The University of Tennessee System has partnered with Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and city of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero’s All4Knox Initiative, East Tennessee State University, One Tennessee Health and the Tennessee Judicial Opioid Initiative to host the Summit for Opioid Addiction and Response (SOAR) on Aug. 1 and 2, in Knoxville, Tennessee.
More than 500 people from all backgrounds will come together to discuss the opioid-driven addiction and suicide problem in Tennessee and identify solutions that can be used across the state.
The two-day summit is free and open to the public. It will include: discussions on current trends in substance abuse, dissolving the stigma, the economic impact of opioids, state agency response to the epidemic, federal grant support and developing community-based, collaborative response to the crisis.
Attendees on day one will have the opportunity to hear from Tommy Farmer, special agent-in-charge for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and Matt Harris, UT Knoxville associate professor of economics in the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research and the Department of Economics.
Panelists and speakers on day one include:
- Monty Burks, director of faith-based initiatives for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
- Judge Paul G. Summers, director of corporate and government relations at the Jason Foundation, one of the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofits that addresses the national health crisis of youth suicide.
- Jan Clift, survivor of a drug-related shooting.
- Clark Flatt, president of the Jason Foundation.
- Stephen Loyd, medical director for JourneyPure at the River, an addiction facility located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
- David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
- Judge Duane Slone, circuit court judge for the 4th Judicial District.
- Keith Gaither, director of managed care operations for TennCare.
- Lisa Piercey, commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Health.
- Matt Yancey, deputy commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
- Jim Casey, director of behavioral health services for the Tennessee Department of Corrections.
- Darren B. DeArmond, assistant special agent-in-charge for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
- Jennifer Nichols, commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services
- Jeff Long, commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security
- Michael King, regional administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- Betty-Ann Bryce, special advisor/rural lead in the public health education and treatment unit at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
- Karen Pershing, executive director for the Metropolitan Drug Coalition
- Robert Pack, East Tennessee State University professor of community and behavioral health at East Tennessee State University, associate dean of academic affairs in the ETSU College of Public Health, executive director of the ETSU Center for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and co-director of the Opioids Research Consortium of Central Appalachia.
Those attending day two of the summit can choose one of two options.
The first option is to participate in additional discussions of best practices currently being used across Tennessee and join in facilitated networking opportunities that bring together individuals of both similar and varying roles to talk about creating solutions for the state and their community.
Those who choose this first option will hear from:
- Carla Saunders, founder and CEO of One Tennessee.
- Sharon K. Davis, clinical assistant professor for the UT Knoxville College of Nursing.
- Justin Crowe, extension specialist for the UT Institute of Agriculture.
- Karen Derefinko, assistant professor of preventative medicine at the UT Health Science Center in Memphis.
- Jerry Jones Jr., assistant professor and division chief for the Regional Anesthesia and Acute Pain Medicine at the UT Health Science Center in Memphis.
- Shandra Forrest-Bank, UT Knoxville director of the social work office of research.
Attendees can also attend the Mayors’ All4Knox Summit, which will connect numerous Knoxville community sectors and design meaningful solutions to address substance misuse in the Knox County region.
Those who choose this second option will hear from:
- Brett R. Pritts, assistant special agent-in-charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration Nashville District Office
- Stephen Loyd, medical director for JourneyPure at the River.
- Martha Buchanan, director of the Knox County Health Department.
- Karen Pershing, executive director for the Metropolitan Drug Coalition.
- Heather Starbuck, founder of the Matt Adams Foundation, which honors her fiancée who died of an opioid overdose.
The summit will be held at UT Knoxville’s Student Union.
Parking is free and will be located in the G10 parking garage. Shuttles will be provided from the parking garage to the Student Union. Check-in begins at 8 a.m. on Aug. 1. A networking breakfast will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 2.
For more information, please visit the SOAR website.
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