PDFNJ’s Angel of Hope Gala Celebrates 30 Years of Collaboration


Contacts: Lisa Batitto, news@drugfreenj.org

Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s Angel of Hope Gala Commemorates Over 30 Years of Collaboration in Reducing Overdose Deaths in New Jersey

MILLBURN, NJ —The United States has observed a decline in overdose fatalities, especially from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, according to preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics. New Jersey is also in line with this national trend, with state police and the Department of Health confirming a decrease in suspected overdose deaths from 3,054 in 2022 to 2,564 in 2023. This marks the third consecutive year of declining overdose deaths in the state.

The NCHS announcement was made hours before the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s 30th Angel of Hope Gala on May 15. This event highlighted the role of collaborative community efforts in teaching families and young people about the advantages of leading a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. WWOR-TV/My9; and Paul S. Rotella, Esq., immediate past President and CEO of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association, were honored at the gala for their efforts in raising awareness about the opioid crisis.

PDFNJ Executive Director Angelo Valente and PDFNJ Chair Elaine Pozycki are pictured standing with Dan Bowen, center, from WWOR/Fox 5, who accepted the Angel of Hope Award on behalf of the station. Seated is Paul S. Rotella, Esq., former President and CEO of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association, who received the JP Miele Lifetime Achievement Award

As part of its mission to further reduce substance misuse and keep New Jersey’s numbers heading in the right direction, PDFNJ has implemented educational and community initiatives and championed significant legislative changes, including the Right to Know law that was initiated in New Jersey.

“New Jersey was the first of twenty-one states that have now adopted the Right to Know law,” said Elaine Pozycki, Chair of PDFNJ in her Gala presentation. “The bill requires a conversation about the risks of dependency and addiction  –  ensuring that a conversation occurs between doctors and patients and parents of patients, at the time it’s most needed – when an opioid is prescribed. This is a simple but extremely effective step that we know saves lives. These laws keep people from being introduced to an opioid – reducing dependency and addiction and preventing deaths from diversion and fentanyl.”

PDFNJ's comprehensive strategy includes various free programs including the 15-Minute Child Break, school-based initiatives like the 3rd Grade Contract for a Healthy Life, and the New Jersey Shout Down Drugs competition. The organization also collaborates with thousands of New Jersey local businesses through the Drugs Don’t Work in NJ! campaign. Additionally, PDFNJ presents the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day Learning Series, a collaboration with organizations like OEFA and NJ CARES, dedicated to enhancing public understanding of opioid misuse, prevention and recovery. PDFNJ recently launched an ongoing initiative with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey to raise awareness among New Jersey’s student-athletes about their vulnerability to opioid misuse.

“Annually, PDFNJ reaches over 500,000 children, teens, parents, and residents with our substance use prevention and education programs,” said Angelo M. Valente, Executive Director of PDFNJ. “The Angel of Hope Gala is a moment to celebrate these achievements and show the importance of working together. The decrease in overdose deaths both nationally and here in New Jersey underscores the effectiveness of comprehensive, community-focused prevention strategies. We are steadfast in our commitment to continue this work until drug misuse no longer impacts anyone in New Jersey.”

For additional information about the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and its initiatives, visit drugfreenj.org


Best known for its statewide substance use prevention advertising campaign, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is a private not-for-profit coalition of professionals from the communications, corporate and government communities whose collective mission is to reduce demand for illicit drugs in New Jersey through media communication. To date, more than $200 million in broadcast time and print space has been donated to the Partnership’s New Jersey campaign, making it the largest public service advertising campaign in New Jersey’s history. Since its inception, the Partnership has garnered 226 advertising and public relations awards from national, regional and statewide media organizations.