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History of Organization

The Harm Reduction Action Center serves more than 1,100 clients affected by injection drug-use every year. HRAC (formerly known as the Harm Reduction Project/Drop-In Center) is a recognized expert in providing HIV & Hepatitis C prevention programming, using harm-reduction principles to reduce the negative consequences of drug use impacting individuals, families and the larger community. Harm reduction enables us to meet drug users "where they're at," addressing the conditions of use along with the use itself. The Harm Reduction Action Center develops personal relationships with clients, guided by compassion, mutual respect, and evidence-based solutions, empowering clients to reduce the harmful effects of marginalized lifestyles.

Lisa Raville - Executive Director

Lisa Raville is the Executive Director of the Harm Reduction Action Center. Beginning her career in nursing home administration but soon moving into the world of non-profits, Lisa had the ability to participate as an AmeriCorps Volunteer at an HIV/AIDS agency in California at their syringe exchange. This experience changed her life and led to her embrace harm reduction principles. After 2010 syringe access legislation passed, HRAC worked for 21 months to finally become a certified County of Denver syringe access program.

Past work experiences, besides the syringe exchange, that brought Lisa to her dream job include overnight homeless shelter coordinator, training workshops for ex-offenders, development work at a domestic violence agency, and a former campaign manager for a California County Supervisor. Passions include, in her spare time, community advocacy, political organizing, reproductive rights, prisoner rights activism, social justice, syringe exchange, homeless rights, ex-offender literacy, and voter registration coordination specifically targeting former felons and the homeless.

Lisa was a 2011 Fellow of the Colorado Progressive Leadership Program. Lisa is the Secretary on the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition Board of Directors. Also, Lisa is the Secretary of the Colorado Organizations Responding to AIDS. Recently, Lisa was invited to join the Denver HIV Resources Planning Council. Originally from Chicago, Lisa holds a Bachelors Degree in Communications & Women’s Studies from DePaul University.

Ruth Kanatser - Syringe Access Director

Born and raised in Northern Mew Mexico Ruth experienced poverty and its results early in life.

After graduating from a correspondence style home schooling program for high school at only 16 she left home to be a nanny. This two year experience was wonderful and a great start in self sufficiency, it is also how she ended up in Denver. After leaving that job, while obviously still fairly young she experimented with injection drug use which is how she began getting exposed to and volunteering in the Harm Reduction Field.

Late in 2003 after having been involved for several years she was offered a small a part time outreach position at what was then the Intermountain Harm Reduction Project. Taking full advantage of that opportunity she worked hard and stayed on, eventually to come on as the full time Health Educator and day shelter manager for the center.

Currently Ruth is the Director of our Syringe Access Program and still the number one provider of health education especially around Viral Hepatitis. She also collaborates with The Empowerment Program as a case manager for the only known financial Methadone Support Program in Denver.

Although her accomplishments are many she was most proud when awarded by Gov. Hickenlooper on December 2nd of 2011 the Inaugural Josephine Roche Award, for her outstanding efforts in human service and advocacy. Married with two spoiled cat children she spends most of her free time with her mom and husband gardening, reading and fostering orphaned kittens for adoption.

Tarik Walker, MD, MPH - Programs Director

Tarik Walker, MD, MPH, currently is the Programs Director for the Harm Reduction Action Center (HRAC). Prior to his recent appointment at HRAC, he was a Clinical Researcher, Senior Instructor/junior faculty and Clinical Health Evaluator within the Dept of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado Denver Colorado Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program Office for the CREATE Health Program. Dr. Walker is a medical graduate from Johns Hopkins University Medical School and Public Health School (2001) with degrees in Medicine (M.D.) and Public Health/Infectious Disease/International Health (M.P.H.).

HRAC Advisory Board Directors (2012-2015)

Jennifer Abbott, MA, LPC, CAC III
Psychotherapy, Supervision, Consulting
Private Practice
Boulder, CO

Marla Corwin, CAC III
HIV/AIDS Educator
Mountain Plains AIDS Education and Training Center
Aurora, CO

Terri Hurst, MSW
Director of Public Policy
Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council
Linked In

Stephen Koester, Ph.D.
Professor/Researcher of Anthropology
University of Colorado at Denver
Boulder, CO

Jean Finn
Retired, HIV Planning administrator for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Denver, CO

Katie Symons
Consultant (Formerly with Denver’s Road Home)
Colorado Homeless Initiatives with Gov. Hickenloopers Office

Bryan McNair
Information Technology, Arapahoe House Treatment Centers
Denver, CO

Matt Slaby
Photographer, Co-founder of Luceo Images
Denver, CO

Brian Vicente, JD
Executive Director, Sensible Colorado
Denver, CO

Helen Alvillar
Rocky Mountain PBS
Denver, CO

Sergeant Layla DeStaffany
Denver Police Department – District 3 (Formerly of Homeless Division)
Denver, CO

Karla Maraccini
Community Initiatives – Governor Hickenlooper Administration
Denver, CO

Stephanie Meadows
Denver Police Department – Homeless Division
Denver, CO

Bryan McNair
Software Implementation Project Manager, Duke University
Denver, CO

Interested in serving on the HRAC board? Please contact Lisa Raville for more information.

2012 Report Card

A 2012 Report courtesy of the Westword Blogsphere