The Legal Action Center (LAC) is thrilled to announce the expansion of its leadership team to include Tracie Gardner as Associate Director and Abigail Woodworth as Director of Communications and Strategy.

As LAC’s first Associate Director, Tracie will play a leading role in the overall growth of the organization and creating strategic partnerships that will support LAC’s mission. As a senior member of the policy team, Tracie will spearhead major initiatives to advance the Center’s federal and state priorities. In addition, she will play a key role as part of agency management in staff development, administration, fundraising and strategic planning.

Tracie’s accomplishments are broad and deep, including leading advocacy campaigns that won substantial increases in funding for substance use, HIV and alternatives to incarceration and reentry services, landmark HIV confidentiality and testing legislation, and landmark criminal justice reforms. Tracie is returning to LAC after serving as the Assistant Secretary of Health for New York State, where she oversaw the state’s mental hygiene agencies, including, the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, the Office of Mental Health, the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, and the Justice Center Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. Prior to her appointment by the Cuomo Administration, Tracie was a key member of the Legal Action Center for over fourteen years, serving as LAC’s Co-Director of Policy. In this role she conducted and coordinated the Center’s New York State public policy advocacy in the areas of substance use disorders, criminal justice and HIV/AIDS.

As Director of Communications and Strategy, Abigail will lead the expansion of LAC’s external relations strategy in support of its mission. She will work with program staff and external stakeholders to increase the visibility of key issues, and to drive the public-engagement and awareness efforts around policy and advocacy priorities.

Abigail brings substantial experience in the addiction and mental health field, having worked over the past 15 years to improve policies and public understanding of these issues. She comes to LAC from the Treatment Research Institute, where she served as the Vice President for Public Affairs and Strategy and led the expansion of TRI’s communications, fundraising and policy strategies. From 2004 until her appointment at TRI, she occupied senior management positions at the University of Pennsylvania as well as the Johns Hopkins University, developing and directing external relations efforts for mental health and substance abuse programs. Abigail has published numerous articles about how the segregation of substance use treatment and financing resulted in poorer outcomes and increased discrimination. She has been interviewed by numerous media outlets and has presented at academic and policy forums, including at the White House.

“As LAC enters the next chapter of its work to protect and advance the rights of people with histories of addiction, HIV/AIDS and criminal records and to improve public policies, the return of Tracie and addition of Abigail to the leadership team will enable the Center to significantly expand and amplify its mission, and to reach a broader base of constituents” said Paul Samuels, Director and President of the Legal Action Center.  “Please join us in welcoming them!”

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