NCHRC Staff + Key Contractors


Administration and Policy

Tessie Castillo, BA, Advocacy and Communications Coordinator, Raleigh, NC

Since 2010, Tessie Castillo has served as Advocacy and Communication Coordinator for NCHRC. She is the agency’s only registered lobbyist and has successfully advocated for several new laws pertaining to overdose prevention, naloxone access, law enforcement needle-stick injury prevention, and the legalization of syringe exchange programs. She produces the majority of NCHRC’s media articles on harm reduction, drug policy reform, criminal justice and law enforcement issues and has been published in Slate, Salon, The Fix, and AlterNet. She is also a regular contributor on harm reduction topics to The Huffington Post.

Tessie’s email:

Tessie’s mobile: 919-809-7718


Robert Childs, MPH, Executive Director, Wilmington, NC

Robert Childs, MPH has been North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition’s (NCHRC) Executive Director since 2009 and oversees the agency's operations and innovation.  Robert was named one of five people who made a difference in HIV in the USA in 2011 by, was recognized along with NCHRC for running the best US Grassroots Campaign by the ADAP Advocacy Association (AAA+) in 2013 and 2016 and is the 2016 winner of the Southern Pain Society's Rosomoff Award for Excellence, a award for a professional who demonstrates outstanding contributions to pain research, education and clinical practice. Robert Childs specializes in syringe exchange, harm reduction, drug policy reform, community based overdose prevention utilizing naloxone, law enforcement assisted diversion (LEAD) and law enforcement occupational safety & drug overdose response. He has been invited to speak at the United Nations, the US Congress, the FDA and multiple Legislatures. Robert Childs' proudest advocacy achievements are leading the campaigns that led to the passage in 2013 of SB20, a Republican comprehensive overdose prevention bill and HB850, a Republican partial syringe decriminalization bill, as well as providing key technical assistance on Republican 911 Good Samaritan/naloxone legislative campaigns in Georgia (HB 965 in 2014) and South Carolina (HB 3083 in 2015).  Robert has continued his work with NCHRC's campaign for enhanced harm reduction laws in 2015, which led to the passage of NC's SB154 (overdose prevention) and NC's HB712 (biohazard collection and partial decriminalization of syringes with residue).  In 2016, Robert and NCHRC staff helped move a comprehensive Republican sponsored syringe exchange bill through the legislature, which was signed into law on 7/11/2016.   Childs previously worked in New York City as Positive Health Project’s Program Director, as well as in New Hampshire and Oregon as a social worker, health educator and farmer.

Robert’s email:

Robert’s mobile: 336-543-8050 

Sue Purchase, Operations and Harm Reduction Services Manager, Wilmington, NC (Starting November 2017)

Sue Purchase has twenty plus years of experience in harm reduction, as it relates to drug use, overdose, and the prevention of HIV, Hepatitis, and other blood-borne related illnesses. She was first introduced to the concept of harm reduction in the late 80’s while navigating her own drug use and raising three kids. Sue was able to continue her education completing her AS in Human Services, BA in Human Rights, and MBA work in Strategic Planning, with a concentration in harm reduction. Her expertise encompasses strategic planning, capacity building, and organizational development as indicated by her accomplishments: she created the first comprehensive harm reduction program with a syringe exchange (Women With a Point-Access Works) in Minneapolis, Minnesota; she was instrumental in the day to day operations of the Tacoma Needle Exchange in Tacoma, Washington; she was the founding board chairperson of Project Safe in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and most recently established a syringe access program in Clear Creek County, Colorado. Sue has numerous national and international relationships and alliances within the harm reduction community including, but not limited to, Women’s Harm Reduction International Network, National Network for Perinatal Care and Harm Reduction, Harm Reduction Sisters, Urban Survivor’s Union, and her newest affiliation with the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition.

Sue's Email:


Harm Reduction Program Staff

Shakira Bethea, Hepatitis Linkage to Care Specialist, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, NC

Shakira Bethea is NCHRC's Linkage to Care Coordinator. She oversees linking HCV- and HIV-positive participants at NCHRC's Greensboro syringe exchange site to treatment and supportive services, as well as providing training and technical assistance to healthcare providers in the Triad area. Shakira strives to bring equality to all, and through her work of practicing massage therapy and being a registered yoga instructor in the Forsyth county area, she has the ability to provide support to anyone that is in need. She is passionate about helping others live healthier lives and is excited to move forward in this new field.


Margaret Bordeaux, Organizing and Outreach Specialist, Wilmington, NC

Margaret Bordeaux, a Wilmington native, helps NCHRC organize HIV+ &/or Hepatitis C+ people, as well as people impacted by the war on drugs in the community and places where incarcerated people reside.  Margaret also runs the Wilmington area volunteer programs and helps run the Cape Fear area syringe exchange and overdose prevention program. 


Sonia Watson, Harm Reduction Phlebotomist, Greensboro, NC

Sonia Watson is NCHRC's Harm Reduction Phlebotomist & Linkage to Care Specialist. She is responsible for testing participants for HCV and HIV at NCHRC's Greensboro syringe exchange, as well as doing testing and outreach in the community. Sonia has extensive training and experience in the medical field and in advocating for patients. Sonia speaks Spanish and Tagalo. She is passionate when it comes to the care and wellbeing of others. Being from California, she is well versed with working with all ethnic groups, cultures and lifestyles.


Mobile: 619-245-5504.

Loftin Wilson, Hepatitis and Harm Reduction Program Coordinator, Greensboro/Durham/Henderson, NC

Loftin Wilson is a southern, queer, transmasculine harm reductionist originally from a small town in rural central NC, who now lives in Durham, NC. He started as a volunteer with the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition in 2010 and then worked part-time as a Harm Reduction Organizer for NCHRC for five years, before starting as full-time staff with NCHRC in the fall of 2015. He does overdose prevention, HIV/hepatitis prevention, and syringe access work, with a focus on the transgender community, rural communities, and people who are incarcerated. During 2015-2016, Loftin led NCHRC's rural overdose prevention project in Vance County. During 2017, he is working with Louise Vincent on a project integrating HCV testing and linkage to care for participants in NCHRC's Greensboro syringe exchange site. He also teaches regular harm reduction sessions at several jails and prisons across the state and runs NCHRC's Durham syringe exchange site. Loftin is a firm believer in harm reduction, sex worker and drug user rights, prison abolition, and gender self-determination.

Loftin's Email:

Phone: 919-370-0671

Law Enforcement Programing

Melissia Larson, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Coordinator (LEAD-C)

Melissia currently serves as NCHRC's Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Coordinator, where she oversees Fayetteville's Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Program, works on expanding LEAD and helps oversee NCHRC's law enforcement projects.  Melissia is a experienced public safety project manager with 16 years experience serving as lead on a variety of issues. During her work with the Pitt County Sheriff's Office, she implemented over 60 projects and served as project director for several innovative state and federal initiatives focusing on domestic violence, mental health diversion, and human trafficking. While it is difficult for her to pick her most rewarding project involvement, she has been at the forefront for law enforcement implementation in her state for installing permanent drop-off boxes for unwanted prescription pills and the law enforcement deployment of naloxone. In 1995, Melissia received her BS in Criminal Justice from Mount Olive College. She continues her professional training as a frequent attendee at seminars and conferences. As a law enforcement representative, she has served on various boards focusing on public health issues such as sex work & human trafficking, overdose prevention, child fatality prevention, substance use and misuse, and traffic safety.

Melissia's email:

Melissia's mobile: 252-341-5102

Program Support 

Mel Rausch, Admin Assistant, Wilmington, NC

Mel assists NCHRC administrative affairs, harm reduction programing resource needs and event planning.






Jesse Bennett, GED, BSW, Harm Reduction/Volunteer Organizer Consultant, Raleigh, NC

Jesse Bennett GED, BSW is a former drug user and a formerly incarcerated person.  He works as the statewide volunteer coordinator for the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition and, as such, he participates in and advocates for harm reduction efforts in the community. These efforts include but are not limited to access to clean syringes, access to naloxone, and safe sex practices.  Jesse plans to pursue a Masters in Social Work with a focus on harm reduction therapy.


Jessie Garner, LEAD Outreach Consultant, Fayetteville, NC

Jessie helps lead outreach to Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion participants and naloxone distribution and syringe exchange efforts for NCHRC in Fayetteville, NC.


Dr. Logan Graddy, Medical Director, Durham, NC

Dr. Graddy attended medical school at the University of South Florida, psychiatric residency at Duke University, and a fellowship in forensic psychiatry at West Virginia University. He is board-certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine. He is a member of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. At NCHRC Dr. Graddy directs the overdose prevention program and assists in NCHRC's education and advocacy work. 


Karen Lowe, Foothills Outreach Consultant, Hickory, NC

Karen helps lead naloxone distribution and syringe exchange efforts for NCHRC in Hickory, NC.


Detective Sergeant Ronald Martin, Harm Reduction Policing Consultant, Raleigh, NC

Ronald Martin works part-time as one of NCHRC’s Law Enforcement Safety Advocates. He is a former Detective Sergeant and is a dedicated, committed Law Enforcement Professional with over 20 years of experience in the New York City Police Department (NYPD). At the NYPD, he trained officers to a highly proficient level of community patrol, enforcement and public security. He supervised narcotics teams and mid to high-level narcotic cases involving pen wires leading to extensive criminal prosecution. Ronald also consulted directly with the Chief of Police and the Mayor of New York City on issues of internal misconduct. He has also conducted and investigated various criminal offenses while working as a team member in conjunction with the Secret Service, DEA, ATF, and FBI.  At NCHRC, he advocates for needlestick and overdose prevention measures for officers in North Carolina and for more dialogue between drug users, sex workers and law enforcement to create a safer communities.


Colin Miller, Outreach Consultant, Winston Salem, NC

Colin provides harm reduction services and naloxone to people who use drugs, do sex work and/or take bupe/methadone in the Winston Salem for NCHRC.


Captain Lars Paul, Special Law Enforcement Projects Consultant

Captain Lars Paul has served with the Fayetteville Police Department for Twenty One years. He is currently assigned to the Internal Affairs Unit. His past assignments include Emergency Response Team (ERT) (SWAT), Homicide, Traffic, Technical Services, and Patrol. He has attended numerous tactical and leadership schools during his time with the Department.  Prior to joining the Fayetteville Police Department, Captain Paul served in the United States Marine Corps for four years. He has a bachelor’s degree in History from Fayetteville State University and is a graduate of the of the 247th session of the FBI’s National Academy. 


Brandi Tanner, Rural Outreach Consultant, Henderson, NC

Brandi provides harm reduction services and naloxone to people who use drugs, do sex work and/or take bupe/methadone in the Northern rural counties for NCHRC.


Donnie Varnell Special Law Enforcement Projects Consultant

Donnie Varnell, a active member of the Dare County Sheriff, helped NCHRC set up its first Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program and currently helps NCHRC with law enforcement trainings and law enforcement organizing.  Prior to working for NCHRC, Donnie was the Special Agent In-Charge for the NC SBI Diversion and Environmental Crimes Unit (DECU) where he developed policies, conducted and supervised investigations dealing with prescription narcotics and environmental violations. He was with the SBI from 1991 through 2015.  Donnie received his BS in Criminal Justice from Texas State University in 1985. Prior to joining the SBI he served as a Field Artillery Officer in the US Army, and worked for the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office and Wilson Police Department. Donnie is also a long time high school and club soccer coach.  Donnie has been married for 29 years and is the father of two daughters. 

Donnie's Email:

Donnie's mobile: 336-338-1507

Louise Vincent, MPH, Hepatitis and Drug User Health ConsultantGreensboro, NC 

Louise Vincent, MPH, oversees hepatitis support services, syringe access and naloxone access to people at risk of overdose, HIV and hepatitis in Greensboro, High Point, Asheboro and Winston Salem. She is also the chapter president and the national vice president of The Urban Survivors Union, the first Drug User Union in the US south.  She has reversed hundreds of overdoses in North Carolina, one of which aired on Sandja Gupta’s CNN show.  She intimately understands drug addiction and recovery.  Louise is also a certified HIV and HCV counselor.  She is dedicated to moving drug user health from a criminal issue to a public health issue. 

Louise's Email:

Louise's Phone: 336-669-0543