Vermont CARES has four offices statewide. Our main office is based in Burlington. We also maintain regional offices in St. Johnsbury, Rutland, and Barre. We also provide mobile delivery services across 11 of the 14 counties in Vermont.
Theresa Vezina has been an integral part of Vermont CARES since joining the organization in 2012, serving as an HIV+ Case manager and running the stand-alone Syringe Exchange program in ST Johnsbury in her initial role with the agency. She was promoted to Harm Reduction Program Manager in 2016 after growing programming throughout the state. She served as the Associate Director from 2019 to January 2022.
Theresa is a harm reductionist as heart; being a person with lived and living experience of drug use, both managed and life threatening. She is a longtime practitioner of the Healing Arts. Theresa brings a perspective of understanding, acceptance and passion to her work that can be felt by all those she meets. She has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in this field and has grown into a leader in this work.
Throughout her tenure at Vermont CARES, Theresa has been instrumental in the expansion of the Syringe Service Program and other Harm Reduction initiatives and community-based education. Her passion for the mission of Vermont CARES is evident in her dedication to the day-to-day needs of the agency and important policy change at the state and national level.
Outside of her work with Vermont CARES, Theresa values time alone in meditation, the practice of yoga and spending time with her family and friends. She loves cooking to feed bellies and spirits.
Emily has been working at Vermont Cares since 2021 as an HIV case manager and backup support for the harm reduction program at the St. Johnsbury syringe exchange. She is a native of the NEK where she has worked in the human services field for over two decades.
Ben Wood (he/him) Syringe Service Program Provider
Ben Wood serves the Washington county community as the Syringe Service Specialist at VT CARES Barre location, as well as outreach and mobile deliveries. Though this is his first position in the field, Ben has always found in Harm Reduction a set of ideals based on validating the experiences of drug users, bringing them into the conversation, peeling away stigma and shame, and allowing them to have a say in what safe use can be.
Over the years Ben has worked a diverse set of jobs which offered him the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. He has worked in many kitchens, a domestic violence organization, and supported youth with learning disabilities. Whether through playing music, holding space while people share their experiences, or getting them the supplies they need, Ben believes that harm reduction can look like a lot of things by meeting people where they are. A transplant from Virginia, Ben now lives in Washington County with his partner and their cat.
Johny moved to Vermont in early 2018 to help start the Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community in Cornwall and to continue his studies as a Zen Buddhist priest, which began at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After three and a half years as a resident monastic at Bread Loaf, Johny moved to Rutland to continue his practice as a “monk in the world.” Before coming to Vermont Cares, Johny was the supervisor of the Recovery Coaching in the Emergency Department program at Porter Hospital and Turning Point Center of Addison County in Middlebury. In the more distant past, Johny worked as a musician and actor in Santa Fe and before that as an appellate lawyer in Seattle. Johny has a deep commitment to meeting people where they are with open heartedness and compassion and has been a long-term advocate for harm reduction. He has been interested in working with Vermont Cares since he first learned about the organization at a harm reduction training for emergency department recovery coach supervisors several years ago.
Kim Jacobs (she/her) Syringe Service Program Site Coordinator & Case Mgr.
Starting her journey at Vermont CARES in 2014 as an HIV case manager, Kim Jacobs dedication to the cause has only deepened over the years. While the exact timeline of her involvement with the Syringe Service Program (SSP) might be a bit hazy, her commitment to it is crystal clear.
At her core, Kim is a harm reductionist. Her personal journey, marked by over 11 triumphant years of overcoming problematic substance use, has given her a unique perspective. This lived experience allows her to approach her work with a blend of understanding, acceptance, and a passion that resonates deeply with those she interacts with. Her candidness and genuine honesty foster trust and create lasting bonds with the people she serves.
Having been a driving force in the growth and expansion of services, especially in the Franklin County mobile services, Kim is excited about the future and the broader reach of Vermont CARES.
Outside of her professional realm, Kim finds solace in crocheting, spending time in nature, and the company of her family. The moments spent with her grandson are especially cherished.
Mac is a case manager based out of the Burlington office. She has strong roots in the reproductive justice movement and brings this advocacy experience to her role at Vermont CARES. Mac also enjoys connecting with and educating community members about prevention and harm reduction. When she isn’t working, Mac enjoys reading, gaming, and snuggling with her dog, Lottie.
Mary Kathryn started at Vt CARES in the early days of 1990’s as a volunteer to help support the growing population of PLHIV in Rutland and Addison county. She was hired as the first regional Medical case manager and opened the first regional CARES office in 1994. She brought her passion to help those who needed it most at a time when it was profoundly sad work with the goal of making a difference in the lives of those individuals who needed compassion and care. It was a time of fear and discrimination and clients needed a case manager to help navigate the health care system and the changes in their personal lives. MK also worked with the UVM medical staff to open the first Comprehensive Care Clinic at the Rutland Regional Medical Center so folks had medical and community-based support in their own community. MK took on additional responsibilities of HIV 101 education and provided education to high-risk populations – drug treatment facilities, correctional institutions, drug court and colleges. She was one of the first Oral HIV testers and provided testing as part of HIV 101 training and is a trained HIV Tester. She continued to collaborate with HIV clients and was trained to implement latest programs developed and offered by
CARES throughout her catchment area. MK helped start the Syringe Exchange Program in Rutland County helping folks access support and supplies and providing education to folks to keep safe and save lives. MK still supports the SSP program and welcomes opportunities to help as needed. MK’s primary focus and responsibilities has always been providing compassionate support to clients and helping them move forward to a better place. MK is most proud of her work and involvement with every new initiative and program CARES has started in the past 25 years.
MK sees herself as a teacher, tester, harm reduction specialist and a caring compassionate medical Case manager. She is also an Institutional memory because of her tenure and journey with CARES.
Mina Ganguly-Kiefner (she/her/they/them) Harm Reduction Specialist
Mina Ganguly-Kiefner has been serving Vermont CARES as a Harm Reduction Specialist and Case Manager since joining our team in 2021. Her primary role consists of supporting people who use drugs (PWUD’s) by providing access to safer use education/ supplies through our Rutland Syringe Service Program (SSP) and case management services to anyone in need.
Mina has always believed that compassion is not conditional, and her time spent as Vermont CARES supports what she believes is her life’s purpose: To serve her community, in whatever capacity they may need. Stepping into the world of Harm Reduction gave her the opportunity to build meaningful connections to support PWUDs, empowering them to be in the driver’s seat of their own lives so they can make choices that are meaningful for them.
Mina’s hard work and determination was evident the moment she arrived. Her fierce advocacy started important conversations and planning about wound care access being provided out in her community by her community. Her work and knowledge in building strong community connections also lowered barriers for our SSP participants by providing food at her office, bikes for participants with limited transportation, and free luggage/ camping supplies for our folks impacted by homelessness.
Outside of her work at Vermont CARES, Mina enjoys cooking as a way connect with family and friends, creating art, playing video games, and spending time with her dogs.
I am a native Vermonter living in Chittenden County. I have been working off and on throughout my personal and professional life in client care and helping those around me in need. Being able to help others is something that has been near and dear to my heart for the majority of my life. I stepped out of that role for a number of years to work in the legal field, and I am so happy to be back helping members of our society in need.
I live with my spouse, Jeremy, our three cats, Miss Bits, Skonk, and Button, our dog, Wesley, and our cockatiel, Gonzo. In my spare time, I love to work on crafts, hang with friends and family, listen to music, kayak, travel, and teach classes on enthusiastic consent, among other topics. I’m always on the go, much to the chagrin of my spouse and animal babies, but I wouldn’t change a thing.