The War on Drugs is a War on People.

At the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), we fight for people. We believe that every person should be able to work, parent, be housed, have a community, experience joy, and live freely regardless of drug use. 

But that's not our reality.

Punitive drug laws in the United States, dating back to the 1870s, have served as one of the sharpest tools of oppression. Today, the drug war—and the elected leaders who uphold it—labels everyone who uses certain substances a criminal, but most aggressively targets Black, Latinx, Indigenous, people of color, and people who are experiencing poverty. Having a criminal record adds huge challenges to getting a job, receiving financial aid, qualifying for credit or housing assistance, and more. For those caught in the drug war, the impacts are far-reaching and long-lasting.

The Drug Policy Alliance is Working to End the War on Drugs.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the leading organization in the U.S. promoting alternatives to the war on drugs. We envision 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; and in which the fears, prejudices, and punitive prohibitions of today are no more.

Since 2000, we led the way on creating cutting-edge policies that have fundamentally transformed the direction of drug policy in the U.S. and beyond. This includes a successful and growing marijuana reform movement across the nation. We are leading the movement to treat drug use as a health issue, not a criminal problem. In 2020, we made history in Oregon by decriminalizing drugs for the first time ever in the United States, and dramatically expanding health services in the state.

DPA has grown to more than 40 staff across the U.S.; an annual operating budget of approximately $12 million, 12,000 dues-paying members and more than 170,000 online subscribers.

The Fierce Urgency of Now.

Despite our progress, the consequences of the drug war are felt now more than ever.

Drug possession is the most arrested offense in the U.S., with more than 1.1 million arrests in 2020. Criminalization perpetuates racial injustice by design. Because of targeted policing, Black people make up 24% of drug arrests, almost double their demographic percentage, and are three times more likely to be arrested for drugs than white people, despite using and selling drugs at the same rates. 

In 2021, more than 100,000 people died of an accidental drug overdose in the US, a staggering 28.5% increase from the historically deadly numbers in 2020 and the highest ever on record. The drug war has led to a poison drug supply, prevents the adoption of proven lifesaving overdose prevention interventions, and diverts financial resources away from health-based solutions in favor of investments in law enforcement and failed prohibitionist tactics. 

And the drug war has been a fiscal disaster. Each year, state, local, and federal governments spend an estimated $47 billion enforcing drug prohibition laws – money that would have been better spent on supporting communities and addressing the root causes of problematic drug use with robust health, harm reduction, and drug treatment services.

The Way Forward.

As the Drug Policy Alliance moves forward in the next phase of our work, we are prioritizing:

  • decriminalizing drugs and building health-based alternatives; 
  • uprooting the drug war from civil systems (e.g. employment, housing, immigration); 
  • disempowering police in drug enforcement and response;
  • reducing punishments for people in the drug trade;
  • reinvesting drug war resources into the communities most harmed, and 
  • eliminating the poison drug supply through responsible legal regulation of all drugs.

We will do this by leading ambitious local, state, and national campaigns to change policies, by providing expertise to support the drafting and strategy for legislative efforts by fellow advocates, by funding and fostering partnerships that will build power across movements, and by mobilizing our base and growing to reach the vast majority of people like you who know the drug war has failed and demands a new approach.   

Together, We Will End the War on Drugs.

Crowd holding a "No More Drug War" Sign

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 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

Senior Management Team

Kassandra Frederique

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.

Follow Kassandra on Twitter.
Connect with Kassandra on Facebook.
Read Kassandra's writings.

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Brian Pacheco

Brian Pacheco

Managing Director, Communications and Marketing

Brian Pacheco is the managing director of communications and marketing at Drug Policy Alliance where he oversees the organization’s branding, campaign development, digital communications and media, messaging, and press relations. 

Pacheco has more than 12 years of experience in strategic marketing communications and fundraising. He spearheaded the communications strategy that led to the passage of the NY Child Victims Act, created a viral video (110 million views) for actor Terry Crews and Safe Horizon, and conceptualized a campaign about the need for our legal system to rethink how credibility is assessed for domestic violence survivors. A seasoned media strategist, he has secured featured stories in multiple top-tier media outlets, including ABC News, CNN, HBO, New York Times, Telemundo, The Today Show, and The View. Pacheco also has deep expertise in anti-racism, anti-violence, LGBTQ issues, and trauma. 

A native New Yorker, and proud gay man of color, Brian is a POSSE Scholar who studied at Middlebury College.

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David Glowka

Interim Managing Director, Development

David Glowka is DPA’s interim managing 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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Jules Netherland

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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Kimberly Thomas

Kimberly Thomas

Chief Operating Officer

Kimberly Thomas is Drug Policy Alliance’s Chief Operating Officer. She leads the organization's business and operational functions, which include finance, human resources, IT and workplace management. Kimberly is also a member of the senior leadership team and manages the strategic planning process. 

Kimberly joined the organization with over 20 years of human resources, finance and business experience. Prior to DPA, she spent five years at the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law in a variety of capacities, most recently as the vice president of administration, where she headed the human resources, CRM and office management teams and oversaw yearly planning. 

She previously worked in the corporate sector and as an entrepreneur. Kimberly was the human resources business partner at Planned Parenthood Federation of America and owned a children’s consignment franchise. She also held human resource director roles at Dun & Bradstreet and PepsiCo and was vice president and business manager on the foreign exchange trading desk at Bankers Trust Company (now Deutsche Bank). 

Kimberly earned an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in management from Rutgers University.

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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

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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Drug Policy Alliance Staff

Aliza Cohen

Coordinator, Research

Avinash Tharoor

Coordinator, Foundation Giving

Boris Sporer

Director, Information Technology and Knowledge Management

Christopher Soda

Executive Associate

Emily Kaltenbach

Senior Director, Criminal Legal & Policing Reform

Gabriella Miyares

Senior Manager, Branding & Digital Content Strategy.

Grant Smith

Deputy Director, National Affairs

Grey Gardner

Senior Staff Attorney

Hanna Sharif-Kazemi

Policy Coordinator

Jeannette Zanipatin

State Director, California

Joe Salas

Director, Membership

Kellen Russoniello

Senior Staff Attorney

Kristen Millnick

Senior Manager, Communications

Laini Madhubuti

Manager, Public Education

Lina Mingoia

Director, Operations and Benefits Administration

Maritza Perez

Director of the Office of Federal Affairs

Matt Sutton

Director, Public Relations

Melissa Moore

Director, Civil Systems Reform

Mike Amador

Coordinator, Development Operations

Norma Palacios

Policy Coordinator, California

Queen Adesuyi

Senior Manager, National Policy

Rafael Rosario

Manager, Digital Communications

Sheila P Vakharia, PhD

Deputy Director, Research and Academic Engagement

Shelley Steele

Senior Accountant

Stephanie Polito

Director, Grants and Partnerships

Thomas Sullivan

Director, Finance and Accounting

Toni Smith-Thompson

Director, New York office

Staff & Board

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 a Professor of Law at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE) in Mexico, where he founded and headed the Interdisciplinary Drug Policy Program until 2017. 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 (Spence)

Angela Pacheco

Former District Attorney, 1st Judicial District, New Mexico

Angela Pacheco (Spence) is a former District Attorney of the First Judicial District in New Mexico. She currently serves as a Municipal Court Judge Pro Tem. 

Before receiving her law degree, she worked for 13 years as a state social worker overseeing contracts and management of drug and alcohol programs in Northern New Mexico. 
 
She and her partner were among one of the first same-sex couples to obtain New Mexico marriage licenses when it was legalized.

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Photo of Board Member Antonia Hyman

Antonia Hyman

Associate, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz

Antonia is a corporate associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. She specializes in mergers and acquisitions and negotiates transaction terms to strategically guide joint ventures, mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and other transactions within various financial, disclosure and risk-allocation parameters. Antonia also advises on securities matters, corporate governance and activism matters, including hostile proxy contests and other defense work. Prior to working at Wachtell, Antonia worked in real estate investment banking at Morgan Stanley where she prepared management presentations, diligence materials and financial models for prospective transactions. 

Antonia believes drug policies should be grounded in science and compassion; she is passionate about addressing the past and current harms caused by targeted policing in communities of color.  
 
She received her B.A. from the School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, her J.D. from Columbia Law School, and her M.B.A. from Columbia Business School.  

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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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Photo of Helena Hansen

Helena Hansen, MD, PhD

Professor and Co-Chair of the Research Theme in Health Equity & Translational Social Science, Associate Director of the Center for Social Medicine

Helena Hansen, an MD, Ph.D. psychiatrist-anthropologist, is Professor of Psychiatry and Chair of Research Theme in Translational Social Science and Health Equity at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. She is the author of three books: Addicted to Christ: Remaking Men in Puerto Rican Pentecostal Drug Ministries; Structural Competency in Medicine and Mental Health: A Case-Based Approach to Treating the Social Determinants of Health (with Jonathan Metzl); and Whiteout: How Racial Capitalism Changed the Color of Heroin in America (with Jules Netherland and David Herzberg, forthcoming). She has received numerous awards, including an honorary doctorate from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and election to the National Academy of Medicine.

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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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Kemba Smith Pradia

Kemba Smith Pradia

Advocate and author

Kemba Smith Pradia is a wife, mother, public speaker, advocate, consultant and author of Poster Child: The Kemba Smith Story. In 1994, Kemba was sentenced to 24.5 years in federal prison for a first-time drug charge. President Clinton commuted her sentence in December 2000 after she had served 6.5 years in prison. Her story has been featured on BET, CNN, and Nightline and in several publications such as JET, Essence, Glamour, People magazines, The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Kemba is the founder of The Kemba Smith Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that works to eliminate injustices, prejudice and discrimination. She has worked with senior officials at The White House, the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Members of Congress, and has led trainings for Federal and State Probation organizations across the country. She has received numerous awards and recognitions for her courage and determination as a motivational speaker and advocate. In 2019, Kemba was appointed to the Virginia Parole Board by Governor Ralph Northam and she continues to serve on the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission. Prior to her appointment, she held the position of State Advocacy Campaigns Director with the ACLU of Virginia.

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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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Svante Myrick

Svante Myrick

Executive director of People For the American Way

As executive director of People For the American Way, he leads campaigns focused on transforming public safety, racial equity, voting rights, and empowering young elected officials. Myrick garnered national media attention as the youngest-ever mayor of Ithaca, New York, where he was a leading reformer on drug policy, the environment, and public safety.

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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.