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Opioid settlements will be impactful to Ohioans

For decades, Ohio, like every state, has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. Thousands of lives have been lost to substance-use disorders and thousands more continue to struggle with this disease. As the pharmaceutical industry begins to pay out lawsuit settlements as a consequence of its role in the opioid epidemic, our state has come together in an unprecedented way to fight to abate this crisis and save lives as one Ohio.

Just two months ago, I was honored to be appointed to serve as the OneOhio Recovery Foundation’s first permanent executive director. I appreciate the board of directors’ confidence in my ability to fulfill this role and I am so excited for the work we’re embarking on to support Ohioans and their families so that we all find recovery and healing.

Like many of you, the OneOhio board of directors and staff are dedicating our time and careers to the issues at the forefront of our mission. We have seen the impact of substance-use disorders, not only in our personal lives but in our professional work across the state, and we understand the weight of the opportunity these settlement dollars offer.

As a nonprofit charitable foundation, OneOhio is charged with promoting the health and safety of Ohioans, advocating for the interests of Ohioans, and funding evidence-based programs and services that will propel Ohio toward a healthier future. In March 2023, the OneOhio Recovery Foundation received the first of a series of settlement disbursements that will support our organization’s mission for years to come.

Looking ahead, the foundation will focus our efforts to establish our first round of grant funding in partnership with our 19 OneOhio Regions and start the work to develop OneOhio’s first strategic plan. To do this, we will need your support and ask you to:

• Join us as we host stakeholder meetings and listening sessions across Ohio. Don’t hesitate to send us your ideas and thoughts using our online contact form.

• Encourage your friends and colleagues to sign up for updates from OneOhio so they’re receiving information regarding the upcoming grant process and other important news.

• Follow OneOhio on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram and YouTube, and help us share the latest Foundation news with others across the state.

• Tune into the Foundation’s board of directors and committee meetings, which are always open to the public and posted on our website.

• If you plan to apply for OneOhio grant funds in the future, start now by familiarizing yourself with the Ohio Abatement Strategies that guide how Ohio’s settlement dollars must be spent, both through the foundation and by our state and local governments.

As executive director of OneOhio, I am determined to ensure that every dollar spent makes an impact in our fight to support those with substance-use disorders. We owe the people of Ohio our focused effort to use this money as an opportunity to continue the positive transformation of the state’s behavioral health systems in a transparent, equitable, efficient and effective manner.

We will seek new solutions, utilize data to find and address disparities, listen to experts with both lived and professional experience, and look for new and emerging trends to support the evolving nature of this crisis, and so much more. This vital work will support initiatives and drive innovation across Ohio.

In closing, I would like to highlight and thank Kathryn Whittington for her service as interim executive director. Thanks to the work accomplished under her leadership, our 29-member board and the dedicated network of 19 regional boards are well-positioned for the future.

Over the next several weeks, I look forward to meeting with many of you to listen and learn more about your incredible work and thoughts about Ohio’s future. Together, as one Ohio, we can shape the future of behavioral health care and help Ohioans living with substance-use disorders and other behavioral health conditions achieve recovery and wellness.

Alisha Nelson is executive director OneOhio Foundation.

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