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Coalition Spotlight: The Northern California Regional Coalition of Coalitions

Posted By MyPrevention News, Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Northern California Regional Coalition of Coalitions - CoCo
Coming Together to Address Regional Priorities

Shari Crow, who leads a substance abuse prevention coalition in Placer County, recognized in spring 2010 that many of the problems her coalition was attempting to tackle were not unique to Placer and wondered if there was a way to reach out to others who shared the same goals. She contacted CARS out of an interest in exploring whether other substance abuse prevention coalitions in the northern California region might find value in coming together to work on common issues and leverage resources. While Ms. Crow had the vision for a regional coalition (of coalitions), she needed assistance in planning and facilitating the initial convening.

Counties that have participated in CoCo

El Dorado








CARS identified Tamu Nolfo, PhD, to serve as a consultant for Ms. Crow. Having worked with multiple coalitions in the region, she was excited to take on the project. Together they decided that a key individual to bring into the planning process was Angela Da Re because of her extensive experience working with coalitions in the region as well. The three of them communicated by e-mail and conference call over the course of four months to hammer out the details of the initial convening, which was designed to build trust and cooperation, acknowledge shared regional needs, and commit to a long-term partnership. The intention was also to introduce and solicit resources and opportunities that could be key for such a collective effort, and identify those within the group that would be willing to spearhead initial developments. Ultimately, they wanted to ensure that mechanisms were in place for participants to take the next steps in addressing mutually agreed upon priorities.

Dr. Nolfo facilitated the convening on August 25th for 15 participants representing at least nine coalitions. One of the prominent agenda items was a presentation from Dr. Jonathan London, director of the Center for Regional Change at the University of California, Davis. This presentation highlighted the disparities for youth across the region that all of their coalitions are seeking to address. Feedback from participants was that they felt the convening was a good use of their time, and they wanted to continue to connect. However, rather than jumping too quickly to action, they wanted to ensure a thoughtful planning process.

A second TA request was made to CARS to receive help with that planning process, and Paul Nolfo, a leader in strategic planning for the non-profit field, was identified as just the right consultant for the project. Mostly through a series of telephone conference calls (to accommodate the geographic challenges of the members), he shepherded the group through a process that resulted in the creation of a vision and mission statement, bylaws, priorities, and initial first steps. Among these first steps was the planning of a regional convening that would focus on community marijuana prevention efforts. Conducted on May 13, 2011, and hosted at the Nehemiah Community Foundation offices in Sacramento, this day-long convening featured another CARS consultant, Dana Stevens, from Communities Against Substance Abuse in San Diego. She educated the group – now known as CoCo, which is short for the Northern California Regional Coalition of Coalitions – on the need for a concerted approach to marijuana prevention and what the possibilities are. Ms. Stevens’ work in this area has been featured nationally, and CoCo members were very impressed with the wealth of knowledge they received during their convening.

Their next step is to develop a proposal so that CoCo can fund coordination to meet their goals of a) reducing marijuana rates and risk factors and b) preventing legalization of recreational use of marijuana. They also intend to research the impact of marijuana dispensaries on youth use rates and explore working with California’s District Attorney to rescind Prop 215.

For more information about CoCo, please contact Shari Crow at

Tags:  AOD  California  Coalitions  Crow  Marijuana 

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