September 19, 2019

SUNY Empire State College Announces Panelists for Upcoming Opioid Forum

SUNY Empire and Rockefeller Institute Forum Will Feature Local Leaders in Law Enforcement, Health Care, and Education

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(SARATOGA SPRINGS, New York — Sept. 19, 2019) Local leaders in law enforcement, health care, and education will join the upcoming “Local Solutions in the Opioid Crisis” forum hosted by SUNY Empire State College and the Rockefeller Institute of Government on Thursday, Sept. 26, from 3-5 p.m., at our new Student Center, 111 West Avenue.

The forum will focus on evidence-based, community-level solutions to help combat the opioid crisis. It will open with a keynote address by Patricia Strach, interim executive director of the Rockefeller Institute. Strach and her colleagues at the Rockefeller Institute have been studying the epidemic in rural New York for nearly two years.

“These discussions, as well as our new degree in addiction studies are critical in effectively fighting back against the opioid crisis,” said Jim Malatras, president of SUNY Empire State College. “I want to thank the Rockefeller Institute of Government and SUNY Empire’s world-class faculty for holding this important forum.”

“The ‘Stories from Sullivan’ project has given our researchers a unique grassroots-level perspective on the crisis. Even more, it has helped shine a light on the faces that really matter here,” said Patricia Strach, interim director of the Institute. “Our work has shown that collaboration among all types of efforts is essential if we are to effectively address substance use in communities across New York. This panel will add to that work, discussing developments in treatment activities and current policing policies. The knowledge and research shared here will help lay the foundation for Empire State College’s new program and will inform future research of the Rockefeller Institute.”

The panelists include:

  • Thalia MacMillan, associate professor and mentor of community and human services at SUNY Empire State College. She recently published an edited work about the co-occurrence of addictions and mental health in the community.
  • Renee Rodriguez-Goodemote, medical director of the Saratoga Hospital Community Health Center. She has worked with Saratoga Hospital medical staff to develop a protocol for safer opiate prescribing.
  • Sgt. Tim Sicko of the Saratoga Springs Police Department. Sicko has more than 25 years of Law enforcement experience, including 20 years with the City of Saratoga Springs Police Department. He has spent most of his Saratoga Springs career in the Investigation Division working as an investigator and supervisor in the Criminal and Special Investigations Unit.

Among other findings, the Rockefeller Institute’s research has identified staffing shortages as an obstacle to successful treatment and recovery in many communities. Higher education can help meet the need for qualified addiction treatment specialists, including SUNY Empire’s first-of-its-kind bachelor’s degree in Addiction Studies, which aims to help address the urgent need for qualified substance-use disorder treatment specialists in New York state and around the country. Enrollment in the new program will begin in the spring of 2020.

The forum is free and open to the public.

About the Rockefeller Institute of Government

The Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. The Institute conducts cutting-edge research and analysis to inform lasting solutions to the problems facing New York state and the nation.  |  @RockefellerInst

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College educates more than 17,000 students in person, online, and through a blend of both, at more than 30 locations in New York and at eight international sites worldwide. Together with one of SUNY Empire’s more than 1,300 faculty mentors, each student designs their own individualized pathway to a college degree that accommodates their schedule and awards credit for prior college-level learning. SUNY Empire awards more than 3,000 degrees annually and 94 percent of graduates stay in New York state. Today, more than 87,000 SUNY Empire alumni are entrepreneurs, veterans, and active members of the military, professional athletes, teachers, medical professionals, and leaders in their field, as well as in their communities. To learn more, visit and follow the college on social media @SUNYEmpire.