Pioneering harm-reduction strategies since 1988

It was August, 1988. Dave Purchase set up a TV tray and a folding chair near a house frequented by heroin users in downtown Tacoma, WA. He exchanged clean needles for used — to anyone who wanted them, no questions asked. Dave wanted to stop the spread of HIV. What he started was a movement.


We develop and operate health-promoting, illness-prevention programs for the benefit of the general public with a primary focus on serving the drug-using community.



Drug use and misuse is a public health issue. Through our initiatives and advocacy, we support unrestricted access to the tools and information drug users need to make healthier choices. We also promote non-judgmental acceptance of drug users.

Our History

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Our Origin

With his TV tray, Dave launched Tacoma Needle Exchange (TNE), the first legal exchange in the U.S. To support TNE and other programs, Dave soon joined with a handful of like-minded folks to form a nonprofit, Point Defiance AIDS Projects. The mission? To stem the tide of AIDS one life and one syringe at a time. Since then, our mission has grown. Our new name, The Dave Purchase Project, reflects the spirit of our founder while allowing us to provide leadership on a larger range of public health issues.

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Dave would go on to become a founding member of the Harm Reduction Coalition, a founder of the harm-reduction movement in the U.S., and a pioneer in establishing the needle exchange program as one of the most successful public health intervention strategies for combatting the spread of bloodborne pathogens.


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Our Evolution

As Tacoma Needle Exchange grew and we learned more about our clients' needs, we helped pioneer the concept of mobile needle exchanges. We also brought SEPs across North America together to increase our buying power, reducing supply costs and increasing impact. The success of the U.S. AIDS movement and of Syringe Exchange Programs (SEP) like ours have dramatically reduced the prevalence of AIDS. But now there are new challenges to tackle like the opioid crisis and the rise of hepatitis.

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We continue to work tirelessly to keep HIV at bay with the Tacoma Needle Exchange and through NASEN, our network that supports SEPs throughout North America with low-cost harm reduction supplies, education, research, and syringe-exchange advocacy. We’re excited to continue to push new harm-reduction strategies forward by being a local leader in coordinated care in Pierce County and leveraging what we learn to better support SEPs nationally.


Board Members

Federico Cruz-Uribe

Board President,Vice President of External Affairs, SeaMar Community Health Centers, MPH

Kelly Goodnight

Board Secretary, Chemical Dependency Professional

Lori Linenberger

Board Treasurer, Chemical Dependency Professional

Dale Christensen

Board Member, Senior Manager Business Development, Microsoft Corporation

Dr. Jay Patel, MD

Board Member, Hospitalist, CHI

Mike Carroll

Board Member, Attorney

Karen Travis, Ph.D.

Board Member, Associate Professor and Chair of Economics, PLU

Douglas Tufts

Board Member, Attorney

Cathy Mortell

Board Member, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department

Our Staff

Paul LaKosky

PhD., Executive Director

Carolynn Nichols

MBA, Accounting Manager

David Venes

Coordinated Care, Case Manager

Jennifer Hayes

Staff Accountant

Brielle Wright

Buyers Club Manager

Hanna Carroll-Day

Lead Community Health Outreach Worker

Laura Reynolds

Community Health Outreach Worker

Kathryn Szymanowski

California Clearinghouse Program Specialist

Kyle Cook

California Clearinghouse Program Support Specialist

Dennis Sayler

Community Health Outreach Worker

Stefan Solberg

Buyers Club Specialist

Cedric Picard

Outreach & Buyers Club Support Specialist

Douglas DeJoe

Community Health Outreach Worker

Stephanie Prohaska

Operations Assistant

Meleaney Magofna

Accounts Receivable Specialist

Christiana Parker

Buyers Club Support Specialist