Claudia Ragni, Board Co-Chair
For the past thirty-two years, Claudia has devoted her time and efforts to helping addicted persons and their family find recovery. Twenty years ago, she founded the Kenneth Peters Center for Recovery, and has built it into Long Island’s premier outpatient program for the treatment of substance use disorders.
Passionate about advocating and being the voice for those who can’t, Claudia was involved in passage of the mandated 60 outpatient visits for the treatment of SUD in 1986. She also worked hard, as a founder of Long Island Recovery Advocates, to obtain passage of “Timothy’s Law” which provides for parity for six biological mental health diseases, and the “Family Treatment Bill” which allows family members to access treatment. Last year, she fought hard alongside her colleagues for the passage of a cluster of 11 bills known as the “Access to Care” laws.
She has been a volunteer and supporter of LICADD, the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and other Drug Depedencies for almost forty years and is currently Co-Chair of the Leadership Council.
Claudia has been involved with various professional organizations and served as Education Chair, Treasurer and President of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association. In her role as president, she was involved in facilitating the International Conference in 2000 and the regional conference at Stonybrook University in 2006.
During her service as Board Member for Long Island Recovery Advocates, she organized three successful Recovery Month events at Nassau Community College and the first “Rock N Recovery” sober dance. She helped organize many sober more social events on Long Island on St. Patricks Day, New Years Eve, Labor Day, etc.
She is the recipient of many awards such as Father Peter Sweisgood’s Fisher of Men Humanitarian Award, Perspectives “Wind beneath my wings” award, Veritas Villa Treatment Excellance award, Parkside Medical’s Award of Excellance, The Monica Wright Award for outstanding work in the treatment community, the Caron Foundation’s Community Leadership award, LIRA’s award for outstanding service, as well as commendation from Bishop Daily for serving on his Committee on Alcoholism for the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens.
She was honored to have been one of a hundred invitees to meet President and Mrs. Ford on the occasion of her twentieth anniversary. She has received commendations from Hillary Clinton, Charles Schumer, Carolyn McCarthy, Tom Suozzi and George Pataki, among others.
She has been interviewed on News 12, Channel 4, 7, News One, Channel 55 and Public TV, Newsday and the New York Times on various topics relating to the field of addiction. She volunteers her time speaking in schools, churches, civic organizations to help educate the community on a variety of topics relating to addiction.
She has spoken nationally on the issue of Chronic Pain and Addiction and has provided ongoing training on this subject to clinicans from coast to coast.
Most importantly, she loves her work and is passionate about leaving behind a world where addiction isn’t a shame based disease.
Nancy Beckett-Lawless, Board Co-Chair
Nancy Beckett-Lawless is passionately committed to a world in which people suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction are viewed in the same way as those afflicted with any other medical disease… and where addicts and their families can receive the treatment they need when they need it.
With more than 20 years of experience as Director of Provider Relations for Seafield Center, Nancy is a recognized leader in the field of addiction support, including healthcare advocacy. She co-chairs two statewide managed care committees for Addiction Treatment Providers Association (ATPA) and New York Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers (NYASAP), and she chairs the Long Island Insurance/ Managed Care Group. In addition, Nancy was appointed to the Substance Use Disorder (SUD) workgroup established by Governor Cuomo to provide oversight for the Access to Care bill, which was passed by New York State in June 2014. This workgroup will attempt to eliminate any remaining “loop-holes” used by insurance companies to deny treatment to New York State residents and will report its findings to the Governor before December 31, 2015. Nancy is also co-chair of the Board of Directors for F.I.S.T., Families in Support of Treatment, a grassroots advocacy group that was instrumental in the passage of 11 legislative bills to combat the heroin epidemic in New York State.
Nancy has received numerous honors for her work including the Friend of Recovery Award from Long Island Recovery Advocates, the Caron Treatment Center’s Community Service Award, and the Monica Wright Award from the Long Island Chapter of Employee Assistance Professionals Association. In her spare time you will find Nancy enjoying the company of her family and friends, as often as possible…. anywhere, anytime. She resides in Southampton.
Linda A. Ventura, Treasurer
On March 14, 2012, Linda Ventura joined a club that no parent ever wants to or should join as she tragically lost her son, Thomas to the disease of addiction, specifically a heroin overdose. Since her son’s death, she has channeled her grief moving into action to bring about necessary change.
Ms. Ventura is a strong advocate in Albany to create change in legislation. Because of her steadfast advocacy efforts she is an integral part of the new NYS website, www.combatheroin.ny.gov and has created with OASAS a public service announcement. Although she has a full time demanding job, she dedicates her time volunteering and speaking to people in recovery at various treatment facilities and at FIST educational events.
Linda’s greatest asset is her passion to stand in the gap for any person struggling with this disease and any family member also being affected.
Teri Kroll, Secretary
Teri Kroll’s interest in FIST stems from her desire to ensure that families in the throes of heroin addiction and recovery have a place to turn for help. In August of 2009, Teri’s 23 year-old son, Tim lost his courageous battle with heroin addiction in her arms. The Krolls had endured a tumultuous three year journey to bring Tim to a sober place. As he neared a point of steady recovery, gainful employment, active maintenance of his sobriety, and working hard to rebuild the family ties that had been stretched thin, Tim expressed a desire to make sure other young people could avoid the chaotic and terrifying ordeal he had experienced. Armed with details from Tim and Teri, an undercover police task force was initiated to arrest and convict a Massapequa man who was selling drugs from his medical office. While Tim did not survive to see the outcome of his brave and unselfish act, that drug dealer was caught, arrested, tried and convicted.
Teri and her husband Frank followed every detail of the case and worked closely with the District Attorney to cement the conviction. Many present in the courtroom were brought to tears as the prosecutor shared victim impact statements written by Teri and Frank. Unable to heed advice from family and friends to be satisfied by the conviction and get back to ‘normal life’, Tim’s legacy has inspired Teri to share not only his story but her own. With Teri as Public Advocate, FIST has become a household word on Long Island and the hidden story of the local and deadly heroin epidemic will be unearthed and attended to. FIST has enabled local communities to spread information and allow families to get help with their loved ones addictions and access to insurance that was not obviously available to Timothy and his family when he was struggling.
Teri and Frank have been married for 37 years and live in Lindenhurst near their daughter, son-in-law and beautiful grandsons Brendan and Brody.
Michael R Delman MD, FACP, FACG, ABAM Diplomate
In practice since 1973 as an Internist and Gastroenterologist. Assumed the role of Director of the Chemical Dependency Service at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore NY in 1984. Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice-President of Southside Hospital until 2007 and now Senior VP of Academic Affairs. American Board of Addiction Medicine Diplomate in 1991. Active in Addiction Medicine at the local, state and national Level.
Jeffrey L. Reynolds, Ph.D, CEAP, SAP
Dr. Jeffrey L. Reynolds is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Family and Children’s Association (FCA), based in Mineola, NY. Since it began as an orphanage 130 years ago, Family and Children’s Association (FCA) has been committed to caring for Long Island’s vulnerable children, youth, seniors and families while helping them prepare for successful futures. Today, FCA is one of Long Island’s largest health and human organizations with an annual budget of $22 million, 330 staff, 200 volunteers and 30+ programs, including a shelter for homeless teens, two licensed chemical dependency treatment centers, a children’s, mental health program, PINS diversion and more.
From 2009-2014, Dr. Reynolds served as Executive Director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD).
Prior to joining LICADD, Dr. Reynolds worked for the Long Island Association for AIDS Care for 19 years, where he started out doing case management and finished his tenure as Vice President for Public Affairs, responsible for government relations, resource development, strategic marketing, and communications.
Dr. Reynolds currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Nassau County Heroin Prevention Task Force and is co-chair of Suffolk County’s Sober Home Oversight Board. He chaired Suffolk County’s Heroin/Opiate Epidemic Advisory Panel, which released sweeping recommendations in 2012 and serves on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA-LI) Prescription Drug Working Group. Dr. Reynolds has also served as Chair of Nassau County’s Youth Board and spent three years on Suffolk County’s Welfare-to-Work Commission. Dr. Reynolds is Vice Chair and remains the longest serving member of the NYS AIDS Advisory Council, first appointed by the NYS Senate Majority Leader in 1994 and reappointed three times since then. Dr. Reynolds has served as a consultant and grant reviewer for the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and is a frequent presenter at statewide and national health and human service conferences.
Dr. Reynolds has received numerous awards for his community service and leadership and was named one of the “50 most influential Long Islanders” in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 by the Long Island Press. In 2012, Dr. Reynolds received a Leadership Award from the Simple Hope Foundation for his efforts to curb drunk driving and in January 2013, received the Distinguished Professional Award from Caron Treatment Centers.
Dr. Reynolds holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Dowling College (1988), a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) with a specialization in health administration from Long Island University (1997) and a doctorate from Stony Brook University’s School of Social Welfare (2007).
Kym Laube brings over twenty-five years of experience as a leader at Human Understanding Growth Services, Inc. otherwise known as HUGS, Inc.
Human Understanding & Growth Services, Inc. is a non-profit organization that has been serving the youth and communities of Suffolk County, New York for over 30 years. HUGS, Inc. programs provide individuals, families, schools, and communities with prevention education strategies aimed at reducing high-risk behaviors among our youth while fostering positive attitudes to improve all areas of life.
Having participated in the HUGS, Inc. program when she was a high school student, Kym understands, firsthand, the profound impact, lifelong influence and leadership skills the HUGS, Inc. program provides to young people. From student leader to Executive Director in 2002, Kym’s mission has been to educate, inspire, and empower youth and their families to make healthy choices, improve relationships, and be change agents. In 2014, Kym presented to over 15,000 youth and adults on Long Island and throughout the nation.
Kym’s unwavering commitment to improving the lives of Suffolk County youth extends beyond her executive office and can be seen in the many leadership roles she holds. Kym is the President of the National Association of Teen Institutes and the Quality Consortium of Suffolk County. She is a member of good standing in the NYS Association of Substance Abuse Professionals, Prevention Committee, NYS Public Policy Task Force, Suffolk County Partners in Prevention, and was recently appointed by Legislator Jay Schneiderman, to serve on the Suffolk County Women’s Advisory Commission. Kym is also a key member of the East End Partnership for Youth. She lives in Westhampton Beach with her husband, two sons, and way too many dogs.