The FAN mission and vision is to raise awareness of the prescription opiate drug abuse epidemic, to reduce the stigma and change the face of addiction, to educate about the dangers of prescription and illegal narcotic use, and to support those affected by drug abuse and addiction. Our goal is to encompass change in the perception and treatment of addiction and to be an advocate for change throughout society. Through Real People Sharing Real Stories and factual data, we reduce the stigma attached to addiction and create an open forum for families and professionals to receive valuable insight. We educate to raise awareness and save lives by partnering with insurance companies, medical professionals, legislators, the legal community, public safety, schools, families and friends, facilitating change in the way addiction is viewed and treated. Making a difference one step and one life at a time.
The FAN Okemos/Ingham county chapter was founded following the accidental overdose death of Eric Pavona. Although Eric's parents had worked for the primary health system in Lansing Michigan for over 30 years, they surprisingly found a system and community fractured, disjointed, many times apathetic, and at all times ill prepared to care for a family dealing with opioid addiction.
Following their son's death in August of 2011, Eric's dad Phil shared their story with many in their community and he was astounded and horrified to learn of the many colleagues, friends, acquaintances, and well-wishers who were silently going through the same experiences that they had over the last 2 years. All of them unaware of each other's plight, their children trapped in addiction, their families feeling alone and helpless.
Phil began to re-trace their ordeal, looking to inform and reform many of the entities along the way. This brought Phil in contact with Judge Donald Allen and Mr. Joseph Lowe, both who had attended a FAN presentation in Detroit. A local FAN community chapter became the best avenue to help other families faced with the challenges of addiction.
FAN's Board of Directors is a mix of law enforcement, parents affected by addiction, concerned citizens, and people in recovery. All are passionate about making a difference and provide their time on a volunteer basis.
4th Tuesday of the Month
7:00pm - 9:00pm
University Lutheran Church
1020 S. Harrison Road
East Lansing, MI 48823
The Honorable, Donald Allen
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Judge Donald Allen Judge Allen was appointed judge of the 55th District Court by Governor Jennifer Granholm on December 22, 2008. He was elected to the bench in 2010 for a six year term. His current term expires January 1, 2017.
Prior to being appointed to the District Court, Judge Allen served as the director of the Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP). Judge Allen assumed the directorship of ODCP on June 5, 2006, after serving as deputy legal counsel for the Governor on her legal staff. Judge Allen's duties for the executive office included serving as a member of the Governor's senior staff with responsibilities for emergency management and homeland security, civil rights, and criminal justice.
Judge Allen is a 1983 graduate of Wayne State University Law School and spent most of his professional career as an Assistant Attorney General in the Michigan Department of Attorney General. He served at the Department of Attorney General from February 1988 through September 2005. His assignments included the Social Services, Revenue, Corrections, and Health Care Fraud divisions where he specialized in litigation. While at the Attorney General's Office, he also served as a member on the Attorney General's Litigation Advisory Board. In his last assignment at the Health Care Fraud Division he served as a prosecutor of high profile criminal and civil defendants.
As a busy, active sobriety judge in the 55th District Court, Judge Allen has seen first-hand the devastation that opioid addiction creates for our young adults and their families.
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Phil was the primary driving force and founding member for an Okemos/Ingham County FAN Chapter. Phil and his wife Pat lost their son Eric to an overdose in August of 2011. In the 2 years that their son Eric struggled with heroin addiction, the family (mom, dad, Eric and 4 sisters) all had the unfortunate opportunity to experience everything from the court and health care systems, jail, rehabs, 12 steps, counseling, and eventually the medical examiner and funeral system. When faced with their son's addiction, Phil was confident that a successful recovery was in their future. After all, Phil was the Pulmonary Services Director at the primary health system in Lansing and Pat was an Intensive care Nurse at the same location. They both had worked there for over 35 years and had many health care and community connections. With all his connections and efforts, Phil found a system and community fractured, disjointed, many times apathetic, and at all times ill prepared to care for a family dealing with opioid addiction. A local FAN community chapter became the avenue to help others faced with this challenge. Phil is active in speaking to local parents and high school students, is the primary force behind Project Eric (peer recovery program for opioid addicts and their families) and is now a trained family peer recovery coach.
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Amanda has comprehensive experience with opioid addiction and its effect on families which is the driving force for her passion and dedication to making a difference in the Lansing area. Amanda completed her Master's in Health & Risk Communication from Michigan State University. She specializes in research and development of communication interventions within the opioid context. Amanda has over 10 years of experience working in the health care industry. On a personal note, Amanda lost her mother to an unintentional poisoning of prescription drugs in the early morning of October 19th, 2007. Amanda watched her mother struggle with an addiction to prescription drugs most of her life. Through this experience, Amanda learned how pervasive addiction can be in families. She also noticed how each family is deeply affected by the behaviors of a person struggling with addiction. Specifically, how that person's behaviors affect each and every person within the family unit differently and deeply. Because of her personal and professional experience, Amanda is very passionate about supporting other families while they navigate through their own experiences with addiction. Amanda is dedicated to making a difference in her community. She serves on several boards and is involved with many different organizations in the Lansing area such as the President of the Lick Family Foundation, Board Member of the Firecracker Foundation and attendee of the Ingham Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.
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Jarrod obtained a bachelor of arts with distinction from the University of Michigan in 1994, majoring in economics and political science, and both a Juris Doctorate and a Master's in Business Administration from Boston University in 1997. He practiced law for fifteen years, primarily in the areas of business, tax, real estate, estate planning and asset protection. He currently is employed as an IT buyer, bidding out, negotiating and managing multi-million dollar software system purchases. He is married and has three children, one daughter and two sons. He is trained as a Recovery Coach through the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery, and has spent many hours assisting recoverees and their families directly in arresting their drug and alcohol addictions and rebuilding their lives. Jarrod is himself in sustained recovery.
Chief Ken Plaga
Ken Plaga began his law enforcement career in 1992 after graduating from Michigan State University. Ken started as a public safety officer in Blackman Township in Jackson County. Ken came to Meridian Township in 1995 and progressed through the ranks, starting as a patrol officer. After working as a detective, sergeant, lieutenant, and assistant chief of police, he became the chief of police in 2018. Ken has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Western Michigan University and has graduated from the Northwestern University School of Staff and Command and the FBI National Academy. Chief Plaga has focused on community engagement throughout his career and has supported many community interaction committees and events. He views FAN as a valuable partner in efforts to reduce street and prescription substance abuse, and for assisting individuals as they struggle to understand the challenges they or their family members face when caught in the grasp of addiction.
Jesse Besonen began her law enforcement career as a police cadet with the Meridian Township Police Department in 2008. During her time as a cadet, she completed an internship with the 55th District Court Probation Department. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice from Ferris State University in 2009. Jesse was then hired as a 911 Dispatcher, but left in February of 2010 to accept a position as a probation officer with the 55th District Court. She currently operates as a general probation officer, one of the Sobriety Court probation officers, and the Sobriety Court pre-trial services agent. During her first few years as an employee with Ingham Courty, Jesse's eyes were opened to just how widespread and serious the opioid epidemic is and began researching resources for families and loved ones of people with substance use disorder. After attending an opiate conference in 2011, she discovered the FAN Fraser chapter. Once she learned FAN was starting an Okemos chapter, she practically insisted of becoming an active member.
Ericanne Spence, a licensed social worker, has been helping individuals with substance use disorder since 1990. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Michigan State University and received her master's degree in social work from Grand Valley State University. In 1997, after working 15 years in the Grand Rapids area, Ericanne accepted a position with Community Mental Health of Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Counties. She currently holds the position of director of substance abuse services for that agency. Ericanne views her role as a social worker within the field of substance use disorder as her life's path and passion. She was honored to join Families Against Narcotics' Ingham/Okemos chapter as an adjunct board member, and views the FAN organization as a sanctuary of hope/acceptance for those experiencing addiction.
I have been in Recovery for 5 years and 10 months. I started using drugs when I was 13, but found the drug to bring me to my knees was heroin, which I started when I was 27. I lost my children, ruined relationships, went to jail, spent time in hospitals, and ultimately overdosed on my 31st birthday. It was then that I knew something had to change. It took another year for me to get into treatment, but once I did I knew this was it--I was done. I made the decision to put the control of my life into others' hands; others who had learned a new way to live that did not involve drugs. I was able to slowly climb out of the hole I had dug. I spent 2 years fighting to get my kids back, who I now have full custody of. I have finished my bachelor’s degree in business and have a desire to get my master's. I now work for the agency that saved my life. I work for Mid-Michigan Recovery Services as a peer recovery coach, advocating for those in early recovery. I work closely with the participants in the 55th District Court program to guide them into recovery. I have a different life today that I can say I am very proud of. My journey is not over, and I have a mission to help those who cannot help themselves.
Sarah obtained her bachelor's of science degree from Central Michigan University in 1999, majoring in sociology and minoring in substance abuse prevention and education. She added a master’s degree in social work, with a certificate in addiction studies, from Michigan State University in 2018. Sarah is a certified Prevention Specialist through the Michigan Board for Addiction Professionals. She has been an employee of the Ingham County Health Department (ICHD) for 20 years, and currently works in the Health Promotion and Prevention department. Through her work at the ICHD, Sarah has had the opportunity to support prevention efforts in Ingham County and provide education around issues related to substance use disorder. She has provided extensive training on overdose prevention, including the use of Narcan throughout the county. She has both personal and professional experience related to the impact substance use disorder has on individuals, families, and communities. Sarah is passionate about reducing the stigma associated with substance use disorder and promoting multiple paths to recovery. She is honored to be a part of the board for Families Against Narcotics.
Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Health Educator
Michigan State University Student Health Services
Superintendent of Okemos Schools
Pastor, University Lutheran Church
Dr. John A. Baker III MD
Board Certified Addiction Psychiatry; Associate Clinical Professor Michigan State University
32-Year-Old in Recovery from Heroin
Ingham County Sheriff
Mayor of Lansing, Michigan
26-Year-Old in Recovery from Heroin
Prevention Consultant, Eaton Prevention Program Services
Dr. Jeanne Kapenga
Retired Anesthesia Physician & Community Advocate
Justin King J.D. CAE
Former Executive Director, Michigan
Association of School Boards (retired)
Charles A Lawler ESQ
Law Offices of Clark Hill PLC
Linda M Peterson MD, F.A.P.M., F.A.P.A.
Chief Medical Officer, McLaren Health of Greater Lansing
Team Leader, Tri-County Metro Narcotics Squad
Ingham County Prosecuting Attorney
Dr. Curtis Smith
Clinical Pharmacist, Sparrow Hospital; Professor, Ferris State University College of Pharmacy
Former Legislator, Mom to a Son in Recovery
Linda Vail MPA
Health Officer, Ingham County Health Department
Jail Administrator, Ingham County Jail
Case Management/Assessment/Screening/Prevention/Training Services/Peer Recovery
CPS Section Manger, Ingham County Health & Human Services
Certified Pain Nurse/Management Educator, Sister to an Overdose Victim