Stephanie Marquesano is the founder and president of the harris project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to advancing education, treatment, and support to improve the lives of teens and young adults diagnosed with co-occurring disorders (COD). COD is the combination of one or more mental health challenges and substance misuse. Founded after the death of her 19 year-old son Harris by accidental overdose in 2013, the harris project is the only nonprofit in the nation committed to the millions of young people and their families who face insurmountable odds as they try to find ways to navigate multiple systems and find solutions for COD.
Through her work with the harris project, Stephanie brings together leaders in fields including governmental agencies, service providers, national experts, higher education, and parent/peer advocates to improve outcomes through integrated treatment. Stephanie was elected as the Youth Advocate to the NYS Regional Planning Consortium (RPC) Board for the Mid-Hudson Region. Among other things, the RPC works collaboratively to resolve issues related to access, network adequacy, and quality of care occurring around the behavioral health transformation agenda. In addition, she was appointed as a Response Team member for the Westchester County Project W.O.R.T.H.Y. (Westchester Opioid Response Teams Helping You) initiative. Stephanie also serves on numerous committees across Westchester and Putnam Counties, NYC, and Connecticut bringing the dialogue about COD to the forefront.
Stephanie created and presents the prevention-based “the harris project program” to thousands of high school and college students across the tri-state area talking about the relationship between mental health challenges and substance misuse through assembly programs, health fairs, and community panels. This led to the development of CODA (Co-Occurring Disorders Awareness), a student-driven initiative to empower our youth to incorporate this conversation into everyday life. Knowledge is power, and the objective of CODA is to change outcomes for our youth through programming that fosters their becoming better decision-makers, seek early intervention, and support friends/peers.
Stephanie is also a certified Youth Mental Health First Aid instructor, believing that identifying, understanding, and responding to signs and symptoms of emerging mental health challenges, substance misuse, and addictions in our youth provides an incredible opportunity for early support and intervention. Stephanie is an attorney and graduate of New York University School of Law, and former school board member and PTA president.