Laura is the right person at the right moment in time for NHRC and the broader movement


The National Harm Reduction Coalition (NHRC) Board of Directors is excited to announce Laura Guzman, JD, has officially been named NHRC’s fifth executive director since its founding almost 30 years ago! Laura has been the acting executive director since earlier this year, and we are thrilled she has accepted the position permanently. Her engagement with NHRC started in 1999 as a trainer for NHRC, and she became a full-time employee in 2020 as a senior capacity building and community mobilization director.


Laura’s passion for harm reduction began 28 years ago at the Ambassador Hotel, a single-room occupancy (SRO) hotel in San Francisco, where she worked as an outreach benefits counselor and served the hotel’s clientele with HIV/AIDS. Putting her law degree to use, she advocated for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, people who inject drugs, Black and Brown folks, lesbians, trans folks, and other queer folks. From 2001 until 2017, she continued to put harm reduction into action as the founder and director of the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center – one of the first harm reduction drop-in centers focusing on Brown and Black unhoused communities and SRO residents in the district. Her work centered a community model of healing, interdisciplinary services, and advocacy on behalf of – and with – people who use drugs, immigrants, trans and cis women, sex workers, and queer folks. Harm reduction was one of its key values.


Laura’s work has always centered the dignity and respect for people who have been pushed to the margins, and she has fought tirelessly with and for those who have been marginalized. This rich work experience and commitment has informed her success at NHRC as the lead of the California office and as acting executive director.


Laura is the right person at the right moment in time for NHRC and the broader movement. Her long history of activism for people who use drugs, insight, and judgment for just, inclusive, and transparent processes, natural leadership skills, and great vision will ensure NHRC continues to be a people-driven, movement-driven, and values-driven organization. As we stand at the dawn of NHRC’s fourth decade supporting a broader anti-colonial, racial justice, social justice, and human rights-focused harm reduction movement led by and for people who use drugs, we are excited and proud Laura has accepted the position as executive director.