Vision

The Drug Policy Alliance envisions a just society in which the use and regulation of drugs are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights, in which people are no longer punished for what they put into their own bodies but only for crimes committed against others, and in which the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today are no more.

Mission

Our mission is to advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition, and to promote the sovereignty of individuals over their minds and bodies.

A Broad Coalition

Our supporters are individuals who believe the war on drugs must end. Together we work to ensure that our nation’s drug policies no longer arrest, incarcerate, disenfranchise and otherwise harm millions – particularly young people and people of color who are disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.

Our Values & Priorities

  • Extensively reducing the role of criminalization in drug policy, so that people are no longer punished for what they put into their bodies
  • Advocating for responsible and equitable legal regulation of marijuana to reduce the harms caused by prohibition and bring in new sources of tax revenue
  • Promoting health–centered drug policies by advocating for services such as treatment on demand, supervised consumption services, drug maintenance therapies, and syringe access programs
  • Empowering youth, parents and educators with honest, reality-based drug education that moves beyond inaccurate, fear-based messages and zero-tolerance policies

A Brief History of the Drug Policy Alliance

1987

Arnold S. Trebach, JD, PhD, a professor at American University, and Kevin B. Zeese, an attorney who had directed the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in the early 1980s, founded The Drug Policy Foundation (DPF). Trebach and Zeese envisioned DPF as “the loyal opposition to the war on drugs” and they introduced a number of initiatives that have defined the drug policy reform movement ever since. It was the first, most significant effort to build up a membership organization around drug policy reform.

1994

Ethan Nadelmann, JD, PhD, a professor of politics at Princeton University founded The Lindesmith Center (TLC). The Lindesmith Center was named after Prof. Alfred Lindesmith, an Indiana University professor who was the first prominent scholar in the U.S. to challenge conventional thinking about drugs, addiction and drug policy. It became the first domestic project of George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and rapidly emerged as the leading drug policy reform advocacy institute in the United States.

2000

The Lindesmith Center merged with DPF to create the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), with Ethan Nadelmann serving as executive director. Under his leadership, DPA became the world’s leading drug policy reform organization working to end the war on drugs.

2017

Ethan Nadelmann retired from DPA and Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno was named the organization’s new executive director. McFarland Sánchez-Moreno brought a dozen years of international and domestic drug policy experience from her work at Human Rights Watch, where she served as Co-Director of the U.S. Program.

2020

Kassandra Frederique, who has been with DPA since 2009 as an intern, was named executive director. During her time at DPA, Frederique has built and led innovative campaigns around policing, the overdose crisis, and marijuana legalization—each with a consistent racial justice focus. She has been instrumental in grounding the national drug policy conversation around reparative justice and restitution for communities harmed by the war on drugs.

Our Victories

The Drug Policy Alliance is a 501c3 non-profit organization. We depend entirely on private donations to fund our work to end the war on drugs and promote new drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights. Your support is crucial to create victories like these and to win even more important, life-saving reforms in the future – thank you!

Marijuana Reform

Beginning with California in 1996, DPA has played a pivotal role in roughly half of the campaigns that have legalized medical marijuana in the U.S.

We’re also the only organization that played a role in all the victorious campaigns to legalize marijuana more broadly to date – Colorado and Washington in 2012, Uruguay in 2013, and Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., in 2014, and California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada in 2016.

Now almost 200 million Americans live in medical marijuana states and more than 60 million live in states where marijuana prohibition is a thing of the past.

2007 – New Mexico Legalizes Medical Marijuana

In 2007, following a multi-year campaign led by DPA, New Mexico became the first state to pass a medical marijuana law requiring a state production and distribution system.  Since then, DPA has won several improvements to the program and fought off multiple legislative efforts to repeal this groundbreaking law.

2011 – New Jersey Legalizes Medical Marijuana

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie green-lighted implementation of the state’s medical marijuana legislation in July 2011 after delaying it over concerns about federal interference. DPA’s New Jersey office spearheaded an effort to urge the governor to move forward with the program and protect patients.

2012 – Colorado and Washington Legalize Marijuana

Colorado and Washington made history by becoming the first states to legalize marijuana in 2012, and Colorado became the first state to offer legal retail sales of marijuana in January 2014. The Drug Policy Alliance and its electoral arm, Drug Policy Action, worked closely with local and national allies to draft these ballot initiatives, build coalitions and raise funds.

2013 – Uruguay Legalizes Marijuana

On December 10, 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adults. DPA was deeply involved in efforts to legalize marijuana in Uruguay. Our policy manager for the Americas, Hannah Hetzer, spent nine months in Uruguay working with a diverse coalition of Uruguayan civil society organizations on a public education campaign that included input from political consultants and activists in the U.S. who had worked on the successful campaigns in Colorado and Washington.

2014 – Oregon, D.C. and Alaska Legalize Marijuana

On Election Day in November 2014, Oregon and Alaska voters made their states the third and fourth in the nation to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana. DPA’s sister organization, Drug Policy Action, was the single largest donor to the Oregon campaign and was deeply involved in the measure’s drafting and on-the-ground campaign. The Drug Policy Alliance and Drug Policy Action also played a leadership role and provided significant financial assistance for Washington, D.C.’s successful campaign.

2014 – New York Legalizes Medical Marijuana

In June 2014, New York became the 23rd state with a medical marijuana law. DPA's New York policy office worked with allies across the state to bring the voices of patients, providers and caregivers to the legislature and governor's office. The bill passed and was signed despite significant opposition from leaders in Albany.

2016 – California Sets New Gold Standard for Marijuana Legalization

In the 2016 election, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada legalized marijuana, while medical marijuana initiatives prevailed in Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota. DPA was involved in virtually all of these efforts, helping with drafting, funding and advocacy. The most significant of these victories was California’s Proposition 64, which legalizes the adult use of marijuana in the nation’s largest state. It enacts across-the-board retroactive sentencing reform for marijuana offenses, while establishing a comprehensive system to tax and regulate businesses to produce and distribute marijuana in a legal market. Prop. 64 sets a new gold standard for marijuana policy because of its cutting edge provisions to undo the most egregious harms of marijuana prohibition on impacted communities of color and the environment as well as its sensible approaches to public health, youth protection, licensing and revenue allocation. The Drug Policy Alliance and its lobbying arm, Drug Policy Action, played a key leadership role in the California campaign—co-drafting the initiative, coordinating the political mobilization, social media, public relations and more, and raising over $5 million to fund the effort.

Learn more about our work to reform marijuana laws.

Criminal Justice Reform

DPA has been at the forefront of many, perhaps most, major drug sentencing reforms over the past two decades. There are many tens of thousands fewer people behind bars today as a result of DPA’s efforts—and hundreds of thousands who either did not go to jail or prison, or who spent less time there, because of our work.

2000 – California Passes Proposition 36

California’s landmark treatment-not-incarceration law, Proposition 36, was approved via ballot initiatives by 61 percent of California voters in November 2000. Prop. 36 allowed first- and second-time nonviolent drug offenders the opportunity to receive substance abuse treatment instead of jail time. DPA was the proponent of this initiative and led the campaign.  Since 2000, Prop 36 has save California billions of dollars on prison expenditures, while diverting hundreds of thousands of people arrested for drug possession from incarceration.

2009 – New York Reforms the Rockefeller Drug Laws

DPA spearheaded the successful campaign to enact major reforms of New York’s notorious Rockefeller Drug Laws. The reforms, signed into law by Gov. David Paterson in 2009, included eliminating mandatory minimum sentences and returning judicial discretion in many drug cases; reforming the state’s sentencing structure; expanding drug treatment and alternatives to incarceration; and allowing resentencing of people serving sentences under the old laws.

2010 – Federal Fair Sentencing Act Signed Into Law

DPA played a crucial role in the 2010 passage of the federal Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the crack/powder sentencing disparity and repealed a mandatory minimum sentence for the first time since 1970.

2012 – California Reforms “Three Strikes Law”

On Election Day in November 2012, Californians passed Proposition 36, which reformed California’s notorious Three Strikes Law so no more Californians would be sentenced to life in prison for minor and nonviolent drug law offenses. The Drug Policy Alliance’s electoral arm, Drug Policy Alliance Issues PAC, was one of the primary financial contributors to the Prop. 36 campaign.

2014 – California Scales Back Mass Incarceration

Californians overwhelmingly voted in favor of Proposition 47, which changes six low-level, nonviolent offenses – including simple drug possession – from felonies to misdemeanors. DPA’s lobbying arm, Drug Policy Action, supported this initiative with assistance on its drafting, as well as financial and other support for the campaign.

2014 – New Jersey Approves Bail Reform

New Jersey voters approved a ballot measure to reform New Jersey’s bail system in November 2014. The new law allowed judges to deny bail to dangerous individuals. Now pretrial release decisions are made based on risk rather than resources and thousands of low-income individuals – many of whom are behind bars for a low-level drug law violation – will avoid unnecessary jail time. The Drug Policy Alliance and Drug Policy Action played a leading role in efforts to pass both this legislation and the accompanying ballot initiative.

2015-16 – California, Florida and New Mexico Pass Groundbreaking Asset Forfeiture Reforms

In 2015, DPA led a successful effort to pass legislation that eliminated civil asset forfeiture in New Mexico.  We followed this up in 2016 by successfully campaigning for California and Florida to reform their civil asset forfeiture laws to protect people suspected of drug law violations from unjust property seizures.

2020 – Oregon Decriminalizes All Drugs

In arguably the biggest blow to the drug war to date, Oregon became the first state in the nation to decriminalize drug possession, significantly expanding access to much-needed evidence-informed, culturally-responsive treatment, harm reduction and other health services through excess marijuana tax revenue. Our advocacy and political arm, Drug Policy Action, spearheaded this historic campaign from funding and drafting the measure to qualifying it for the ballot and getting it over the finish line.

Learn more about our work to oppose drug war injustice.

Harm Reduction

DPA is leading the fight to reduce the death, disease, crime and suffering associated with both drug use and drug prohibition. 

Syringe Access

Throughout DPA’s history, one major focus has been reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and other preventable diseases by making sterile syringes legally available.   DPA played a pivotal role in successful efforts to make syringes legally available in New York (2000), California (2004), and New Jersey (2006) and supported successful efforts in Connecticut, Illinois and other states.

More recently, we led a successful effort in Congress to overturn the decades-long ban on federal funding for syringe access programs, and played a key role in passing legislative reforms in Florida (2016) and Indiana (2015) to initiate such programs.

Overdose Prevention

DPA took the lead over a decade ago in addressing the rapidly growing number of overdose deaths, which recently surpassed auto accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. The past few years have been transformative for overdose prevention efforts in the U.S., and much of it can be credited to our efforts.

Since 2010, than three dozen states have passed legislation to increase access to naloxone and “911 Good Samaritan” laws to stop arresting and prosecuting people for drug possession when they call 911 to report an overdose.  DPA was responsible for the passage of 911 Good Samaritan laws in New Jersey, California and New York, as well as the first 911 Good Samaritan law in the U.S., which was passed in New Mexico in 2007.  We have also played an instrumental role in the passage of numerous naloxone access laws, including successful efforts in California and New York to make it available over-the-counter.

Learn more about our harm reduction work.

Staff & Board

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Senior Management Team

Kassandra Frederique

Executive Director

Kassandra Frederique is the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a national nonprofit that works to end the war on drugs—which has disproportionately harmed Black, Latinx, Indigenous, immigrant, and LGBTQ communities—and build alternatives grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights.

During her time at DPA, Frederique has built and led innovative campaigns around policing, the overdose crisis, and marijuana legalization—each with a consistent racial justice focus. Her advocacy, and all of the Drug Policy Alliance’s work, lies at the intersection of health, equity, autonomy, and justice. She has mobilized cities to rethink their approach to drug policy from the ground up, and has helped bring the dialogue around safer consumption spaces to the national level through strategic organizing and partner development. Among other victories, Frederique was the architect of the campaign that cut the number of New York City marijuana arrests by more than 99% since 2010, curtailing the city’s infamous reign as the marijuana arrest capital of the country. 

Throughout her work, Frederique has been a powerful advocate for working closely with people who have been directly impacted by the war on drugs, and she has built strong alliances with partners in New York and beyond. She has been instrumental in grounding the national drug policy conversation around reparative justice and restitution for communities harmed by the war on drugs. Additionally, Frederique is actively working with the In Our Names Network and other efforts across the country to resist drug war-fueled state violence.

She has been featured in the New York Times, MSNBC, USA Today, National Public Radio, and the Netflix documentary Grass is Greener. She has received numerous awards, including the Activist Award from SEIU32BJ, New York City Council Women of Distinction, VOCAL New York’s Joe Bostic Advocacy Award, National Advocates for Pregnant Women Emerging Leader award, and was recognized on both Essence Magazine’s Woke 100 and The Root’s ROOT100. A New Yorker, Frederique holds a M.S. in Social Work from Columbia University and a B.S. in Industrial Labor Relations at Cornell University.

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Read Kassandra's writings.

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Ellen Flenniken

Managing Director, Development

Ellen Flenniken leads the Drug Policy Alliance’s development and donor engagement efforts. She helps to shape the strategic vision for the organization as a member of its management team. 

Her career has been focused on advancing human rights, racial justice, and LGBTQ equality, both as a fundraiser and political campaign manager. Before joining DPA, Ellen served as finance director for Oregon’s successful campaign to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana, campaign manager for Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), finance director for Kate Brown’s winning campaign for Oregon Secretary of State, and deputy finance director at Oregon United for Marriage. 

Ellen received her B.A. in political science and Mandarin Chinese from Middlebury College.

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Jules Netherland

Managing Director, Research and Academic Engagement

Jules Netherland, PhD, is the Managing Director of the Department of Research and Academic Engagement for the Drug Policy Alliance. In that role, she advances drug policy reform by supporting scholars in doing advocacy, convening experts from a range of disciplines to inform the field, and strengthening DPA’s use of research and scholarship in developing and advancing its policy positions.

Dr. Netherland previously served as the Deputy State Director of DPA’s New York Policy Office, where she was instrumental in passing two laws to legalize the use of medical marijuana in New York and advancing a number of harm reduction and public health approaches to drug policy. Prior to DPA, she worked at the New York Academy of Medicine on a range of public health research and policy projects.

Dr. Netherland is the editor of Critical Perspectives on Addiction (Emerald Press, 2012). Her work with Helena Hansen, MD, PhD on the racialization of the opioid epidemic has appeared in the American Journal of Public Health, Biosocieties, and Culture, Psychiatry and Medicine. She holds a PhD in sociology from the City University of New York Graduate Center, a Masters in Social Work from Boston University, and B.A. from Bryn Mawr College. 

Read Jules' writings.

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Lindsay LaSalle

Lindsay LaSalle

Managing Director, Policy

Lindsay LaSalle is Managing Director of Policy with the Drug Policy Alliance and an expert and strategist in the areas of harm reduction, treatment, and criminal justice reform as it relates to drug policy. Lindsay advocates for a public health approach to problematic drug use that is grounded in science and compassion and for alternative solutions to discriminatory drug war practices that have intentionally targeted communities of color and have resulted in gross disparities in enforcement, criminalization, incarceration, and health impacts. 

LaSalle leads the Drug Policy Alliance’s strategic policy initiatives in all areas of drug policy reform. She also drafts harm reduction, treatment, criminal justice, and health-related legislation across the country, including bills that eliminate or reform criminal penalties for personal use and possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia, reduce the role of police and law enforcement, provide legal protections for people who seek medical assistance in the event of an overdose, improve access to the overdose antidote naloxone, permit syringe exchange programs, remove barriers to treatment medications such as methadone and buprenorphine, authorize new interventions such as supervised consumption sites and drug checking services, and advance novel drug research. LaSalle works to repair the harms of racialized drug policies that have devasted communities of color and exacerbated health and other disparities. 

LaSalle has been published in peer-reviewed journals, has testified before numerous legislative and government bodies in the United States, including the United States Sentencing Commission, and is regularly invited as an expert to present at conferences and universities. 

LaSalle, or her work, has been cited in The New York Times, New York Post, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronical, Los Angeles Times, CNN.com, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Rolling Stone, and many other media outlets. Lindsay has also been featured on NPR’s national “Morning Edition” program as well as a variety of podcasts and radio programs. She received both her B.A. and J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining DPA, LaSalle worked at Morrison & Foerster LLP for three years on commercial litigation matters, while maintaining an active pro bono practice.

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Theshia Naidoo

Managing Director, Legal Affairs

Theshia Naidoo is Managing Director, Department of Legal Affairs, with the Drug Policy Alliance and an expert and strategist in the area of criminal justice reform as it relates to drug policy.  Naidoo has pushed for the creation and adoption of innovative criminal justice reforms, including playing a pivotal role in the advancement of policies and practices to reduce the role of the criminal legal system and promote a health approach to drug use.

Naidoo crafts criminal justice reform legislation and policies across the country and supports campaigns related to eliminating or reducing criminal penalties for drug offenses, protecting immigrants from deportation based on drug offenses, asset forfeiture reform, and minimizing the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. Naidoo’s work also focuses on ballot initiatives, including serving as one of the chief architects of Oregon’s Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act of 2020, the first ever drug decriminalization initiative in the United States; playing a key role in the drafting of Colorado’s Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in 2012; and California’s Proposition 47 (the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act of 2014), which reduced numerous felony offenses to misdemeanors.

Naidoo presents regularly on drug policy reform issues across the country and internationally, including presenting at an Obama White House convening and at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs. She has testified before state legislatures and other government bodies on criminal justice reform and drug policy and often serves as a guest speaker at law schools, universities and other institutions. Naidoo also serves as a member of the San Francisco Sentencing Commission.

Naidoo received her B.A. in political science from the University of California Berkeley and she received her J.D. from the UCLA School of Law. Prior to joining DPA, she worked at a law firm for four years representing clients in employment law and commercial litigation matters. She left private practice to join the struggle to make drug laws and policies more just, more compassionate, and more effective.

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Communications

Gabriella Miyares

Gabriella Miyares

Manager, Multimedia Design

Ifetayo Harvey

Marketing Coordinator

Ifetayo first joined DPA as an intern in 2013 and has been an integral part of the Communications staff since 2016. She has shared her experience of being personally impacted by the drug war, and plays an instrumental role in developing DPA’s voice and perspective with LGBTQIA+ audiences. She is a creative and strategic thinker ready to help DPA expand in our communications practice.
 
As Marketing Coordinator, Ifetayo manages DPA’s social media channels, with a particular focus on building strategy to better align and leverage channels run by other DPA teams. She works in creative development, marketing, inventory management, 
distribution of promotional materials, and coordination and sponsorship of DPA’s presence at third-party events. Ifetayo also contributes to digital advertising and assists in posting web content, as well as other special projects. 

She has spoken about her experience on National Public Radio and HuffPost Live. Ifetayo is from Charleston, South Carolina and has a B.A. in History and African Studies from Smith College.

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Kristen Millnick

Digital Communications Manager

Kristen Millnick is a Digital Communications Manager at the Drug Policy Alliance. Her interest in drug policy reform began when she wrote a medical marijuana bill for a government class in high school. She attended Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, where she studied Art & Culture Studies and Criminology. While living in Canada, she had the opportunity to learn about the progressive drug and harm reduction policies and practices in Vancouver and has been passionate about ending the war on drugs ever since.

After interning at the Drug Policy Alliance, Office of National Affairs, she graduated and served as field director and associate director at the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative where she gained experience with grassroots organizing and mobilized clergy and the faith community to advocate for a variety of drug policy reform legislation including medical marijuana, marijuana decriminalization, needle exchange, and overdose prevention. She is particularly interested in harm reduction, pain management, destigmatizing and humanizing addiction, and amplifying the role of women in the drug policy reform movement.

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Matt Sutton

Matt Sutton

Director, Media Relations

Matt Sutton is the director of media relations for the Drug Policy Alliance, serving as the primary liaison between the organization and members of the media.

Prior to joining DPA, Matt spent nearly a decade working in various policy communications capacities. Most recently, he managed corporate social responsibility programs, leading much of the strategic planning, partnership development and media relations to highlight companies’ community investments in various regional markets and to support their overall CSR and policy narratives nationally. Prior to that, he worked with a variety of advocacy organizations, NGOs and trade associations—including the Southern Poverty Law Center, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Brewers Association and American Hotel & Lodging Association—where he played a critical role in connecting key stakeholders and employing media relations strategies that were instrumental in increasing awareness, shifting public perception and passage of various state and national legislation. 

He began his career in community organizing in El Paso, then leading the communications for Beto O’Rourke’s successful congressional campaign—in which he beat the odds and overcame what were, at the time, controversial views of ending the war on drugs—to ultimately defeat the eight-term incumbent in what was called one of the three biggest upsets of the 2012 elections. Following the victory, Matt went on to serve as a communications advisor to O’Rourke on Capitol Hill.

Matt has personally been adversely affected by the war on drugs: first, growing up on the border in El Paso, TX, where he had a front-row seat to the brutal murder of innocent people as a result of the United States’ failed policies; and seeing first-hand the inner workings of our draconian and inhumane legal system that defaults to locking drug users up and subjecting them to coercive treatments with little to no efficacy. Witnessing the harm caused by these policies, he developed a keen interest in changing the current trajectory to ensure drug policies are based in compassion and public health over criminalization.
 
Matt received a B.A. in Political Communications from George Washington University’s School of Media & Public Affairs, where he wrote his thesis on how framing affects motivated reasoning on incarceration policy.

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Michelle Eastwood

Digital Content Strategist

Stefanie Jones

Interim Managing Director, Communications and Director, Audience Development

Stefanie Jones is interim managing director of communications and director of audience development at the Drug Policy Alliance, a national advocacy nonprofit working to end the drug war and promote drug policies and practices centered in health and social and racial justice. She founded and runs DPA’s Safer Partying program, which introduces harm reduction principles and drug policy alternatives to partygoers as well as anyone with a role in event creation or safety. She also oversees DPA’s work developing Safety First, a harm reduction-based drug education curriculum for teens.

In her prior role within DPA as event manager she produced four progressively larger editions of the biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference, as well as numerous local policy conferences, fundraisers and coalition-building meetings. Stefanie is based in New York.

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Development

Alexis Martin

Development Manager

Alexis Martin is the development manager at DPA, where she supports all functions of the development department.

Alexis was drawn to drug policy as an undergraduate student at Columbia University, as she sought work that allowed her to combine her knowledge gained from personal experience of the drug war, as well as her commitment to social justice and liberation.

This commitment was strengthened by a variety of internship, organizing, and work experiences, including working with the New York Civil Liberties Union as a Communications Intern, the War Resisters League as a Sara Bilezekian Organizing Intern, and with DPA’s close ally, VOCAL-NY, as a Civil Rights Organizing Intern. She was also a Research Assistant for Professor Samuel Roberts at Columbia University, and aided his work on the history of harm reduction in New York City. During the 2016 election, she was an Election Fellow for BYP100, registering young Black New Yorkers to vote and engaging them on Election Day and beyond.

Alexis is based in New York City, with roots in the Philadelphia area. She is especially indebted to the Black and Brown writers, organizers, and dreamers who have inspired her work. 

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Avinash Tharoor

Avinash Tharoor

Foundation Giving Coordinator

Avinash Tharoor is the foundation giving coordinator at DPA, where he helps raise funds from institutional donors to support the organization’s programs and campaigns across the country.

Avinash received his bachelor's degree in International Relations from the University of Westminster, and holds a master's degree in International Public Policy from University College London.

Prior to joining DPA, Avinash lived in his hometown of London, where he was Policy and Communications Officer at Release, and the editor of the online publication, TalkingDrugs. His writing on drug policy has appeared in the Guardian, the Independent, the Huffington Post (US and UK), and other publications.

Avinash previously worked with DPA to develop a public sign-on letter to the United Nations during the UN General Assembly Special Session on drugs in 2016.

Avinash is passionate about advancing human rights and social justice.

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Chelsea Ogun

Development Associate

Chelsea Ogun is the development associate at DPA, where she supports all operations within the development department.

During college, Chelsea spent time working with low-income communities of color facing a myriad of issues including housing instability, food insecurity, and education inequality. This gave her further perspective on the pervasively negative effects that our current drug policies have on minority populations’ ability to overcome systemic oppression. Realizing the connection between the war on drugs and issues of social inequity ignited her interest in drug policy.  Before joining DPA, Chelsea interned at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, the George Wiley Center, and the Rhode Island Department of Administration.

Chelsea was born and raised in Rhode Island. After spending some time living in Central Maine and Upstate New York, she is currently based in Brooklyn. She earned her B.A. in Policy Studies with a double major in Economics from Syracuse University.

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David Glowka

Director, Development

David Glowka is DPA’s director of development and helps raise funds from institutional and individual donors to support the organization’s programs and campaigns across the country.

Before joining the organization in 2003, he worked at Community Servings, an AIDS service provider based in Boston, where he helped secure corporate, foundation and government grants. He was also involved for a number of years with the Prison Book Program, a volunteer-run group that provides educational materials and other support to incarcerated people. Prior to that, he worked as a research assistant in the Office of Boston City Councilor Paul Scapicchio.

Glowka received his bachelor’s degree in human services from Northeastern University in 2001.

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Elizabeth Sarnoff

Development Manager

As development manager, Elizabeth is responsible for creating and implementing strategies to engage philanthropists with the mission and programs of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Prior to joining DPA in 2015, Elizabeth was a development officer at the Center for Arts Education. Before that, she had a long career in the commercial art world, including 16 years at Christie’s.

Elizabeth is deeply committed to DPA’s mission and vision, and is alarmed to see a resurgence of hateful rhetoric and failed drug war policies.

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Ellen Flenniken

Managing Director, Development

Ellen Flenniken leads the Drug Policy Alliance’s development and donor engagement efforts. She helps to shape the strategic vision for the organization as a member of its management team. 

Her career has been focused on advancing human rights, racial justice, and LGBTQ equality, both as a fundraiser and political campaign manager. Before joining DPA, Ellen served as finance director for Oregon’s successful campaign to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana, campaign manager for Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), finance director for Kate Brown’s winning campaign for Oregon Secretary of State, and deputy finance director at Oregon United for Marriage. 

Ellen received her B.A. in political science and Mandarin Chinese from Middlebury College.

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Joe Salas

Director, Membership

Joe Salas is the membership director of development at the Drug Policy Alliance where he works to engage and grow the organization’s membership base. He brings with him close to a decade of experience in nonprofit communications, fundraising and community engagement.

As an urban planner by trade, Joe has a strong interest in creating inclusive, fair and just cities and communities of all sizes. Before joining DPA, Joe worked for a traditional New York City settlement house where he raised awareness and support for a menu of community based social service programs including a methadone maintenance treatment program and chemical dependency program. Prior to that, he served as the External Communications Manager for New York Cares, the city’s leading volunteer management organization, where he developed crisis communications in wake of Hurricane Sandy.

A native of Chicago, Joe has a degree in urban planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

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Finance and Administration

Boris Sporer

Director, Information Technology and Knowledge Management

Boris Sporer is director of information technology and knowledge management, based in New York. He has worked for over 20 years in the information field with a focus on non-profit, non-governmental and academic organizations. He oversees DPA’s technical infrastructure as well as providing Salesforce support.

His most recent position was senior director of information systems at the Fortune Society, a non-profit service provider and advocate facilitating successful reentry for ex-offenders and promoting alternatives to incarceration. He also has extensive experience in database development, website content management and project management at such institutions as Foreign Affairs Magazine, the United Nations and other international organizations in Russia, Croatia, Central Asia and the Caucasus.

A native New Yorker, Boris received his B.A. in Computer Science from Columbia College and his Masters in International Media and Communications from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs.

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Christopher Soda

Executive Associate

Haneefah Vincent

Finance Coordinator

Jeffrey Chen

IT Systems Manager

Julie Kapadia

Senior Accountant

Lina Mingoia

Interim Managing Co-Director, Operations and Director, Human Resources

Lorraine Vittoriosa

Controller

Rasheedah Jones

Manager, Human Resources

Susan Kane

Susan Kane

Interim General Counsel

Susan Kane is a member of the board of Drug Policy Action. Susan is also a member of the Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch and co-chairs its Policy Committee. In addition, Susan co-chairs Human Rights Watch's New York Committee and sits on advisory committees for HRW’s US Program and Women’s Rights Division. Susan was formerly a board member of The Door, a youth development organization in New York City. 
 
Susan previously worked as a commercial litigation attorney, most recently at Latham & Watkins. In addition, she served as a clerk with the Hon. Richard K. Eaton at the United States Court of International Trade. She received her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin and her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She lives in New York City with her two daughters.

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Legal Affairs

Grey Gardner

Senior Staff Attorney

Kellen Russoniello

Senior Staff Attorney

Kellen Russoniello is Senior Staff Attorney with the Drug Policy Alliance, focusing on increasing access to effective, accessible, and person-centered drug treatment. Russoniello previously provided direct representation to people seeking post-conviction relief across Southern California with Community Legal Aid SoCal and was Staff Attorney with the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, where he focused on improving access to health coverage and services for people involved in or at risk of involvement in the criminal justice system. While with the ACLU, he served as a member of the California Board of State and Community Corrections’ Executive Steering Committee on Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD).

Russoniello earned his B.A. from Eastern Washington University and his J.D. and Master of Public Health from The George Washington University. While in law school, he drafted Good Samaritan legislation for the District of Columbia and worked with DPA to ensure it became law. He founded the GW Law Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter and served as president for two years. Russoniello also served on the Students for Sensible Drug Policy National Board of Directors from 2012 to 2014. His writings on drug policy have been published in the Yale Journal of Health Policy and Ethics and American Journal of Law and Medicine.

Russoniello was born and raised in Spokane, WA. He currently lives in Orange County, CA with his wife and three children.

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Mary Sylla

Senior Staff Attorney

Mary Sylla, JD, MPH, is a Senior Staff Attorney with the Drug Policy Alliance supporting the work of the Department of Law & Policy generally, and the public health agenda specifically. She has worked on criminal justice and public health issues for over 20 years and was instrumental in early advocacy for condom access for prisoners and other initiatives to improve HIV medical care and prevention for people who are incarcerated.  

She is the Founding Director of the Center for Health Justice in Los Angeles, a prisoner health organization focused on HIV and incarceration.  Prior to that she worked as a Staff Attorney at AIDS Project Los Angeles and the ACLU of Southern California. She has published in peer-reviewed journals on public health interventions to reduce HIV risk and transmission among individuals with a history of incarceration, and recently coordinated the Peer Health Education Program in San Quentin State Prison. In 2019, as an Adjunct Professor at the Touro University of California School of Public Health, she designed and taught the University’s first ever “Criminal Justice & Public Health” course. She is also a local elected official, serving on the Ross Valley Sanitary District Board of Directors.

She received her undergraduate degree in Public Policy from Brown University, her law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill and her MPH in Epidemiology from UC Berkeley.

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Theshia Naidoo

Managing Director, Legal Affairs

Theshia Naidoo is Managing Director, Department of Legal Affairs, with the Drug Policy Alliance and an expert and strategist in the area of criminal justice reform as it relates to drug policy.  Naidoo has pushed for the creation and adoption of innovative criminal justice reforms, including playing a pivotal role in the advancement of policies and practices to reduce the role of the criminal legal system and promote a health approach to drug use.

Naidoo crafts criminal justice reform legislation and policies across the country and supports campaigns related to eliminating or reducing criminal penalties for drug offenses, protecting immigrants from deportation based on drug offenses, asset forfeiture reform, and minimizing the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. Naidoo’s work also focuses on ballot initiatives, including serving as one of the chief architects of Oregon’s Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act of 2020, the first ever drug decriminalization initiative in the United States; playing a key role in the drafting of Colorado’s Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in 2012; and California’s Proposition 47 (the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act of 2014), which reduced numerous felony offenses to misdemeanors.

Naidoo presents regularly on drug policy reform issues across the country and internationally, including presenting at an Obama White House convening and at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs. She has testified before state legislatures and other government bodies on criminal justice reform and drug policy and often serves as a guest speaker at law schools, universities and other institutions. Naidoo also serves as a member of the San Francisco Sentencing Commission.

Naidoo received her B.A. in political science from the University of California Berkeley and she received her J.D. from the UCLA School of Law. Prior to joining DPA, she worked at a law firm for four years representing clients in employment law and commercial litigation matters. She left private practice to join the struggle to make drug laws and policies more just, more compassionate, and more effective.

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Policy

Lindsay LaSalle

Lindsay LaSalle

Managing Director, Policy

Lindsay LaSalle is Managing Director of Policy with the Drug Policy Alliance and an expert and strategist in the areas of harm reduction, treatment, and criminal justice reform as it relates to drug policy. Lindsay advocates for a public health approach to problematic drug use that is grounded in science and compassion and for alternative solutions to discriminatory drug war practices that have intentionally targeted communities of color and have resulted in gross disparities in enforcement, criminalization, incarceration, and health impacts. 

LaSalle leads the Drug Policy Alliance’s strategic policy initiatives in all areas of drug policy reform. She also drafts harm reduction, treatment, criminal justice, and health-related legislation across the country, including bills that eliminate or reform criminal penalties for personal use and possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia, reduce the role of police and law enforcement, provide legal protections for people who seek medical assistance in the event of an overdose, improve access to the overdose antidote naloxone, permit syringe exchange programs, remove barriers to treatment medications such as methadone and buprenorphine, authorize new interventions such as supervised consumption sites and drug checking services, and advance novel drug research. LaSalle works to repair the harms of racialized drug policies that have devasted communities of color and exacerbated health and other disparities. 

LaSalle has been published in peer-reviewed journals, has testified before numerous legislative and government bodies in the United States, including the United States Sentencing Commission, and is regularly invited as an expert to present at conferences and universities. 

LaSalle, or her work, has been cited in The New York Times, New York Post, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronical, Los Angeles Times, CNN.com, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Rolling Stone, and many other media outlets. Lindsay has also been featured on NPR’s national “Morning Edition” program as well as a variety of podcasts and radio programs. She received both her B.A. and J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining DPA, LaSalle worked at Morrison & Foerster LLP for three years on commercial litigation matters, while maintaining an active pro bono practice.

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California

Armando Gudiño

Policy Manager, California

Armando Gudiño is California Policy Manager at the Drug Policy Alliance’s Los Angeles office, where he focuses on Latino outreach strategies and legislation. His portfolio includes issues of mass incarceration, taxation and regulation of marijuana, transnational criminal organizations, immigration and drug laws, and drug policy in the Latino community throughout the US and Latin America.

Gudiño is a political scientist who started his professional career as a human rights observer working in Latin America documenting human rights violations in armed conflict zones. For more than 20 years, he has worked in journalism and public policy, in places such as Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. In 2001 he joined the Pacifica Radio Network, where he rose to the position of Program Director at the Los Angeles station KPFK, becoming the first Latino Program Director in its 50-year history. Over the last several years Armando has worked on key California legislation including the historic marijuana legalization initiative Proposition 64, civil asset forfeiture reform, deferred entry of judgement (retroactive), equalization of penalties for crack and powder cocaine, Proposition 47, and the state’s 911 Good Samaritan Law.

Gudiño lives in Los Angeles and when not working on drug policy issues he enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and working on issues of space policy.

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Jeannette Zanipatin

Jeannette Zanipatin

State Director, California

Norma Palacios

Administrative Associate

New York

Melissa Moore

State Director, New York

Melissa Moore's fifteen years of experience managing media and campaign strategy for progressive nonprofits focused on criminal justice reform, immigrant rights, poverty, community-led international development, and resource rights shape her role at Drug Policy Alliance. Throughout her career, Melissa has worked toward social change by bridging policy analysis and targeted campaigns with direct engagement. She has trained advocates across the country and internationally on effective communications, helping activists leverage their voices to target key audiences to move campaigns and policy forward and make a lasting impact. 

Melissa's experiences growing up in Los Angeles and seeing firsthand the devastation wrought by the War on Drugs motivated her to join the Drug Policy Alliance.

Her work at DPA centers on shifting New York's approach to drug policy and repairing the harms that the War on Drugs has caused to individuals and communities, particularly through her work leading the Start SMART campaign to legalize marijuana and contributions to the EndOverdoseNY campaign. She has been invited to give keynotes and has delivered testimony at municipal and state government hearings.

Melissa's expertise and views on drug policy issues have been featured by CNN, The Hill, Forbes, NPR, POLITICO, CBS News, NBC News, NY1, Fox5, Daily News, Newsweek, Times-Union Huffington Post, Gothamist, and more.

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Office of National Affairs

Grant Smith

Grant Smith

Deputy Director, National Affairs

As deputy director of DPA’s office of national affairs, Grant Smith lobbies to reduce the harms associated with drug use and the war on drugs. Smith works to advance DPA’s federal legislative agenda in Washington and helps to shape policy both at the federal level and within the District of Columbia. His areas of focus have included drug overdose prevention, emerging drugs, collateral consequences, marijuana law reform, and the intersection of immigration and drug policies.

Before joining the organization, Smith served as a victim services advocate with the federal Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia, completed a one-year legislative internship with the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations focused on advancing drug policy reform in Washington, and completed internships with DPA and Transform Drug Policy Foundation in the U.K.

Smith completed a B.S. in political science with a concentration in criminal justice and congressional politics at American University. A native of Savannah, Georgia, where he was engaged in antiracism activism, Smith was drawn into drug policy reform after learning about the racial disparities inherent in the drug war.

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Maritza Perez

Maritza Perez

Director, National Affairs

Maritza Perez is the Director of the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance in Washington, DC where she leads the organization’s federal legislative agenda and strategy. Previously, Maritza was a Senior Policy Analyst for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress (CAP) where her portfolio included marijuana policy, policing, and prison and sentencing reform. Prior to joining CAP, Maritza was a Legislative Staff Attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). She began her legal career at MALDEF as a Soros Justice Fellow, advocating for policies to end mass incarceration. Her portfolio at MALDEF expanded to include immigration policy, employment rights, education access, and judicial nominations.

Maritza earned her J.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law where she received the highest distinction for her pro bono work. In law school, Maritza worked at the ACLU of Northern California and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund where she conducted legal research on police and prison reform. She participated in several student clinics, including Berkeley Law’s Death Penalty Clinic, where she conducted mitigation research to remove her client from death row; the Post-Conviction Advocacy Project, where she successfully helped her incarcerated client gain parole; and the Immigration Clinic of the East Bay Community Law Center, where she assisted clients apply for DACA and win relief from deportation. She also served as judicial clerk to Judge Marisa J. Demeo of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.      

Before attending law school, Maritza joined Teach For America and was a fourth grade teacher in New Orleans. She received her B.A. from the University of Nevada, Reno with academic honors, graduating with double majors in Journalism and Spanish and double minors in Political Science and Economic Policy. As an undergraduate, she participated in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Internship Program and worked in the Office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Washington, DC where she conducted research on policy issues affecting Latinos. 

Maritza is passionate about public service and justice for underserved individuals. She currently serves on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect for the city of Washington, DC and is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for a youth in foster care. Additionally, Maritza sits on the Board of Directors of the Hispanic Bar Association of DC as well as the American Constitution Society (Washington, DC Lawyer Chapter) and the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project at American University Washington College of Law. She was named one of the Hispanic National Bar Association's Top Lawyers Under 40 in 2019, recognizing her outstanding record of public service and professional excellence. Maritza is an alumna of New Leaders Council (Oakland) and the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education Program. 

The proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, Maritza is the first in her family to receive a higher education and earn a professional degree. She is originally from Elko, Nevada.

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Queen Adesuyi

Policy Manager

Queen Adesuyi is a policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance’s National Affairs office in Washington, D.C., where she works to advance several of DPA’s legislative priorities on the federal level, including marijuana legalization with a racial justice focus, drug decriminalization, and eliminating collateral consequences for drug use and previous convictions. She also advocates for equity/racial justice in plans for the District of Columbia’s emerging marijuana industry, in addition to advancing overdose prevention measures and harm reduction in the District.

While at DPA, Queen saw through the introduction of the Marijuana Justice Act, Congress’ first marijuana reform bill that addressed racial justice and justice reform issues. She helped convene and co-leads the Marijuana Justice Coalition. Under her co-leadership, the Marijuana Justice Coalition has worked on the introduction and the historic passage of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment & Expungement (MORE) Act out of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. The Coalition continues to work to see the successful passage of the MORE Act through the U.S. House and Senate this Congress.

Adesuyi, a first-generation Nigerian-American who hails from the Morris Heights section of the Bronx, is an alumna from Georgetown University, where she majored in American Studies. Prior to joining DPA, Adesuyi worked with the Georgetown University Prisons and Justice Initiative and the National Reentry Network for Returning Citizens. She also successfully completed internships at the Office of Congressman Jose E. Serrano (D-NY), Mic.com, and the New York Times.

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New Mexico

Emily Kaltenbach

Senior Director, Resident States and New Mexico

Emily Kaltenbach is Senior Director of Resident States and New Mexico. As Senior Director, Emily guides DPA's efforts to partner with local communities to work from a public health, racial justice and human rights framework. She is the primary author of the report, Municipal Drug Strategy: Lessons in Taking Drug Policy Reform Local

Based in New Mexico, Kaltenbach has also served as New Mexico State Director since 2011. She helped start the second Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program in the nation, was deeply involved in reforming New Mexico’s asset forfeiture law, a model for the rest of the country, and currently serves as the chair of the City of Santa Fe, NM’s Municipal Drug Strategy Task Force.

Kaltenbach joins the organization following 15 years working in New Mexico implementing rural community-based health centers, helping reform the long-term care system, and setting the stage to implement federal health care reform in the state. Prior to joining DPA, she served as the director of Policy and Planning at the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department and served as the acting director for New Mexico's Office of Health Care Reform.

Born and raised in rural New Mexico, Kaltenbach graduated from Beloit College with a BA in sociology and a minor in health care studies. She later completed a master’s degree in health administration at the University of Washington's School of Public Health before returning to New Mexico.

Emily’s expertise and views on drug policy issues have been featured by Rolling Stone, U.S. News & World Report, ABC News, The Nation, VICE, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post, Denver Post, Filter Magazine, NM in Focus, Albuquerque Journal, and more.

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Grants and Partnerships

Laini Madhubuti

Manager, Grants and Partnerships

Stephanie Polito

Interim Managing Co-Director, Operations and Director, Grants and Partnerships

Safety First

Sasha Simon

Senior Program Manager, Safety First

Sasha Simon is the Safety First Senior Program Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, where she manages the development and evaluation of the U.S.'s first harm reduction-based drug education curriculum for 9th and 10th grade students. Simon has an extensive career working as a health educator at a variety of institutions, including Columbia University, City University of New York (CUNY), GHMC, and Health, Education & Research Occupations (HERO) High School, a 9-14 P-TECH school in the Bronx. 
 
An avid youth development specialist, Simon delivers youth-adult capacity building trainings to clinicians, parents, and youth-serving organizations to help increase their capacity for youth participation in organizational decision-making processes. Alongside a vast network of mentors of color, Simon volunteers her time supporting and removing financial barriers to higher learning for first-gen college students of color through the college application process.

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Research and Academic Engagement

Aliza Cohen

Aliza Cohen

Research Associate

Aliza Cohen is the Research Associate for the Office of Academic Engagement. In this role, she helps to field research requests, coordinate roundtables and briefings of drug researchers and public health officials, draft newsletters, and maintain a database of drug scholars. 

Aliza has organized around prison divestment, helped plan a conference on feminist responses to the carceral state, and conducted research on the lasting power of criminal photographs and mug shots. She interned with the Office of Academic Engagement in the summer of 2016 when the office was in its first months. With roots in Chattanooga, TN, she is especially interested in the nexus of the drug war, movement building, and Southern Appalachia. Aliza graduated with a B.A. in sociology from Middlebury College.

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Jules Netherland

Managing Director, Research and Academic Engagement

Jules Netherland, PhD, is the Managing Director of the Department of Research and Academic Engagement for the Drug Policy Alliance. In that role, she advances drug policy reform by supporting scholars in doing advocacy, convening experts from a range of disciplines to inform the field, and strengthening DPA’s use of research and scholarship in developing and advancing its policy positions.

Dr. Netherland previously served as the Deputy State Director of DPA’s New York Policy Office, where she was instrumental in passing two laws to legalize the use of medical marijuana in New York and advancing a number of harm reduction and public health approaches to drug policy. Prior to DPA, she worked at the New York Academy of Medicine on a range of public health research and policy projects.

Dr. Netherland is the editor of Critical Perspectives on Addiction (Emerald Press, 2012). Her work with Helena Hansen, MD, PhD on the racialization of the opioid epidemic has appeared in the American Journal of Public Health, Biosocieties, and Culture, Psychiatry and Medicine. She holds a PhD in sociology from the City University of New York Graduate Center, a Masters in Social Work from Boston University, and B.A. from Bryn Mawr College. 

Read Jules' writings.

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Sheila P Vakharia, PhD

Deputy Director, Research and Academic Engagement

Sheila P Vakharia is Deputy Director of the Department of Research and Academic Engagement for the Drug Policy Alliance. In that role, she helps DPA staff and others understand a range of drug policy issues while also responding to new studies with critiques and analysis. She plans conferences and convenings on cutting edge issues in the area of drugs, drug research, and harm reduction. Additionally, she is responsible for cultivating relationships with researchers from a wide range of disciplines aligned with DPA’s policy interests and working to mobilize academics in service of DPA policy campaigns.

Prior to joining DPA, Dr. Vakharia was an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Long Island University, and had also worked as a clinical social worker in both abstinence-only and harm reduction settings. Her research interests include harm reduction therapy, drug policy reform, drug user stigma, overdose prevention, and social work education. She is currently on the Board of Directors of HAMS Harm Reduction Network and Filter magazine. She has written op-eds for the Philadelphia Inquirer on the overdose crisis and NY Daily News on drug-induced homicide laws and stimulants.

Dr. Vakharia earned her doctorate at Florida International University’s School of Social Work. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Binghamton University and a Post-Master’s Certificate in the Addictions from New York University.

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Board

Alejandro Madrazo

Alejandro Madrazo

Professor of Law, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, Mexico City

Alejandro obtained an LL.B. (’02) from ITAM in Mexico City and both an LL.M. (’03) and a J.S.D. (’06) from Yale Law School. He is currently Professor of Law at CIDE in Aguascalientes, Mexico, where he heads the newly established, interdisciplinary Drug Policy Program. Before becoming a full-time professor in 2009 he practiced constitutional litigation, specializing in high-impact, public interest cases before Mexico’s Supreme Court, most notably on abortion law, same-sex marriage, tobacco control and telecommunications law. He has published on issues ranging from legal education and history of legal thought, to sexual and reproductive rights, tobacco control, drug policy, and free speech. 

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Angela Pacheco

Former District Attorney, 1st Judicial District, New Mexico

Christine Downton

Christine Downton, Treasurer

Former Vice Chairman and Founding Partner of Pareto Partners

Christine is Board Treasurer for the Drug Policy Alliance and former Vice Chairman and Founding Partner of Pareto Partners, an asset manager, bought by Mellon Financial Corp in 2004. She is currently Chair of The Learning Trust and The Trust Connection (South African NGO’s). 

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David C. Lewis, MD

David C. Lewis, MD

Founding Director, Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Brown University

David C. Lewis, MD, is a professor of Medicine and Community Health and the Donald G. Millar Distinguished Professor of Alcohol and Addiction Studies. In 1982 he founded the CAAS, which he directed until 2000. Dr. Lewis is a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Medical School. Trained in internal medicine, he is now a fellow of the American College of Physicians and chair of the Professional Advisory Committee, Caron Foundation. He is a member of the board of directors of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, where he is vice chairman, the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse, and the Drug Policy Alliance. He is the author of over 400 publications and he is the founding editor of DATA-the Brown University Digest of Addiction Theory and Application. He received a Rockefeller Foundation Residency Fellowship at the Bellagio Center in Italy during the summer of 1998 to work on his book currently project director of Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy, a national policy initiative advocating greater use of medicine and public health in approaching drug problems.  
 
In December 1997, he received the AMA's Education and Research Foundation Award in recognition of "outstanding contributions and leadership in championing the inclusion of alcohol and other drug problems into the mainstream of medical practice and medical education." He also received the W.W. Keen Medical Alumni Service Award from the Brown Medical School Alumni Association for "the physician leader and educator whose contributions represent the best of both clinical and academic medicine."

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Derek Hodel

Derek Hodel, President

President of Board; Independent Consultant

Derek is Board President for the Drug Policy Alliance and a longtime social justice activist and nonprofit executive. He is currently Senior Program Advisor at Physicians for Human Rights. 

For the past 30 years, Derek has held a variety of senior positions for HIV and drug policy organizations in New York and Washington, D.C., and operated a consulting practice serving foundation, government, and nonprofit social service organizations.

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George Soros

George Soros

Chairman, Soros Fund Management

George is founder and chair of Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Foundations. Born in Budapest in 1930, he survived the Nazi occupation during World War II and fled communist-dominated Hungary in 1947 for England, where he graduated from the London School of Economics. He then settled in the United States, where he accumulated a large fortune through the international investment fund he founded and managed. 

Soros has been active as a philanthropist since 1979, when he began providing funds to help black students attend Cape Town University in apartheid South Africa. He has since given away more than $32 billion. The Open Society Foundations today support individuals and organizations in more than 120 countries, working to build vibrant and inclusive democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens.  

Soros writes regularly on politics, society, and economics, and has authored over a dozen books, including In Defense of Open Society (2019).

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James E. Ferguson, II

James E. Ferguson, II

Senior Partner, Ferguson, Stein, Chambers Law Offices, Charlotte, North Carolina

James “Fergie” is a founding partner of the firm Ferguson, Stein, Chambers, Gresham and Sumter, P.A. and has served as President of the firm since 1984. He currently heads the firm's catastrophic injury and wrongful death team, concentrating in medical malpractice, personal injury and products liability. 
 
James has been recognized by the National Law Journal as one of the nation's top ten litigators and has been listed in every edition of The Best Lawyers in America in two categories: personal injury litigation and criminal defense. He is a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, an exclusive organization whose membership is limited to 100 of the nation's top trial lawyers.  For a number of years, James has also been voted by his peers as a Super Lawyer
 
Since the late seventies, James has concentrated his practice in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases arising out of medical malpractice, personal injury and products liability. Under his leadership, the firm has successfully resolved cases for injured plaintiffs in an aggregate amount in excess of one hundred million dollars. In addition to his catastrophic injury cases, James continues to handle civil rights and criminal cases. 
 
Not only has James distinguished himself as a trial lawyer, he has achieved distinction as a teacher of trial skills and a leader of the profession. He has held teaching positions at Harvard Law School and North Carolina Central Law School. He served as a Scholar in Residence at Santa Clara Law School and was recognized as an Honorary Fellow by the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, having been inducted in 1987. 
 
James co-founded South Africa's first Trial Advocacy Program, offering the program to black and white lawyers, even during the apartheid era. He has taught trial advocacy in London, Cambridge and Stratford-on-Avon, England, as well as throughout the United States, including the first advanced trial advocacy program offered in the United States through the National Institute of Trial Advocacy.

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Jason Flom

Jason Flom

President, Lava Records

Jason Flom is the Founder and CEO of Lava Records, Lava Music Publishing, and Lava Media, LLC. Flom previously served as Chairman and CEO at Atlantic Records, Virgin Records, and Capitol Music Group, and he is personally responsible for launching acts such as Katy Perry, Kid Rock, Lorde, and Greta Van Fleet. He is a leading philanthropist and expert on criminal justice issues and an internationally recognized and celebrated public speaker. Flom is the founding board member of the Innocence Project and serves on the boards of numerous criminal justice reform organizations.

He is the host of the hit podcast, Wrongful Conviction, now in its seventh season, which features interviews with men and women who have spent decades in prison for crimes they did not commit, some even sentenced to death. Flom’s love for animals inspired his latest project, the children’s book Lulu Is a Rhinoceros, co-written with his daughter Allison Flom and released in June, 2018. The book explores social themes addressing individuality, tolerance, and most importantly, acceptance, and launched with partnerships including Bonobos, Zappos, and the African Wildlife Foundation.

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Josiah Rich, MD

Josiah Rich, MD

Professor of Medicine and Community Health, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University

Josiah “Jody” is Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Brown University and a practicing Infectious Disease and Addiction Specialist. In addition to his clinical work in the community, he is a consultant to the Rhode Island Department of Corrections where he has cared for incarcerated people for over 25 years, including those with HIV and addiction. He is an active researcher, predominantly in the overlap between addiction and infection in marginalized populations, with continuous NIH funding since 1996.

He is the Director and Co-founder of The Center for Health and Justice Transformation (formerly the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights) at The Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, which works to improve the health and human rights of justice-involved populations through education, advocacy, and research. 

He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.

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Joy Fishman

Harm Reduction Advocate

Joy has a master’s in psychology and serves as the co-chair of the Miami committee of Human Rights Watch. She was married to the creator of naloxone, Jack Fishman, until his death in 2013. Her son Jonathan died of a heroin overdose in 2003, which spurred both her and her daughter, Julie Stampler, to become involved in drug policy reform. She also supports the Aleph Foundation, which serves families of incarcerated people, and the Doe Fund, a work reentry program for formerly incarcerated men.

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Mary Travis Bassett, MD, MPH

Mary Travis Bassett, MD, MPH

Director, François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University

With more than 30 years of experience in public health, Dr. Bassett has dedicated her career to advancing health equity. Dr. Mary T. Bassett is the Director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and the FXB Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Prior to joining the FXB Center, she served as New York City’s Commissioner of Health from 2014 to 2018.

Originally from New York City, Dr. Bassett lived in Zimbabwe for nearly 20 years, where she served on the medical faculty of the University of Zimbabwe. She also worked as the Program Director for the African Health Initiative and the Child Well-being Program at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and as Deputy Commissioner for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 

Dr. Bassett’s many awards and honors include the prestigious Frank A. Calderone Prize in Public Health, a Kenneth A. Forde Lifetime Achievement Award from Columbia University, and election to the National Academy of Medicine. 

She received her B.A. in History and Science from Harvard University and her M.D. from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. She served her medical residency at Harlem Hospital Center and has a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Washington, where she was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar. 

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Pamela Lichty

Pamela Lichty

President, Drug Policy Forum of Hawai'i

Pamela is the founder and past President of The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, a non-profit organization founded in 1993 to educate policymakers and the public about effective ways of addressing drug issues in Hawaii. They advocate for sensible and humane policies that reduce harm, expand treatment options, and adopt evidence-based practices while optimizing the use of scarce resources. She is also a long-time board member of the ACLU of Hawaii.

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Rev. Edwin Sanders

Rev. Edwin Sanders, Secretary

Senior Servant, Metropolitan Interdenominational Church; Coordinator, Religious Leaders for a More Just and Compassionate Drug Policy

The Reverend Edwin C. Sanders, II is the Senior Servant and Founder of the Metropolitan Interdenominational Church in Nashville, Tennessee. This congregation has attracted a broad cross-section of people with the mission of being “inclusive of all and alienating to none.” Metropolitan has outreach ministries in the areas of substance abuse, advocacy for children, sexual violence, and harm reduction, in addition to providing services to persons infected with, and affected by, HIV/AIDS through the First Response Center, which Rev. Sanders founded in 1992. 

Rev. Sanders is a graduate of Wesleyan University, where he received the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology in 1969.  He has done graduate study at Yale University Divinity School and as a special student at Vanderbilt University Divinity School.  The opportunity to travel extensively throughout Europe and Africa was afforded Rev. Sanders as one of the first fellows of the Thomas J. Watson Foundation. 

For eighteen years, Rev. Sanders served as Pastoral Counselor for the Meharry Medical College Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was responsible for the spiritual component of all programs.  This work was primarily built around the conducting of group and individual therapy sessions.   

Rev. Sanders holds life membership in the NAACP and is a member of the Interdenominational Ministers’ Fellowship (former President).  Rev. Sanders serves on the Boards of Directors of the Black AIDS Institute, The AIDS Institute, The National Minority AIDS Council, The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and The Drug Policy Alliance. He is the National Coordinator for Religious Leaders for a More Just and Compassionate Drug Policy, and a former member of the National Advisory Council on Sexual Health at the National Center for Primary Care. More of his current commitments include serving on the Advisory Committee of the Rural Center for HIV/STD Prevention, and as Chair of the HIV Vaccine Trails Network Legacy Project Advisory Group designed to increase the participation of African Americans and Latinos in HIV vaccine studies. 

He is married to Atty. Denise Billye Bowers Sanders and has three children: Simunye (Edwin III), Grace Louise, and Joseph Wesley.

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Departments & State Offices

DPA has offices working to promote sensible drug policy in three key states. Learn more about the victories and current campaigns in each resident state and what you can do to help.

DPA also has a Department of Research and Academic Engagement in New York City, which works to bridge the divide between research and effective drug policies, an Office of Legal Affairs in California, and an Office of National Affairs in Washington, DC, which works for federal reform.