James Thacker Jr, MPH

Program Manager
University of Kentucky KIRP Harm Reduction Initiative
Lexington, Kentucky

Jim Thacker is the Harm Reduction Program Manager with the University of Kentucky’s (UK) and Kentucky Department for Public Health’s (KDPH) statewide Harm Reduction Initiative based in Lexington, Kentucky. He has worked with people suffering from Substance Use Disorder for almost a decade. Jim has a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism and a Master’s of Public Health from Eastern Kentucky University. He served two years as Vice-Chair of the Central Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition. He has had a wide ranging career that includes working in television and radio news, local government, not-for-management and education.

In 2011, Jim entered the health care field when he became a Health Care Navigator in the Emergency Department of a critical access hospital in East Central Kentucky. While there he worked with a largely indigent population to overcome barriers to health care. Those barriers included substance use disorders, behavioral health issues, homelessness, a lack of health care literacy, and habitual use of the hospital ED for primary care issues.

In 2015, he was hired by a local health department as the PIO/Communications Manager and went on to add health educator duties to his position. He was later promoted to Assistant Director of Health Education and ran the health departments Syringe Services Program. Jim is also a Harm Reduction Navigation Trainer for the State of Kentucky.

Jim’s master degree research was an 80 year retrospective study of STI trends in a central Kentucky county. He has given numerous presentations to high school and college students on the subject of Sexual Health & Safety.

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