Foster Cook, M.A. is Associate Professor and former Director of the Substance Abuse Programs in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He is currently Director ofSpecial Projects and Governmental Affairs for UAB TASC, (Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities), which administers four drug courts, two mental health courts, a veteran’s court , a restitution drug court for property offenders and theelectronic monitoring services for the Jefferson County. In addition, TASC is the designated Community Corrections Program for Jefferson County, providing sentencing alternatives for non-violent offenders and reentry programs for inmates returning from prison.  

He is a Founder and Past President of National TASC and the Alabama Association of Community Corrections. He is a former board member of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP).  He has been a consultant to numerous states on TASC programming, drug courts, community corrections and criminal justice policy.  He has served on the faculty of numerous training conferences and schools including   the National Judicial College; the New York, Florida, Alabama, and Texas Schools of Alcohol and Drug Studies; the Northeast States Judicial Training Consortium; the Washington State Substance Abuse Training Consortium and national and state conferences sponsored by Drug Courts (NADCP), TASC, the Department of Justice, and the International Community Corrections Association (ICCA). 

He has been a consultant to the Department of Justice, National Institute of Drug Abuse, Alabama Sentencing Commission, Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration; White House Drug Policy Office and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He currently serves on the Alabama Prison Reform Task Force, the Birmingham Violence Reduction Initiative Governing Committee, and the Pills to Needles Steering Committee and the board of Aletheia House. He is currently President of the Independent Presbyterian Church Foundation.


Carissa Anthony, M.S. is the Prevention and Development Coordinator for Homewood City Schools and serves as the Coordinator of the Safe & Healthy Homewood Coalition. Carissa has over 20 years of experience in prevention. She received her Bachelors from Auburn University and Masters from Georgia State University in Professional Counseling. She began her career as a community educator with the University of Tennessee and then with the University of Florida. In 2002 she and her husband moved to Birmingham and Carissa became the Prevention Coordinator for Hoover City Schools and coordinated the Hoover Coalition, a youth drug prevention coalition. In 2004, while serving as the Coordinator of the Hoover Coalition, Carissa received an award from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, for the Coalition’s successful efforts in reducing youth substance use. In 2007 she was a special guest at a Presidential Press Conference held by President George W. Bush recognizing outstanding drug free community coalitions. Working at the local level, helping communities come together to support healthy youth development is Carissa’s life work and passion.


J. Sándor Cheka, M.B.A., M.Div. is the Executive Director of the Addiction Prevention Coalition, strives to serve those on the margins of society. He has worked in the non-profit field for the past 12 years serving in national and local organizations. He started his nonprofit service in local churches including pastoring a church in south Atlanta. In 2007, he moved into the recovery field working as a Grants and Planned Giving Officer. He has a a strong calling to this type of ministry because of the impact addiction has had on both friends and family. As the Executive Director of Addiction Prevention Coalition, he strives to find ways that the community can work together to address the growing need for substance abuse issues. The organization was recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services as a “coalition to model.” Sándor has also consulted with SAMHSA to speak nationwide on the topic of building community collaborations. Rev. Cheka holds a B.S. from Samford University and two Masters from Mercer University in Business Administration and Divinity.


Jacque Meyer is a mother of two sons, both of whom have battled addiction with heroin.  One son has been clean for eight years and is doing well.  Ms. Meyer’s other son has been clean for two years, but he has served time in jail, convicted on criminal charges related to securing money for his drug addiction.  Ms. Meyer served as the Executive Director of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society of Birmingham for fifteen years and currently serves as Associate Director of The Thompson Tractor Company’s Thompson Foundation.  


Stephen Taylor, M.D., M.P.H. is a quadruple-board-certified general, child/adolescent and addiction psychiatrist whose life’s work and greatest passion has been to help teenagers and adults overcome the devastating scourge of alcohol and drug abuse and addiction.  In addition to his 22 years of practice experience, Dr. Steve has served as a speaker, educator and presenter for audiences all over the country.  An honors graduate of Harvard College with a Master’s Degree from the Harvard School of Public Health, and a Medical Degree from Howard University College of Medicine, Dr. Steve is about to start his 10th season as the Medical Director for the Player Assistance and Anti-Drug Program of the NBA (National Basketball Association).

Panel II: Access and resources to treatment


Mark Wilson, MD serves as the Health Officer for Jefferson County, Alabama, and as CEO of the Jefferson County Department of Health. In this role, he oversees a $55 million budget with the mission to prevent disease, assure access to quality health care, promote a healthy lifestyle and healthy environment, and protect people against public health threats. To achieve this mission, Dr. Wilson oversees health department programs in air quality control, restaurant, school and other facility inspections, and six clinics serving over 200,000 patients each year. As a Board of Health member, Dr. Wilson has supported the many activities of the Health Action Partnership, a coalition of local agencies committed to improving health and quality of life in Jefferson County. Dr. Wilson’s service to our community extends over his 20 year career as a physician and Chief of Staff at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital, a clinical teacher for UAB Medicine students and residents, and a member of both the Jefferson County Medical Society Board and the Jefferson County Board of Health. He has also served on other local boards and has been involved with national organizations that focus on the poor and underserved, and on ensuring availability of quality health care for everyone. 


Beth Bachelor has worked in a variety of roles in substance abuse treatment in 1989, and has served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Fellowship House, a residential program in Birmingham, for the past six years. She participates regularly in state and local level substance abuse planning and implementation.  Mrs. Bachelor is also a regular speaker for United Way of Central Alabama’s annual leadership giving campaign, speaking on treatment and substance abuse services in the local community.  


James Galbraith, MD is an associate professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Since 2011, he has performed emergency department (ED) based screening and linkage to care for HIV, and most recently, he implemented hepatitis C screening and linkage to care. This ED-based hepatitis C screening program has recently expanded to a “universal” (non-targeted) offering in an effort to raise HCV awareness and access to cure for a growing epidemic of HCV infection among young injection drug users in Alabama.


Stefan Kertesz, MD, MSc, is a physician certified in internal medicine and addiction medicine. He has a 20-year history of delivering and researching health care and services for vulnerable populations and persons with addiction. He services on the Opioid Safety Initiative committee for the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and is an Associate Professor at University of Alabama School of Medicine. His views are his own and do not represent positions of the US Department of Veterans. 


Cayce S. Paddock, MD, is a graduate of the Medical College of Georgia. She trained in psychiatry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.  She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology and the Division Director of Addiction Psychiatry at UAB.  Her clinical roles include caring for patients with addictive and comorbid psychiatric illness through inpatient, outpatient, and consultation services.  She also provides psychiatric care for the patients in UAB’s Addiction Recovery Program. Dr. Paddock's areas of clinical interest include opioid addiction in pregnant patients and expanding care for underserved patients with addictive disorders.