It is with both great anticipation and with sadness that I am formally announcing my departure as the Executive Director of the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction, in order to move closer to my family in Mendocino County. I will not be leaving this work behind–I have plans to remain a part of the Humboldt harm reduction community and will be joining the organization’s Board of Directors later this spring.
When I joined The Center in 2019 I never could have imagined what the last year would bring for all of us here in Humboldt County and across the world. And through it all, The Center has won major victories in preserving the health, safety, and dignity of the unhoused, those who use drugs, and those who trade sex, including:
- Adding a new program to provide linkage to low-barrier medication assisted treatment, one that has successfully enrolled nearly 100 individuals and is being heralded as a model to be replicated by community groups across the state.
- Adapting human resources and direct service protocols to be COVID-19-safe for participants and community members.
- Growing our budget, and adding three new positions via the California Harm Reduction Initiative (CHRI) grant through the National Harm Reduction Coalition.
- Engaging with hundreds of local politicians, state and local civil servants, and citizens to ensure that the Center was acting as a good neighbor in its community.
- Working with public health experts across the country as well as national policy leaders to bring priceless education on evidence-based service provision to local meetings.
- Expanding our partnership with Humboldt State University in order to train Social Work students in harm reduction.
- Expanding and instigating strategic partnerships locally and nationally.
- Adding decriminalization of sex work to HACHR’s strategic plan.
I am immensely grateful for the time I have spent as Executive Director at Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction, and am so proud of all we have accomplished together, for our participants, and for the community in which we live.
I am excited to reveal Jasmine Guerra, our Assistant Director, as the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction’s new Executive Director. Jasmine has been involved with HACHR since January 2020, serving first as a volunteer, then as SSP Coordinator, and then as Assistant Director. During her time with us, Jasmine has managed HACHR’s Syringe Service Program, developed funding opportunities, mentored a team of interns, and worked to strengthen relationships with community members and stakeholders. She has over seven years of team management, administrative, and crisis intervention experience. Participants, staff members, and partner organizations all know Jasmine as timely, organized, and able to work around difficulties with ease and patience, while keeping the sense of humanity in her work with any population she is serving. This leadership choice is a strategic step in supporting the growth of the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction and our vision of a community with access to healthcare, housing, opportunities, and respect for every single one of us.
I cannot thank you–our community of participants, staff, interns, supporters, allies, friends, and neighbors–enough for your partnership. I look forward to continuing to work with you all as a member of the Board of Directors, and am excited to see the organization continue to grow under Jasmine’s capable leadership.
In solidarity, and with love,
Lasara Firefox Allen
Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction