Who We Are
The SPIFFY Team
Heather Warner, MPH
Heather Warner, MPH, (she/her/hers) is the Strategic Planning Initiative for Families and Youth (SPIFFY) Coalition Manager, at the Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) in Northampton, Massachusetts. SPIFFY partners with key stakeholders throughout Hampshire County to plan and implement science-based strategies to prevent underage drinking and drug misuse, and create a culture where youth are supported to make healthy choices. Prior to her work at CES, Heather was the Coordinator for the Holyoke Community Health Planning Commission and the Director of the Holyoke Tobacco Control Program.
Position: SPIFFY Manager
Lexi Polokoff, MPPA
Lexi Polokoff (she/her/hers) has her Masters in Public Policy and Administration from UMass Amherst. She served as an AmeriCorps Volunteer with DIAL/SELF where she worked full time at North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens. Alexis is a systems thinker and is passionate about making lasting and meaningful changes so that young people can “grow to be resilient people capable of greatness.” She enjoys creating art, seeing live music, and snuggling with her cat, Lucifer.
Position: SPIFFY School and Youth Programs Specialist and Municipal Policy Liaison
Lisa Goldsmith, LICSW
Lisa (she/her/hers) has a Masters in Social Work from Boston University, a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in School Counseling from the University of Massachusetts and is an LICSW. Lisa has spent much of her career working in youth and community program administration with a recent focus on youth experiencing homelessness. She worked for over 15 years with DIAL/SELF Youth and Community Services in this capacity and more recently at Community Action Pioneer Valley as the Homeless Youth Services Manager. There she led a regional needs assessment and planning process, and supported the startup of the Youth/Young Adult Action Board. Lisa is passionate about working with, and on behalf of, young people in any capacity and loves their energy and desire to engage in the world. She spends her time watching her daughters play hockey and lacrosse and walking her dog, Charlie, and can be found on the ice playing hockey herself!
Position: SPIFFY Coalition Coordinator
Caroline Johnson (she/her/hers) is the Public Health Data and Evaluation Specialist for SPIFFY. Caroline earned a Ph.D. in Applied Social Psychology from The George Washington University, where her research centered on social determinants of health and risky health behaviors, with a focus on links between systemic racism, interpersonal discrimination, and substance use. Caroline believes strongly in the power of data to drive social change, and is passionate about using both qualitative and quantitative research to promote health equity. Prior to joining SPIFFY, Caroline worked for a local government agency in Portland, OR that creates and maintains community schools, which serve as hubs for academic, health, and social support services. In her role, Caroline evaluated the effectiveness of community school programming in strengthening academic outcomes for, and improving the well-being of, disenfranchised youth throughout the region. Caroline lives with her wife and two children in Florence. No matter the season, they are typically outside – swimming and hiking during warmer months, and sledding and snowshoeing in the winter.
Position: Public Health Data & Evaluation Specialist
SPIFFY Committees, Task Forces, and Workgroups
Joining a committee or a community task force is a great way for parents, youth, and community professionals to get involved in developing SPIFFY’s prevention activities. Listed below are descriptions of SPIFFY’s current active groups. To learn more about a group or get involved with any group listed below, contact Lisa Goldsmith at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check in with our calendar to see when future meetings are going to be held.
SPIFFY Steering Committee
The Steering Committee serves as governing body for the coalition and is responsible for overseeing the management of the coalition, and providing direction to committees, task forces and paid staff. The Steering Committee is made up of up to 17 elected members, Decisions are made by consensus when possible. The Steering Committee meets at least 4 times per year.
Our current Steering Committee members
- Rebecca Edwards, (she/her/hers) Easthampton Healthy Youth Coalition
- Jeff Harness, (he/him/his) Cooley Dickinson Health Care
- Cherry Sullivan, (she/her/hers) Coordinator, Northampton Health Department; Hampshire HOPE
- Kara McLaughlin, (she/her/hers) Northampton Health Department; Northampton Prevention Coalition
- Ruth Ever, (she/her/hers) Trauma Informed Hampshire County
- Lydia Davis, (she/her/hers) Community Action Youth & Workforce Development Programs
- Susan Cook, (she/her/hers) South Hadley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition
- Diane Fedorchak, (she/her/hers) UMass Center for Health Promotion; UMass Campus and Community Coalition
- James Arana, (he/him/his) Consultant, MERGE for Equality; Co-Director, Performance Project
- Melinda Calianos, (she/her/hers) Hampshire Franklin Tobacco-Free Community Partnership
- Kris Hoag, (she/her/hers) Belchertown Public Schools DFC/BUOY Coalition
- Laurie Loisel, (she/her/hers) Northwestern District Attorney’s Office
- Karen Walsh Pio, (she/her/hers) Prevention Advocate
- Naomi Bledsoe, (she/her/hers) Northwestern District Attorney’s Office
Regional and School Health Task Force
Regional School Health Task Force, co-chaired by SPIFFY and Hampshire HOPE, is open to anyone interested in school-based initiatives and best practices, prevention curricula, alternatives to suspension and restorative practices, and youth data collection and analysis. We meet every other month to network, and share resources and expertise on a range of topics including: substance misuse prevention, mental health, trauma, healthy relationships, school climate and other emerging issues. The Task Force acts as an advisory group to the SPIFFY bi-annual Prevention Needs Assessment Survey implementation, and provides input about how to best utilize survey results in local school and community planning efforts. Ask about our newsletter!
Regional Policy and Norms Workgroup
The Policy and Norms Workgroup is a regional workgroup co-facilitated by the SPIFFY Coalition in Hampshire County, the Communities That Care Coalition of Franklin County and North Quabbin, and Greenfield 4SC Coalition. The workgroup brings together many sectors of the community to examine policy and norms (common beliefs and behaviors) that impact youth substance use and youth health and health equity. Public health policies and systems change models at the local, state and national level are one of the most effective strategies to reduce youth exposure, access, and misuse of nicotine, cannabis, alcohol and other substances. We see this in legislation that bans flavored vape products which target youth consumers, and in school systems that identify alternatives to suspension for substance use policy violations. We also recognize that it is critical to apply a racial and social justice “lens” to this work and how we communicate with lawmakers, local leaders and community members including young people. Ask about being added to our email list!