Attorney General Phil Weiser appoints Heidi Williams as new Director of Opioid Response
Former mayor will lead efforts to develop strategies and partnerships to combat the opioid crisis
Jan. 23, 2020 (DENVER, Colo.)— Attorney General Phil Weiser has announced the appointment of Heidi Williams, former mayor of Thornton, as the new Director of Opioid Response in the Colorado Office of the Attorney General.
In this role, Williams will lead the office’s newly formed Opioid Abuse Impact Team and oversee all opioid-related community outreach activities for the Office of the Attorney General. She will partner with subject-matter experts and leaders in Colorado communities to determine needs, best practices, and strategies supported by the latest research on substance abuse and opioid-related matters.
Weiser, who has made combating the opioid crisis one of his top priorities, said that Williams’ innovative mindset, collaborative approach, and local government experience make her well-suited to identify and develop sustainable solutions to address the epidemic in Colorado.
“The opioid addiction crisis impacts public health authorities, law enforcement agencies, schools, and our communities. To support effective strategies to address this crisis, we need to recognize the range of ways in which it is playing out in Colorado. To that end, Heidi’s local government experience, her listening skills, and opioid strategy experience—as well our office’s community engagement focus—will be crucial as we develop and implement an overall strategy with local and state leaders,” said Weiser.
As mayor of Thornton from 2011-2019, and while pursuing degrees at Front Range Community College and the University of Colorado at Denver, Williams focused much of her efforts on addressing the opioid epidemic. She also worked with other mayors regionally and through the U.S. Conference of Mayors to develop solutions for opioid addiction at the local level.
“I am looking forward to connecting with community leaders and organizations around the state to gain input on opioid issues and current programs that will inform the Attorney General’s opioid response strategy. It’s an honor to have a leading role in addressing the opioid crisis in Colorado,” said Williams.
To hold those responsible for the opioid epidemic accountable for their actions, last July Weiser filed an updated lawsuit against opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma. This lawsuit adds former company executives and members of the Sackler Family, who owned and still own Purdue, for their roles in the opioid epidemic that has killed thousands of Coloradans, left thousands more struggling with addiction, and devastated communities throughout the state. Weiser and his office are also engaged in multistate settlement negotiations with drug manufacturers and distributors.
Weiser is committed to directing all funds that the state obtains from opioid litigation judgments or negotiated settlements to drug treatment, recovery, and education and prevention programs. The money that comes into the state is almost certain to be time limited, which will require investing those funds to both address the demand for treatment and catalyze the development of long-term, sustainable solutions.
To execute this challenge, Weiser said his office will need to develop appropriate strategies for engaging and working with local governments.
“We have a diverse state and solutions in Montezuma County will be different from those in Morgan County. As such, we need to be ready to identify and support different solutions across the state and we also need to be ready to learn what is working across the country,” said Weiser. “Heidi’s background equips her very well to both develop these relationships and monitor different experiments to determine what best practices look like. We have a lot of work to do and are thrilled that Heidi is now aboard to spearhead this priority of our office.”
Williams has extensive leadership experience in the public and private sector. She has chaired multiple regional boards, including the Metro Mayor’s Caucus, the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, and the E-470 Highway Authority Board of Directors. From 2009-2011, she served on the Adams 12 Five Star School Board.
Previously, Williams served as the director of government affairs for the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver, and as business development manager for the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce. Currently, Williams is president of The Ralston House Board of Directors and serves on the Front Range Community College Foundation Board. She attended Front Range Community College and earned her B.A. and Master of Public Administration degrees from the University of Colorado Denver.
A Colorado native, Williams lives in Thornton with her husband and two children, and has one adult child who attends Front Range Community College.