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Project

Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Initiative

Sections

Meet the Team

Nawshin Ahmed Senior Associate

Nawshin Ahmed is a senior associate with Pew’s substance use prevention and treatment initiative. She works with states to identify and advance solutions that enhance access to treatment for substance use disorder. Before joining Pew, Ahmed served as a senior policy analyst for the National Governors Association and a project coordinator at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Ahmed holds a bachelor’s degree in public health from the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and master’s degrees in public health from the State University of New York at Albany and in business administration from Stony Brook University.

Vanessa Baaklini Senior Associate

Vanessa Baaklini leads and supports original research projects and develops publications on effective treatment for opioid use disorder. Before joining Pew, she worked on implementing and evaluating substance use prevention initiatives in health care settings. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the American University of Beirut and a master’s degree in social work from Ohio State University.

Alexandra Duncan Senior Officer

Alexandra Duncan works on Pew’s federal and state initiatives to reduce the inappropriate use of prescription opioids and increase access to evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders.

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Marcelo H. Fernández-Viña Officer

Marcelo H. Fernández-Viña conducts law and policy analysis and research on access to substance use treatment, telehealth for substance use treatment, and other emerging issues related to public health and substance use. He previously worked for Temple University’s Center for Public Health Law Research and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Fernández-Viña holds a bachelor’s degree in cell biology and molecular genetics from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Juris Doctor and a master’s degree in public health from Drexel University.

Brandee Izquierdo, Ph.D. Director

Brandee Izquierdo, Ph.D., oversees Pew’s behavioral health portfolio, which includes the substance use prevention and treatment initiative and the suicide risk reduction project.

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Rose Ippolito Associate

Rose Ippolito is an associate with Pew’s substance use prevention and treatment initiative. She is a member of the technical assistance team that partners with states to implement improvements to their substance use treatment systems. Before coming to Pew, Ippolito worked on the policy team at the Society for Research in Child Development and interned with the Cornell Cooperative Extension to support families affected by the opioid epidemic. Ippolito holds a bachelor’s degree in public health with a minor in inequality studies from Cornell University.

Jane Koppelman Senior Officer

Jane Koppelman is a senior officer with Pew’s substance use prevention and treatment initiative, working with state and local policymakers and practitioners to promote evidence-based strategies that prevent opioid use disorder and/or lead to successful recovery from the disease.

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Christopher Lipson Manager

Christopher Lipson is a manager with Pew’s substance use prevention and treatment initiative. He helps to provide states with technical assistance in developing policy solutions to expand access to substance use treatment and reduce overdose deaths. Previously, Lipson was a director of state government affairs and advocacy for the American Diabetes Association, where he developed legislative and grassroots strategies in the fight to prevent and cure diabetes and support those living with the disease. Lipson holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology and a master’s in applied American politics and policy, both from Florida State University.

Alaina McBournie Senior Manager

Alaina McBournie is a senior manager with Pew’s substance use prevention and treatment initiative. She works with states to identify and advance solutions that enhance access to substance use disorder treatment. McBournie also oversees research and engagement on the state and federal levels to ensure that programs are in place to facilitate patient access to care.

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Frances McGaffey Associate Manager

Frances McGaffey works with Pew’s substance use prevention and treatment initiative. In this role, she leads research to support state and federal efforts to expand access to substance use disorder treatment. Her areas of focus include using data to inform treatment policy and options for increasing the availability of methadone on state and federal levels. She has also worked with state policymakers to develop new approaches for strengthening treatment systems.

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Danita Moses Associate

Danita Moses is an associate with Pew’s substance use prevention and treatment initiative, supporting research projects on effective treatments for opioid use disorder. Before joining Pew, Moses worked as an internal operations manager for an information technology management consulting firm, providing project management, training, contracts, and human resources administration. Moses holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Southeastern University.

Leslie Paulson Senior Officer

Leslie Paulson is a senior officer with Pew’s substance use prevention and treatment initiative. She currently leads a portfolio of projects focused on improving access to both treatment and care in federally qualified health centers and plays a central role in developing community-oriented work. Paulson previously oversaw the evaluation of promising community-based models addressing the opioid epidemic, specifically the Community Opioid Response and Evaluation (CORE) project. Before joining Pew, Paulson focused on behavioral health integration, practice-based research, and community engagement, including work with and within health centers. Paulson holds a bachelor’s degree in law and society from Michigan State University and master’s degrees in public health administration and policy from the University of Minnesota and social work from the University of Michigan.

Ryan Ruffin-Hawthorn Administrative Assistant

Ryan Ruffin-Hawthorn is an administrative assistant with Pew’s substance use prevention and treatment initiative. Before coming to Pew, Ruffin-Hawthorn worked for Dispute Resolutions as a court-appointed civil mediator. He has more than five years of combined administrative assistance, research, and legal policy experience at the local, state, and national levels. Ruffin-Hawthorn holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in sociology from Texas Tech University and is working toward a master’s in counterterrorism and homeland security policy at American University.

Andrew Whitacre Officer

Andrew Whitacre is an officer with Pew’s substance use prevention and treatment initiative. He is a member of a policy team that partners with states to advance reforms that expand access to effective treatment for opioid use disorders. Before coming to Pew, he worked on building healthier counties at the National Association of Counties and supporting state leaders on substance use disorders at the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree in American government from Georgetown University.

Glenn Wright Manager

Glenn Wright is a manager with Pew’s substance use prevention and treatment initiative. He leads a team that helps states to identify and advance solutions that enhance access to substance use disorder treatment. Before joining the initiative, he advised other Pew teams in developing state-based strategies to expand access to dental care and advance evidence-based decision-making by states and counties. Wright holds a bachelor’s degree from Bethany College in West Virginia and a master’s in public policy from George Mason University.

Victoria Yastishock Senior Associate

Victoria Yastishock is a senior associate with Pew’s substance use prevention and treatment initiative. She works with states to improve access to effective treatments for substance use disorders and adopt metrics to identify gaps in access to treatment. Before joining Pew in January 2019, Yastishock served as a public health analyst for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. She holds a bachelor’s degree in public affairs from Seattle University and a master’s in public health from George Washington University.