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. Our comprehensive coalition includes school department senior leadership, representatives and members from local law enforcement, fire department, town government, faith communities, medical community, recovery community, mental health professionals and parents.
Safe Harbor’s Steering Committee
Kevin McCarthy, Co-Chair
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.
Annemarie Whilton, Co-Chair
Annemarie Whilton is a Cohasset resident, mother of three, artist and teacher. 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 email@example.com
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.
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. A former Addictions Nurse Liaison for South Shore Health at South Shore Medical Center, Kristen now serves as Director of Community Health and Public Relations at East Coast Recovery. Additionally, Kristen 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.
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.
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.
Deb has lived in Cohasset for 20 years with her husband and three children. Prior to her retirement in 2016 she was a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 25 years. With her children all grown and through the school system, Deb is motivated to put her free time to use. She is ecstatic to be getting involved in organizations that she believes in and are meaningful to her, including Safe Harbor Cohasset Coalition.
Ashley is deeply devoted to creating and expanding opportunities for young people as well as fostering community. Ashley is a graduate of Boston University’s College of Communications. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors at the Boston Arts Academy Foundation, the South Shore Unity Council, and the Cohasset Pride Project. She is a former member of the Cohasset School Committee and lives in Cohasset with her husband Paul and their two children.
Professionally, Ashley works as an assistant to James Wahlberg, Executive Director of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation. She has worked alongside James for many years to prevent youth substance use and eliminate the stigma that often comes with mental health and substance use disorder/addiction.
Frances is a Senior at Cohasset High School (2022-2023), with a strong interest in activism and health sciences. She joined the Steering Committee in the spring of 2021 and is excited to contribute further to Safe Harbor, following her work with Cohasset Youth Ambassadors. Frances is passionate about educating youth about drugs and alcohol particularly through a scientific perspective of what drugs and alcohol do to an adolescent brain. She is very excited to be joining the team and believes that as a student she can offer the unique perspective that is needed in order to connect with and educate students.
Catherine is a Senior at Cohasset High School (2022-2023) who has a passion for volunteering, science, public health, and community well-being. After almost two years with Cohasset Youth Ambassadors, Catherine joined the Steering Committee in 2022. She is excited to share the student perspective with the committee. Catherine is also passionate about educating others about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse in our community. Catherine is extremely excited about this opportunity and is ready to jump into action with the Steering Committee this year.
Benedict has lived in Cohasset for two years, coming from Cincinnati, Ohio. They attend Cohasset High School (Class of 2025) and they are passionate in helping their community in anyway possible. Benedict works hard to prevent substance misuse in our schools and tries to bring a unique perspective as someone who is from a different type of community. Benedict has been apart of Cohasset Youth Ambassadors since the 2021 season and aims to help people through leadership positions in our community. Benedict is very excited to be able to help our community through their passions of mental illness advocacy and Substance misuse.
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.
Margaret Curley- Project Coordinator
Returning to the Coalition as the Project Coordinator, Margaret has been involved with Safe Harbor for several years including positions as a Youth Leader, Steering Committee member, and through work as an intern. She is graduating from American University with a Bachelor of Science degree in public health, and will be attending Boston University next year to work on her master’s degree, focusing on substance use and mental health. In addition to her education and extraordinary efforts at Safe Harbor, Margaret has additionally worked in recovery and prevention in other capacities including working at EVOKE Wellness, performing for youth through Drug Story Theater programming, and working in the research and development of pharmacological treatments for addiction.