Cate Graziani, Co-Executive Director
Soon after Mark and Joy formed THRA, Cate Joined the team as policy director, and has continued their vision to build a statewide organization rooted in harm reduction values over the last 4 years. In addition to tripling the size and impact of the services program, Cate added the training and organizing arm of THRA to build the people power necessary to change our culture and laws in texas. Before joining THRA, Cate worked at Grassroots Leadership on the criminal justice team for four years.
Originally from CA by way of NC, Cate moved to Austin in 2011. Their experiences with using drugs, overdose, and suicide inevitably led them to harm reduction. After earning a MPAff/MSSW, Cate worked for Mental Health America of Texas during the 2015 legislative session. That year, they helped pass SB 1462, the bill that expanded access to naloxone across Texas. they were awarded a Fulbright research award to study Portugal’s drug decriminalization policy in 2016. FOR over a decade in Austin, THEIR Organizing has been at the intersections of abolition, public health, and racial justice.
Paulette Soltani, Director of Organizing
Paulette joins us after organizing in New York for the last decade. Most recently, she was the Political Director at VOCAL-NY, a statewide grassroots membership organization that builds power among low-income people impacted by HIV/AIDS, the drug war, mass incarceration, and homelessness. During her six years at VOCAL-NY, she organized hundreds of low-income New Yorkers, led campaigns to win housing for people experiencing homelessness across the state, and oversaw political strategy for the organization as a whole. She also served as an officer on the NYC Working Families Party Regional Advisory Council.
Before moving to VOCAL-NY, Paulette worked at MFY Legal Services where she organized tenants precariously housed in “three-quarter houses.” She also worked as a union organizer, organizing graduate employees at the United Auto Workers-Region 9A and car wash workers at Make the Road New York. Paulette holds an M.A. from the CUNY Graduate Center and B.A. from Gonzaga University.
Paulette is incredibly excited that her journey led her to Austin to build with her colleagues at the THRA. She is thrilled to live near her parents, loves exploring her Mexican and Iranian roots, and is a very proud tía to her two nephews in Oregon.
Alex White, Director of Services
Alex hails from the Northeast but in her time here in Austin has helped found a local, mutual aid based, harm reduction outreach team. Additionally, she's done extensive work in Austin's unhoused community and has experience working with detained trans women and families seeking asylum. before joining THRA, Alex was on the team at the other ones foundation, and before that, worked at tapestry Health in MA.
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!
Eli Cortez, Organizer and Training Coordinator
Eli grew up in Austin, Texas before attending the University of Texas where he received his BSW. Eli has been engaged primarily in campus advocacy with other queer students of color to create supportive spaces on campus for otherwise marginalized populations. He hopes to refine his advocacy skills to challenge the carceral state that criminalizes poverty and substance use by targeting PWUD.
Eli is excited to partner with a harm reduction organization that centralizes community outreach and support to reduce overdoses in Texas. He hopes to one day implement alternatives to incarceration, contribute to the abolition of prisons, and fight to end the war on drugs that has disproportionately harmed BIPOC communities.
Gaby Libretti, Drop-In Center Lead
Gaby is a New Jersey native who has planted her roots in Austin, Texas. She attended The University of Texas and graduated with a Bachelor's in Radio-Television-Film. After a powerful personal experience with recovery, Gaby turned her passion towards working with others on their own journey. She worked at Integral Care as a peer specialist and qualified mental health professional, focused on serving the unhoused community in Austin. While working in mental health, she became involved in community harm reduction efforts as a part of Austin Harm Reduction Coalition. She is a certified Mental Health Peer Specialist and continuing education towards becoming a licensed chemical dependency counselor.
Gaby believes in radically changing mental healthcare and substance use systems to better address issues of trauma and inequity. She believes in the importance of community healing and is excited to be a part of the THRA team.
Steve Smith, Mobile Clinic Coordinator
Steven Smith is a veteran in the harm reduction community here in Austin having spent 6 years at Integral Care and 5 years at the legendary Austin Harm Reduction Coalition where he volunteered as van coordinator. He is very passionate about outreach work because he gets to care for his fellow Austinites, connect people to services, educate his community, and offer hope.
Nova Skye, Outreach Lead
Nova (they / she, elle / ella) joins us after volunteering at Austin Harm Reduction Coalition and Portland People’s Outreach Project. They are passionate about outreach and mutual aid efforts, fighting for drug user liberation and prison and State abolition.They care about building community and uplifting the voices of people targeted and affected by the War on Drugs (PWUD, BIPOC communities, sex workers).
Marisol Gomez, Operations and Finance Manager
Marisol comes to us from California where she earned a degree in fashion design. In her seven years since coming to Texas, though, she has spent most of her working career in the world of nonprofits. Her previous experience includes doing operations work for the Texas Observer. She is excited to offer her organizational skills to Texas Harm Reduction Alliance so it can continue to do life-saving work
Francesca Rae, Outreach Worker
Frankie has experience on both sides of the fence—as someone who has personally experienced long-term, life-altering opioid use disorder, and also had professional experience offering support, education, and hope for recovery to others.
Frankie is also a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant with experience focused in HIV/AIDS and sexual & reproductive health at places such as Planned Parenthood and Kind Clinic. Previously, she also worked at LifeWorks emergency youth shelter providing direct services to homeless and CPS youth. She believes strongly in harm reduction as a human rights principle, and that every person regardless of background, current substance use status, or criminal history deserves the opportunity to accomplish their goals and stay safe while doing so.
Ashia Climovech, Drop-In Support Specialist
Ashia comes to THRA with a background in prison abolition work, mutual aid and supportive housing. She has worked alongside incarcerated youth in rural Washington and unhoused communities in Los Angeles and Austin. Having grown up unhoused and housing unstable and having witnessed the impact of punitive drug laws has fueled her passion for this work. She is excited to be back in Austin and to be part of a knowledgeable team that is working hard to challenge the criminalization of people who use drugs.
Michael Alvarez, Drop-In Support Specialist
Michael hails from Cleveland, Ohio but has since planted roots in Austin over 8 years ago. Michael is passionate about community building, and after working in the substance use / mental health field, has focused his efforts on community harm reduction advocacy. Michael has lived experience through his own personal recovery journey, and has dedicated his efforts to helping end the stigmas that still exist surrounding mental health and substance use. Michael is passionate about ending the war on drugs, advocating for human rights, and shedding light on the current systems that perpetuate inequity in our community today.
Michael also currently serves on the RecoveryATX Board of Directors, and helps plan and organize events that build a more cohesive recovery community.
Angelic Salinas, Office Manager
Angelic is no stranger to Austin and has spent years supporting Texans through her work at Meals On Wheels Central Texas as a Program Coordinator. She is excited to bring the same compassion and balance she brought during her years helping patients navigate difficult situations to her work at Texas Harm Reduction Alliance!
Lily Mills, Outreach Worker
Lily is a person with lived experience who was propelled into movement work by recognizing the lack of harm reduction resources around her and through working toward her LCDC! Lily also has excellent experience in working in the recovery world, most recently with the Sobering Center, where she worked as a Support Specialist.
Nikketa Burges, Capacity Building Manager
Niketta was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Her background consists of both lived and work experience -as an Army medic, Outreach Specialist, and harm reduction volunteer.
Niketta is personally and professionally committed to working toward the liberation of people who use drugs and people who do sex work. She is guided by the principles of harm reduction, social justice and medical equity for all.
JJ Ramirez email@example.com
Born and raised in Odessa, Texas, JJ moved to Austin at the age of 15. After experiencing homelessness at 18, he joined the Navy and served honorably for six years.
JJ later worked as a power plant operator at UT Austin. Upon encountering the criminal legal system, JJ returned to school where he earned BA’s in both Government and Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. JJ has a strong passion for union organizing, labor and housing issues, socialism, and racial equity. In his free time, he enjoys playing video games and camping with his girlfriend and dog.
DANA MCKNIGHT DMCKNIGHT@harmreductiontx.org
Dana is a Black Queer Artist and Activist (They/She) from Buffalo, NY---now living in Austin TX. They have spent the past 15 years involved in community oriented direct action, HIV testing and diy sexual health projects & overdose prevention and are deeply devoted to the idea of de-gatekeeping harm reduction with a heavy emphasis on abolition and liberation.
Darren Thornhill was previously a case manager at The Other Ones Foundation. He switched fields because he has family members who are dealing with HIV and is passionate about preventing disease transmission.