Safe Harbor Cohasset Coalition is a grant funded program of Safe Harbor Cohasset a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and is strategically guided by a steering committee. The comprehensive coalition includes senior leadership from the school department, representatives from local law enforcement, fire department, town government, members of the faith, the medical and recovery communities, mental health professionals and parents.
Safe Harbor’s Steering Committee
Annemarie Whilton, Chair
Annemarie Whilton is a Cohasset resident, mother of three, artist, teacher and currently the Chair of Safe Harbor. In her spare time she battles with the disease of addiction and all the institutions that ignore it, allow it to flourish, or profit from it. Actually, this is not what she does in her spare time…it is what she does that makes her time worth meaning. Because the life of her daughter, and all others who struggle, has meaning. Annemarie has shared her families story on WGBH’s Stories from the Stage and in her blog: www.heroinheroineblog.com. She also serves as a parent advocate and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Bailey-Francois, Treasurer
Rev. Dr. Karen Bailey-Francois is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, currently called as Minister to the Second Congregational Church in Cohasset, where she started in April 2018. Besides her theological education at Andover Newton Theological School and Hartford Seminary, Karen has undergraduate and graduate degrees in business from the University of Vermont. She has served in board leadership roles for Hartford Seminary and Hands On Hartford, a non-profit focused on housing, health, food and community outreach services in Hartford, CT. A member of a youth substance-use prevention initiative before moving to Cohasset from CT, Karen was quick to volunteer with Safe Harbor. She works with the Data Committee and is SHCC’s new Treasurer.
Karyn Ellinger, Secretary
Karyn lives in Cohasset with her husband and two sons. Currently, Karyn is obtaining her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Before pursuing a career in counseling, Karyn worked as an estate planning attorney for more than fifteen years. Karyn has served as a legal advocate for domestic violence survivors and has completed training to work with survivors of domestic violence. Karyn is excited to be a part of Safe Harbor’s mission.
Kristen Esson is a Cohasset resident with her partner and blended family of 5 kids and 2 dogs. She is passionate about de-stigmatizing the disease of alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder by being a strong voice for change and identifying as a person in long term recovery. After 2 decades as a Family Medicine Nurse, she saw the need to pioneer an addiction medicine department within primary care with a team of other medical professionals. Today, she is the Addictions Nurse Liaison for South Shore Health at South Shore Medical Center, creates publications for ONE Healthy Boston and authors a blog for South Shore Health. Additionally, she co-chairs the programming committee and facilitates a weekly recovery meeting, Faith Finders, at South Shore Peer Recovery in Scituate. She is a strong believer that self-care is vital and balances a mind, body, soul approach into her everyday life. In her spare time you can find her spending time with her family & dogs, doing yoga, meditation, rock climbing, surfing or practicing her strong faith.
Kevin has resided in Cohasset for over 28 years with his wife and two children, who graduated from the Cohasset School system. Kevin is an attorney, and recently served two terms as a member of the Cohasset Select Board. Additionally, Kevin is the founder and administrator of the community Facebook group Cohasset143 – which has over 7300 members.
Ron is a husband, a father and a fighter with a pen. He founded BenAddiction.org andunderstands the many facets of the disease, having great empathy for those in the throes of addiction. As a Chief Information Officer, he has the ability to work with many intelligent individuals daily including first responders, nurses, and phycologists specializing in adolescent behavior and issues tied to early childhood development. He is a strong believer that moving accurate and good information to the people whom make decisions is key to combating this disease. Additionally, vaping, smoking, drinking and the use of life altering drugs are all areas of concern and believes they should be looked at from the perspective of supplying targeted education to help children make better more informed decisions about the use of these drugs.
Dr. Patrick Sullivan
Pat a loving father of four, is the Superintendent of Cohasset Public Schools. He obtained his doctorate studying social/emotional learning and the skills he capitalizes on include social awareness, responsible decision-making, managing one’s emotions, and building concrete relationships with peers. One of the cornerstones of his passion for education is assisting students with a number of these pivotal learning strategies has been. He thoroughly enjoys working alongside stakeholders and educators that are about the whole child and are focused on what children need.
Officer Greg Taylor has been in law enforcement for over 8 years, attending numerous trainings on, including, but not limited to, alcohol, drugs, social-emotional awareness, mental health, and issues failing out juveniles in today’s world. As the current School Resource Officer for Cohasset Public Schools, Greg interacts with the students daily, in addition to working with Cohasset’s Rec Program in the summers. As a born & raised Cohasset resident, living in Town with his wife and 2 children, Greg joined Safe Harbor Cohasset’s steering committee to play a part of a program that focuses on keeping the community and its youth safe.
Margaret is a resident of Cohasset and a Public Health major at American University. She joined the steering committee in 2019 with a strong interest in policy, advocacy, and law. As a former Cohasset student, she strongly believes that by addressing the unspoken and accepted culture around alcohol and drugs that students are exposed to early on, the coalition can make a great impact and set the community up with a generation of addiction-aware members. With a personal connection to addiction and understanding the many facets of the disease, Margaret strives to destigmatize the conversation, allowing community members to ask for help without fear of social repercussions. Margaret looks forward to being a part of how the coalition communicates information and makes their mission more accessible to the Cohasset youth.
Michael has a master’s degree in social work from Simmons College and is a Licensed Certified Social Worker in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As a person in long-term recovery, Michael has extensive experience working in the recovery community to end the stigma of addiction. His impressive work history includes several prevention campaigns including the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services State Without Stigma campaign; and was responsible for the inception of Recovery Centers of America’s Westminster program. Currently, Michael serves as the CEO of Evoke Wellness, and as Co-Founder of Wicked Sober, Intervention Services by Recovery Centers of America.
Safe Harbor’s Staff
Nicole Balaschi, MPH – Program Director
Nicole joined Safe Harbor as the Program Director in December of 2017. Nicole is a 2013 graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a BS in Public Health and a minor in Education. In 2017, she received a Master’s Degree in Public Health from George Washington University. A native of Londonderry, NH and a South Shore resident, Nicole served as the former Chair of H.A.P.S.A., the Hull Alliance for the Prevention of Substance Addiction. Additionally, Nicole was employed by Manet Community Health Center as Sr. Prevention Specialist. Nicole and her staff were responsible for facilitating educational groups in the community, identifying high-risk populations for focused prevention outreach efforts while assisting with the development and implementation of strategies for providing prevention and education.
Janine Suchecki, Marketing Director
Janine joined Safe Harbor in January of 2016 as the Marketing Director. With an extensive background in communications, an A.S. degree in Business Management from Aquinas College, and a love for philanthropy, Janine formed The Hungry Shark, LLC-a company providing marketing support services to small businesses and non-profit organizations. During her free time, Janine enjoys her many volunteer roles, serving as an elected Housing Commissioner for the Hingham Housing Authority, Public Affairs Officer for Hingham Veterans Services, and Co-Founder of the HinghamLink, a volunteer based organization connecting volunteers with those in need. A United States Navy veteran, Janine is also a member of American Legion Post 120.
Laurel Pearson, Project Coordinator
Laurel Pearson joined Safe Harbor in March of 2021 as Project Coordinator. Laurel has a Bachelor’s in Science of Health, Wellness, and Occupational Studies, a minor in Special Education, is a Certified Peer Health Educator, and is trained in Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). A Hull resident, Laurel has experience as a Head Counselor at Sunset Point Camp in Hull, where she maintained the health and well-being of more than 60 low-income, inner-city children ranging from ages 5-14. Previously, Laurel worked as a long-term substitute in Hull Public Schools, working with educators on observations, concerns, and ideas for improvement, while cultivating and distributing coursework, providing one-on-one support services for students with disabilities, and maximizing classroom efficiency.
Please visit our Youth Ambassadors Page HERE to learn more about our Youth Leaders.