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Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy


Kathleen Kane-Willis

Interim Director, Institute for Metropolitan Affairs at Roosevelt University
Director, Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy 

Ms. Kane-Willis is the co-founder and director of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy, a research and policy institute housed at Roosevelt University. Kathie is recognized as one of Illinois’s foremost drug policy experts and is frequently asked to provide testimony for the Illinois General Assembly. Kathie, a former heroin user, focuses on promoting health based solutions to drug use, including ensuring that individuals with substance use disorders are restored to useful citizenship, employment and housing; educating communities and individuals about the nature of substance use disorders as complex bio/psycho/social disorders; and promoting harm reduction both at the community and policy level. Kathie has worked extensively towards policy solutions to prevent and reduce drug overdoses, including Good Samaritan immunity laws and naloxone access laws in Illinois and in other Midwestern states.  Additionally, her work strives to reduce the collateral damage that the criminal justice system may create for those who use drugs as well as to reduce the racial disparity of those charged with drug offenses. Kane-Willis has received numerous awards for her research and advocacy work on behalf on individuals who are impacted by substance use.  

Ms. Kane-Willis designed and teaches Drugs, Alcohol and Society, a course about drug use and policy at the both undergraduate and graduate levels in the Sociology Department at Roosevelt University. Kane-Willis is an adjunct faculty member at Roosevelt University, serves as co-chair on the Illinois Advisory Council on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependency, is the advisor and mentor for Roosevelt University's chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), and is a member of the steering committee of Mom’s United to End the War on Drugs. In 2008, while serving as the faculty mentor for Roosevelt University's Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter, Kane-Willis received the Advisor of the Year award. She also supervises and mentors students every semester through research assistantships with the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy. 

Research Associate:

Giovanni Aviles

Giovanni Aviles has been a member of the research team at the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy since August of 2013. Giovanni earned her Master of Social Work from Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago in May of 2014 and her B.A. in Applied Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2009. While with the ICDP, Giovanni contributed in co-authoring Patchwork Policy: an evaluation of arrests and tickets for marijuana misdemeanors in IllinoisAviles’ experience includes educating and advocating for individuals with an HIV/AIDs diagnosis in recovery of their substance use in general and sexual health, health policy, and research methodology.

Research Assistant:

Justyna Czechowska

Justyna Czechowska has been a research assistant with the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy since October 2014. Justyna earned her Medical Degree from Poznan University of Medical Sciences in Poznan, Poland. Her work with the adult inpatient population frequently involved the complex relationship between substance use and mental illness and the importance of community-based care in the recovery from mental health or addiction problems. She is currently pursuing a M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Roosevelt University.


David Barnett

David Barnett is a research intern at Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy. He is currently conducting research on racial disparities and costs involved in drug treatment episodes and substance use among high school students. Barnett earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from California State University San Marcos and is currently pursuing his Master of Public Policy and Administration at Northwestern University, granted in spring 2016. Prior to the ICDP, Barnett examined the economic impact of niche markets as a policy analyst intern at the National University System Institute for Policy Research, in San Diego. In addition, he gained federal government experience as a congressional intern at the 50th Congressional District Office. Barnett is mainly interested in studying the social and economic costs of mass incarceration, racial disparities under existing drug laws, and drug cartel violence. 

Benjamin Waite

Benjamin Waite is a research intern in his final year in the masters program at Jane Addams School of Social Work at University of Illinois at Chicago. Ben has years of experience in both political and community organizing, including work on the Living Wage Coalition in Ithaca NY, and was recently part of the organizing team of the recently passed Single Room Occupancy Preservation Ordnance.  He has experience working with formerly incarcerated individuals, as well as former and current drug users; aiding them in finding employment, and housing. 


Stephanie Schmitz

Stephanie Schmitz is the Director of Research and Evaluation at the Chicago Urban League and serves as a consultant for the Institute of Metropolitan Affairs and the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy. Ms. Schmitz has completed masters-level education and practicum training in social work and has over five years experience working with substance use and mental health issues. She is also experienced in evaluating social service delivery systems. Schmitz is currently a doctoral student at Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her doctoral work at the University of Illinois at Chicago focuses on mental health and substance use treatment needs, feelings of stigma and their relationship to service utilization among incarcerated populations. Her professional work focuses on public policy analysis and criminal justice reforms to address the social and legal consequences of national and local drug policies, studying service use patterns among individuals with mental and substance use disorders to improve service delivery systems and assisting community organizations in their advocacy efforts through the development of targeted research and advocacy messages. She currently serves on the Research and Policy Committees for the Illinois General Assembly's Disproportionate Justice Impact Study. She also serves on the Chicago Taskforce on LGBT Substance Abuse.