Rebecca G. Baker, Ph.D.

Rebecca G. Baker, Ph.D., is the director of the Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM Initiative, or NIH HEAL InitiativeSM, in the Office of the Director, NIH. Dr. Baker leads coordination of NIH HEAL Initiative programmatic activities between the Office of the Director and relevant Institutes and Centers (ICs). She manages the Office of the NIH HEAL Initiative, including NIH HEAL Initiative staff, and oversees management of NIH HEAL Initiative governance committees. Dr. Baker helped develop the NIH HEAL Initiative, working closely with NIH and IC leadership. She also provides expert advice to and represents the NIH Director on initiative-related activities, including interagency efforts in pain and opioid research and policy.
Prior to holding this position, Dr. Baker was special assistant to the NIH Director and the Principal Deputy Director working directly with NIH leadership to analyze complex biomedical research policy issues and assist in the development of new science and policy initiatives. Before that, she worked in the NIH Office of Science, Outreach, and Policy, where she worked on legislative, communications, and policy issues. Dr. Baker also worked in the NIH Office of Science Policy, where she contributed to the development and implementation of the NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy. Previously, she worked as a postdoctoral scientist using next-generation DNA sequencing to identify novel disease-causing genes in patients with rare immunological diseases. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and her bachelor's degree from Cornell University.

Kathleen Burke, PhD. 

Dr. Kathleen Burke is the Director of Substance Use Initiatives in the Will County Executive Larry Walsh’s office. In this role, Burke manages the Illinois Drug Overdose Prevention Project in Will County and serves as a member of the Illinois Opioid Crisis Response Advisory Council. Dr. Burke offers naloxone training to law enforcement and citizens of Will County to prevent overdose deaths. She is a member of the Governor State University Addictions Studies and Behavioral Health Advisory Committee, the Will County Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships Collaborative Executive Committee and Stepping Stones Treatment Center Board of Directors. Burke has advanced several new programs to address opioid use including Recovery Coach training program, medically-assisted treatment, Safe Passage police deflection program, emergency room warm handoffs and recovery housing.  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.

Danielle Kirby M.Ed. and M.P.H. 

Danielle Kirby is the Director of Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery (SUPR). A position she has held for the past 2 years. Prior to this Danielle served for nearly two years at DHS Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA) as the Deputy, Planning, Performance Assessment and Federal Projects. Prior to this she served for 13 years in various roles at DASA including Research Associate, Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Services Manager, Substance Abuse Block Grant Coordinator, and Director of Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment Cooperative Agreement. Danielle has a Masters of Education from Northwestern University, a Masters in Public Health from the University of Illinois Chicago, and a Bachelors of Science in Biology from Carroll College.

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. 

Will County Executive

  • The number of people dying from heroin OD’s is unacceptable

  • Recognized need to take a public health approach to deal with the problem

  • Made a commitment to the community a year ago to do this.

  • Pulled community leaders together to form HELPS initiative

  • Has provided ongoing leadership and had the personal involvement necessary to make it happen 


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.