How the Americans with Disabilities Act Addresses Addiction & Recovery workshop at the 2nd Annual Knowledge is Power, Worcester MA

Event Date/Time: 

Saturday, June 22nd, 2019
8:00 AM EDT - 4:30 PM EDT




New England ADA's Oce Harrison presents at the 2nd Annual Knowledge is Power Conference

A Conference for Families Struggling with Substance Use Disorder

Saturday, June 22, 2019
Worcester Polytechnic Institute


The Knowledge is Power conference focuses on families impacted by their loved one’s disease of addiction. Amidst the opioid crisis in our country many conferences/resources have been made available to help the professionals in the field working with individuals struggling with substance use disorder. This conference seeks to highlight the ways that families can find recovery through education, peer support and self-care strategies. This is a family disease; through education, our hope is to empower the family.

Who Should Attend: Anyone that has a family member or loved one that is struggling with the disease of addiction or is in recovery. Professionals in the recovery field that want to learn more about how to help families are invited to attend.

Conference Agenda

Questions on the conference? Contact Us

Please review the workshop selections and presenters bios listed below before registering 


Workshop 1 

Workshop 2 

Guest Speakers

Joanne Peterson

Founder and Executive Director, Learn to Cope

Joanne Peterson is the Founder and Executive Director of Learn to Cope (LTC), a non-profit peer-led support network which began in 2004. Joanne’s journey started as a young girl with siblings experiencing issues with mental illness and addiction. Years later when Joanne discovered that her own son’s experimentation with prescription drugs led to an opioid addiction, she was motivated and empowered to use her voice to bring about change. Today her son is in long term recovery. She designed LTC to offer families the support, education, resources and hope that her family would have benefitted from.

Ruth Potee, MD

Keynote Speaker: Physiology of Addiction

Dr. Ruth Potee is a board certified Family Physician and Addiction Medicine physician at Valley Medical Group in Greenfield, MA.  She is a native of western Massachusetts and attended public schools in the North Quabbin region. She attended Wellesley College, Yale University School of Medicine and did her residency at Boston University where she remained as an assistant professor of Family Medicine for eight years. In addition to practicing full- scope family medicine, she is currently the Medical Director for the Franklin County House of Corrections, the Franklin Recovery and Treatment Center and the Pioneer Valley Regional School District as well as the Co-Chair of the Healthcare Solutions Committee of the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region. She was named Franklin County Doctor of the Year by the Massachusetts Medical Society in 2015. Dr. Potee engages communities in discussions surrounding substance abuse through her wide ranging series of talks.

Massachusetts Attorney General's Legal Team

Discussion of litigation against Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers and distributors by representatives of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. Learn more about the lawsuit the AG’s office filed against 16 current and former Purdue Pharma board members and executives for their alleged role in the continuing opioid crisis. This is the first lawsuit brought on by a state that directly names executives and directors in connection with opioid-related deaths.

Matt Murphy

Retired from the DEA

Matthew C.  Murphy retired from the Drug Enforcement Administration after twenty-six years, most recently serving as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) of the Boston Office.  Mr.  Murphy held many positions within the agency including assignments to the New York Field Division, DEA Academy located in Quantico, VA., Hartford Resident Office, Worcester Resident Office, as well as the Chief of Pharmaceutical Investigations while assigned to DEA Headquarters.  Upon his retirement from the DEA in 2011, Mr. Murphy accepted the position of President with the Pharma Compliance Group. The Pharma Compliance Group provides compliance services relative to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), to DEA registered wholesale drug manufacturers and distributors, as well as retail pharmacies.  Matthew Murphy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University, and a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Virginia.

Peter Babineau

Western Regional Manager

Peter Babineau joined Learn to Cope in September 2017 as Western Regional Manager.  A 24-year veteran of Hampden Sherriff’s Department Peter has worked as a substance use counselor, educator and curriculum coordinator.  As a person in long-term recovery, he possesses first-hand knowledge of many of the challenges and choices people with substance use disorder and those in recovery face.  He is a staunch believer in multiple pathways to recovery and a promoter of healthy family  involvement in the recovery process of loved ones, while engaging in wholesome choices and practicing self care. He serves as an agency spokesperson on addiction treatment in many venues and collaborates on numerous community projects with schools, non-profit agencies, families and correctional departments.  Peter was trained in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction which he has taught for the Sheriff’s department in the community since 2001.


Recovery Speaker

Rebecca, a young woman in long term recovery will share her story of HOPE with the group.  She will talk about how SUD impacted not only her but her family as well. Rebecca’s parents found their way to Learn to Cope to help them understand the family disease of addiction.  She will talk about her journey and how she found sobriety.  

Workshop Details

Clinical & Public Health Approaches to the Opioid Crisis
Presented by Alex Walley, MD 

Workshop: Dr. Walley will review clinical and public health approaches to the opioid crisis, including medication for opioid use disorders and overdose prevention education with naloxone rescue kits.

Presented by:
Alexander Y. Walley, M.D., M.Sc., is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and a general internist and addiction medicine specialist at Boston Medical Center. He has been the director of the Boston Medical Center Addiction Medicine Fellowship program since 2011. His research focus is on the medical complications of substance use, specifically HIV and overdose. He provides primary care and office-based addiction treatment for patients with HIV at Boston Medical Center and on the inpatient Addiction Consult Service, which he founded in 2015. He is the medical director for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Program. Since 2007, the MDPH program has trained over 80,000 people in Massachusetts’s communities, including people who use opioids, people in recovery, and their social networks. He graduated from Harvard College, received his MD from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Masters of Science in epidemiology from Boston University School of Public Health.

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PAARI and the New Role of Police: Creating non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery
Presented by: 
Allie Hunter, PAARI Executive Director 
Chief Scott Allen, East Bridgewater Police Department

Workshop:  In this workshop participants will learn about PAARI, a national network of more than 400 police departments in 32 states, PAARI primarily supports non-arrest, or early diversion, program models that reach people before they enter the criminal justice system. Programs are customized based on the community and can utilize multiple law enforcement entry points to treatment, including self-referrals to the station and risk or incident-based outreach.

About the Presenters:
Allie Hunter:  In August 2016, Allie Hunter became the first Executive Director of the Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative (PAARI), a movement of law enforcement agencies that believe in treatment over arrest. As Executive Director, Allie is responsible for program expansion and effectiveness as well as organizational growth and sustainability. To date, Allie has helped launch more than 300 non-arrest community policing programs nationwide. Allie came to PAARI with over 12 years of experience in nonprofit management and leadership. Allie holds a bachelor’s degree in politics and international relations from Ursinus College and a master’s degree in international development from Ohio University, where she focused on community health and behavior change. She also earned a certificate from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. In spring 2017, Allie received a Nonprofit Excellence Award and was named young professional of the year by the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network. In fall 2018, Allie also accepted an AmeriCorps Excellence Award for Best New Program for PAARI’s first-of-its-kind program to embed AmeriCorps members in police departments to address the opioid epidemic. Allie is based in Boston, Massachusetts and spends much of her time traveling around the country to support current and prospective law enforcement partners. Like many, Allie has been personally touched by the disease of addiction and has a close family member who is in recovery from an opioid use disorder.


Chief Scott Allen has been an East Bridgewater Police Officer since 1995.  He has served as a Patrol Officer, Detective, Drug Task Force Commanding Officer, and Sergeant Detective before becoming Chief of Police in 2016.  Chief Allen holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Plymouth State University in Physical Education Teacher Certification and Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Western New England University.

Chief Allen was appointed to the national law enforcement council of the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.) in 2017.  P.A.A.R.I. is a leading national advocacy organization comprised of over 450 Police Departments from across the country who are committed to implementing community outreach programs to assist those impacted and affected by the Opioid crisis and Substance Use Disorders.

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Finding Equanimity in the Chaos of Addiction: Self Care for Families
Presented by Debra Ruisard, DSW

Workshop: Dealing with a family member struggling with substance use is traumatic for everyone in the family as they witness dangerous behaviors and live in constant fear of the potential deadly consequences of active addiction. While self-care may seem indulgent or impossible, it is perhaps the most accessible strategy for families coping with the chaos that addiction creates and mitigating the effects of this traumatic experience. Using the principles of professional self-care, Dr. Ruisard addresses the reality of secondary traumatic stress experienced in families dealing with substance use. This workshop is both educational and experiential. 

About the Presenter:
Dr. Debra Ruisard holds a BA in Recreation Administration (University of Alberta), an Ed. M. (Temple University), and an MSW and DSW (Rutgers University). She is the Chief Clinical Officer at The Center for Great Expectations and the Project Director of an NCTSN Category III grant. She has extensive clinical experience in simultaneously treating trauma and addiction issues primarily with child welfare involved families. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Clinical Drug and Alcohol Counselor and has a private practice providing psychotherapy to individuals impacted by traumatic stress.

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Navigating the Justice System
Presented by Judge Timothy Bibaud


  • Civil Commitment Process for mental health (Section 12) and substance use disorder (Section 35)

  • Drug Court model in Massachusetts

  • Common challenges faced when substance use disorder and the criminal justice systems intersect

About the Presenter:
Timothy Bibaud is a 1981 graduate of Holy Cross with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Bibaud went on to graduate from the New England School of Law in 1988, and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1989. From 1988-2010, Bibaud served as an assistant district attorney for Worcester County. He established the gang and organized crime unit in 1992, and received the St. Thomas More Award in 2010. In August of 2010 Bibaud was appointed associate justice of the district court, then in January of 2012 he was appointed first justice of the Dudley district court. In June of 2014 Judge Bibaud launched the Dudley Drug Court — the first of its kind in Worcester County.

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How the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Addresses Addiction and Recovery
Presented by Oce Harrison

Workshop: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. This includes people with alcohol use disorder and substance use disorders. Find out how the ADA addresses alcohol and substance use disorders differently. These differences will be illustrated with scenarios about alcohol, opioids, cocaine and marijuana.This is a very complex subject due to developing court cases. Learn about civil rights and obligations!

About the Presenter:
Since 2001, Oce Harrison has directed the Institute for Human Centered Design’s New England Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Center and provides Addiction, Recovery and the ADA trainings throughout the region. She is leading the ADA National Network in developing a series of fact sheets this topic. She has led the region’s largest ADA events on Boston Common marking the 20th and 25th anniversaries of the ADA. She is currently managing research on identifying:

  1. The nature and characteristics of people with disabilities in New England, and

  2. Challenges to implementing the ADA for cities and towns in New England

Research findings are highlighted in on the New England ADA Center.  In addition, Dr. Harrison has since taught at Lesley University, Springfield College, North Shore Community College and Bridgewater State University.

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Continuum of Care
Presented by John McGahan

Workshop: In this workshop the continuum of care will be discussed. This continuum of care includes medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment and outpatient services. 

About the Presenter:

John McGahan has led the nonprofit Gavin Foundation since 1994. Under his leadership the Gavin Foundation has grown at a fast pace and become one of the most respected and trusted comprehensive community-based addiction education, prevention and treatment programs in greater Boston. John is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC I), Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS), and a Certified Domestic Violence Counselor. He is the Vice President of the MA Recovery Homes Collaborative and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD). He is a member of the South Boston Association of Non Profits and of the South Boston Hope and Recovery Coalition. John has received numerous awards from local organizations for his dedication to improving the quality and access to substance abuse treatment. 

From the Sponsor: 

Region 1 - New England ADA Center


Family Member of Person With Disability


Employment (ADA Title I), Public Accommodations (ADA Title III), Non-Discrimination, Reasonable Accommodation, Reasonable Modification of Policy and Procedures





Registration Deadline: 

Saturday, June 22, 2019