Fighting the Opioid Epidemic Across America

How public health organizations across the U.S. are addressing the crisis


Deaths from the opioid epidemic have skyrocketed, as addictions to prescription opioids have migrated to illegal drugs like heroin and fentanyl. Increasingly, public health professionals are leading the charge to partner across departments and sectors to address this crisis in their communities.

Host Adnan Mahmud will discuss current programs with panelists from the Massachusetts Health Officers Association (MHOA) and San Luis Obispo Opioid Safety Coalition in California. Also, time will be allotted for questions from attendees.  

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Meet Our Panelists

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Derek Fullerton

Massachusetts Health Officers Association | Town of Middleton

Derek Fullerton, RS/REHS, CHO is the Immediate Past President of the Massachusetts Health Officers Association, a leading organization in Massachusetts that represents over 600 public health professionals.  He is the Chief Health Strategist and Public Health Director for the Town of Middleton and has been in local government and public health for 21 years. 
More than 1 in 4 in Massachusetts know someone who has died from an opioid overdose.  In 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services declared a "Public Health Emergency" related the Opioid Epidemic. During his presidency of the association, Fullerton continued to hear about many public health efforts on the federal and state level that were in motion to battle the epidemic. However, he kept saying "what are we doing as public health professionals on the local level?"  
Over the past year under his direction, MHOA has been working on a Local Public Health Toolkit for Addressing the Opioid Epidemic to provide a framework for local public health officials to become engaged, expand, and collaborate on in addressing the Opioid Epidemic.  Additionally, MHOA has built a tool, through LiveStories, for all 351 cities and towns within the Commonwealth to utilize to tell their story locally about the issue.


Jenn Rhoads

San Luis Obispo Opioid Safety Coalition

Jenn Rhoads has served on the San Luis Obispo (SLO) Opioid Safety Coalition since its inception in 2015, first as the Community Prevention Action Team lead and then as Coordinator with their grant transition in 2017. Additionally, she is the County Coordinator for the SLO County Friday Night Live program, working in FNL youth development programs for the past 12 years. Jenn also managed SLO county’s Drug Free Communities program and coalition from 2009 - 2017.
Jenn grew up in Simi Valley, CA. She moved to San Luis Obispo to attend Cal Poly where she graduated with a degree in Psychology. She began her career doing behavioral therapy with young students with Autism, and then started with the Behavioral Health Prevention & Outreach with Friday Night Live in 2006. Since then, she has worked in all areas of the Friday Night Live program – FNL Kids (4th - 6th graders), Club Live (middle school), the high school Friday Night Live chapters, Cal Poly FNL, and now program coordination. Her favorite parts about her job is getting to engage with so many different young people, schools, parents, and communities, and getting to work with them in various capacities to create healthier communities.


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