health services and quality of life for individuals who use drugs.
LEAH TARASKIEWICZ, MPH
Leah Taraskiewicz, MPH, is the Associate Director of Partnerships and Capacity-Building at the University of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center (UNC IPRC) where she directs training and technical assistance programs for injury and violence prevention professionals in North Carolina and the Southeastern US. Leah currently manages the SHARP Network team providing administrative and behind-the-scenes support.
Prior to joining UNC, Leah worked for over eight years preventing and responding to gender-based violence, including serving as a prevention educator throughout DC and Metro Detroit. Most recently, before pursuing her Master of Public Health, she supported queer & trans survivors of violence and discrimination at Equality Michigan, the statewide LGBTQ political advocacy and anti-violence organization.
BETH MORACCO, PhD
Dr. Beth Moracco is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and the Associate Director of the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center. She is an applied public health researcher with 20 years of experience and expertise in intervention development, and evaluation research, focused primarily on violence prevention, although she has also worked on projects focusing on suicide prevention, and decreasing HIV transmission. She conducts her collaboratively with the research and practice communities and is committed to authentic translation from research to practice and practice to research and building capacity among stakeholders.
For the SHARP Network, Beth is assisting the UNC team in developing and evaluating a peer-to-peer network and tools to prevent opioid and polysubstance overdose using harm reduction strategies. Dr. Moracco also serves Advisory Boards for the North Carolina Violent Death Reporting System (NCVDRS) and the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts Domestic Violence Committee.
CAITLYN GRAY PHILLIPS
Caitlyn G. Phillips has been working in the field of harm reduction since 2015. A co-founder of The Steady Collective, she has experience building and managing community-based naloxone programs and syringe service programs. Prior to joining the SHARP Network, Caitlyn consulted with community partners and institutions, such as the NC Division of Public Health’s Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, helping coordinate statewide overdose prevention and harm reduction efforts.
A person with lived experience, she cares deeply about the rights and health of people who use drugs and is committed to amplifying their stories and expertise. She currently oversees the SHARP Network communication programs and works alongside our Rural Outreach and Networking Coordinator to plan and produce upcoming network events.