Conference Agenda

We are excited to share our conference agenda! 

We're bringing together experts and advocates to explore innovative practices and strategies that promote behavioral health, resilience, and equity. Our agenda aims to better situate prevention within diverse perspectives and foster inclusive solutions. 


Thursday, September 26 Agenda

8:00 am - 5:30 pm     Exhibit Hall Open

9:00 am - 9:30 am     Opening/Welcome

9:30 am - 10:30 am    Keynote - Dr. Shawn Ginwright

11:00 am - 11:50 am   Workshop Session 1

 Cannabis Policy in Illinois - State and Local Updates

Presenter: Jake Levinson, Cannabis Policy Resource Center at Prevention First 

Areas of Interest: Environmental Strategies; Policy; Substance Use Prevention 

Description: This workshop will examine the landscape of cannabis policy in Illinois four years after legalization. We will discuss how regulation may have impacted youth cannabis access and use and describe local policy efforts communities can implement, highlighting tools and resources they can utilize along the way. 


Presenter: Sarah Wright, Lake County Health Department 

Areas of Interest: DEIB; Youth and Community Engagement 

Description: Microaggressions are brief and commonplace daily verbal or behavioral indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults that potentially have a harmful or unpleasant impact on the target person or group (Sue et al., 2007). They tend to be subtle, unintentional, and/or indirectly delivered towards a person or group. Microaggression can represent unconscious or implicit biases ingrained in our beliefs. Microaggressions manifest in three ways: verbal, nonverbal, or environmental (Sue, 2010; Sue, Bucceri et al., 2007; Sue, Capodilupo et al.,2007). It also has three main forms: micro assaults (explicit or purposeful; derogatory actions/comments toward marginalized groups), microinsults (often unconscious; tearing down heritage or identity), and microinvalidations (often unconscious; negating lived experiences; Nadal et al.,2017; Nadal, Issa, et al., 2011; Nadal, Wong, et al., 2011; Sue, 2010). Microaggressions, when delivered continuously and cumulatively, can lead to stress, lower confidence/well-being, and discrimination for the recipients. (Periyakoil et al. 2020. Academic Medicine, 95(3), 450-457.)

The workshop will introduce the concept of microaggressions, diving into the forms and ways they occur. Examples of microaggressions will be incorporated in training to call attention to those occurrences and include approaches (policy, awareness, and interventions) taken to mitigate the microaggressions. The session will cover the implications of microaggressions on marginalized groups and the cumulative effect of microaggressions. Furthermore, participants will discuss strategies/interventions to address microaggressions as a target person/group and bystander. Those attending will be able to practice various methods and techniques to decrease microaggressions and address those behaviors to improve their work in the community. 

Indiana's Mobile Integrated Response System (MIRS): Impacts on the Opioid Crisis

Presenter: Sara Howe, Third Horizon Strategies

Areas of Interest: Policy; Substance Use Prevention 

Description: The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration – Division of Mental Health & Addiction (DMHA) developed the Mobile Integrated Response System (MIRS) using federal funding provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), State Opioid Response (SOR) grant. The MIRS program was designed to serve people with opioid use disorder (OUD) starting in 2019, and in 2020, stimulant use disorders were added. The program combines the Trauma-Informed – Recovery Oriented System of Care (TI-ROSC) and community-based mobile response teams to close critical system gaps in local regions. MIRS sites partner with various health, criminal justice, and social systems to provide a multifaceted, integrated approach for those experiencing OUD and stimulant use disorders. The core function of a MIRS team is to provide a warm handoff for the individual to the next appropriate intervention and step towards recovery.

In the Fall of 2022, DMHA selected Third Horizon Strategies (THS) to evaluate the MIRS program statewide for service delivery, quality, capacity, outcomes, and sustainability and provide DMHA with recommendations for the MIRS program sustainability long-term. THS authored a report of its findings, including key observations and recommendations. This presentation will provide an overview of the MIRS program and its impacts on the opioid crisis and offer insights into how other communities can replicate the program. 

Integrating Harm Reduction Across the Prevention Continuum

Presenter: Sherrine Peyton, Peyton Consulting, LLC

Areas of Interest: DEIB; Mental Health; Substance Use Prevention  

Description: This interactive workshop will empower participants with knowledge and actionable strategies for integrating harm reduction principles throughout the prevention continuum. The session will begin with an insightful educational overview of the foundational principles of harm reduction and its diverse range of strategies. Participants will gain a nuanced understanding of harm reduction’s effectiveness and alignment with other evidence-based practices. Through facilitated discussions and group activities, attendees will explore real-world challenges and develop approaches for their unique circumstances.

Participants will be invited to share their situation, background, assessment, and recommendations (SBARs) with the group to facilitate a peer-driven discussion and idea sharing. By the workshop’s conclusion, participants will be equipped with practical insights, actionable strategies, and a strengthened commitment to infusing harm reduction across the prevention continuum within their community. 

The Circle of Care: Addressing Our Children's Grief and Loss

Presenter: Nancy Phillips, Illinois Family Resource Center and the Circle of Care

Areas of Interest: Environmental Strategies; Mental Health; Substance Use Prevention; Youth and Community Engagement  

Description: Our current environment and the changing world make it especially difficult for our youth to understand and remain balanced in their environments. With the escalating of drug overdoses and opioid issues, along with the increase of children being removed from the home due to substance misuse, a sense of loss and grief is increasing for our young children and teens. In response to the need for emotional support for our “littles,” it is vital we address these issues with age-appropriate strategies. As a result, the Illinois Family Resource Center is excited to be working on a year-long project known as the Circle of Care for our children. Join in a discussion of support and learn about the opportunities for building a Circle of Care within your organizations, communities, schools, and faith-based groups. Learn how to link with the resources and training available for wellness with age-appropriate strategies and resources. Be a part of the statewide efforts to build grief management and wellness for our youth within a Circle of Care! 

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm    Lunch

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm     Keynote - Phillip Graham

2:10 pm - 3:00 pm     Workshop Session 2

Addressing Alcohol Access through Partnerships

Presenter: Jody Heavilin, Alcohol Policy Resource Center at Prevention First, and Kenny Williams, Illinois Liquor Control Commission

Areas of Interest: Environmental Strategies; Policy; Substance Use Prevention 

Description: The pandemic created a perfect storm of increased access to alcohol and decreased enforcement of alcohol laws. Coalitions and law enforcement could not conduct alcohol compliance check details in their communities due to “lock-down” restrictions. A need for trained law enforcement officers was apparent. A partnership was formed between the Alcohol Policy Resource Center at Prevention First and the Division of Enforcement at the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. This team has trained hundreds of officers and created a youth training toolkit for officers to use with their underage compliance check volunteers. This workshop will share the foundations of this partnership and efforts to build law enforcement’s capacity to reduce youth retail access to alcohol.  

Building Resilience: Addressing Racial Discrimination, Coping Strategies, and Behavioral Health
Among Urban BIPOC Adolescents

Presenter: KaTerri Monet Kelly, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital Division of Adolescent Medicine

Areas of Interest: DEIB; Substance Use Prevention; Youth and Community Engagement 

Description: This workshop offers a comprehensive exploration of the challenges facing urban BIPOC adolescents, focusing on racial discrimination, coping strategies like John Henryism, and behavioral health conditions. Participants will gain insights into recognizing and combating racial injustices, supporting healthy coping behaviors, and addressing mental health stigma. Discussions will also cover community-level implications, including the intersection of social determinants of health, substance misuse, and access to mental health services. Additionally, the workshop will touch upon the role of epigenetics in understanding intergenerational health outcomes. This transformative session is designed for parents, caregivers, educators, and community leaders to foster resilience and create equitable, supportive environments for BIPOC youth.  

Bridging Primary Prevention and Harm Reduction: Engaging Youth Across the Continuum of Care

Presenter: Corinne Shea, Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc. 

Areas of Interest: Mental Health; Substance Use Prevention; Youth and Community Engagement 

Description: Substance use disorder is a pediatric-onset disease, with nine in 10 adults with SUDs having initiated their use before age 18, a fact that underscores the need for primary prevention and early intervention. Employing a public health approach to addiction also requires removing traditional siloed thinking about individual substances and pushing back against the assumption that adolescent substance use is inevitable. This workshop will take a fresh look at nationally representative data on youth substance use behaviors that show for adolescents, all substance use is closely connected and that, more than ever, young people are choosing not to use substances. Rather than the traditional “either/or” approach to primary prevention and harm reduction, both are needed to effectively engage young people in their own self-care, including those in and seeking recovery, and to combat the national overdose crisis. Join a dynamic conversation about the need for a clear public health standard of substance non-use for youth under 21 that is aligned with the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics in its policy on screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT), and that does not stigmatize, but instead embraces, young people who need support for substance use problems. We will explore how communities have begun to amplify the voices of adolescents in primary prevention while holding space for the lifesaving tools of harm reduction. Together, by preventing or delaying the onset of substance use and helping young people access the information and resources needed to make wise choices for their future health and well-being, ultimately, we can reduce the prevalence of substance use disorder. 

Empowering Youth-Led Prevention

Presenter: Rachel Decosola, Illinois Association for Behavioral Health 

Areas of Interest: Mental Health; Substance Use Prevention; Youth and Community Engagement 

Description: In this presentation, we will explore the benefits of youth and adult-led partnerships and how to enable communities to foster proactive prevention strategies led by youth. We will use youth's powerful energy and influence to show you how you can create an atmosphere of positive peer support while recognizing youth as part of the solution. We will highlight SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) and how you can develop the infrastructure needed for a school or community-based health approach. You will learn the history and the why behind youth-led prevention and where Operation Snowball, Inc. continues to grow and expand. We will discuss youth programs that empower student leaders through prevention education, community advocacy, and leadership development to create a positive impact. 

Use Sector-Specific Outreach and Engagement Strategies to Amplify Your Impact

Presenter: Valerie Rasche, Chestnut Health Systems 

Areas of Interest: Substance Use Prevention; Youth and Community Engagement 

Description: In this session, we will delve into the art and science of effective outreach and engagement strategies using two case studies that showcase the power of community sector involvement. How do you develop both breadth and depth in sector representation and engagement? This will be at the heart of our discussion, and we will include a tool to help identify hidden populations and align strategies to their unique needs. 

3:10 pm - 4:00 pm   Workshop Session 3

What's With Teen Vaping? A Nicotine and Cannabis Vaping Overview

Presenter: Gordon Bender, Project Oz

Areas of Interest: Substance Use Prevention 

Description: This session will discuss nicotine and cannabis vaping, what they are, and how misuse and addiction develop. We will also discuss how e-cigarettes and cannabis are marketed to teens. We’ll look into types of vapes and cannabis vapes, as well as flavorings tempting teens. Lastly, we will discuss prevention and treatment strategies for teens around vaping. 

Impaired and Distracted Driving Prevention Policy in Your High Schools

Presenter: Kris Zerfass and Hanna Wierzba, Link Together Coalition & Stand Strong Coalition  

Description: How do high schools in your area prevent impaired and distracted driving? Using the Strategic Prevention Framework, you will be walked through the collaborative efforts beginning in 2019 between a Coalition, NHTSA, high school administration, and law enforcement, resulting in approved parent/guardian/student contracts and parking passes. According to Illinois Youth Survey data, teens did not identify the same risk of driving under the influence of marijuana as they identified the risk of driving under the influence of alcohol. The risk of harm included both themselves as the driver and riding in a car with someone else. A highlight of this initiative is when a local high school's youth policy committee successfully advocated for this policy change. When you leave, you will return home with all the tools needed to enhance impaired and distracted driving prevention in your community. 

Youth Engagement: The Secret to Effective Culture Change

PresenterDr. Cristina Cortesi and Rochelle Cripe, Stevenson High School  

Areas of Interest: Environmental Strategies; Policy; Substance Use Prevention; Youth and Community Engagement 

Description: Great youth prevention programs don't just happen - they are built strategically from the inside out. In this workshop, you'll hear how Catalyst, a 140-member strong youth prevention group, got started eight years ago and how it is changing the culture around substance use at Stevenson High School and the surrounding communities. Every participant will leave with a blueprint for how to get a youth group started, strategies to keep youth engaged, and innovative ideas for creating effective culture change in their own schools and communities. 

Recovery Friendly Workplaces in Rural Communities

Presenter: Maggie McKenzie and Tor Neal, Arrowleaf 

Areas of Interest: DEIB; Mental Health; Policy; Substance Use Prevention; Youth and Community Engagement 

Description: This interactive workshop will explore the transformative potential of becoming a Recovery Friendly Workplace in rural communities. This session will delve into the Recovery Friendly Workplace Toolkit developed by Arrowleaf, which provides employers with practical guidance on inclusive hiring practices and the support needed to integrate individuals with lived experience into their workforce. By fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment, employers can address workforce shortages and contribute to the mental health, well-being, and resilience of their communities. Participants will learn about rural employers' unique challenges and opportunities, especially regarding the healthcare workforce shortage, and gain insights into how inclusive hiring practices can enhance diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) initiatives. The workshop will cover the importance of mental health and substance use prevention, the impact of inclusive policies, and the role of community engagement in creating a thriving, supportive workforce. 

Brain Architecture and Considerations of Trauma-Informed Care

PresenterJessica Smiley, Heritage Behavioral Health Center  

Areas of Interest: Mental Health; Youth and Community Engagement 

Description: Engage in a hands-on activity that builds an understanding of the powerful role of experiences on early brain development – what promotes it, what derails it, and potential societal outcomes.

  • Define trauma and begin to understand the impact of trauma in terms of early brain development and ongoing connections with one another.
  • Learn aspects of trauma-informed care and how to implement strategies in their organizations.
  • Explore the idea of resilience and identify self-care strategies within the context of trauma-informed care. 

4:00 pm - 5:30 pm   Networking Event

Friday, September 27 Agenda

8:00 am - 12:00 pm    Exhibit Hall Open

8:00 am - 9:00 am     Breakfast

9:10 am - 10:00 am    Workshop Session 4

Community Gardening and Prevention

Presenter: James Miletello, Prevention First 

Areas of Interest: Substance Use Prevention; Youth and Community Engagement 

Description: This workshop will offer an in-depth overview of Prevention First’s Community Gardening Initiative (CGI) while exploring the multifaceted roles gardening plays in prevention and horticulture therapy. Participants will gain a comprehensive understanding of how community gardens can serve as a tool for improving public health and fostering community cohesion. The initial CGI cohort, comprising four key collaborators—Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, LePenseur Youth and Family Services, GAP Community Center, and Grand Blvd. Prevention Services—will share their firsthand experiences and insights into implementing prevention-based community gardens in Chicago's westside and southside neighborhoods. Through these presentations, attendees will learn about the successes and challenges faced by each organization and the innovative strategies they employed to engage community members and promote healthy living. Furthermore, the workshop will provide a platform for discussing the future expansion of the CGI during 2024-2025. This includes the exciting development of an agriculture social enterprise to create sustainable economic opportunities and further enhance community resilience.

Illinois Prevention Network-ing

PresenterHanna Wierzba, Kris Zerfass, Jorie Esser, Alyssa Rothmaler, and Aishwarya Balakrishna, Illinois Prevention Network (IPN), 

Areas of Interest: Environmental Strategies; Policy; Substance Use Prevention; Youth and Community Engagement 

Description: Do you do prevention in the state of Illinois? Do you connect with other organizations to learn about strategies they are using or what kinds of resources they have? Are you tired of reinventing the wheel? In this presentation, you will learn about the Illinois Prevention Network (IPN) and have the opportunity to discuss current initiatives with other prevention professionals. The IPN provides opportunities for prevention workers to learn from each other and share their resources, knowledge, and strategies. Originating in 2020, the IPN started as a large group that joined during the CADCA National Leadership Forum in 2019 in Washington, DC. With a multitude of leaders looking to expand and share what they know in the prevention field, they wanted to bring this from DC back to Illinois. The IPN meets monthly, and the agenda allows for networking, education on current topics, legislative updates, Marijuana/Vaping/Advocacy/Alcohol committee updates, guest speakers, and more. The IPN has worked together as a state to identify areas of focus, explore other funding sources to effectively execute projects, and always take an evidence-based approach to prevention programming that addresses the issues we are facing collectively as a state. 

Performance-Based Substance Use Prevention

PresenterAbbie Lee, OMNI Youth Services 

Areas of Interest: Mental Health; Substance Use Prevention; Youth and Community Engagement 

Description: Performing is performing! Performing optimally and living our best lives pertain to all areas, including academics, athletics, extracurriculars, arts, and any other type of performance. Understanding how sleep, nutrition, mental health, and substance use impact our bodies, brains, and performance is vital for adolescence and beyond.

The Illinois Human Performance Project aims to address the critical issue of adolescent substance use by focusing on the foundational elements of overall wellness. We have developed comprehensive educational materials and programming emphasizing the importance of sleep, nutrition, mood & mindset, and chemical health. These four science modules are tailored for middle school, high school, and emerging adult populations and highlight how these factors influence their performance in academics, sports, and other extracurricular activities. By fostering a holistic approach to health, we seek to prevent the use and misuse of substances through a performance-based approach. Additionally, adolescent athletes face a tremendous amount of pressure to perform both academically and athletically. These stressors, frequent injury, and subsequent recovery put adolescent athletes at an indicated risk of potential opioid exposure and misuse. The IL HPP Prescription Playbook empowers adolescent athletes to find healthy ways to cope with stress and set themselves up for success in all aspects of life. By helping athletes understand the risks associated with substance use, we can deliver strategies to strengthen mental wellness, increase refusal skills, and develop self-confidence. Join two of OMNI's prevention programs, The Illinois Human Performance Project and The IL HPP Prescription Playbook, to learn how these programs have successfully provided prevention education efforts through the lens of performance in counties across Illinois! 

Prevention, Meet "SAMHSA Harm Reduction Framework for People Who Use Drugs (PWUD)"

PresenterSherrine Peyton, Peyton Consulting  

Areas of Interest: Environmental Strategies; Policy; Substance Use Prevention; Youth and Community Engagement 

Description: Prevention, meet “SAMHSA Harm Reduction Framework for People Who Use Drugs (PWUD)” SAMHSA Harm Reduction Framework for People Who Use Drugs (PWUD) is the first document to comprehensively outline harm reduction and its role within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The framework was developed and written in partnership with the Harm Reduction Steering Committee, which is composed of leaders in the harm reduction field from across the country and leaders in prevention, treatment, and recovery. This workshop will inform participants of how harm reduction intersects with prevention, treatment, and recovery and how the Framework informs SAMHSA policies, programs, and practices. Participants will learn how they can use the framework in their community. 

Opioid Overdose: Recognition, Response, and Reversal

Presenter: SIU School of Medicine, Center for Rural Health and Social Service Development 

Areas of Interest: Substance Use Prevention 

Description: Session participants will learn about the factors contributing to the recent opioid overdose epidemic. Opioid overdose will be discussed, and participants will learn how to recognize and respond to this life-threatening emergency, including the administration of nasally formulated naloxone (Narcan). All session participants will be provided with a 2-dose box of Narcan, free of charge. 

10:10 am - 11:00 am   Workshop Session 5

The Substance Misuse/Mental Health Connection

PresenterRandyl Wilkins, Mental Health Resource Center at Prevention First  

Areas of Interest: Environmental Strategies; Mental Health; Substance Use Prevention; Youth and Community Engagement 

Description: Mental health and substance use challenges are connected, and the relationship is likely bi-directional. This means that mental health challenges can contribute to substance misuse, and substance misuse can contribute to the development of mental health challenges. They also share some common risk factors, such as genetic vulnerabilities, stress, adverse childhood experiences, and trauma. In this workshop, we'll explore the relationship between substance misuse and mental health, their shared risk and protective factors, and why we do ourselves and our communities a disservice to think of them as separate and unrelated issues. 

Making Collaborative Advocacy Work

PresenterHanna Wierzba and Kris Zerfass, Stand Strong Coalition & Link Together Coalition 

Areas of Interest: Environmental Strategies; Policy; Substance Use Prevention; Youth and Community Engagement 

Description: Are you an advocate for prevention? No matter your experience level, as prevention professionals, we are all advocates. Learn the 13 C's of how to be an effective advocate and discuss real-life examples of successful advocacy. Attendees will be taken through the process of starting local policy change initiatives using the Strategic Prevention Framework. Collaboration will be woven throughout the discussion to highlight unique partnerships with community champions and youth. Come ready to share your own ideas of advocacy and maybe find a new partner in the audience! 

How Youth and Adult Partnerships Lead to Positive Change

PresenterRiley Cleary, Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute 

Areas of Interest: DEIB; Mental Health; Substance Use Prevention; Youth and Community Engagement 

Description: As leaders in any industry, it is our task to prepare the next generation with the tools, skills, and education to make a positive impact on our communities and our fields. Through youth and adult partnerships, we create a system of mentorship that allows youth to find agency in using their own voices while having the support to take healthy risks, make mistakes, and garner an understanding of the cycle of implementing effective change. This session will explore how adults can partner with youth using SAMHSA's Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) to break down the steps that lead from goal setting and brainstorming to implementation and evaluation. You'll hear success stories from the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute and leave with a better understanding of supporting youth in building their own legacies as leaders in all spaces. 

Bridging the Gap: Connecting with Marginalized Communities for Substance Use Prevention

PresenterNetta Jamieson, The Coalition Against Prescription and Substance Abuse of Tulsa 

Areas of Interest: Substance Use Prevention; Youth and Community Engagement 

Description: Prevention programs are most successful when they can reach and engage diverse communities in a meaningful way. However, many organizations struggle to connect with marginalized populations and may not be aware of the unique challenges and barriers that these groups face. This presentation will explore the importance of cultural competence in prevention work and provide practical strategies for connecting with diverse communities. 

Playing with Learning: Strategies for Fun and Effective Education

PresenterJamie Kaszuba, Lake County Health Department  

Areas of Interest: Substance Use Prevention; Youth and Community Engagement 

Description: Student-based learning activities benefit active learning and student knowledge retention. Active learning methods such as practice and hands-on activities are associated with higher retention rates. There are numerous principles to learning retention. One principle is active engagement, which allows learners to retain information better when they are actively engaged in the learning process through activities, discussions, and applications (Mundey, 2023). Utilization of learning activities keeps students engaged and helps further their understanding and application of prevention and peer refusal techniques. Another core principle is repetition and practice, which help reinforce memory and enhance retention of learned material (Mundey, 2023). Other core principles are chunking and spaced repetition, where complex information is broken down into smaller, manageable chunks to help facilitate understanding, and distributing the information over time can foster better long-term retention (Mundey, 2023). Providing different activities focused on different topics helps students retain new information through repetition and chunking information. These activities can be made more appealing to students by using promotional items. Students can win prizes like pencils, bookmarks, stickers, and fidget toys. Promotional items can include substance-free messaging that can align with a campaign that may be at a school. The promotional items can also remind students about the prevention information they may have learned. 

11:10 am - 12:00 pm   Closing Keynote - Kym Laube

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