About Jessica

Jessica Hulsey Nickel is the founder of the Addiction Policy Forum, a national nonprofit organization that brings together each sector of the field, elevates awareness around addiction and implement a comprehensive response that includes prevention, treatment, recovery, and criminal justice reform. Most recently, Jessica worked on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, landmark legislation to address the opioid epidemic, which was signed into law in July 2016. 

Jessica’s 25 year career focusing on addiction comes from personal experience. Both her parents struggled with heroin addiction, which led to homelessness, foster care and eventually her mother’s incarceration, after which she was raised by her grandparents. Jessica began working in the field at 15 years old through a community anti-drug coalition in southern California, then continued through national boards, speaking engagements and finding her way to Washington, DC to work on these issues after graduating Princeton in 1998.

She has been center-stage at major events, from hosting a forum on addiction for Presidential candidates in New Hampshire in 2016, a series of forums on addiction with House and Senate Congressional leaders, to drug policy events with President George W. Bush and President H.W. Bush, as well as speaking at the Presidents' Summit for America's Future with former Presidents Clinton, Bush, Carter and Ford.  Jessica was also profiled in a book by Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio) called "Courage Is Contagious: Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things to Change the Face of America” as one of the stories of courage, and featured in a Lifetime Network series, Discovery Health Channel profile, Cosmopolitan, LA Times, NY Times, MSNBC, and USA Today.

Jessica founded the consulting firm Brimley Group, focusing on nonprofit clients and criminal justice and health policy, as well as developing national issue-based campaigns and grassroots initiatives.

Prior to that Jessica served as the Director of Government Affairs for the Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG). During her tenure, she elevated the national priorities of CSG, the nation's only organization serving all three branches of state government, and coordinated efforts to pass and fund the Second Chance Act, where she worked closely with then-Congressman Mike Pence to see the bill signed into law in 2008.

Jessica worked as a legislative aid for Senator Rob Portman while he was in the House, developing policy strategies in several issue areas including substance misuse and criminal justice.  She handled a variety of key issues for Portman, including the Second Chance Act, the Speaker’s Drug Task Force, the Drug Free Communities Act, the Drug Impaired Driving Act, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, and the Drug-Free Workplace bill.

In 1998, Jessica was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve on the Drug-Free Communities Commission that helped guide the implementation of the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997, where she also went on to serve as co-chair.

Jessica is active in service to her community as the Community Service Chair for the Princeton Club of Washington DC, and works with Interfaith Works, a nonprofit dedicated to vulnerable and homeless families. She also serves on the board of directors for the DEA Educational Foundation.

She received her B.A. from Princeton University and is the mother of three beautiful boys – Conner (13), Jack (11) and Tyler (8).

Jessica in the Media

Cover2Resources podcast. "Ep. 82 – Overcoming a Difficult Upbringing and Giving Back: Jessica Nickel, Addiction Policy Forum"

House-Senate anti-drug compromise reached, but Dems oppose

AP, July 6, 2016

Jeb Bush, then a presidential candidate, shared his family story of addiction 

New York Times, January 5, 2016

Grandparents as Parents: A Survival Guide for Raising a Second Family by Sylvie De Toledo and Deborah Edler Brown


President George W. Bush Remarks, Drug-Free Communities Commission

May 10, 2001

Remarks, President George W. Bush  here

CSPAN, May 10, 2001

The Things We Do For Love 

Lifetime Channel, June 12, 2000

Recruit in War on Drugs Has Own Battle Scars

LA Times, March 22, 1999

Remarks, Vice President Al Gore

February 8, 1999

High Life : Surrounded by Tragedies, Teen Devotes Life to Drug Awareness

LA Times, December 31, 1992