Meet the people working behind the scenes
Anthony Gray Jr. (he/him)
Direct Services Coordinator
Caitlin O'Neill (they/them)
Director of Harm Reduction Services
Jenna Mellor (she/her)
Jenna has over ten years of experience at the intersection of direct service and public policy. She previously served as the first Associate Director at Point Source Youth, aide to Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Outreach Manager at HIPS, and has advised the New Jersey Department of Health on harm reduction best practices.
Jenna holds a BA from Harvard College and completed her Master’s in Public Affairs at Princeton in 2020, focusing on drug and housing policies that promote public health and human dignity. Jenna is a co-founder of NJHRC, and previously served on the boards of New Leaders Council — New Jersey and the New Jersey Abortion Access Fund. Jenna is also a proud product of Atlantic County and lover of the Pine Barrens.
I love harm reduction because it works — it values deep relationships and longterm investment in people’s wellbeing. The power and change that comes when people are respected and treated as the experts in our own lives is truly remarkable.
I have three: consistency, syringes, and policy change!
Consistency is so key to building trust. And while harm reduction is about much more than syringes, injection is also the most stigmatized form of drug use. If we embrace safer injection (“building from the margins” style), we’re probably moving toward more equitable drug policy for everyone.
Finally, on policy change: we always try to look at systems and structures and see if we can get at the underlying causes of harms that our team bears witness to during outreach.
Take baths, hang with my sweetheart and cat, watch the Eagles (I’m a big fan of Jalen Hurts!), and (if the weather is sunny!) go tubing with loved ones. Being near water, whether a bathtub or ocean or river, makes me happy.
Jose Valdez (he/him)
Over the last few years, Jose has spent his time with NJHRC volunteering and supporting harm reduction services with his IT knowledge. His focus in IT communication and analytics has made him a valuable partner in the organization. He’s passionate about learning new things and keeping up with IT solutions and digital materials.
I believe in harm reduction because support makes sense. Over time you meet people who struggle with emotions and trauma, and often need to find a safe place to feel heard and accepted. Dealing with emotions comes in a variety of ways, I feel we’re out to create better ways to reduce harm to ourselves and showing others the way.
My valued outreach tool is the web. I feel the website was a foundation that allows people to find information and receive support in their hands.
I like to try new recipes and baking with my children. Outside of their time, I enjoy creating with other musicians.
Harm reduction ambassadors increase awareness about harm reduction, naloxone availability, and the impacts of the drug war in their communities.
Bobby Lowry (he/him)
Roxy Walker (she/her)
Ray McKnight (they/them)
Dr. Amesika Nyaku, MD, MS (she/her/hers)
Assistant Professor, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases;
Co-Director of the Northern New Jersey Medication-Assisted Treatment Center of Excellence
Dr. Amesika Nyaku, MD, MS is an Assistant Professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and work as a physician-scientist. Dr. Nyaku provides clinical care for people living with HIV or other infectious diseases and substance use disorders. Dr. Nyaku also serves as the co-director of the Northern New Jersey Medication-Assisted Treatment Center of Excellence that is tasked with assisting the state in expanding access to medications for opioid use disorder. Dr. Nyaku research focuses on evaluating long-acting therapeutics for HIV and opioid use disorder, the implementation of integrated care models for HIV and substance use disorders to improve health outcomes, and increasing the inclusion and participation of racial/ethnic minorities in clinical trials research.
Ami Kachalia (she/her)
Campaign Strategist, ACLU-NJ
Ami Kachalia is a Campaign Strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, where she develops and leads policy advocacy campaigns with a focus on criminal legal reform, drug policy reform, and immigrants’ rights.
Eddie Frierson (he/him)
Statewide Harm Reduction Manager, Hyacinth Foundation
Reverand Dr. Leslie Harrison
Pastor at Mt. Zion AME Church & Founder of Let It Flow Enterprises (LIFE)
I believe in harm reduction because harm reduction saves lives. Also as a member of the human race and a faith leader it is my duty to help individuals live life to the fullest in the healthiest way possible.
My most effective outreach tool is my presence and my voice.
To relax I try to get myself, a thick blanket and salty snacks in the presence of some moving water (i.e. river, ocean, fountain) and when that is not possible I turn on some water soundscapes audio or video and eat some chips while resting with my eyes closed and breathing deeply while laying on a soft blanket.
Michael Enich (he/him)
Not to be too academic, but I believe in harm reduction because the evidence is there that it works! I also deeply value bodily autonomy and admire how firmly rooted in that value harm reductionists are.
Harm reduction is essential. A harm reduction approach to drug use is the best strategy we have to end the overdose crisis, reduce risks associated with drug use, and affirm the dignity and bodily autonomy of every New Jerseyan.