Recognizing that no life is disposable, Governor Chris Christie has acted with a strong commitment to change the conversation in how we treat drug abuse and drug addiction in New Jersey and working past the stigma associated with this disease. In doing so, New Jersey is leading the nation by advancing forward with a focus on treatment first to save lives, restoring hope and giving people the second chance they deserve.
In September 2014, Governor Christie and Pastor Joe A. Carter of Newark’s New Hope Baptist Church hosted a summit on drug addiction. The event acted as a call to action and conversation – bringing together public leaders, treatment professionals and advocates, and survivors of drug addiction – focused on ending the stigma around drug addiction and treatment.
The following month, Governor Christie created the Facing Addiction Task Force, a 12-member team of leaders and experts from inside and outside of government chaired by Pastor Joe Carter and co-chaired by former Governor Jim McGreevey to fight addiction through treatment and prevention. The Facing Addiction Task Force has served as the catalyst for the development of reforms and provided critical input for the implementation of treatment-related initiatives, offering feedback and advice stemming from their meetings with community advocates and government officials.
Facing Addiction Task Force Members:
Pastor Joe A. Carter Chair
Pastor Joe A. Carter is the pastor of The New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, NJ. In 1993, Pastor Carter was called to serve as the Assistant Pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church, a position he held until April 26, 1998, when he was installed as Co-Pastor. Pastor Carter became the Pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church on November 1, 2000. He was the youngest pastor in the church's 110-year history. In the 21 years Pastor Carter has been united with The New Hope Baptist Church, he has guided, provided, protected, and shepherded the spiritual lives of his parishioners. Under Pastor Carter's tutelage, he has worked tirelessly as an advocate for cohesive change within the community and religious sector by developing and organizing Christian Leaders for Community Empowerment (CLCE), a collaboration of area pastors who are concerned with the state of our communities.
Former Governor Jim McGreevey Chair
Former governor of New Jersey, McGreevey now serves as Executive Director of the Jersey City Employment & Training Program, where he administers the city's employment program and is chairman of the New Jersey Reentry Corporation, a non-profit with a mission to remove all barriers to employment for citizens returning from jail or prison, focused on the idea that gainful employment is the most critical aspect of post-prison re-entry. In addition, McGreevey ministers to drug-addicted female inmates seeking counseling and treatment at Integrity House, part of Hudson County Correctional Center.
Larry Mihlon West Long Branch Police Chief (Retired)
Chief Larry Mihlon was born and raised in Little Silver and was a Police Explorer dispatcher and special officer. After receiving a degree in criminal justice from the University of Delaware, he served as a Ranger for the United States National Park Service. He has served the department as Detective, Sergeant, Lieutenant and Captain, and is the recipient of the Life-Saving Medal, Educational Achievement Bar, and the Exceptional Duty Bar. In 2013, his 22-year-old son overdosed on heroin.
Dr. Soumen Samaddar Family Physician, Hunterdon Medical Center
Dr. Soumen Samaddar, MD is a board certified family physician in Washington, New Jersey. He graduated from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and completed his residency in family medicine at Hunterdon Medical Center. He is affiliated with Hunterdon Medical Center.
Evelyn Sullivan former Managing Director, Daytop
Evelyn Sullivan is the former Managing Director of Daytop New Jersey, Inc.’s Pittsgrove treatment facility, a comprehensive substance abuse treatment and education program. Sullivan has worked in many aspects of drug and alcohol prevention and treatment, including residential, outpatient, development, planning, supervision and training. Sullivan previously served as the Director of Substance Abuse Services at Preferred Behavioral Health of New Jersey for 15 years and as the Director of the Central Intake Unit for the Newark Target Cities project. Additionally, she has worked for the Elizabeth General Medical Center - Department of Psychiatry, the Monmouth County Department of Human Services and as a counselor in private practice for individuals and families. She earned her undergraduate degree from the City University of New York, graduating with honors. Ms. Sullivan holds a Master's Degree in Social Work from Rutgers University. Sullivan also is a member of Governor Christie’s NJ SAFE Task Force.
In addition to the public members, members of the Christie administration will also serve on the taskforce, including:
- Department of Human Services Acting Commissioner Elizabeth Connolly
- Department of Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett
- Department of Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake
- Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino
- Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Richard Badolato