Founder and Executive Director
Joanne Peterson is the Founder and Executive Director of Learn to Cope (LTC), a non-profit peer-led support network which began in 2004. Joanne’s journey started as a young girl with siblings experiencing issues with mental illness and addiction. After years of watching family members struggle with opioid addiction starting with prescriptions, she was motivated and empowered to use her voice to bring about change. She designed LTC to offer families the support, education, resources, and hope that her family would have benefited from. Read Full Story
Director of LTC West
Peter Babineau is the Senior Regional Manager for Learn to Cope in Western Massachusetts. He is a person in long term recovery and the dad of a young man affected by substance use in his life. Peter’s experience includes work as a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counselor, Substance Use Educator, and curriculum supervisor. Peter considers himself a Harm Reduction advocate and activist as well as an ally to people who use drugs, those in recovery, and those of us that love them. He honors all pathways of recovery and works to educate people on the negative effects of stigmatizing and marginalizing language. After working in the direct service world for over 25 years, Peter retired and joined Learn to Cope as a regional manager in 2017 overseeing the Greenfield, Pittsfield, and Holyoke chapters. Since then, despite temporarily combining those groups into a single regional virtual group due to Covid-19, LTC has added two new groups which include Still Learning, Still Coping and LTC en Español, both of which are under the umbrella of the Western Massachusetts LTC Region and are supported by Peter and his colleague, Magda Colon.
Northeast Regional Manager
Bev is a psychiatric and mental health nurse who is especially drawn to those who suffer from depression, anxiety, dementias, issues around grief and loss, Substance Use Disorder and dual diagnosis. Listening to and being fully present for people brings her joy, and when performing duties as a hospice nurse, she considers it a privilege to help others through bereavement counseling. She believes strongly in the connection between the mind and body, and practices daily meditation with her husband. One of her favorite quotes is, “You take yourself, no matter where you go.” Teaching and community service are among Bev’s passions. Her background in business has allowed her to travel internationally as a career instructor for a major corporation. She also serves on several Boards and is a certified trainer for the Alzheimer’s Association. A long time Learn To Cope facilitator, she says that she can’t picture life without Learn To Cope in it.
Bev covers the chapters of Haverhill, Tewksbury and Lowell.
Western Regional Manager
Magda Colon joined Learn to Cope in October 2020 as Western Regional Manager. She is bilingual – bicultural relocating to the greater Springfield area from Puerto Rico in the 90s. Magda has over 20 years’ experience in behavioral health, community health education and public safety. During those years she gained a great understanding of how mental health and substance use disorder affects family dynamics, the complexity of recovery and the difficulty of managing all of it when English is not your first language. Magda holds a degree in Multicultural Community Health Education from the University of Massachusetts. In her day to day life, she uses her positive attitude and energy to encourage others to work hard and obtain success – “every victory counts”. In her free time Magda enjoys spending time with family, outdoor activities and family vacations. She lives in Springfield with her husband, his adult son and her son.
Magda covers the chapters of Pittsfield, Holyoke, Greenfield and the Spanish/Espanol chapter.
South Coast Regional Manager/Administrative Support
Prior to joining Learn to Cope as Administrative Assistant in March 2017, Patty worked as a Freelance Court Reporter for 25 years. With a soft, kind voice, Patty is often the person to console individuals in crisis when they call the office looking for someone to lend a compassionate ear and offer understanding and hope. This attribute along with her personal knowledge of Substance Use Disorder and her passion to help others enabled her to smoothly transition into the South Coast Regional Manager role where she oversees the Taunton, Attleboro, Brockton and New Bedford chapters. Patty holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Bridgewater State University and is a long-time resident of East Bridgewater. She is the proud mom to two daughters and a son, and Nana to two granddaughters.
Patty covers the chapters of Brockton, Taunton, New Bedford and Attleboro.
Director of Program Development and Training & Senior Regional Manager - Northeast Massachusetts
Kathy joined Learn to Cope in 2014 as a regional manager for the North Shore. A sibling and spouse to two individuals in recovery, she is often heard expressing her gratitude for working in a field that helps others deal with the family disease of addiction while also helping her personally.
After graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a self-designed degree in Health Issues in Education, Kathy went to work for a family planning agency to teach sex education and HIV / STI prevention in schools and corrections programs. From there Kathy provided direct service as the program director for a wellness center serving HIV and Hep C positive individuals, many who had substance use and mental health issues. During that time, her understanding of the disease of addiction and mental health deepened as Oxycontin came on the scene and she experienced many losses. Kathy learned about Harm Reduction and Overdose Prevention, and what was at the time underground access to Naloxone (Narcan) in Massachusetts. Kathy then began work as the opiate coordinator for the Gloucester Health Department as part of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health MassCALL2 grant looking at strategies to reduce opioid overdose deaths.
Kathy credits her prior work experience for her ability to have difficult and awkward conversations about important topics. This helps tremendously in supporting meetings and running trainings for LTC volunteer facilitators. Kathy strives to practice self-care and designed Learn to Cope’s Well-Being Weekends to provide our members and team with practical self-maintenance tools while supporting people in recovery. Kathy is a resident of the North Shore, a Board member of the CCB Foundation, and community advocate who helps to plan the annual Gloucester overdose vigil.
Kathy currently supports the Gloucester, Ipswich, Salem, and Cambridge LTC Chapters.
Website Communication Specialist
As a mother of a college-aged young woman who fell into addiction to OxyContin then heroin, Mary attended the very first meeting of Learn to Cope with her husband. In the years that followed, Mary was active in the growing organization by establishing its non-profit status, and working on the Fundraising Committee and the Family Overdose Prevention initiative. She also helped create an anti-drug coalition in her community with outreach to the schools, a cable TV show, and community awareness meetings. She is also a Certified Narcan Trainer where she trains Learn to Cope members on overdose education and administration of nasal naloxone. Today Mary is the part-time website communication specialist for Learn to Cope. Mary spends countless hours providing support and resources to those individuals that email our website and monitors our discussion board. Mary is a Certified Medical Assistant on the South Shore. She and her husband live in Abington with their children. Her daughter is in long-term recovery today.
Prior to joining Learn to Cope, Jim spent fifteen years as the CFO for a non-profit organization in the New Bedford area focused on the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders and mental illness. He knew that his experience in accounting and knowledge of state funding made him a perfect fit for Learn to Cope, and as a result joined the team as the organization’s staff accountant in 2017.
Jim earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Suffolk University. He grew up on the South Shore and currently resides in Bourne with his wife.
Community Resource Center Assistant
Kathy Iellamo is the Community Resource Center Assistant for the new Learn To Cope West Center located in Easthampton MA. Upon visiting the center, you will be greeted with Kathy’s warm and welcoming smile as well as an understanding and compassionate listening ear. Kathy’s desire in helping others navigate the journey of a loved one’s addiction comes from her owned lived experiences with her two sons’ substance use disorder and loss.
Kathy became a member of the Learn To Cope/Holyoke group in 2014. She knew she needed help and a community of peers to rely on after discovering both of her sons were struggling with substance use. Sadly, in 2018 Kathy lost her youngest son, Michael. Kathy still attends Learn To Cope meetings and has found her Learn to Cope “tribe” within the Still Learning, Still Coping group, a group for families who have lost a loved one to substance use disorder and still have a loved one struggling.
Kathy is also a trained Peer Grief Ally with SADOD (Support After Death by Overdose). As an ally Kathy is there to help and emotionally support those in need like that of a good friend. Kathy’s heart and soul knowledge comes from her own grief journey.
Cape Cod Family Liaison
Doris joined the staff of LTC in June of 2022 with the goal of establishing a Cape Cod coalition of coordinated services for families in need. Doris understands there are several existing groups already providing support for SUD victims on the Cape but what is missing is collaboration among these service providers resulting in families not getting the help they need because they do not know how to access these services.
Doris has provided Narcan training and facilitated meetings in Cambridge for more than 8 years along with facilitating Zoom meetings for the past two years. While her son has been in recovery for more than ten years, Doris remains active and committed to LTC to help family members learn about the disease of addiction and who may suffer PTSD from the unresolved issues of SUD.
Doris is a registered nurse who specializes in long term care, is certified in community health, and holds certificates in bioethics and gerontology. During her professional career, Doris has always been an advocate for families, helping them navigate the health care systems, obtaining insurance benefits, providing assessments to determine appropriate levels of care, developing quality ratings for providers and licensing providers. As a business owner who recently retired, Doris is ready to take on the challenges of collaborating and aligning partners on the Cape to support families experiencing the disease of addiction.
Operations and Marketing Coordinator
Kim is the Operations and Marketing Coordinator for Learn to Cope and manages the Hanover and Quincy meetings. Her professional background includes 20+ years in sports management and marketing. She was introduced to Learn to Cope at an event where she heard Joanne Peterson speak, and after attending a few Learn to Cope meetings, she realized she had a strong desire to work with families. Her passion comes not only from her personal experience with family members who have struggled with substance use disorder, but also from her understanding that substance use disorder is a family disease. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Boston College and completed the Addictions Counselor Education Program from UMass Boston. Kim currently resides on Cape Cod.
Kim covers the chapters of Hanover & Quincy.
Regional Manager – Central Massachusetts
Terri Nabulsi, an active Learn to Cope member since 2011, became a part-time Central Massachusetts Regional Manager in 2015. She is the mom of an adult son who has struggled with substance use disorder and truly understands what our families are experiencing. She has a passion for bringing awareness and education about addiction and recovery to the forefront and is actively involved in community events in her area.
Terri holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Assumption College and currently lives in Worcester with her family. She has 3 adult sons and 1 granddaughter.
She is a certified Narcan Trainer and covers the Worcester, Gardner and Hudson chapters.
Regional Manager – Central Massachusetts
Linda was first introduced to Learn to Cope in 2011 when she was seeking support to cope with her daughter who had been suffering with substance use disorder. She has since become an impassioned advocate for policy reform and a champion for others who are experiencing the same struggles. She has been a speaker at various treatment centers, a Learn2Cope facilitator and a personal mentor and confidant for others who are suffering. These are people who have become “family” to Linda. Linda’s extensive knowledge of the area’s treatment structure and the network of available support systems enables her to help others navigate the complicated and often difficult path to their loved one’s recovery. Linda came to Learn2Cope with over 20 years of managerial experience at WelcomeNewborn, a hospital based newborn photography service, where she oversaw the general operations and management of more than 80 locations nationwide. Linda holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Lehman College of CUNY in New York.
Linda covers the Dedham, Framingham & Franklin chapters.
After spending several years working with for-profit CPA and legal firms, Eileen returned to the non-profit sector when she joined Learn to Cope as program director in April 2017. As is the case with most small non-profit organizations, Eileen’s position includes a variety of roles including HR responsibilities, payroll processing, program budgeting, staff supervision and regional manager for two LTC chapters. Her leadership experience at numerous non-profit organizations in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, along with her financial management and legal background, provided her with the knowledge and tools needed to succeed as program director. However, it was her personal connection to Learn to Cope’s mission that truly drew her to the organization. As a mom of a daughter in recovery, she knew that she could bring understanding, compassion, and HOPE to the Learn to Cope family.
Eileen earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Stonehill College, teacher certification from Salve Regina University and her Juris Doctor from New England Law. She grew up in Newport, RI and currently resides in Taunton, MA with her husband. They are the parents of three adult daughters and two grandsons.
Eileen covers the Plymouth chapter.
Events & Social Media Coordinator
Carrie joined Learn to Cope in October 2014 and since then has held various positions within the organization. She is currently the coordinator for all events and social media platforms. As a mother of three she believes that schools should incorporate educational programs for families and students that encourage open discussion around substance use and mental health. Outside of work she is the chaos coordinator and personal taxi for her teenage twin boys. She is also a proud mom of a son in the USCG. Carrie resides in Dighton with her husband Chris, sons Camden and Brady, and white boxer Turbo. She holds a bachelor’s degree in management from Bryant University.