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.
Cate Graziani, Co-Executive Director
Cate is thrilled to be working with an all-star team at THRA 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 work to fight private prison companies' foray into mental health hospitals, instead calling for divestments from the criminal legal system and reinvestments in community health. Her advocacy lies at the intersections of prison abolition, the "behavioral health" system, and racial justice, fighting for non-punitive & non-coercive public health strategies for drug use.
Originally from CA by way of NC, Cate moved to Austin in 2011. After earning her MPAff/MSSW from the University of Texas, Cate worked for Mental Health America of Texas during the 2015 legislative session. That year, she helped pass SB 1462, the bill that expanded access to naloxone across Texas. Her work that year shAfter seeing the power of Harm Reduction as an abolitionist alternative to the criminalization of people who use drugs, Cate threw herself into She was awarded a Fulbright research award to study Portugal’s world-renowned drug decriminalization policy in 2016. 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. Since then, Cate has been building a Harm Reduction movement in Austin and across Texas.
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!"
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!
Santiago Alcala, Outreach Worker/Recovery Coach
Santiago grew up in the U.S. - Mexico border in south Texas and northern Mexico. In college at UTSA, Santiago served as the Vice President for Students for Recovery and volunteered at the Center for Collegiate Recovery, where he led recovery meetings and advocated for people who use drugs.
Santiago 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.
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.