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.
THRA founders, from left: Dean LeMire, Mark Kinzly, Kevin Irwin, Joy Rucker, Charles Thibodeaux.
Gilberto Pérez, Co-Executive Director
Gilberto is a queer, chicanx native of El Paso, TX who is also in recovery. Since 2012, Gilberto has worked with people who use drugs (PWUD), primarily along the U.S.-Mexico Border Region; intersecting social equitable prevention and intervention strategies for substance use disorder, infectious diseases, and mental health. He has a background in psychology and public health, earning his Masters in Public Health from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2020.
Gilberto began his career as an intern with the only HIV prevention program in El Paso that served PWUD, where he encouraged people to get tested for HIV and seek substance use disorder and medicated assisted treatment. Realizing that abstinence/treatment-based models do not align with everyone’s need, Gilberto began a harm reduction movement in El Paso. As a result, Gilberto formed the first binational syringe service program and naloxone dispensary for PWUD. Furthermore, he has developed and led different community-based participatory research programs that have shaped the way community organizations deliver harm reduction services.
Gilberto represents and empowers gender, sexual, racial, and ethnic minorities by disrupting the status quo and influencing systems change.
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!"
Cate Graziani, Co-Executive Director
Cate grew up in eastern NC, where she first got involved in community change as a teen crisis hotline volunteer. Then in college at UNC Chapel Hill, Cate volunteered as a rape crisis counselor and finally became politically active when she joined campus reproductive justice campaigns. The writing on the wall was clear. Her personal struggles, college classes, volunteer work, and wise words from teachers Tupac and Outkast confirmed what she already knew: the system was rigged. At UNC, she studied Social and Economic Justice, determined to fight for social change.
Four years later, Cate moved to Austin in 2011. After earning her MPAff/MSSW from the University of Texas, Cate 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.
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 formerly 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.
Shanice Brim, Communications Manager
Shanice Brim is a native of New York City. She has been involved in social justice work since her days at University of the Pacific where she began raising money for and volunteered at women’s shelters.
In 2015, she began organizing in the Movement For Black Lives as an NYC Chapter member of abolitionist group BYP100. She went on to work for BYP100 as an Internal Communications Specialist, at Flatbush Tenant Coalition as a housing organizer, and at Austin Women Health Center as an abortion care provider.
Shanice is a Black feminist and police and prison abolitionist who believes that we can take care of our communities through education equity, universal healthcare, investing in people over profits, and effective community problem solving/conflict resolution!
Mariana Alcala, Office Manager
Mariana grew up in the U.S. - Mexico border in south Texas and northern Mexico. In college at UTSA, Mariana served as the Vice President for Students for Recovery and volunteered at the Center for Collegiate Recovery, where she led recovery meetings and advocated for people who use drugs.
Mariana is excited to be part of an organization that works to understand and address harm related to drug use.
Eliza Thomas, Outreach Worker
Eliza grew up in NC and attended Appalachian State University where she became interested in studying how social and economic insecurities impact the health of communities. After receiving her B.S. in Sociology, she went on to pursue her graduate degree at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Upon graduation, she received the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) fellowship award and went on to work for the State of Tennessee for two years under their Prescription Drug Overdose program. It was there that she found her love of working with people who use drugs (PWUD) and in helping identify, prevent, and treat factors that influence drug misuse in communities.
As a woman in recovery from heroin addiction, Eliza utilized harm reduction efforts first-hand during her time in active addiction. She openly states that she would not be alive today if it weren’t for the many harm reductionists who helped her along her way to sobriety. Eliza enjoys working with PWUD, meeting them where they’re at in regards to sobriety, and letting them know that they are not alone.
Eliza is excited to be part of the team at THRA and is looking forward to learning a lot and helping others.