As project coordinator for the Drug Free Communities grant, Michelle facilitates the implementation of the Sag Harbor Coalition's Action Plan to decrease the rate of substance abuse among youth and to increase the number and quality of protective factors in Sag Harbor Village.
Prior to joining the Coalition, Michelle worked for a major non-profit agency in the Bronx and she has experience working as an educator. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Princeton University and a master's degree, also in psychology, from Columbia University.
For 25 years, Kym has brought her leadership skills to Human Understanding and Growth Seminars Inc, known as HUGS, a nonprofit that serves Suffolk County by providing individuals, families, schools and communities with prevention education strategies aimed at reducing high-risk behaviors and fostering positive attitudes. She started with HUGS while in high school, learning first hand the impact of the organization. In 2002, she was named executive director.
In addition, she is president of the National Association of Teen Institutes and the Quality Consortium of Suffolk County; a member of the NYS Association of Substance Abuse Professionals Prevention Committee, NYS Public Policy Task Force, and the Suffolk County Partners in Prevention. A key member of the East End Partnership for Youth, she was recently appointed to serve on Governor Andrew Cuomo's Opiate Task Force. She lives in Westhampton Beach with her husband and two sons.
SAFE is the public face of the Sag Harbor Coalition, comprising representatives of key sectors of the community.
ella knibb, Youth Sector Representative:
Ella Knibb is student at Pierson High School. She is an active community member, with a focus on issues concerning the youth of Sag Harbor. Ella acts in musicals and plays at Pierson and, as a result, she has developed superior leadership and communication skills that serve her well in reaching her peers. She is involved in many community programs, as well as school extracurriculars such as Model UN and Quiz Bowl.
Benito Vila, Parent Sector Representative:
Benito Vila brings to his role as the parent sector representative a wealth of understanding about the school community culture, as well as the Sag Harbor area. Benito was a full-time caregiver for his daughter and son for more than 10 years. He is still a very active and visible parent, frequenting his stepdaughter’s and his friends’ children’s events. He has previously been a member of the school district’s Educational Facilities Planning Committee and Shared Decision Making Committee, and was a longtime assistant varsity baseball coach at Pierson High School. He is currently a member of the Pierson Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA) and remains active in the Sag Harbor-Bridgehampton Little League, coaching the 13- to-15-year-old summer team. His stepdaughter is a student at Pierson; his son graduated in 2013, and his daughter in 2016. Benito brings a strong understanding of the community and its challenges, especially its focus on alcohol and the culture of resort living that is stressed.
Jeffrey Yohai, Business Sector Representative:
Jeffrey Yohai is the co-owner of the Sag Harbor Pharmacy. He has worked as a community pharmacist for 35 years, starting in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, and owning pharmacies in the Bronx and Cold Spring Harbor. From 2007 to 2011, he was a staff pharmacist at Sag Harbor Pharmacy, before opening a pharmacy of his own in Cold Spring Harbor. When the opportunity arose to return to Sag Harbor and purchase the pharmacy, he jumped at the chance. He is committed to the reduction of prescription opioid use and underage abuse and misuse of nonprescription and prescription drugs. In association with Southampton Hospital, his store maintains a Red Drop Box for the disposal of outdated and unwanted medications.
Gavin & Kathryn Menu, Media Sector Representatives:
As publishers and editors of The Sag Harbor Express, the Menus are the most influential local media people in the Sag Harbor community. Kathryn assists the Coalition by publishing articles about the work of the Coalition, as well as articles related to the youth substance abuse issues in the community. The Express is published weekly, has a very visible on-line presence and reaches more people than any other media outlet in the community. The Sag Harbor Express also has a very active social media presence on Facebook, which is accessed by parents of Sag Harbor School District for school and sports news.
Katy Graves, School Sector Representative:
Katy Graves is Sag Harbor’s Superintendent of Schools. Committed to the work of the Coalition, she has attended almost every meeting, always with several other representatives from the schools, including the President of the Board of Education and the Director of Special Education. Under her leadership, the school district has implemented a K-6 and a 7-12 comprehensive, evidenced-based substance abuse prevention program. As a school sector representative, Katy can provide a direct link to the district’s schools, the School’s Board of Education, the PTA groups, the athletic community and other key parent and student groups. Katy has also made strong ties with community agencies, having joined the Chamber of Commerce, and frequents community events, such as the Fire Department’s pancake breakfasts and the Whaler Church spaghetti dinner. Katy will support the cultural shifts that will be needed to move a resort town that serves wine at the church spaghetti dinner fundraiser to just consider asking for proof that those they are serving wine to are of legal drinking age.
Deborah Skinner, Youth-Serving Organization Sector Representative:
Deborah Skinner is the project director of the Youth Resource Center of Sag Harbor and the program director for YARD at Pierson, which is located in the Sag Harbor School District year round and is the largest youth-serving organization in Sag Harbor for many years. Her leadership as a coalition member led to programs and events for youth such as the “Pizza & A Movie” series, which resulted from a collaboration with the Coalition, the village police chief, a local pizza parlor and Bay Street Theater. She recently worked closely with the Coalition and Pierson High School students to generate interest in “Speak Out.” Deborah has her hand on the “pulse” of the middle school and high school students of Sag Harbor through her daily interactions with them and her high visibility in the community. Deborah utilizes her strong ties in the community to help implement a more health conscious culture for Sag Harbor youth.
austin mc guire, Law Enforcement Sector Representative:
A resident of Noyac for 17 years, Sag Harbor Police Chief Austin McGuire has been in law enforcement for 20, 18 years with the East Hampton Police Department working his way up from patrol officer, to detective, sergeant and, finally, lieutenant. While with the EHPD, he was the School Resource Officer and oversaw the DARE program in the local school district. He earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and criminal justice from Central Connecticut State University, and in 2014, graduated from the FBI National Academy's 256th session. He is married and has two children. Chief McGuire works closely with other police departments that have jurisdiction in parts of the Sag Harbor community.
Eileen Moskowitz, Religious/Fraternal Organization Sector Representative:
Eileen has served as the administrator of the Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor for the last seven years. She is an active member of the Coalition, attending meetings and using her leadership skills and contacts in the community to develop and implement Coalition programming. Currently, she is working with Sag Harbor youth to film a public service announcement on social hosting laws. Eileen’s outstanding communication, leadership and contacts in the Sag Harbor community, along with her relationships with other religious organizations and youth groups in the Sag Harbor community a make her a key sector representative.
susan peterson, Civic/Volunteer Group Sector Representative:
Susan Peterson, who grew up in Sag Harbor, is a leader of the Sag Harbor Youth Committee, a nonprofit dedicated to publicizing, facilitating and planning constructive and enlightening activities to engage, entertain and educate youth in Sag Harbor. Susan grew up in Sag Harbor. She has been a social worker on the East End for 18 years and has worked with children and adolescents in the local schools for the last 15 years. Her knowledge of the community and adolescent issues makes her an invaluable asset to the coalition. Susan currently is in private practice in East Hampton, NY.
John Oppenheimer, Healthcare Professional Sector Representative:
John Oppenheimer, M.D., has practiced general internal medicine for more than 30 years, the first 10 in Greenwich Village, the last in Sag Harbor. He has taken care of many individuals with alcohol, tobacco and other drug-use problems. He well understands how unhealthy habits started early in life are so difficult to change later. John's efforts to curb underage drinking and drug use follow his previous efforts addressing other public health problems, especially HIV prevention. He has been a strong advocate for expanded HIV testing, as the doctor at the HIV clinic in Southampton for 10 years and as chair of the Prevention and Education Committee of the Suffolk County HIV Commission.
Nancy Lynott, Governmental Agency with Expertise with the Field of Substance Abuse Sector Representative:
Nancy Lynott is a licensed social worker with 25 years of experience working with children, youth and families in social service settings, both as a clinician and as an administrator. She is a strong sector representative for a governmental agency with expertise in the field of substance abuse, bringing her role as director of Southampton Youth Bureau, a municipal agency that provides positive youth development services, which encompass prevention and early intervention services in the areas of substance abuse, mental health and juvenile justice. She holds an MSW degree, a New York State LMSW license, and held the Maryland Prevention Specialist certification (CPS) from 1997 to 2000. Nancy’s extensive background in substance abuse and understanding of the resort culture on the East End of Long Island and Sag Harbor give her valuable insight into the factors that put youth at great risk for alcohol use and abuse and the means to combat them. She has been a member of the Sag Harbor Community Coalition since its inception.
Christopher Polistena, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Network:
Christopher Polistena is the East End program coordinator for the LGBT Network, an association of non-profit organizations serving Long Island’s LGBT community. Its mission is to build youth leadership, end anti-LGBT bullying, stop HIV/AIDS, and prevent suicide. Studies indicate that, when compared with the heterosexual population, LGBT people are more likely to use drugs, have higher rates of substance abuse, and are more likely to continue drug abuse into later life and so the Network is concerned about substance abuse among the local LGBT community. The Network opened The Hamptons LGBT Center at Old Whalers Church in Sag Harbor in August 2013, introducing, for the first time, a safety net of services for the LGBT community on the East End.