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All4Knox Mayors' Community Summit  
The empathy in the room was palpable during the Heather Starbuck’s keynote address at the Mayors’ All4Knox Summit on substance misuse on August 2, 2019.

Starbuck’s heartbreaking story of losing her fiancé Matt Adams to an overdose and its impact on her life and the lives of others illustrated the vast array of challenges surrounding drug misuse in our community: lack of funds for treatment, stigma from family and friends, and the loss for loved ones left behind.

Community advocates, leaders, and program managers gathered at the University of Tennessee Student Union for the Summit, a joint initiative of the City of Knoxville and Knox County, to hear from Starbuck and others.


Presentations from experts, such as Dr. Stephen Lloyd, himself in recovery, set the stage for conversations about how the community can leverage the work being done around substance misuse to create meaningful change in our community.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero provided opening remarks. Mayor Jacobs read from a letter he recently received from a female inmate at an adjacent county's jail. In the letter, she described her journey and pled for help to stop the cycle of addiction and incarceration.


Mayor Rogero shared a family journey and hope of recovery with attendees as well as highlighting the impact the opioid crisis has had on the City’s first responders at the Knoxville Fire Department and Knoxville Police Department.


The day’s events, supported by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s DEA 360 initiative and the University of Tennessee, was a launching point for a community-wide strategic plan. Brett Pitts, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for Tennessee, represented DEA and their commitment to partnering with communities to address the issues.

Executive Director for the Metro Drug Coalition Karen Pershing thanked attendees and encouraged all of the ongoing work represented by those in the room and how it can be magnified through collective impact. Collective impact includes shared measurable goals and leadership, among other factors, which our community is poised to commit to, given the current environment, said Pershing.

Dr. Martha Buchanan, Director of the Knox County Health Department, provided the facts and figures. Most challenging is the fact that while prescription opioids continue to decrease, we are still seeing a sustained level of overdose deaths. Dr. Buchanan explained that the deaths are only the “tip of the iceberg,” as non-fatal overdoses and substance misuse continue to be challenging to quantify.


The community effort will be led by Amy Dolinky, new Substance Misuse Response Coordinator at the Knox County Health Department, in partnership with the Metro Drug Coalition.

Dolinky was formerly with the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network and counts strategic planning as one of her strengths.

Attendees broke into nine sectors, as identified in advance by the Summit planners. The nine sectors and the chairs are as follows:

Business Sector
Russ Watkins, Partners
Whitney Peter, Sharp Companies/Volunteer Drywall

Education Sector
Randy Boyd, The University of Tennessee System
Dr. Jon Rysewyk, Knox County Schools
R. L. Anthony Wise, Jr., Pellissippi State Community College

Faith-Based Sector
Pastor Seth Hammond, Christ Covenant Church
Pastor Daryl Arnold, Overcoming Believers Church

Family/Community Sector
Dr. Vivian Underwood-Shipe, I AM The Voice of the Voiceless
Keira Wyatt, C.O.N.N.E.C.T Ministries

Government Sector
Dr. Martha Buchanan, Knox County Health Department
Fiona McAnally, City of Knoxville

Health Care Sector
Dr. Eric Penniman, Summit Medical Group
Dr. Keith Gray, The University of Tennessee Medical Center

Justice Systems Sector
General Charme Allen, District Attorney General's Office
Chief Eve Thomas, Knoxville Police Department
Tom Bevins, Drug Enforcement Administration

Nonprofit/Service Organizations Sector
Dr. Kelly Drummond, Boys and Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley
Jerry Askew, Alliance for Better Nonprofits

Treatment/Harm Reduction/Recovery Sector
Leann Human-Hilliard, Helen Ross McNabb Center
Dr. Suzanne Bailey, Cherokee Health Systems
Dr. Parinda Khatri, Cherokee Health Systems

Going forward, sectors will meet monthly, and each will provide measurable goals and strategies for a three-year strategic plan which is scheduled to be finalized in the next year.

To keep up with the strategic planning efforts and learn more about All4Knox, visit https://www.all4knox.org/.

To read more about the City of Knoxville’s role in opioid and substance misuse, visit here.

Posted by fmcanally On 31 August, 2020 at 1:32 PM