Concordia will host the Face to Face with Heroin symposium on Saturday, April 8, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.Concordia will host the Face to Face with Heroin symposium on Saturday, April 8, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

As the number of heroin-related deaths and incidences in Wisconsin continues its startling climb, Concordia University Wisconsin will play a part in combating the issue.

On Saturday, April 8, Concordia will host a symposium, “Face to Face with Heroin,” with various keynote speakers and breakout sessions from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on its Mequon campus, 12800 N. Lake Shore Drive.

The event is free and open to the public. Reservations should be made by emailing here.

Experts will provide compelling information about the biological, familial, community, societal, legal and spiritual responses to the heroin epidemic, and on what treatment and prevention means for our community.

The event is being spearheaded by students in Concordia’s psychology program. Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology Tracy Tuffey said students approached her with a desire to respond to the dire concern in our community, and a task force, involving CUW pharmacy professor Dr. Chris Cunningham and Dr. Ben Rader, of the Wisconsin Psychological Association, was convened to organize the event.

“I had students say to me, ‘Professor Tuffey, too many people are dying of heroin overdoses, even young kids. We have to do something,’” Tuffey said. “This effort has truly been a collaborative effort, and one that we think will powerfully impact the community.”

Keynote speakers for the April 8 event will include:

  • 9-9:30 a.m. – Jessica Geschke, who will share her personal testimony, having witnessed the effects of the epidemic firsthand as an alcohol and other drug abuse (AODA) counselor and president of the non-profit Stop Heroin Now
  • 10-11 a.m. – Dr. Chris Cunningham, who will speak on “Heroin 101: The biology of addiction and possible solutions”; Cunningham is assistant professor of pharmacy and pharmaceutical and administrative sciences department director at CUW
  • 1:30-2:30 p.m. – John Kumm, who will speak on “Combating Heroin”; Kumm is a member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and head of the Heroin Task Force in Wisconsin

During breakout sessions – from 11:15 a.m. to noon, and again from 1:30-2:30 p.m. – participants will hear from medical, civic, legal, religious, and academic experts and leaders in the community. View a full schedule of events here.

The event will culminate in a devotion and call to action. CUW students have created a powerful visual display which will symbolize the lives lost or impacted by heroin.

“The day promises to be a moving experience,” said Tuffey. “The CUW students involved in this recognize that the heroin epidemic is breaking our community, and with this symposium they want to leave a legacy of hope, healing and all that is possible when people come together to serve one another. How beautiful is that?”

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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