She's So VOCAL! Daliah Heller, CUNY School of Public Health

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Daliah Heller will be the 2015 recipient of the Joe Bostic VOCAL for Justice Award at the She’s So VOCAL gala on June 18th.

Daliah has been getting VOCAL since she was young. She has fond memories of gym class runs through downtown Toronto in high school, when she used to stop at the city’s only abortion clinic to argue with the anti-choice protestors.

She always knew she would work in health. After graduating from McGill University in Montreal, she moved to NYC and worked in the Bronx, doing health outreach in the community, and case management for mothers threatened with losing their children because of punitive drug policies. She did an internship at the NYC Health Department, analyzing data and writing an abortion report for the City. She decided to go back to school for a Master’s in Public Health, and attended Columbia University while working at the Drug Policy Foundation (now Drug Policy Alliance) as a grant administrator.

Her exposure to the problems created by US drug policy led her to become involved in harm reduction work. In 1997, at the incredibly young age of 24, she was hired as the Executive Director of CitiWide Harm Reduction. She was the only staff member at the time and began with a budget of $180,000, growing the organization over the next nine years to a staff of 40 and a budget of $3.5 million. The experience of those years – developing and imagining and enacting harm reduction as a philosophy and a practice – shaped Daliah immeasurably.

She received her PhD in Social Welfare from CUNY in 2010, while she was Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention, Care, and Treatment at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. There, Daliah was instrumental in dramatically expanding access to the overdose antidote naloxone by making the intra-nasal formulation available en masse, a public health intervention which has literally saved the lives of thousands of New York City residents.

Daliah is a thought leader who continues to promote meaningful and effective public health strategies for social justice, in NYC and beyond. She is currently a professor and the Director of Public Health Practice at CUNY School of Public Health.

Meet Daliah at our She’s So VOCAL Gala on June 18th. Please buy your tickets now for this special event celebrating women, like Daliah, who have dedicated their lives and careers to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the drug war, and mass incarceration.

You can also toast the accomplishments of Daliah, and our other women leaders by sponsoring the event or buying a journal ad in their honor.

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