THRA founders, from left: Dean LeMire, Mark Kinzly, Kevin Irwin, Joy Rucker, Charles Thibodeaux.
The Texas Harm Reduction Alliance (THRA) emerged in early 2019 in response to unprecedented opioid overdose rates and apparent statewide need for harm reduction policy advocacy, education, and capacity-building for direct services with people impacted by substance use, overdose, HIV, hepatitis, and sex work.
THRA is a resource for all community sectors and organizations seeking evidence-informed pathways to improvement of conditions and outcomes related to drug use and related activity. We operate a mobile direct services program in the Austin area (Austin OPS) that provides overdose prevention education, naloxone, and linkage to same-day medicine-based treatment for opioid use disorders.
THRA is a registered nonprofit in Texas gratefully receiving fiscal sponsorship from HIV Education & Prevention Project of Alameda County, 501c3.
What is Harm Reduction?
Addressing people and their goals in real time...
Harm Reduction refers to strategies, practices, and interventions that address and improve actual conditions of drug use and related risky activity. Harm Reduction as a social movement and a set of principles seeks to center the people most impacted by harms in the design and delivery of strategies, programs, practices, and interventions intended for them.
Harm Reduction can serve as a framework for understanding and addressing drug use and related risky activity that joins science, compassion, and justice in the twin objectives of reducing negative consequences (such as death, disease, and isolation) and empowering impacted populations in their own care and trajectories.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Lori Holleran Steiker, Ph.D.
THRA seeks to grow our board and committees membership with an eye for lived experience of harms and resilience in the current environment of drug and health policy. We also seek experts in the legal, criminal justice, health systems, and legislative realms of service to advise or join our leadership to further our mission.
Email us at info@harmreductionTX.org
Or use this contact form for convenience.
Joy Rucker, Executive Director
Joy Rucker is originally from New Bedford, Ma, a small fishing town south of Boston. Joy begin her career in HIV Prevention as an outreach worker in Boston; she was part of the first outreach team to target injecting drug users, encouraging people to get tested for HIV and to not share syringes, years before funding or formal services for people who inject drugs were available. Recognizing the growth of HIV support groups that largely excluded women, people of color, and people who injected drugs, Joy dedicated her time and life to advocating, creating programs, and fighting for all injectors to access to services without barriers.
Joy moved to San Francisco and began working at the Black Coalition on AIDS (BCA), as the program director for a transitional housing program for homeless drug using African Americans -- Rafikiki House. During her tenure at BCA, Rafikiki House was awarded the Special Projects of National Significance from HUD. Rafikiki House was awarded a contract to train other providers across the country on how to develop similar Housing-First-style programs.
Joy worked for Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) and was introduced to Harm Reduction as model of service. While at CSH, she and a team developed the first Harm Reduction Housing training. Also during that time, she became a trainer for the National Harm Reduction Coalition in New York. After leaving CSH, Joy began work as the Executive Director of the HIV Education and Prevention Project of Alameda County, also known as Casa Segura.
After ten years in that role, Joy moved to Hawaii and created Housing First programs on the islands of Maui and Honolulu.
Cate Graziani, Policy & Operations Director
Cate Graziani has been an advocate for people struggling with mental health issues and substance use from an early age. She grew up in eastern NC, where she first got involved as a teen crisis volunteer to help young people who were having a hard time like her.
Cate moved to Austin in 2011. After earning her MPAff/MSSW from the University of Texas, she worked as a policy fellow with Mental Health America of Texas and helped pass SB 1462, the bill that expanded access to naloxone across Texas in 2015. In 2016, Cate was awarded a Fulbright research award to study Portugal’s world-renowned drug decriminalization policy. Over nine months, she interviewed policymakers, academics, outreach workers, and people who inject drugs, learning from their public health approach to drug use so she could become a stronger advocate at home.
Cate continues her education and passion at THRA, working with an all-star team to prevent overdoses, decriminalize public health issues, and fight to end the racist War on Drugs. Before joining THRA, Cate was a member of the criminal justice team at Grassroots Leadership for four years, where she led their work calling for divestments from the criminal legal system and reinvestments in community public health.
Cate also runs Broads and Boards, a woodworking co-op for Austin-area women.
Joe Martinez, Outreach Worker
Joe is a lifelong resident of Austin, Texas where he was raised by a single parent - his beautiful mother Juana - with his two younger sisters. Joe graduated from Johnson High and his hobbies include artwork, sports and playing bingo.
"I am very excited to be part of the great team here at THRA, to be able to give back to our community, and to help save lives because your life matters. I enjoy going out to the field and reaching out to anyone that I can help and listen to. I watched the destruction that drugs have caused in our community and want to be someone that brings hope to those that often feel hopeless, and to be able to put a smile on y'alls faces and heart. It's a pleasure to do outreach work and make a difference in someone's life. God bless y'all!"
Pamela Bryant, Recovery Coach
Pamela Bryant is a native of Dallas, Texas. She is currently working on her Associates Degree in Business Administration at Austin Community College. She is also matriculating at Agape Christian Institute in preparation to be ordained in Christian ministry.
Ms. Bryant was formally incarcerated, a woman in sustained recovery from substance use disorder, and a woman who had suffered the trauma and overcome the barriers and stigma of mental illness. She has been working in the re-entry space for several years through a faith-based prison ministry that she founded in 2014 called Walking by Faith Ministry (WBFM) and through the prison ministry in her local church.
Since her release from prison, Ms. Bryant has committed herself to be a responsible mother, sister and grandmother. Ms. Bryant is the primary caregiver to her two adult sisters who suffer from mental health issues, and is a caring and loving mother and grandmother, she models what it means to be a God-fearing woman and a responsible member of society.
Mark Kinzly, Co-Founder
Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative (TONI)
Mark has worked in the field of Harm Reduction and Public Health for the past 30 years bringing innovative prevention/interventions to the drug using and recovery and academic community. Mr. Kinzly has worked as a Research Associate at Yale University's School of Medicine/Public Health and has been the Coordinator and Project Manager of a number of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded studies. He is currently on the Board of Directors for the National Harm Reduction Coalition. Mr. Kinzly is co-founder of the Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative (TONI) that brings overdose awareness technical assistance and trainings to providers, family members and drug users in the state of Texas. He has trained in all areas of overdose prevention and education including law enforcement, active drug users, family/friends of persons on opioids, Medicated Assisted Recovery clinics and educational institutions looking at best ways and technologies to help curb our nation’s greatest drug epidemic. He has the honor of being a member of the curriculum development team for Overdose Prevention/Education for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). He has also served on the Community Advisory Committee and Executive Committee at Yale’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS. Most importantly he is the proud father of Chase Michael Robert Kinzly and Jada Clay.
Charles Thibodeaux, Co-Founder
Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative (TONI)
Charles Thibodeaux, LCDC, BAAS, is a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) since 1992 and has worked in the addictions field for over 29 years. During that time, he worked in residential treatment settings for adults as well as adolescents. For twelve years he worked at a community based MHMR where he supervised an HIV prevention street outreach program that followed a harm reduction philosophy whose target population was active IV drug users and sex industry workers. Charles worked for the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) for 10 years. At DSHS, he worked for the HIV division for one year and the remaining 9 years he worked for the substance abuse/mental health division. He is one of the pioneers who helped get the first underground syringe service program started in Texas. He has also presented on harm reduction topics including overdose awareness and prevention for several years at the statewide DSHS HIV Street Outreach Conference, as well as at the DSHS Behavioral Health Institute Conference. He has worked as a Patient Navigator/Consultant with Linkage to Care for Hepatitis C, getting individuals tested, treated, and cured of Hepatitis C. Charles co-founded the Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative (TONI), which brings overdose awareness and trainings throughout the state of Texas.