Howard Josepher, President & CEO
Howard Josepher, LCSW, is the founder and president of Exponents, a minority led, community-based organization in New York City helping people struggling with substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and reentry to the community after incarceration. Mr. Josepher’s programs focus on the health and mental health needs of participants, providing self-management skills to prevent chronic conditions from becoming more acute and requiring a higher and more expensive level of care. His organization offers an array of services offered through 11 different programs including out-patient drug treatment; transition planning from prison and re-entry services; HIV testing and counseling; and a recovery and wellness support center.
In 1988, Mr. Josepher created ARRIVE, one of the first HIV/AIDS programs in the country for injecting drug users. The program, which began in a church basement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, pioneered the use of harm reduction practices and utilization of peer educators. As of April 2011, the ARRIVE program has more than 9,500 graduates, all of whom attended voluntarily. The ARRIVE model has been recognized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) as an evidence based, best practices model for working with individuals in the criminal justice system.
As an outspoken recovery advocate, Mr. Josepher has served on the New York City Department of Correction’s (DOC) Task Force, NYC HIV Planning Council, NYC DoHMH, Mental Hygiene Advisory Council, is a past chairman of the Substance Abuse Committee of NYC’s HIV Prevention Planning Group and is a member of the NYS, OASAS Recovery Implementation Team. He is a past recipient of the National Association of Social Workers’ Diego Lopez Award for his work with HIV/AIDS patients. Mr. Josepher is a New York State Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a recovering person, having overcome his own addiction to drugs many years ago.
In disclosing his recovery background, Mr. Josepher strives to put a face on recovery, offer hope to others and destigmatize the perception of individuals with addiction histories. In wanting recovering individuals play a bigger role in the addiction field, Mr. Jospher founded FACT, Friends of the Addicted for Comprehensive Treatment in 1997, a recovery adovocacy organization seeking inclusion of recovering individuals on boards of treatment organziations and government policy and advisory committees. Mr. Josepher also advocated for repeal of NYS Rockefeller Drug laws and jobs for people in recovery through prioritizing the hiring of recovering individuals in drug treatment, research and prevention programs. He championed overturning the state’s draconian drug laws, organizing large groups of recovering individuals to advocate for alternatives to incarceration, treatment and recovery services rather than incarceration and long prison sentences.
He is one of the better known and public recovering individuals in New York, having many letters and articles published in The NY Times and appearing on television and radios shows as an addiction expert.
Sam Rivera, Executive Vice President / COO
Sam has twenty years of progressive experience in Substance Abuse Treatment, Criminal Justice and HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care. During these twenty years, Sam has worked both as a direct service provider and administrator. He is the former Senior Director of Health & Transitional Services at the Fortune Society where he worked in several positions for more than 10 years. He also worked at the Women’s Prison Association as the Director of Prison and Jail Services and at Community Health Action of Staten Island as the Director of Health Education & Prevention. Sam focuses his efforts on reducing the frequency of behaviors that place people at risk for substance abuse, HIV and imprisonment. He uses a “Holistic Approach” emphasizing the importance of the “whole person” and the interdependence of its parts (education, gender, class, ethnicity, culture, family, etc.).
Samantha Lopez-Fernandez, Chief Administrative Officer
Samantha Lopez-Fernandez, has been with the agency for over seven years first as Director of Development & Contracts and later as Director of Quality Assurance. Prior to coming to Exponents Ms. Lopez-Fernandez, a graduate of New York University, was at HIV Care Services, a program of MHRA, where she managed a portfolio of over 30 Ryan White Title I contracts. She began working in the non-profit sector as Asst. Director, Program Development for Elmhurst Hospital Center 15 years ago. Ms. Lopez-Fernandez has also served on the Community Advisory Boards of two MHRA projects, FITA and HIV CARE services.
Regina Edwards, Chief Financial Officer
Regina Edwards came to Exponents 12 years ago as the Director of Finance with extensive nonprofit financial experience. She earned her degree in Accounting from Lehman College, Bronx NY, and has worked in the not for profit sector for over 23 years. Ms. Edwards served 6 years as Board Treasurer for the HIV Law Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing legal representation and advocacy for low income people with HIV/AIDS.