<h1 class='title'>Staff</h1>


  • Karen Pershing, MPH, CPS II

    Executive Director

    Karen Pershing serves as the Executive Director of Metro Drug Coalition. A 30 plus year veteran of public health, she has devoted her career to improving the health of families in Knoxville. Karen works with local and state policymakers to advocate for laws that help prevent substance misuse and its consequences.

    Ms. Pershing has provided numerous trainings throughout her career on health-related topics. Other credentials include: Women’s Addiction Services Leadership Institute Class of 2014 (A National program through SAMHSA), Leadership Knoxville Class of 2013, Tennessee Department of Health recognition for work in prescription drug abuse prevention, member of the Tennessee Public Health Association, Executive Women’s Association, and former member of the UT Chancellor’s Associates program. She is a Certified Prevention Specialist II and a 2014 graduate of the UT Consortium for Social Enterprise Effectiveness. Karen was the 2016 recipient of the Partners and Leadership Award from the Tennessee Public Health Association as well the recipient of the 2017 FBI Community Director’s Leadership Award, representing the Knoxville Field Office and a 2018 recipient of the Knox Biz (formerly Knoxville Business Journal) Healthcare Heroes Award for her work in addiction and recovery. She is also on the boards of Harmony Family Centers, the Prevention Alliance of Tennessee, and The Sycamore Institute.

    She received her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies and a Master of Science in Public Health from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

  • Deborah Crouse, CPS I

    Media Relations & Project Director

    Deborah provides an array of communication and public relations services for Metro Drug Coalition, including media relations, marketing, social media management, website content, event planning, writing and research. She oversees MDC’s state grant aimed at prescription drug prevention. Deborah works closely with local beer retailers, law enforcement, schools and local government to mobilize the community against adolescent and adult substance use.

    Deborah has a passion for helping other nonprofits learn how to strategically use media relations in their organization. She received her Bachelor of Science in Communication from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

  • Miria Galyon

    Executive Assistant

    Miria directly supports MDC's Executive Director. She performs clerical duties and organizes special event projects, schedules events and manages communications. Miria has over 20 years of experience in assistant management. Miria is a Knoxville native and has a passion for serving others.

  • Jason Goodman, CPRS

    Director of Recovery Support Services

    Jason is responsible for the oversite of existing and additional peer recovery staff, including recovery coaches. This will help lay the foundation for other support activities planned as The Gateway community center becomes operational.

    Jason has dedicated his career to expanding access to recovery support services, supporting those in/or seeking recovery, and assisting families affected by addiction.

    He is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, ACEs trainer, QPR gatekeeper and a CCAR Trained Recovery Coach.

  • Sarah Keel, CPRS

    Faith-Based Community Coordinator, East Region

    Sarah Keel is the Faith-Based Community Coordinator for the East Grand Division of Tennessee. She is a point of contact in the faith community for establishing recovery programs, training, providing educational presentations, facilitating communication and coordination of special events in the region. She has worked in a variety of roles helping individuals in recovery, such as the High-Risk Educator for a behavioral healthcare company in Southwest Virginia and Tennessee's Department of Children's Services.

    Her passion is to bridge the gap between those who feel hopeless to finding hope in the faith community. She is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist and has her Bachelors's Degree in Applied Behavioral Science.

  • Eric Landry, CPRS

    Regional Overdose Prevention Specialist

    Eric is the Regional Overdose Prevention Specialist in Knox county. The focus of this position is to provide free Naloxone to agencies and individuals in Knox County. Eric has over 16 years in experience in the addiction recovery field Eric is retired USAF military and a National Certified Peer Support Specialist.

  • Katie Linley, CPRS

    Project Director

    Katie coordinates all of the community anti-drug coalition activities. She works with multiple sectors of the community to grow MDC’s reach of prevention including youth-serving organizations, the faith community, parents and medical professionals. She recently became a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. Katie is a native to Cincinnati but considers Tennessee to be her home.

    She received her Bachelor of Science in Communication from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

  • Courtney Niemann, MS

    Project Director

    Courtney oversees the implementation of the Mental Health First Aid program. This program teaches individuals how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders in the community.

    Courtney received her Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education and a Masters of Science in Health Education/Health Promotion from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

  • Sarah Sandlin

    Youth Initiatives Director

    Sarah oversees youth prevention at MDC. She provides substance abuse prevention education to children and teens throughout Knox County, including the public and private school sectors. She also advises the Youth Metro Drug Coalition (YMDC). YMDC consists of teens who have a personal connection to addiction or a passion for substance abuse prevention. These teens serve as a “community roundtable” on drug and alcohol prevention who develop prevention strategies to implement in order to engage teens and reduce/prevent youth substance use.

    Sarah received her Bachelor of Science in Recreational Therapy from Clemson University.