About Us – Our Story
Founder and Executive Director, Learn to Cope Inc.
Joanne Peterson is the Founder and Executive Director of Learn to Cope (LTC), a non-profit, peer-led support network established in 2004. Ms. Peterson’s journey started when she was a young girl, as her siblings experienced issues with mental illness and addiction. Years later, when Ms. Peterson discovered that her own son’s experimentation with prescription drugs had led to an opioid addiction, she was motivated and empowered to use her voice to bring about change. Today, her son is in long term recovery. She designed LTC to offer families the support, education, resources, and hope that her family would have benefited from.
Funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MADPH), Learn to Cope has grown to have a full staff who collaborate with communities across the state, spreading messages of prevention, education, awareness, and advocacy. Moreover, LTC has 25 chapters throughout Massachusetts, a chapter in Florida, and a private, online forum that supports over 11,000 members. In each of these branches of LTC, families receive unique support and education from professionals and peers.
Through advocacy and awareness, Ms. Peterson collaborated with MADPH to become the first parent network in the country to provide the overdose reversal antidote nasal naloxone. Today, 91 of the 243 LTC facilitators are trained and certified to provide overdose education and nasal naloxone kits at each Massachusetts chapter. This life saving education and medication that LTC members receive has successfully reversed over 150 opioid overdoses since December 2011.
With the growth and expansion of LTC, Joanne has been called upon by high-level government and law enforcement officials, coalitions, and educators to assist in their efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. In January 2015, Ms. Peterson was a guest of Senator Ed Markey at the White House State of the Union Address. Then, in October 2015, Ms. Peterson participated on a panel with Attorney General Maura Healey, Mayor Martin Walsh, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding the prescription drug and heroin crisis in Massachusetts. Later that year, she was a recipient of the Advocate for Action award presented by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. In 2016, Ms. Peterson was asked by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to participate as a panelist for the National Governor’s Association Health and Human Services Committee to discuss the nation’s opioid crisis. She was invited to the White House to participate in a discussion on the Administration’s efforts to address the opioid epidemic, held by Michael Botticelli, former National Drug Control Policy Director.
Currently, Ms. Peterson sits on the Massachusetts Health and Human Services Emergency Department working group along with the Governor’s Special Commission to investigate and study licensed addiction treatment centers for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She is a board member of RIZE Massachusetts, a member of the Attorney General’s Interagency Task Force on Newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, and a part of the Family Advisory Council for the Purdue Pharma Lawsuits. She serves on the Advisory Boards of the National Child and Traumatic Stress Network as well as Harvard University’s Recovery Research Institute.
Most recently, Ms. Peterson served as Situational Consultant for the Broadway hit, Jagged Little Pill. She was brought in by Level Forward Productions and the producers and writers of the show to work with the cast. She also previewed the show’s rehearsals to check for authenticity around the family dynamic and trauma of opioid addiction. The play is based on the 1995 Alanis Morissette album and Academy award winning writer Diablo Cody’s book.