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USD Medical Education Program Offers Conference on Substance Abuse and Mental Illness

VERMILLION, S.D. – The South Dakota Area Health Education Center (AHEC), a federally funded health care education provider that is led by the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, is offering a virtual conference Aug. 19 and 20 that will focus on reducing the impact of substance abuse and mental illness in South Dakota.

This conference will offer a rich and varied array of compelling information, with two inspiring keynote speakers, including Pro BMX competitor and recovering addict Tony Hoffman and Sean Astin, an actor, director and producer. Astin is an activist and advocate regarding mental health issues. Four other featured speakers will address mental illness and substance abuse issues, including Vaney Hariri and Tamien Dysart, co-founders of Think 3D Solutions, based in Sioux Falls, Charity Doyle, executive director of the Rapid City-based OneHeart, A Place for Hope and Healing, Eric Muckey, CEO of Lost & Found and J. Carlos Rivera, co-founder of Generation Red Road.

Medical and behavioral health professionals, civic and community leaders from across South Dakota and school leaders, educators and students are encouraged to attend. Visit to learn more and to register. 

Tony Hoffman speaking on stage holding a microphone.

Tony Hoffman, Pro BMX
competitor, will speak
at the conference.

 Sean Astin headshot

Actor, director, producer
and activist Sean Astin will also
speak at the conference.


USD's Sanford School of Medicine is nationally known for excellence. With its award-winning curriculum, the school prepares medical students to practice in all fields of medicine and is particularly recognized and ranked for its reputation in family medicine and rural medicine. In addition to the M.D., it offers graduate degrees in basic biomedical science, sustains a vibrant and forward-looking research agenda, and is home to the interdisciplinary Center for Brain and Behavioral Research.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News