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August 8, 2025

 

I am a Boulder Colorado based artist. I partner with concerned organizations to help block the stigma of substance use disorder. My sister died of an opioid overdose. 

My collaborators and I all believe in the power of art to normalize the discussion and to help break down the stigma of addiction, and of course, so does Dr. Nora Volkow who addressed this in my latest art exhibition catalog.

I am currently working on a program with two award winning documentary filmmakers which will include an art exhibit, two documentary films and, schedule permitting, participation by Dr. Nora Volkow. We have tentatively located this event in Boulder. 

Dr. Volkow, NIDA and I have worked together on multiple projects including a piece for NPR Morning Edition and the ABC/Scripps network of more than 100 local stations. In addition, I was the guest speaker at Dr. Volkow’s NIDA Awards Ceremony and I collaborated on a public service video on behalf of NIDA. Dr. Volkow and I also participated in a panel at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus as part of my art exhibition programming.

It turns out that we are preliminary planning the above mentioned event to take place in June 2023. We have some venue options and we have even entertained having concurrent sites such as both Boulder and Denver. While speaking with Anne Rancourt, I discovered that Dr. Volkow was speaking at CPDD's 2023 annual conference and that this would be a convenient time for her to then come to Boulder. 

 

This got me thinking about possibly exporting my art exhibition and possibly the film screenings to downtown Denver to align with your annual meeting or as a part of your program. I can visualize something on-site at the Sheridan or in close proximity.

 

In addition, I would be happy to present at one of your conference sessions as well. In the past two years, I have presented my story about stigma, my family experience and how art can help remove the stigma and normalize the discussion, to several groups. Some of these include the Washington DC Hospital Association Opioid Response Symposium, the Case Western Reserve Lecture Series, the State of Colorado Human Services Division, the University of Colorado Center for Bioethics and Humanities, and of course to NIDA.

 

The stigma faced by my sister and our family whether from the health care system, our community, loved ones and even from all of us, prevented her from getting the proper diagnosis and treatment. My mission is the elimination of this stigma. As you are more than aware, eliminating stigma and normalizing the discussion is the first step to fighting substance use disorder.

 

 

Here is a bit of information about us. I don’t need to tell you about Dr. Volkow so I’ll start with me.

 

William Stoehr

 

In 2004 William Stoehr retired from his job as president of National Geographic’s mapping group to become an artist. Today his art is exhibited internationally at universities, art centers, museums and galleries. He has participated in 25 one-person exhibitions, received multiple awards and been featured in national and international media. He is a frequent speaker and lecturer and more than 300,000 people follow his work on social media.

 

After his sister died from an opioid overdose, Stoehr focussed his art on the stigma of opioid addiction with five solo art exhibitions and other specifically related exhibitions/programs which have included film and panel discussions with leading experts. The faces he now paints are the faces of those affected - victims, witnesses and survivors.

 

 

Dr. Debra Gonsher Vinik 

 

Dr. Vinik founded Diva Communications, Inc., a state and city certified Women Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) in 1985. She has produced and written twenty-one documentaries of which ten have been nominated for Emmy awards and six have won. Her films have aired on ABC, PBS and over thirty film festivals around the world.

 

Her newest film, ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: Women Lost in the Opioid Crisis, is scheduled for theatrical release in late 2022. It will be edited into a two-hour series to air on ABC- affiliated stations in May 2023. Dr. Volkow appears prominently in this documentary.

 

 

Michael Ramsdell

 

Ramsdell is the founder of Under the Hood Productions, an independent film production company dedicated to social change through story. Ramsdell has won awards including Best Screenplay at the Universal Studios Cinema City Film Festival, and has been featured on CNN, NPR, and FOX News. Their feature, WHEN ELEPHANTS FIGHT, Executive Produced and Narrated by Robin Wright was the opening night documentary at the Edinburgh Film Festival,

 

Their film STAND WITH CONGO played a significant role in the passing of section 1502 of the Dodd Frank bill. The film went on to be distributed by Participant Media, and streamed on NETFLIX, as well as became a major campaign piece for AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL. 

 

Their latest film, WE CAN BE HEROES follows boxer Taylor “Machine Gun” Duerr as he fights his way to a national boxing title inside the ring, while fighting the demons of his past heroin addiction out of the ring.

 

Ramsdell has screened films and spoken at more than 100 campuses.

 

 

I am willing and able to work with you in order to present this program as a formal activity at your 2023 annual meeting in Denver. I am also available to participate as a speaker or panelist.

 

I appreciate any thoughts you have and I welcome the opportunity to further discuss this.

 

 

Kind regards,

 

William Stoehr

bill@stoehr.us

303-638-2868

www.WilliamStoehrArt.com     

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