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Q&A: Marcie Seidel, executive director of the Prevention Action Alliance

Dec 18, 2017

Marcie Seidel is the executive director of the Prevention Action Alliance. The Alliance is an Ohio-based not-for-profit that works to prevent substance misuse and promote mental health wellness.

Interact for Health: Can you explain more about the Prevention Action Alliance and its goals?

Marcie Seidel: Today, our mission statement is basically leading healthy communities in the prevention of substance misuse and the promotion of mental health wellness. We take the research, the evidence base, all of the information that we've learned, and then train, teach, educate, and support different entities throughout Ohio -- be it coalitions, colleges, parents or youth-led groups.

We've been around for 30 years and recently changed our name from the Drug Free Action Alliance to the Prevention Action Alliance to better reflect what we do.

Interact for Health: What lessons have you learned from your work with alliance?

Seidel: It's important to be somewhat methodical. Specifically, there's a Strategic Prevention Framework that has been taught to us and we put out there too. It's a five-step process that includes data collection, raising awareness, developing and implementing a plan, and evaluating to see if we made a difference. When people approach problems like that in a very precise and systematic way, they can make all kinds of differences within their community.

Interact for Health: Can you share an example of the alliance in the community?

Seidel: One example, is our work with a coalition in Summit County, Ohio, that went through this methodical process when looking at how to reduce opioid overdose deaths. What they discovered was that they needed to get all of the extra, unused prescription opioids out of the house and disposed of correctly. They formed a partnership with this company that makes a bag that deactivates unused drugs, and distributed bags in the community. I just got the report, and there were thousands of these drugs that they managed to get off the street that could have otherwise been diverted.

Interact for Health: What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Seidel: I think our moving into the advocacy work has been tremendous. When you think about prevention, people think, "Well, let's educate children or let's educate people." And that's important to do. However, in our advocacy work, we've been able to work with legislators and the media and different people and say, "Let's take a look at this bill and see where it can make a difference."

I'm also very proud of the staff that I work with and the people we work with outside of our office walls -- that we all have come together knowing what needs to be done and are dedicated to getting it accomplished.

Interact for Health: What about your work is most gratifying?

Seidel: Every piece of what I do is fulfilling to me. If I had to write a description of what my dream job would be, it would be this. We have the ability to have resources that can help us to figure out how to make systemic changes in that at the state level.

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