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Pastor George Wood

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Forum Bio's 

Healthier Hillsborough 

Pastor George Wood is an expert in the addiction treatment and recovery field. Pastor Wood is also a person in long term recovery, beginning his personal journey in 2006, and in 2007 began working in the recovery field. In 2009 after some very traumatic life events George knew he had to do more for those struggling with addiction. At that time he founded “The Timothy Initiative” a faith based ministry that works with men in addiction. Over the past 10 years The Initiative has helped hundreds of men not just find sobriety but a whole life! The Initiative is best known for its “community” method of recovery which has led to an incredible percentage of men that find long term sobriety (typically multiple years). During this same time Pastor Wood has also built a successful Non-Profit construction business that exist to teach men responsibility, and the dignity that comes from a hard day’s work. During which the individual is learning a valuable trade that will enable him to take care of himself, provide for a family and to be a productive member of society. Currently Pastor Wood is also the Director of Pastoral Care and Counseling for the Tampa Underground Church Network, and is in the process of developing a new Non-profit, “Sober Truth Project” that will focus on bringing awareness, solutions, and destigmatizing of addiction. George is also on the committee to bring an R.C.O. (Recovery Community Organization) to Hillsborough County. In 2018 George also became part of "Community and Faith leaders Organization" who work together bringing leaders of all faiths along with Doctors, Counselors, and Law Enforcement to bring awarness to addiction through community forums.  

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Doug Walker, M.Div. is the Senior Pastor at Tyer Temple United Methodist Church, and Director of Strategic Partnerships and Training for the Tampa Bay Center for Community Transformation. As, a master facilitator, and trainer he promotes hope and healing for congregations and communities across the country through a message of genuine reciprocal relationship with those directly impacted by crime and the criminal justice system. Doug and his wife Cheryl Faries have a developed a framework for trauma-informed ministry called “Resilient Congregations” based on SAMSHA’s principles of trauma informed care. He is a graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, where he was among the first of their Urban Fellows graduates. Doug is currently pursuing a PhD in Public Policy at Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, Ohio, where his area of interest is social and policy change through bringing Martin Luther King’s concept of the beloved community to bear on public safety.

Pastor Doug Walker

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Teresa McAndrew Miller is a longtime advocate for Pro-Life issues, saving lives through substance abuse prevention clearly falls into the realm of what it means to embrace life. Taking on these controversial issues, Teresa simply calls it her mission from God. The prescription drug epidemic hit her family early. To better understand addiction and recovery, Teresa returned to college and completed her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling.  At this point it seemed as though prevention was a better fit than counseling, so Teresa continued to immerse herself in prevention activities by joining Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance and other task forces, attending many seminars, and continually talking to friends about prevention. Anyone who met Teresa was handed not only one card but a stack and asked to “pass it on.”  She also created posters, yard signs (sunshades, too), car magnets, t-shirts… Teresa was basically a walking/driving billboard for keeping Florida drug free. 

Teresa McAndrew Miller

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Cheryl Faries, MS Ed. is the director of the Women’s Leadership Institute, an outreach ministry of the United Methodist Women of Tyer Temple United Methodist Church.  She has nearly 25 years of experience working to empower under resourced communities.   Her passion is working with women to become self-sufficient. Originally from Waterloo Iowa, she is formerly the Vice-Chair of the Waterloo Human Rights Commission, Co-Chair of Citizens for Undoing Racism in Blackhawk County Iowa, and currently the Director of Programming for the Tampa Bay Center for Community Transformation. Cheryl and her husband, Doug Walker, have a developed a framework for trauma-informed ministry called “Resilient Congregations” based on SAMSHA’s principles of trauma informed care. She received her master’s degree from the University of San Diego.

Cheryl Faries, MS Ed.

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Carol Eloian BA, CRPS-F 

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Carol Eloian is the Director of Consumer and Family Affairs for the Suncoast Regional Managing Entity, Central Florida Behavioral Health Network (CFBHN), Inc. Her role at CFBHN is to partner and assist community members in their development, evaluation, and implementation of a Recovery Oriented Systems of Care (ROSC). In addition, since 2008, Carol has been an active member of the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) Hillsborough and served in many roles, such as, past president to currently serving on their advisory council. 

Carol has many years of lived experience as a family/caregiver of those diagnosed with substance use additions and mental health challenges. This experience has aided her in developing networking for resources and strong advocacy skills that she uses when navigating the behavioral health system of care. These abilities also fuels her passion to offer hope to her peers by engaging and empowering them through support, education and advocacy.

Carol serves on many statewide and local substance abuse recovery and mental health stakeholder councils and committees to ensure the use of recovery concepts and principles for integrating recovery supports and services into a variety of settings and to encourage these communities to develop an extensive list of recovery capital.

Carol holds a certification as a Recovery Peer Specialist (CRPS)- Family; and uses her skills and knowledge to facilitate the Florida Department of Children and Families’- “Helping Other’s Heal” (40 hour peer specialist training), and the evidence-based recovery programs, such as, the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI) - “Family-to-Family”, and Mary Ellen Copeland’s-“Intro to Wellness Recovery Action Plan” (WRAP) trainings. These trainings are designed to assist individuals who are in recovery and desiring additional techniques, skills and knowledge to gain certification for delivering recovery peer supports and services within their community and in the workplace.

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Tina Levene

Tina Levene graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Family and Child Development from the University of Akron in Ohio. Professionally, Tina pursued working in the fields of Social Work, Juvenile Justice and Drug Prevention/Education for over 20 years. Tina and her husband became Licensed Therapeutic Foster Care Parents in 2011.

As a Professional Speaker, Christian Comedian, Past Christian Radio and TV Show Host and Author of 5 books, her inspirational voice has encouraged young people in jails to National Conference attendees and major Decision Makers in legislation.  Her Keynotes, Staff Development Trainings and expertise help create an engaging "Funny but REAL" experience with audiences. As a survivor of trauma and as an active woman in recovery of 21 years, Tina advocates for individualized authentic paths of recovery for each person.

Tina's motto is "The truth is...there is hope!"

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Natasha A. Pierre is an award-winning speaker, author, certified professional life coach and a mental health advocate with over 20 years of lived experience. Natasha has a B.A. in Mass Communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and a Social Security Administration Work Incentives Practitioner credential from Cornell University. For the last five years, Natasha has devoted much of her time to mental health education and advocacy.  She facilitates classes on self-advocacy and work readiness. She is the Vice President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)-Hillsborough, Florida and a board member with Aaron’s House in Tampa. Her additional mental health certifications include: Supported Employment, Mental Health First Aid – Youth and Adult, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Smarts Advocacy Training, Peer Mentoring, and Wellness Recovery Action Plan WRAP).

Natasha A. Pierre, CPLC, CWIP

Moderator: Lived Experience Panel
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Taiwan Simmons is a licensed minister at Hebron Family Life Center in Tampa, FL, has a bachelor’s degree in communication and is professionally trained through Dale Carnegie, AMA as well as several advanced-management training programs. He currently serves as the faith-based chairperson and an Ambassador for the Pasco County Commission on Human-Trafficking, is a member of the Pasco County Substance Abuse task force, Co-Founder and Director of Community Victory Family Services and Co-Founder and CEO of Inside Reach Ministries.

Taiwan Simmons

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Dr. Joe Bohn is Assistant Professor and Director, Community Engagement for USF's College of Public Health. He teaches public health topics in the undergraduate, masters and doctoral level programs as well as serving as faculty mentor to a number of students. Serves as community facilitator for behavioral health and substance abuse prevention education and forum planning initiatives in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. In addition Dr. Bohn is co-principal investigator on a Hillsborough County Community Vulnerability Study in partnership with the USF Florida Center for Community Design and Research.

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Joe Bohn, PhD, MBA

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Pastor William Conner was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. He moved to Tampa in the 1980s to attend USF where he met and married his wife Kim. They have been married for thirty one years and have two adult children, and one grandson. William also has an older daughter and two granddaughters who live in Lexington. William has overcome alcohol addiction and has been clean and sober for the last 10 years. He is now serving his community as a Pastor and Mentor.

Pastor William Conner

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Keith Jacobs founded On Track Life Solutions, Inc (OTLS) in 2009 and has spent the last decade engaging community stakeholders, policy thought leaders, and practitioners nationally around a next generation approach to sustainable community development.  Mr. Jacobs has spent the last 30 years as a business analyst and business process management specialist, enabling change in enterprises across multiple industry sectors, helping companies scale and commercialize innovation.  Mr. Jacobs currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of OTLS, a Florida/New York based technology development firm and research group. He attended Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, FL, and was a member of the historic Marching “100” Band.  Keith has devoted his life to preserving humanity and looks forward to introducing a transformative technology infrastructure that enables our greatest potential and well-being.  

Mr. Jacobs began his career as a buyer and national distribution liaison with two of the nation’s leading retailers.  His experience and expertise in operations management has allowed him to design new methods to discover, model, analyze, measure, improve, optimize, and automate life, research, and business processes.  

Keith Jacobs

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Debra Thomas currently serves as the Court Services Supervisor for DACCO Behavioral Health in Tampa, Florida.  This award winning organization has been serving the community for more than 45 years and provides cutting edge treatment, not commonly found at not-for-profits. DACCO is accredited nationally by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities and licensed for 32 distinct programs by the Florida Department of Children and Families. 

Ms. Thomas is also a licensed Mental Health Counselor with the State of Florida Department of Health.  Additional memberships and affiliations include; Membership in Nova Southeastern University Alumni Society, The Children's Ministries at Relevant Church, The Children’s Crisis Center, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Treatment Provider in The 13th Judicial Circuit Courts, and Veteran's Treatment Court Expert.  Ms. Thomas practice specializes in Substance Use Disorders and Dual Diagnoses.

Debra Thomas

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Pastor Carlos Irizarry is a registered nurse and paramedic with over 20 years of medical experience. He also serves as Lead Pastor with Wholesome Community Ministries, a church whose congregation has a vision for their community: to promote health in spirit, mind and body, one person and one family at a time.

Pastor Irizarry has received the following certifications: Mental Health First Aid Trainer, Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) Trainer, Hillsborough County Citizens Academy, and Hillsborough Leadership Faith Community Nurse.  Pastor Irizarry currently holds board positions with the Sheriff's Advisory Board, USF Community Advisory Board, Moffitt Cancer Center Community Advisory Board, Hispanic Christian Faith Liaison, and Co-Founder LaEsperanza Clinic.

Pastor Carlos Irizarry