2023 RICH COnference

exhibitor and sponsorship applications will open in October. Please contact Mary boisse (mboisse@sosrco.org) for more info

SOS Recovery, Inclusion, Community, Harm Reduction (RICH) Conference

Tuesday April 4th and Wednesday April 5th, 2023

Sheraton Harborside Hotel, Portsmouth NH

SOS Recovery Community Organization is presenting the 3rd annual RICH conference.  Northeast’s premier peer-recovery conference.  The conference will include nationally recognized keynotes that will present on innovations in peer-based recovery supports and harm reduction with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.  This conference will include nationally recognized keynote speakers and  breakouts over 2 days surrounding the theme of the conference. 

This conference will attract leaders and advocates within the prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction communities across New England as well as health care providers, clinical staffs, licensed professionals, mental health professionals, agency staff, social service providers, educators, first-responders and local, state and federal policy makers and legislators. The conference will also attract individuals and family members impacted by substance use disorder, people who use drugs, people who identify as sex workers, and allies of the recovery and harm reduction community.

Our 2022 Conference Speakers

Chacku Mathai 

Plenary: “Deepening the Conversation about Racism, Racial Equity, and Recovery.”

Chacku is an Indian-American, born in Kuwait, who became involved in consumer/survivor/ex-patient advocacy when he was only 15 years old. Chacku’s personal experiences with racism and xenophobia related trauma, suicide, and disabling mental health and substance use challenges, including psychosis, as a youth and young adult launched Chacku and his family towards a number of efforts to advocate for alternative supports, equity, and inclusion in the community.

He currently works as a private consultant and the Director for the SAMHSA Healthy Transitions Initiative with the Center for Practice Innovations at Columbia University, supporting OnTrackNY, a Coordinated Specialty Care model for young people experiencing early psychosis in New York State. He volunteers his time in roles such as the President for Friends of Recovery – New York, a statewide coalition of people in recovery from addiction, as a board member for the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy, and as co-founder of Healing through Hip Hop. He is a National Advisory Council member for the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health in Texas and the National Center on Advancing Person-Centered Practices and Systems. Chacku serves on several advisory boards for key research initiatives at Boston, Columbia, Lesley and Rutgers universities. Chacku is also an appointed member of the New York State Integrated Block Grant Committee and the New York State Behavioral Health Services Advisory Council.

Maia Szalavitz: Award-Winning Neuroscience Author, Journalist & Mental Health Advocate

Plenary:  How Harm Reduction Saved my Life
Maia Szalavitz is the author, most recently, of Undoing Drugs: The Untold Story of Harm Reduction and the Future of Addiction, which is the first book on the history of harm reduction. Her previous book, Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction, was
a New York Times bestseller and received the media award from the National Institute on Drug
Abuse. An earlier book, Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids, was the first to expose the damage caused by the “tough love” business that dominates youth treatment and helped spur Congressional hearings on the matter.
She has also authored or co-authored five other books, including the classic on child
trauma, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, with Bruce. D. Perry, MD, PhD. In addition, she has written essays and features for numerous publications from High Times to the New York Times.

Jon Zibbell, Ph.D. 

Plenary: Emergent Trends in Opioid and Stimulant Co-use Against a Backdrop of Endemic Polydrug use:  Implications for overdose prevention, treatment, and community interventions

Dr. Jon Zibbell, PhD. is a senior scientist in the Center for Behavioral Health Epidemiology, Implementation & Evaluation Research at RTI International where he conducts behavioral epidemiological research on risk factors and health outcomes associated with the illicit drug use. Dr. Zibbell is a medical anthropologist with 20+ years of field experience conducting mixed methods research with people who inject drugs (PWID). He is PI of a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded fentanyl study in North Carolina (Fentanyl Overdose Response and Community Engagement: FORCE) and co-PI for an NIH-funded study in North Carolina and West Virginia to assess behavioral outcomes associated with the use of fentanyl test strips (FTS) among PWID. Prior to RTI, Dr. Zibbell worked as a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) health scientist in the Division of Viral Hepatitis and the National Center for Prevention Injury and Control and conducted research on viral hepatitis infections and drug overdoses among people who inject drugs. Dr. Zibbell was the lead qualitative investigator for CDC’s fentanyl investigations in Massachusetts and Ohio and CDC’s Scott County HIV outbreak investigation in Austin, IN., and was a member of both the 2015 White House Heroin Task Force that developed the Obama Administration’s heroin response strategy and CDC’s committee that developed HHS guidelines for the federal government’s funding of syringe service programs. Beyond research, Dr. Zibbell continues to assist states and community organizations in developing evidence-based approaches to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with infectious disease and drug overdose. Dr. Zibbell has published extensively on health outcomes associated with substance use disorders and injection drug use and holds a joint, adjunct appointment in the Center for the Study of Human Health and the Department of Anthropology at Emory University.

Traci Green, Ph.D., Professor and Director, Opioid Policy Research Collaborative, Brandeis University
Opioid Policy Research Collaborative, Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

Plenary:  “Community Drug Checking for Harm Reduction, Recovery & Public Health”

Dr. Green is an epidemiologist with a strong record of research in prescription opioid use, opioid safety and injury, and structural interventions to reduce drug-related harm. For more than 18 years, Dr. Green has carried out epidemiologic studies of illicit drug and nonmedical prescription drug use, sexual and drug-use risk behaviors, and health service utilization for vulnerable populations. She leads a team at the Brandeis Opioid Policy Research Collaborative conducting evaluations of opioid and overdose related state policies and implementing the Massachusetts Drug Supply Data Stream, a statewide community drug checking program. Dr. Green co-founded PrescribetoPrevent.org and through it and a companion continuing medical education course of the same name, has trained over 30,000 clinicians and pharmacists in overdose prevention and naloxone prescribing. She co-led the FORECAST study which provided initial validity of fentanyl test strips for use in community drug checking and fentanyl awareness, and has conducted evaluations of harm reduction organization and public safety-public health partnered fentanyl test strip distribution programming.

Haner Hernández, Ph.D., CPS, CADCII, LADCI 

Plenary: “Substance Use Disorders: A Social Justice Lens to Understanding Disparities and Building Equity.”

Dr. Hernández is originally from Puerto Rico, is bilingual and has worked for 31 years in the health and human service field developing, implementing, and evaluating culturally and linguistically intelligent youth and adult health prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery support programs.  Also, Dr. Hernández has many years of experience in delivering addiction counseling and clinical supervision to professionals in the field. Furthermore, he is a professional trainer and facilitator and provides individualized technical assistance and support to organizations that provide addiction prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery supports.

Haner is a person in long-term recovery from addiction and is committed to eliminating health disparities by working at the national, state, and local levels.  He is currently a Senior Consultant to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, with a focus on disparities, building health equity, addiction treatment, recovery supports, and the Recovery Support Centers located throughout the Commonwealth.  He also consults and teaches a number of courses at the New England Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) at Brown University and the National Latino and Hispanic Mental Health TTC.  


Jess Tilley 

Plenary: “Bridging the Gap; Fentanyl Changes Everything.”

Jess Tilley is the executive director of the New England User Union and co-founder of Harm Reduction Hedgehogs in Western Massachusetts. She was introduced to harm reduction in 1994 and has dedicated her life to the movement. Her expertise in the field of harm reduction has garnered her an international reputation. In her more than two decades of work, she has been on the frontlines of needle exchange/syringe access and eventually became the former overdose prevention coordinator/site manager of the Cambridge Needle Exchange at AIDS Action Collation. She is the executive director of the New England Users Union with 11 chapters in multiple states and is currently co-chair of the American Alliance of Drug User Unions (USU National). In both of these union organizations, she has implemented a feminist-driven team-based model of leadership. She has occupied and explored many roles in typical nonprofit structures and her passion remains front-line activism. Currently, she is working to discover and educate drug using leaders in the disciplines of outreach, community-building, advocacy for basic human rights and nuances of human connection.

Tamika Spellman

Plenary: “Managing Decriminalization”

Tamika began advocating in the early 90’s, a mouthy homeless transgender woman pushing for positive policy change for trans women in shelters in Washington DC, then again in 2007 with Jefferson County AIDS in Minorities in Birminham Alabama as a spokes person for the I am the face of HIV campagn, then finally started  working with HIPS in June 2017 after being a client  of theres form there beginning days in 1993. She started by volunteering with mobile services, then moved on to be a peer educator and also working with the secondary syringe exchange program, moving up yet again to being the Policy and Advocacy Associate and is now the Policy and Community Engagement Manager for HIPS advocacy department. She is dedicated to helping and working to create positive policies and laws to help those engaging in sex work and drug use. She’s testified numerous times on behalf of HIPS at DC city council hearings, spoken on several harm reduction panels, and is managing the SWAC coordinator (DECRIMNOW) and a community organizer for the Decrim Poverty movement. She also served as an advisor to the Sex Worker Giving Circle, the Chosen Few, No Justice No Pride, is a member of the Urban Survivors Union, and held a seat as a board member for the Church Of Safe Injection-Bangor Maine. She also has featured OP ED’s in The Root and several on Medium, appears in several articles and is the recipient of an award from the Legal Society of Washington D.C. for work on the fare evasion bill. She was also instrumental in the passage of a bill in Washington DC to decriminalize drug paraphernalia, and has become a featured speaker in the harm reduction arena. She also advised congressional representatives Ayanna Pressely and  Ro Khanna on proposed legislation, and continues to consult members of congress whenever there’s concern on legislation that’s being crafted.

Shannon Egan

Plenary: “Creativity in Recovery for Optimal Health & Well-Being”

Shannon Egan is an award-winning grant writer and has raised over 4.5 million in funds for US-based recovery organizations.  She is the author of No Tourists Allowed: Seeking Inner Peace in War-Torn Sudan. Currently, she works as a marketing and development consultant for addiction recovery organizations world-wide.  She is a motivational speaker on ‘Creativity in Recovery and ‘Multiple Pathways’.  Previously, she worked as a freelance journalist and press officer for the United Nations based in Africa and New York City.