The Drug Foundation has announced the appointment of Sarah Helm (Kāi Tahu, pākeha) as its new Executive Director.

“Sarah is a supremely talented leader, who joins us at a very exciting time. Sarah brings the perfect mix of skills and experience to take the Foundation to a new level, at a time when evidence-based public health approaches have informed other areas of government policy making,” said Tuari Potiki, Drug Foundation Chairperson.

Ms Helm is coming to the Drug Foundation from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, where she is the Strategic Communications Manager on the All of Government Covid-19 Response Group.

“The Foundation will benefit hugely from Sarah’s strategic thinking and communications expertise. I think we’ve all seen the clarity and assurance that Sarah has been able to bring to that challenging issue.

“Sarah is no stranger to the Drug Foundation. We have collaborated with her in previous roles she’s held at the Alcohol Advisory Council, Health Promotion Agency, and the NZ Association of Adolescent Health & Development. Her knowledge of public health and harm reduction means Sarah will hit the ground running.

“The Drug Foundation has high hopes that important progress will continue to be made on harm reduction, prevention, treatment and drug policy under the new government. Sarah’s experience in leading organisations, her proven track record on advocacy and her communications savvy will ensure the Foundation remains in a position of influence,” says Mr Potiki

“It is a privilege to take up this role at such an important juncture in the history in New Zealand’s drug policy, with the results of the referendum on the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill expected later this month. While we hope the outcome will be a majority in favour of the bill, whatever voters decide, the debate about the Bill has brought us closer to a more mature approach to drug policy and harm reduction in New Zealand,” says Sarah Helm.

“Equally, it is an honour to take the reins from Ross Bell, who leaves big shoes to fill with an enormous legacy of over sixteen years in the role. Under his leadership, the organisation has become the highly respected go-to voice of reason on drug issues. The staff, board and I will work together to build on his great work.”

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