<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.

  • Eric Landry, NCPRSS, CPRS

    Faith-Based Community Coordinator, East Region

    Eric is the point of contact for the faith community in establishing recovery programs for the east region. He provides training and educational presentations, as well as coordination of special events. Previously, he served as Regional Overdose Prevention Specialist (ROPS) for MDC.

    Eric has 12+ years in residential alcohol and drug treatment operations management and as facilities safety officer, is a retired United States Air Force veteran and has 18+ years of personal 12-step recovery.

    He is a Nationally Certified Peer Support Specialist (NCPRSS), Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS) and Trained Recovery Coach (RC).

  • 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, CPS I

    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.

  • Jessica Stanley, CPRS, RC

    Regional Overdose Prevention Specialist (ROPS)

    Jessica currently serves Knox County as the Regional Overdose Prevention Specialist (ROPS). She provides educational trainings on the administration of Naloxone, reducing stigma and harm reduction. Jessica is a TN Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, Recovery Coach, and is under supervision to obtain a Licensure for Alcohol and Drug Counseling.

    Jessica is an overdose survivor and uses her own experience, strength and hope to reach and provide education to others who have or know someone with Substance Use Disorder. She is passionate about sharing her story and remains transparent as she makes connections with people from all walks of life.

    Jessica attends school at Strayer University to obtain a Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice.

  • Davis Rhea

    Regional Lifeline Director

    Davis facilitates recovery efforts across the sixteen county area of Region 2. He educates those in recovery and the community with a specific goal in mind, reducing the stigma of substance misuse by establishing lifelines and support services for individuals in need. Davis has a passion for helping others find a path to recovery and gain the skills to sustain their journey.

  • Emory Young, LADAC II, NCAC I, SAP, CPRS, RAS

    Recovery Coach

    Emory serves as an MDC Recovery Coach Academy trained Recovery Coach. He will promote recovery, remove barriers, connect recoverees with recovery support services, as well as encourage hope, optimism, and healthy living.

    Emory is a Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor II, National Certified Addiction Counselor I, Substance Abuse Professional, Certified Peer Recovery Specialist and Registered Addiction Specialist. He has worked in the field of addiction and recovery services for 22 years with various different investment in the field of substance abuse treatment and helping those afflicted with the disease of addiction. Emory is dedicated to help instill a feeling of hope, that a person may be able to overcome barriers to recovery from addiction and find a new way live.