By Mike Pettinella
UConnectCare (formerly Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse) has promoted Christen Foley to the position of project director of the Western New York Prevention Resource Center.
The Batavia resident will oversee the implementation of training programs and technical assistance to community drug and alcohol prevention coalitions in the eight-county region. Foley, with the support of two community development specialists, is responsible for collaborating with the prevention providers, coalitions and community groups that make up the WNYPRC.
One of six prevention resource centers in New York State, the WNYPRC is based at UConnectCare’s offices on Clinton Street Road in Batavia and is an initiative of the state Office of Addiction Services and Supports.
Its focus is on engaging community stakeholders in the development of new coalitions and supporting established community coalitions as they work to reduce the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Additionally, the center provides technical assistance, training and support to communities and coalition partners.
“The WNYPRC encourages the use of the Strategic Prevention Framework, which is a public health, outcome-based prevention approach,” Foley said. “This seven-phase approach helps coalitions assess the community’s needs and address them accordingly. The key is to respond effectively by using the data that reveals each community’s specific needs.”
Foley was hired by UConnectCare in 2019 to lead the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force. Her efforts helped expand the task force to various segments of the community and resulted in it receiving the 2020 Community Star from the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health. The award is given annual to only one rural entity in New York State.
Shannon Ford, services director of Communications and Development and director of Prevention at UConnectCare, said Foley is “a natural fit” for the project director role.
“Christen was able to refine her community engagement skills with the GOW Opioid Task Force and will now be able to help community coalitions across the region,” Ford said. “Most people don’t understand the science behind substance use disorder prevention and coalition activities. Christen and her team will help community coalitions effectively reduce underage substance use using evidence based approaches.”
Foley has been attending trainings and workshops since her appointment to the new position in June, including the Foundation in Prevention Ethics Training and the CADCA Mid-Year Training Institute, the latter a four-day conference in Dallas.
“As a result, I will now be certified to host and facilitate the six-hour, in-person Foundations in Prevention Ethics course for our prevention providers, coalitions and community partners,” she said, adding that she also is working towards becoming a certified Substance Abuse Prevention Skill Training Trainer.
She said she plans to host an ethics training next year and will be working on establishing coalitions in Genesee and Orleans counties.