The Arkansas Peer Advisory Committee (APAC) is appointed by the Arkansas Drug Director. Members include the DHS Recovery Team and up to 15 community stakeholders, who are certified Peer Specialists with extensive knowledge and experience.
APAC Mission Statement: Arkansas Peer Advisory Committee (APAC) unites the skills, passions, and experiences of Peer Recovery Support Specialists through outreach and advocating for Peer services. To provide Career and Personal Development to ensure the sustainability of the Peer Recovery Profession.
APAC Vision Statement: To be the subject matter experts for Peer Services while upholding the ethical responsibilities of Peer Support in the State of Arkansas.
Desi Sims, MA BS PR
My most recent accomplishment is being promoted to the position of DASEP Director/Manager with Mid-South Health Systems/ARISA Health. I got my start with this company many years ago as a part-time van driver (I have held many humbling positions with MSHS/ARISA, and now by the Grace of God, I am most humbled that He has chosen me to hold such a role with this amazing organization).
I am also humbled and grateful by many other accomplishments, including (but not limited to): being an Ordained Minister, A Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist, Elected as Dean of education for the Phillips county ministerial alliance, Chairman of the Board of Directors (Lee County Cooperative Clinic), and to hold a voting position with the Arkansas Peer Advisory Committee (APAC).
I have been drug free since August 17th, 1999.
Director of Substance Abuse Services
Powell is a person with over 23 years of long term recovery. She is the Director of Substance Abuse Services for SWACMHC. Powell was one of the first Trainer of Trainers for the State of AR..Powell was instrumental in the development of the AR model of Peer services. She is currently a PRPS as well as a Trainer of Trainers. Powell sits on the APAC board as well as the ASACB.
Joseph Cruz is a person with over a decade of experience in long term recovery from substance misuse disorder and mental health. He started his peer recovery support journey in 2019, and received certification during November 2020. Following up with advanced certification, then peer recovery supervisor April 2023. He currently has over two hundred hours of specialized training during his tenure. Joseph has been a speaker for several panels as a peer specialist representative. And currently he serves as a committee member for APAC.
Tojuana Greenlaw is a Peer Recovery Peer Supervisor. She started her recovery journey in July of 2010. She has completed all 3 levels of the Arkansas Model and is a Trainer of Trainers and sits on the APAC committee. Tojuana currently works with Arkansas Blue Cross/ Blue Shield as the Peer Support Specialists Lead. Tojuana has a passion for helping individuals that may have walked the similarities that she has walked. Working as a Peer Recovery Specialists allows me the opportunity allows me to meet an individual where they are and to walk with individuals on their recovery journey of their choice.
Wade Carter is an operations coordinator for Harbor House and a consultant for River Valley Medical and Wellness. Initially, Wade did not choose treatment but began because of involvement with the police, jail, and courts.
In sustained long-term recovery, Wade has advanced his career through peer support. He is a Trainer of Trainers and was in the first cohort of certified Peer Recovery Peer Supervisors. Wade is also a founding member of APAC.
Les is a Peer Recovery Peer Supervisor, Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, and Certified Clinical Supervisor. He is a person of long-term recovery and has more than two decades of experience as a counselor and clinical supervisor for substance use disorders. He contributed knowledge and expertise to the development of the Arkansas Model for Peer Support curriculum.
He is currently the peer support coordinator at the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement and is a member of the Arkansas Substance Abuse Certification Board.
Les grew up in Morrilton and has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Arkansas. He is married to his beautiful wife, Phedre, and has two sons, Louden and Finley. He enjoys camping and spending time outdoors.
Samantha Johnson is an Arkansas Core Peer Recovery Specialist at Bradley County Medical Center. Her position allows her to support and guide individuals experiencing substance use disorders.
Samantha spent 14 years struggling with addiction but now has many years in recovery. Having this lived experience allows her to be a role model and an advocate, providing treatment and recovery resources to those facing similar challenges.
Ashley LaHue is the executive director of Positive Energy Affecting Recovering Lives (P.E.A.R.L). She is a Peer Recovery Peer Supervisor and serves on the Arkansas Peer Ethics Review Committee.
She knows firsthand the struggles of early recovery and has made it her life’s passion to help end the stigma that comes with substance use disorders. Her work history includes intensive case management for the Arkansas Transitional Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, serving as a workforce specialist with the Department of Workforce Services, and holding positions with Arkansas Community Corrections and the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. Ashley has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
Josh Ramsey is the Peer Recovery Support Specialist working with the Izard County Sheriff’s Department and the 16th Judicial Drug Task Force. Josh struggled for 30 years with a substance use disorder. After being arrested dozens of times, he went to a faith-based treatment facility in 2018 and has lived substance free since then.
Working alongside two investigators, he uses his lived experience to help people who have overdosed get treatment and create effective recovery plans. Josh is currently active in the community and in the church. He is a leader in two Celebrate Recovery programs, conducts NARCAN trainings, participates in jail ministry, and organizes community outreach for drug prevention. Josh resides in Batesville with his wife, Ashley, and their son, Ashton.
Sean Willits is a person in long-term recovery from addiction. He is a survivor of 14 overdoses and numerous trips to jail and treatment centers. May 7, 2018, was the first day of his new life and career in the world of recovery. Sean started working at a center that provided him treatment, so he could help other people like him. In that job, he discovered peer support and has not looked back since.
Sean was the first person to implement peer services in the Hot Springs Police Department. He spearheaded the department’s overdose response team, which has had great success. He has organized conferences and recovery events, such as kickball with police and a program to deliver gifts to people in treatment on Christmas. Sean is implementing peer services for a prison re-entry center and supervising peers there.
For 20 years, Ron Worbington was addicted to everything from fentanyl to methamphetamines. He has been in long-term recovery since July 4, 2015—his Independence Day. He is an ordained Baptist minister, a Peer Specialist, and a NARCAN Trainer. He and his wife founded ARM180, Arkansas Recovery Ministries.
Shalinda Woolbright is the founder and executive director of NEA Divine Intervention women’s sober living and community peer centers. Her substance use disorder began at age 17, and she acquired four probation officers, one parole officer, and a $22,000 debt for restitution fees. After losing custody of her children for the fourth time, she was determined to find a new way to live. In long-term recovery, she gives back to her community in her role as a Peer Recovery Peer Supervisor.
Stacey Franks is a person in long-term recovery and works as a PRPS (Peer Recovery Peer Supervisor) at River Valley Medical Wellness. She is passionate about using her lived experience to help as many people as possible overcome the obstacles of substance use disorder. Stacey’s role at River Valley Medical Wellness involves connecting individuals to community resources in order to help them build a foundation for sustainable, long-term recovery.
Additionally, she is active in the State of Arkansas’ Peer Recovery Initiatives, serving on APAC, the Arkansas Peer Advisory Committee. She is a Trainer of Trainers for the state of Arkansas to train others to become Peer Recovery Support Specialists. Stacey is also actively involved in her community, leading a recovery life group called G5 Recovery at New Life Church in Cabot. She volunteers at Hoover Treatment Center, helping women in recovery, as well as being the Public Relations Chair for a 12-step recovery fellowship.
Stacey loves the outdoors, traveling, and spending time with her family. She’s quirky and fun-loving and enjoys the privilege of being of service to others.
Edward L Payne was born in Los Angeles an his friends called him Monte. Monte graduated from High School and went to the Military where he started drinking and was discharged with a entry level separation. Monte was dejected and started on the road of addiction smoking CRACK. Monte suffered through years of addiction on the streets of Los Angeles. When he finally decided to make a try for a new life, Monte came to Arkansas …. in the trunk of a car to escape murders drug dealers looking for revenge! He tried, but his new life was not to be. Within a few years, Monte was back in the iron grip of crack cocaine. He was once more on the streets, in Arkansas this time.
In 2004, Monte entered Hoover Treatment Center and began a new life in earnest this time. He did so well that, in 2007, the Courts awarded him custody of his then 12-year-old son. Monte raised his son and put him through college at UCA. Pretty impressive for a man who spent years on the
streets struggling with his addiction. Equally impressive is the fact that in 2007 Monte also began working at the Hoover Treatment Center as
a case manager. He worked in treatment housing and after care and, over time, has helped thousands of individuals get sober. Monte’s life continues its upward spiral. In 2018 Monte began working as a Peer Support Specialist and trainer and, here, found his niche. Monte has trained more Peers in Arkansas than any other trainer by far. In 2019 he was named Trainer of the Year at the first Arkansas Peer Support Conference. Monte is well-credentialed and extensively active in his community:
Monte is currently working at Wolfe Street Foundation as the Peer Program Manager.