Governor Hogan Announces Appointments to the Opioid Restitution Fund Advisory Council
For immediate release: November 15, 2022
Council Will Provide Recommendation on the Use of Prescription Opioid Legal Settlement Funds
ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan today announced six appointments to the Opioid Restitution Fund (ORF) Advisory Council. The advisory council, which was established this year with the passage of House Bill 794, will work to provide recommendations on the use of prescription opioid legal settlement funds awarded to the State of Maryland.
“Not one Maryland community has been spared from the impacts of the opioid crisis, and we are at the beginning of a new chapter where we can begin using settlement funds from those responsible for fueling this crisis to bring help to those who need it,” said Governor Hogan. “The work of this important body will help guide resources to directly address these harms, and we are looking forward to promoting solutions that work for all Maryland communities.”
According to the legislation establishing the bill, the appointees to the council must include a representative of a community-based opioid treatment program, a representative of a community-based substance use disorder treatment program, a public health expert engaged in harm reduction services, an individual in substance use recovery, a family member of an individual who has experienced an overdose, and an individual representing a population that is disproportionately impacted by substance use disorder and disparities in access to care.
The Governor’s appointees to the ORF Advisory Council include:
Howard Ashkin – Mr. Ashkin is the director of admissions and community engagement with MedMark Treatment Centers and Glass Health Programs, Inc. Mr. Ashkin is a licensed Psychiatrist Assistant with a 40 year history of clinical, administrative and management services in behavioral healthcare settings, including outpatient and inpatient psychiatry services, Emergency Department, 24 hour Call Center and since 2001, MedMark Treatment Centers Opioid Treatment Programs. Askin earned a Masters’ in Mental Health (MMH) from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry in 1981.
Meghan O’Brien Westwood – Ms. Westwood is the executive director of Maryland Treatment Centers, Inc. In this role, she oversees a full continuum of Substance Use Disorder Treatment Services throughout central Maryland. She currently services on Montgomery County’s Overdose Fatality Review Team and Overdose Intervention team. She earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Catholic University in 1993.
Marcus D. Webster – Mr. Webster is a certified peer recovery specialist and program advocate with Voices of Hope, Inc., a community organization that supports individuals in recovery. Prior to that, he was the Crisis Intervention Team Specialist for Eastern Shore Crisis Response Services in Cecil County. Webster is a graduate of Allegheny College (PA) and serves as a member of the Board of Session for Grove Presbyterian Church.
Kristin Thomas – Ms. Thomas is a peer recovery specialist with Maryland Area Health Education Center (AHEC) West. She completed a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Leadership in August 2022, Kristin is also a member of the Healing Allegany Street Team.
Tiffinee Scott – Ms. Scott is the president of the Maryland Peer Advisory Council and is a recovery community organizer for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration, and is an alumnus of the Harvard Kennedy School for Leadership and Organizing in 2021.
Carlos Hardy – Mr. Hardy is the founder and chief executive officer of Maryland Recovery Organization Connecting Communities. Hardy previously served as the program director of Dee’s Place, a wellness and recovery center located in East Baltimore and as the leader of the Maryland Chapter of National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD-MD).
In addition to the appointed members, several other officials will serve on the advisory council, including the executive director of Maryland’s Opioid Operational Command Center, designees of the deputy secretary for behavioral health and the deputy secretary for Medicaid and health care financing from the Maryland Department of Health, one designee appointed by the Maryland House of Delegates, a designee appointed by the Maryland Senate, a designee of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, a designee of the Maryland Association of Counties, and a designee of the Maryland Municipal League.
The inaugural meeting of the ORF Advisory Council was held virtually on Monday, November 14th. Information about future meetings will be made available at beforeitstoolate.maryland.gov/orf.
The State of Maryland is expected to receive approximately $400 million from settlements with Johnson & Johnson and three prescription opioid distributors over the next 18 years.
The Opioid Operational Command Center is Maryland’s principal coordinating office for addressing the opioid crisis. Under the guidance of the Inter-Agency Heroin and Opioid Coordinating Council, the OOCC leads Maryland’s opioid-related strategic planning and coordinates the efforts of all state agencies involved in Maryland’s opioid crisis response, various community partners, and all 24 local jurisdictions throughout the state. The OOCC can be contacted by email at email@example.com.