2018 Speakers
The Rx Summit annually gathers leading field experts, researchers, policy makers, and others to present a comprehensive and diverse agenda. Below are 2018 speakers.
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Douglas (Doug) Nemecek MD, MBA
Chief Medical Officer
Doug Nemecek, MD, MBA is the chief medical liaison for behavioral health integration, quality and clinical operations. He helps ensure network access and availability, patient safety, compliance with clinical guidelines, customer and provider satisfaction, and utilization management. Additionally, he works directly with customers and clients to mold operations and provides clinical expertise in new and existing behavioral health and integrated program development. Nemecek also leads Cigna’s national Coverage Policy team, responsible for developing policies and tools that are used to interpret standard medical, behavioral, and pharmacy benefit plan provisions. Additionally, he helps to coordinate Cigna’s national medical cost trend analysis and initiatives to address major medical cost drivers for our clients.
Improving the Quality of Substance Use Disorder Treatment through Payer-Driven Change
Health Plans Address America’s Opioid Epidemic with Evidence-Based Strategies

Kim Nesbitt
MA, Public Health Advisor/West Team, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration
Kim Nesbitt is currently a Government Project Officer with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. At SAMHSA, Nesbitt is responsible for development of Funding Opportunity Announcements, oversees several discretionary grant programs and serves as Contract Officer Representative. She provides program expertise and guidance on public health programs in the field of substance abuse prevention. She previously worked as a Program Analyst with the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Community Services, Division of State Assistance, where she provided oversight and management of the Social Service Block Grant Hurricane Sandy program. She is a former Health Specialist at the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, where she conducted portfolio analysis of programs and coordinated many facets of the extramural research office grant programs. Nesbitt has over 15 years of experience in the public health sector with expertise in research study coordination, grant monitoring and program development. She holds a master's degree in community health education from Adelphi University, a bachelor's degree in psychology from the State University of New York, and an associate’s degree in nursing from Howard Community College.
SAMHSA Opioid STR: State-Specific, Evidenced-Based Approaches to Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Support to Reduce Opioid Related Deaths

Rita Noonan
PhD, Branch Chief, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Rita K. Noonan, PhD, is a sociologist and Branch Chief in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention. Noonan and her staff oversee the $125 million Overdose Prevention in States (OPIS) initiative, a combination of prevention, intervention and public health surveillance programs to reduce opioid-related overdose across the United States. She works closely with several High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTAs), managing the public health component of Office of National Drug Control Policy's Heroin Response Strategy, which links public health and public safety across 22 states. She has been the recipient of several prestigious awards, including a Fulbright Scholarship and a MacArthur Fellowship. She received her doctorate degree from Indiana University.
Takeaways from the HIDTA/CDC Heroin Response Strategy and an Assessment of 911 Good Samaritan Laws

Edward Nunes
MD, Professor of Psychiatry
Columbia University Medical Center / New York State Psychiatric Institute
Dr. Edward Nunes is a Professor of Psychiatry, and Principal Investigator of the Greater New York Node of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Clinical Trials Network, as well as other NIDA-funded studies on behavioral and medication treatments for substance dependence and related psychiatric disorders. Interests and ongoing studies include treatments for cocaine dependence in general, heroin and other opioid dependence, for nicotine dependence in general, and for addicted patients with co-occurring psychiatric disorders including depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Types of treatment under study include medication treatments (naltrexone, buprenorphine, mirtazapine), as well as behavioral and psychotherapeutic approaches and computer-delivered treatments. Nunes also studies the challenges involved in implementing evidence-based treatments for substance use disorders in real-world community-based treatments settings. Nunes serves on the American Board of Addiction Medicine, co-chairs the Columbia/New York State Psychiatric Institute’s Institutional Review Board, and has been appointed to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse.
Extended-Release Naltrexone vs. Buprenorphine-Naloxone: A Comparative Effectiveness Trial

Julie O'Donnell
PhD, MPH, Epidemiologist
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Dr. Julie O’Donnell is an Epidemiologist on the Epidemiology and Surveillance Team in the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention (DUIP) at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, working on the Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance (ESOOS) program. She is a subject matter expert working on the mortality data component of ESOOS and serves as the Science Officer for several funded states. O’Donnell served as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration prior to joining DUIP. As an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, she conducted field investigations and epidemiologic studies of behavioral health issues, including opioid overdose.
Faster Data: The CDC-Funded Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance Program
Opioid and Fentanyl Overdoses: Rapid Surveillance and Regional Patterns

Nicole O'Kane
PharmD, Clinical Director
HealthInsight Oregon
Nicole O’Kane, PharmD, is a pharmacist and the Clinical Director at HealthInsight Oregon. Her expertise includes the evaluation and reporting of medical data, as well as the design and measurement of person-centered interventions to improve the safety and effectiveness of medication use. O’Kane has extensive experience collaborating with communities across Oregon to evaluate the incidence of harm related to adverse drug events, and support the integration of processes to improve medication safety. She works directly with providers and pharmacists across healthcare settings to provide leadership and project management to improve coordination of care for people taking high-risk medication combinations, including opioids and other controlled substances. O’Kane is a serving member of the Oregon Health Authority naloxone workgroup and the Tri-county opioid safety coalition, supporting the development of effective policies and monitoring for safer opioid prescribing and the expanded distribution of naloxone. She also serves as Co-Investigator on a project funded by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to develop and evaluate a toolkit aimed at community pharmacists to facilitate use of the Oregon Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and enhance supportive, effective communication between patients, pharmacists and prescribers around opioid management.
Safe Rx Opioid and Naloxone Dispensing Toolkit: Pilot Study Results
Pharmacy-Based Naloxone: Strategies from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oregon and Washington

Gina Olberding
MBA, Operations Manager
Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention
Gina Olberding is the Operations Manager for the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. Created by Gov. Hickenlooper in 2013, the consortium addresses Rx drug abuse with a collaborative, statewide approach, serving as the convener for 10 work groups with over 400 members. Prior, Olberding spent nearly 12 years in patient safety and risk management at COPIC Insurance, managing a nationally recognized communication and reimbursement program designed to address unanticipated medical outcomes. She is a volunteer and past board secretary for the Colorado nonprofit Kids in Need of Dentistry. She has a Master of Business Administration in healthcare administration.
United We Stand: Georgia’s Comprehensive Plan and Colorado’s Collective Impact Model
Colorado AmeriCorps Community Opioid Response Program

Elizabeth Oliva
PhD, VA National Opioid Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution Coordinator
Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration
Elizabeth Oliva, PhD, received her bachelor's degree in psychology and sociology from UCLA. She received her doctorate in clinical and developmental psychology from University of Minnesota, where her graduate work was funded by a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship. Oliva completed her pre-doctoral clinical psychology internship at UCSD/VA San Diego and, since then, has worked for the VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. She is currently the VA National Opioid Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution (OEND) Coordinator and is also a Core Investigator at the VA Center for Innovation to Implementation. Oliva chairs the VA workgroup that developed the national OEND implementation and evaluation plan, was Principal Investigator on a VA grant that evaluated initial implementation of OEND within two Veterans Integrated Service Networks, and was recently awarded another VA grant to evaluate the effectiveness of naloxone distribution within VA. She was also a Co-Investigator on a VA grant that developed and evaluated a multi-faceted intervention to improve access to pharmacological treatments for alcohol dependence. Oliva also serves as an Associate Editor for the journal Substance Abuse.
Surprising VA Data About Opioid Discontinuation, Overdose and Suicide: Clinical Implications
VA Best Practices: S.T.O.P. P.A.I.N Initiative and Practice Guidelines

Whit Oyler
Program Manager
Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention
Whit Oyler is the Program Manager for the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, a statewide collaborative of over 300 participants from state agencies, universities, professional associations, treatment centers and stakeholder groups. He is pursuing a Master of Public Health at the University of Colorado and is an alumnus of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Prevention Fellowship and was housed in the Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Behavioral Health.
Safe Disposal in Colorado: A State-Led Approach

Denise Paone
EdD, Senior Director of Research and Surveillance
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygience
Dr. Denise Paone is the Senior Director of Research and Surveillance in the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention, Care and Treatment at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She received her master's and doctoral degrees from Columbia University and has more than 25 years of experience in the fields of public health, harm reduction and substance use research. Before joining city government, Paone served as Director of Research at Beth Israel Chemical Dependency Institute, where she conducted several local, national and international drug and syringe exchange program evaluation studies. Paone is currently leading city-wide substance use and overdose surveillance, as well as conducting drug-related morbidity and mortality studies with an emphasis on overdose deaths and the fentanyl-driven opioid epidemic. She co-leads the real-time drug surveillance project RxStat, an innovative collaboration between public health and public safety that serves as a national model for jurisdictions struggling with high rates of drug overdose. Paone is a Distinguished Scholar affiliated with the CUNY School of Public Health, and the former chair of the National Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists overdose subcommittee. She has published numerous research papers and peer-reviewed articles.
Fentanyl and the Overdose Epidemic: The NYC Public Health Response

Chauncey Parker
JD, Director
New York/New Jersey HIDTA, and Member, National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit Advisory Board
Chauncey Parker, JD, serves as the Director of the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), a federally-funded program that invests in public safety and public health partnerships designed to reduce drug abuse and its consequences. He also serves as Executive Assistant District Attorney for Crime Strategies in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. A veteran of more than 27 years in criminal justice, Parker began his career in the District Attorney’s Office in 1986, where he served for five years. He next served for 10 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. In 2002, Gov. George Pataki appointed him to serve as the Director of Criminal Justice for New York State, where for five years he oversaw all state criminal justice agencies. Parker is a member of the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit Advisory Board.
Data-Driven Initiatives to End Overdoses
Takeaways from the HIDTA/CDC Heroin Response Strategy and an Assessment of 911 Good Samaritan Laws

Stephanie M. Patton
MPH, Prevention Coordinator
Town of Stoughton, Massachusetts
Stephanie Patton, MPH, has been identified by her peers as a prevention leader in Massachusetts. She has been the Prevention Coordinator for the Organizing Against Substances in Stoughton (OASIS) Coalition since 2012, but involved with the coalition since its inception in 2004. A primary focus of her work is policy change at the local, regional and state level. Prior to this role, Patton served as the Program Director for the Southeast Center for Healthy Communities, where she provided technical assistance to prevention coalitions throughout Southeastern Massachusetts. Stephanie has over 15 years of experience in public health, substance abuse prevention and coalition development. She has presented at numerous national, state and regional conferences and has extensive experience developing and leading engaging workshops and trainings. atton has a master's degree in public health from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a bachelor's degree from Wellesley College.
Effective Early Primary Prevention for Rx Drug Abuse

Nick Peiper
PhD, MPH, Behavioral Epidemiologist
RTI International
Nicholas C. Peiper, PhD, MPH, is a Behavioral Scientist in RTI International's Behavioral and Urban Health Program, with 10 years of experience in substance use, mental health and clinical epidemiology. His current work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) evaluates prescription drug monitoring programs, opioid overdose policies and medication assisted treatment programs. Through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), he also investigates psychiatric comorbidity and service utilization among adults with serious mental illness. In a similar line of research, Peiper concentrates on the application of emergent computational methods to understand the epidemiology of cannabis use, including the intersection with opioids. As part of this work, he currently conducts Internet-mediated surveys to better understand quality of life outcomes among medical cannabis patients who substitute cannabis for Rx opioids and heroin. In addition, he holds an adjunct appointment in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at the University of Louisville, where he teaches online doctoral courses in behavioral epidemiology and applied research methodologies; directs practicum and internship programs; and mentors graduate students in public health and the social sciences.
Drug Checking: A Novel Evidence-Based Strategy for Preventing Overdose

Robert E. Perez
Acting Executive Assistant Commissioner, Operations Support
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Robert E. Perez is the Acting Executive Assistant Commissioner (EAC) of Operations Support for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). He began his career with the U.S. Customs Service in 1992. Mr. Perez has held positions such as Director of Field Operations (DFO) for CBP's New York Field Office; DFO and Port Director in Detroit; and the Director of the Customs–Trade Partnership Against Terrorism in Washington, D.C. Mr. Perez has represented the Department of Homeland Security and CBP as a border security expert at scores of international business conferences. He has been a guest lecturer at several institutions of higher learning. Mr. Perez has been recognized throughout his career, including being named "Person of the Year" by the Maritime Security Council. Acting EAC Perez is a career member of the Senior Executive Service, holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Rutgers University, and graduated from the Senior Executive Fellows program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Addressing the Opioid Crisis Begins at the Border

Cara Poland
MD, MEd, FACP, FASAM, Medical Director, Spectrum Health's GREAT MOMs
Assistant Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry, Michigan State University
Cara Poland, MD, MEd, FACP, FASAM, was trained in internal medicine at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and in addiction medicine at Boston Medical Center. She has an interest in educating physicians and physicians-in-training to improve care for patients with substance use disorders and alcohol use disorders. She is interested in medical student curriculum development and assessment, student well-being and identifying ways to improve the process of medical training. She is professionally active in multiple societies, including acting as the current President of the Michigan Society of Addiction Medicine. She is currently the medical director of a program for treatment of pregnant women with substance use disorders and has a general addiction practice. She is an assistant professor at Michigan State University, where she acts as a Learning Society Chief.
Treatment Matters: Best Practices for Treatment in Drug Courts and the Criminal Justice System

Chris Priest
MPP, Vice President, Medicaid Solutions
Centene Corporation
Chris Priest is Vice President of Medicaid Solutions for Centene Corporation. Previously, he was Deputy Director for Medical Services with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). In that role, he also served as Michigan’s Medicaid director, overseeing several healthcare programs, including MIChild and the Healthy Michigan Plan. Before joining MDHHS, Priest worked as Gov. Rick Snyder’s Deputy Director of Strategy, where he advised the governor on various issues, including healthcare and insurance. Previously, Priest served as Director of the Bureau of Medicaid Policy and Health System Innovation in the former Michigan Department of Community Health, which was responsible for many aspects of the Medicaid program and several health reform issues, and as the Project Manager involved with the health insurance exchange in the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Prior to these appointments, Priest served in the State of Michigan’s Washington, D.C., office under former Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, served governors from the State of Indiana, worked with private sector clients on health policy, and worked in the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. Priest holds a master’s degree in public policy from George Mason University and bachelor's degree in public affairs from Indiana University.
A Public, Private Payer Partnership to Prevent Opioid Abuse and Transform Acute Care Pain Management

Scott Proescholdbell
MPH, Head of Injury Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit
Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, North Carolina Division of Public Health
Scott Proescholdbell joined the Injury and Violence Prevention Branch at the North Carolina Division of Public Health in June 2008 to head the Injury Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, where he is the Principle Investigator of the North Carolina Violent Death Reporting System and North Carolina Prescription Drug Overdose project, and he is working to build capacity for a general injury surveillance system. He serves on several state and national groups working to reduce drug overdose deaths. He has an Adjunct Faculty appointment with the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina Gilling’s School of Global Public Health.
Data-Driven Initiatives to End Overdoses
It's More Than Opioids: Polysubstance Use in North Carolina

Jessica Reichert
MS, Manager, Center for Justice Research and Evaluation
Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
Jessica Reichert is the Manager of the Center for Justice Research and Evaluation at the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. Recently, she conducted a study of police referrals to treatment programs for opioid use disorders, and she is working on a process and outcome evaluation on the second police-treatment program in the country. Reichert has published over 50 articles and reports including in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. She has recently published articles on Medication Assisted Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations and An Overview of the Opioid Crisis in Illinois, as well as was an author of the state's opioid plan. Reichert sits on Illinois' State Opioid Crisis Response Council, Cook County Opioid Task Force and the National PTAC (Police, Treatment, and Community) Collaborative. She has presented at national and state forums on the criminal justice response to the opioid crisis. In addition, Reichert is an adjunct instructor at Loyola University Chicago. She earned her master’s degree in criminal justice from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“Naloxone Plus”: Exploring Effective Response Methods After Opioid Overdose Reversal

Cynthia Reilly
MS, BSPharm, Project Director, Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Initiative
The Pew Charitable Trusts
As Director of The Pew Charitable Trusts' substance use prevention and treatment initiative, Cynthia Reilly works on federal and state initiatives to reduce the inappropriate use of Rx opioids while ensuring patients have access to effective pain management. She also focuses on expanding access to effective treatment for substance use disorders and serves as a member of the SUD Treatment Task Force. Prior to joining Pew, Reilly worked on issues related to the safety and quality of medication use for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists in Bethesda, Maryland. In this role, she coordinated the society’s work in support of rescheduling hydrocodone combination products from Schedule III to Schedule II to improve the safe and appropriate use of those therapies. In addition, she led development of policy that called on clinicians to increase efforts to combat Rx drug abuse while also ensuring patient access to needed pain therapies. Reilly received her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Temple University, and her master’s degree in global health and medical policy from George Mason University.
Improving the Quality of Substance Use Disorder Treatment through Payer-Driven Change

Nick Richardson
Public Health Analyst
RTI International
Nick Richardson is a Research Public Health Analyst in the Policing Research Program of the Center for Justice, Safety & Resiliency at RTI International. He has several years of research experience in the areas of substance abuse and addiction, homicide and policing. His recent research explores the role of law enforcement in addressing the opioid epidemic and the innovative strategies they have implemented, including harm reduction approaches. Richardson has several years of experience working with substance-using populations as both a researcher and counselor.
Law Enforcement and Harm Reduction: Merging Public Safety and Public Health Roles