HERO HELPS 2019

Kathleen Burke, PhD. 

Dr. Kathleen Burke is currently the Director of Substance Use Initiatives with Will County Executive Larry Walsh’s office. In this new role, Burke is the county’s project coordinator for the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Prevent Prescription Drug/Opioid Overdose-Related Deaths grant. She is responsible for expanding community education across the county regarding the prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery in substance use disorders.

Burke has a long history in health education and addressing the heroin crisis. From 2005 until 2013, she was the CEO of the Robert Crown Center for Health Education where she led the development of the first primary prevention response to the heroin and opiate epidemic among adolescents. Burke spent 10 years at the Museum of Science and Industry where she assisted with the development the country’s first permanent exhibit addressing the AIDS crisis. Most recently, Burke was president of her own company, Strategic Prevention, in which she offered addiction recovery coaching, harm reduction training to community first responders and consulting services to new Drug Free Coalitions. She serves as a national and local advisor to numerous advocacy and community groups where she is a frequent speaker. Burke holds degrees in Health Care Administration from Penn State (Bachelor of Science), Rush University (Master of Science) and a PhD in Policy Studies in Urban Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Larry Walsh

Known for his passion and commitment to Will County and its people, Lawrence (Larry) M. Walsh was sworn in as Will County Executive on December 6, 2004. Elected to the countywide office, Executive Walsh is responsible for the day-to-day operations of all county departments and also presides over Will County Board meetings. He is also known for having an open-door policy and is committed to fulfilling his role as County Executive on a full time basis.

Besides serving as County Executive, Walsh has a long distinguished career in public service. In 1970, he served as a member of the Elwood School Board and three years later, was elected as Jackson Township Supervisor - a position he held until 2004. Walsh also served as Illinois State Senator for the 43rd District from 1997 to 2005. In this position, he represented a large portion of Will County and parts of Kankakee and Iroquois counties. On two separate occasions, he served terms as a Will County Board member – once in 1974 and again in 1992.

 

Chris S. Hassan

President and Chief Executive Officer

Chris Hassan is the President of Symetria Health®, the country’s first comprehensive evidence-based opioid addiction treatment program, to deliver data-validated outcomes that outperform other treatments currently available. He is a senior Healthcare executive with over 25 years of experience in the field of addiction treatment.

Prior to coming to Symetria Health®, Chris co-founded Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals creating the office-based treatment model for opioid dependence and launching Suboxone®. Subsequently, he served as Chief Executive Officer of Colonial Management Group - the largest chain of opioid addiction treatment centers in the US. He also developed and patented a number of new opioid product combinations focused on preventing diversion and inadvertent benzodiazepine overdose in patients.

Ronald J. Vlasaty

Family Guidance Centers, Inc. Chief Operating Officer

Since 1999, Mr. Vlasaty has served as the company’s Chief Operating Officer, and has been responsible for the oversight of all the company’s inpatient and outpatient substance use disorder and mental health treatment and prevention programs as well as the operation of two hospital based medical detoxification programs.  Mr. Vlasaty is currently the Chairperson for the Illinois Advisory Council for the Division of Substance Use Prevention and also the Chair for the MAT Committee of the Illinois Opioid Crisis Response Advisory Council

 

Prior to 1999, Mr. Vlasaty was the Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Bureau of Administration.

 

Mr. Vlasaty received his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

John Roberts

John Roberts co-founded HERO in 2010 after losing his son, Billy Roberts, to heroin. Turning his grief outward he decided to found HERO with the goal of helping families who have gone through similar situations with their own children. As the organization grew John added a focus on prevention and treatment in addition to the original goal of supporting the families of children lost to heroin or other drugs. Dr. Roberts is a retired Chicago Police Department Captain actively involved in opioid and other drug related legislation in Illinois.

Brian Hazard CADC, MISA I, HS-BCP

Brian Hazard started working in the field of substance use disorders in 2006. He has spent the last seven years at Stepping Stones in Joliet where he now serves as Clinical Director. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health where he is a member of the Addiction and Mental Health Practice Committee and chairperson of the Conference Committee. He is former President of the Southwest Coalition for Substance Abuse Issues and is actively engaged with the Will County MAPP Collaborative, serving as a member of the Behavioral Health Action Team. He holds a BA in Human Services from National Louis University. He is also a Human Services Board-Certified Professional, and a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor trained to address mentally ill substance users.

Julie Sterr

Julie Sterr is a graduate of the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois with a Bachelor in Science in Social Work. She began her career working with emotionally disturbed children in both Virginia and California. Moving back to her home state of Illinois, she worked as the social worker at the Center for Correctional Concerns within the Will County Adult Detention Facility from 1989 through 2004.

 

She joined the Office of James W Glasgow, Will County State’s Attorney, in 2004, bringing her passion for working with the criminal justice involved population, her aptitude for leadership, strategic thinking, and program creativity to the Will County Drug Court.

 

She has developed a level of professionalism and collaborated with the community to create a Problem Solving Court System that is relevant, sustainable and effective.

 

Under her leadership and that of State’s Attorney Glasgow, Will County now has a Drug Court, Mental Health Court, Veteran’s Court, Adult Redeploy Illinois Court, two Will County owned sober living homes and an apartment building for the Problem Solving Courts.