Leadership & Staff
Avi Israel, President and Founder
Molly Sanders Clauss, Vice President
Joseph R. Peresan, CPA, Treasurer
Principal at The Bonadio Group
Ashley Stachura, Secretary
Sr. Channel Development Marketing Manager, Ingram Micro
Kimberly W. Sayoc, Legal Counsel
Senior Counsel, Hodgson Russ LLP
Board of Directors
Dr. Richard Blondell
Family Practice – Director, Center of Addictions, University of Buffalo
Executive Director, Pharmacists' Association of WNY
Julie A. Israel
Vice President, Key Insurance & Benefits Services
George D. Maziarz
NY State Senate
Vice President, Credit Risk and Controls Manager, Citi
Claim Consulting Manager, Key Insurance & Benefits Services
Save the Michaels of the World, Inc. was established in June of 2011 as a small kitchen roundtable action group, to bring attention and awareness of the devastating effects of opioid medications after the death by suicide of 20 year old Michael David Israel.
Avi and Julie Israel decided they didn’t want to see other families suffer the loss of a loved one. The journey started with an interview with a Buffalo News reporter who told Michael’s story. That story got more attention from TV stations. Doctors, patients, parents and the population as a whole are not aware of the danger of opiate addiction. We wanted to find a way to address the overprescribing of pain medications such as hydrocodone and others.
Since then Save the Michaels of the World has taken on a life of its own. A grass roots effort was started to change the laws in New York State. Families who’ve lost their own beloved children and family members to prescribed addictions were brought together to share their stories and photos, as well as a dedicated group of devoted friends . Letters and emails were sent to state senators and assemblymen to encourage them to support the Michael David Israel Laws and the I-Stop Legislation, “the internet system tracking over prescribing”. We also worked with Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYS Attorney General Eric Schniederman to help achieve our goal.
After many trips and meetings in our state capital the I-Stop Bill was starting to gain support. On June 11, 2012 this legislation passed unanimously in both houses. Our success was due to the determination of Avi Israel and others who would not take no for an answer.
Avi testified before a Senate committee chaired by Senator Diane Feinstein. He appeared before the FDA several times along with others in hopes of convincing FDA’ s Safety Advisory committee to up schedule hydrocodone analgesics from schedule 3 to schedule 2. The safety committee agreed that this medication was not safe and voted in favor of up-scheduling . After a year of delay the FDA finally agreed to up-schedule hydrocodone to schedule 2.
We established a face book page and told the stories. People took an interest and they shared their stories and experiences of the deaths of loved ones and of those who are going through recovery. More and more people joined our cause and today we have over 2100 members.
We have since established ourselves as a 501 (c3) not for profit organization in hopes of raising funds to help us continue to reach out to schools of all levels of education, professional organizations and others. We are steadfast in this journey and will continue to increase awareness and education regarding the dangers of prescription drug addiction which can lead to accidental overdose and suicide.