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, but only for crimes that hurt others
  • 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.

Our Victories

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.

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.

2010 – 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 2010, 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.

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.

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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Leadership Team

Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno

Executive Director

Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno is the Drug Policy Alliance’s Executive Director. She brings nearly thirteen years of international and domestic drug policy experience from her work at Human Rights Watch, where she served most recently as Co-Director of the US Program.

Maria’s commitment to social justice and drug policy reform dates from her childhood, which she spent mostly in Peru. She was strongly influenced by her early work at Human Rights Watch researching Colombia, where drug profits fueled massacres and official corruption.

During her tenure at Human Rights Watch, Maria led a team advocating against racial discrimination in policing, excessive sentencing, and unfair deportation policies that tear families apart, all issues closely intertwined with the United States’ cruel and irrational approach to drugs. She also pressed the organization to more directly address the war on drugs as a human rights issue. As a result, in 2013 Human Rights Watch became the first major international human rights organization to call for decriminalizing the personal use and possession of drugs and global drug reform more broadly. 

Maria is the author of the narrative non-fiction book There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia, released by Nation Books in February 2018, which won the Juan E. Mendez Human Rights Book Award.

Early in her career, Maria clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, taught human rights as a fellow at Fordham Law School, and participated in litigation as an associate at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. Maria holds a law degree, magna cum laude, from New York University School of Law, which she attended on a Dean’s scholarship, and did most of her undergraduate studies in Lima, Peru, before completing her BA, summa cum laude at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a native speaker of both Spanish and English.

See Maria's writings and videos.

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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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Julie Netherland

Managing Director, Research and Academic Engagement

Julie “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 Julie's writings.

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Kassandra Frederique

Managing Director, Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns

Kassandra Frederique is Managing Director or Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns.

Frederique previously ran the day-to-day operations of the statewide campaign to end New York’s racially biased marijuana arrests, which cut the number of NYC marijuana arrests in half. Frederique also represented DPA as a member of Communities United for Police Reform, which focused on addressing Stop & Frisk and broader police reform/accountability measures bridging the gap between the War on Drugs and policing.

In addition to working for policy solutions to reduce the harms associated with drug use, Frederique works with communities throughout the state to address and resolve the collateral consequences of the War on Drugs – state violence. As a co-author of Blueprint for a Public Health and Safety Approach to Drug Policy and as technical advisor to Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick’s The Ithaca Plan, Frederique cultivates and mobilizes powerful coalitions in communities devastated by drug misuse and drug criminalization to develop municipal strategies to foster healthier and safer communities.

Frederique’s professional focus includes building a reparative justice framework that positions Black and Latinx leaders to create solutions that not only end and repair the harms of the drug war but also create accountability structures between policymakers and people who use drugs. She is currently working on an emerging body of work that discusses Black recreation and drug use.

A native New Yorker, Frederique holds a M.S. in Social Work from Columbia University and earned 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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Lindsay LaSalle

Managing Director, Public Health Law and Policy

Lindsay LaSalle is Managing Director of Public Health Law and Policy with the Drug Policy Alliance and an expert and strategist in the areas of harm reduction and treatment as it relates to drug policy. LaSalle has advocated for a public health approach to problematic drug use that is grounded in science and compassion and for alternative solutions to supply-side tactics, criminalization, and incarceration. 

She drafts harm reduction, treatment, criminal justice, and health-related legislation across the country, including bills that 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 pushes back on attempts to criminalize overdose through, for instance, drug-induced homicide, involuntary commitment, or fentanyl mandatory minimum laws. She also 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 and also regularly drafts reports for the Drug Policy Alliance. She 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 local radio programs.She received both her B.A. and J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, where she served as development editor of the California Law Review. 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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Communications

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

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

Sasha Simon

Safety First Program Manager

Sasha Simon is the Safety First 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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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 Coordinator

Alexis Martin is the development coordinator 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

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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Jennifer Cabrera

Development Operations Manager

As Development Operations Manager, Jennifer Cabrera is responsible for overseeing DPA’s donor database, prospect management, and related functions.

Before joining DPA, Jennifer was the Prospect Research Manager for the United Way of New York City. She also served in development roles at Freedom to Marry and Family Equality Council. Prior to joining the nonprofit sector, Jennifer held positions at Citigroup and with Aramark. 

Jennifer is a graduate of Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. She now lives with her spouse and child in Ossining, NY.

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Joe Salas

Deputy Director, Development

Joe Salas is the deputy 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

David Abbott

Office Manager

David Abbott was born and raised in the Boston area and relocated to New York City after completing his BFA in painting, education and film at Massachusetts College of Art.

After first working in the private sector and then managing his own business, Abbott worked in the non profit area for the last ten years with organizations dedicated to human rights, environmental justice, and procuring health care and legal services for low income, physically and mentally challenged individuals.

For over twenty-five years Abbott has also volunteered at various HIV/AIDS organizations.

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Haneefah Vincent

Finance Coordinator

Jeffrey Chen

IT Systems Manager

Jim Clapes

Conference and Events Manager

As conference and events manager, Jim Clapes handles logistics for DPA’s International Drug Policy Reform Conference, staff retreat and other organizational events. Jim has fifteen years’ experience in meeting and event management, including more than ten years coordinating events in the nonprofit sector.

Before joining DPA, Jim served as the manager of conferences & events with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for more than seven years, where he spearheaded the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo. Prior to USGBC, Jim served as events director for the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., planning the organization’s two annual flagship events. Jim started his career in events and developed a passion for the industry as a conference director at Financial Research Associates, where he produced industry events in the financial services arena. Jim also served as a Congressional intern on Capitol Hill in the office of Representative Sam Farr (D-CA).

Jim was honored by Connect Association in 2018 as a "Top 40 Under 40" recipient in the meetings industry. Jim also serves as Executive Board Chair of the LGBT Meeting Professionals Association, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization committed to the professional advancement of LGBT meeting professionals and diversity and inclusion throughout the profession.

Jim grew up in Northern California and received his Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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Laini Madhubuti

Manager, Grants and Partnerships

Lina Mingoia

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

Lorraine Vittoriosa

Controller

Rasheedah Jones

Manager, Human Resources

Stephanie Polito

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

Stephanie Polito is the director of grants and partnerships. She is responsible for ensuring the program’s staff is set up to deliver on important strategic goals over the short and long term by developing and implementing systems that foster collaboration and streamline work. She also manages the department’s regular retreats and meetings and oversees the development of content for the bi-annual International Drug Policy Reform Conference.

Polito received a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from Loyola University Maryland and continued her education in New York, receiving a Master’s Degree in forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a Master’s Degree in mental health law from New York Law School. Prior to joining DPA and while pursuing her graduate degrees, Polito advocated for people with mental illnesses and survivors of interpersonal violence as they navigated various stages of the criminal justice system, including working with the Mental Health Court Advocacy Program in Brooklyn, a pre-arraignment diversion program for people with mental illness, and with the Crime Victims Treatment Center at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital as a certified rape crisis counselor.

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Office of Academic Engagement

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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Julie Netherland

Managing Director, Research and Academic Engagement

Julie “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 Julie's 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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Office of Legal Affairs

Lindsay LaSalle

Managing Director, Public Health Law and Policy

Lindsay LaSalle is Managing Director of Public Health Law and Policy with the Drug Policy Alliance and an expert and strategist in the areas of harm reduction and treatment as it relates to drug policy. LaSalle has advocated for a public health approach to problematic drug use that is grounded in science and compassion and for alternative solutions to supply-side tactics, criminalization, and incarceration. 

She drafts harm reduction, treatment, criminal justice, and health-related legislation across the country, including bills that 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 pushes back on attempts to criminalize overdose through, for instance, drug-induced homicide, involuntary commitment, or fentanyl mandatory minimum laws. She also 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 and also regularly drafts reports for the Drug Policy Alliance. She 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 local radio programs.She received both her B.A. and J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, where she served as development editor of the California Law Review. 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, Criminal Justice Law and Policy

Theshia Naidoo is Managing Director of Criminal Justice Law and Policy with the Drug Policy Alliance and an expert and strategist in the area of criminal justice reform as it relates to drug policy. In her role as an attorney and as a member of the San Francisco Sentencing Commission, Naidoo has pushed for the creation and adoption of innovative criminal justice reforms, including playing a pivotal role in the advancement and implementation of Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) in a number of jurisdictions across the country.

Naidoo drafts criminal justice reform legislation across the country related to areas such as 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 playing a key role in the drafting of California’s Proposition 5 (the Non-Violent Offenders Rehabilitation Act of 2008), 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 a White House convening on LEAD. 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 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 in private legal practice 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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Office of National Affairs

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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Norrell Edwards

Administrative Associate

Queen Adesuyi

Policy Manager

Queen Adesuyi is a policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs in Washington, D.C., where she works to advance DPA’s federal and local District of Columbia legislative agenda. Her areas of focus include marijuana legalization with a racial justice focus, collateral consequences, housing, and overdose prevention. 

Adesuyi, who hails from the Morris Heights section of the Bronx, is an alumna from Georgetown University, where she majored in American Studies and minored in Women’s and Gender Studies. Her undergraduate research examined competing models of racial and social justice in the District of Columbia’s pro- and anti-marijuana legalization campaigns, one of the nation’s first legalization campaigns where racial justice was intimately a part of the messaging on both sides.

Prior to joining DPA, Adesuyi worked with the Georgetown University Prisons and Justice Initiative, the National Reentry Network for Returning Citizens, Office of Congressman Jose E. Serrano (D-NY), Mic.com and the New York Times.

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California

Armando Gudiño

Policy Manager, Southern 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

State Director, California

Norma Palacios

Administrative Assistant

New Mexico

Emily Kaltenbach

Senior Director, Municipal Drug Strategies and State Director, New Mexico

Emily Kaltenbach is Senior Director of DPA's Municipal Drug Strategies and New Mexico State Director. 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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New York

Dionna King

Policy Manager

Dionna King is a policy manager with the New York Policy Office of the Drug Policy Alliance. As policy manager, Dionna is assisting in the development of the reparative justice campaign and will work to repair the harms caused by the drug war in New York State.

Prior to joining DPA, Dionna worked as a community organizer for the Education from the Inside Out Coalition. There she led successful campaigns to ban the box at SUNY and increase funding for in-prison higher education programs. 

Coming from a family of Rattlers, Dionna is a proud alumna of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and a graduate of The New School. She hails from Atlanta and has a painfully reluctant relationship with Falcons.

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Kassandra Frederique

Managing Director, Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns

Kassandra Frederique is Managing Director or Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns.

Frederique previously ran the day-to-day operations of the statewide campaign to end New York’s racially biased marijuana arrests, which cut the number of NYC marijuana arrests in half. Frederique also represented DPA as a member of Communities United for Police Reform, which focused on addressing Stop & Frisk and broader police reform/accountability measures bridging the gap between the War on Drugs and policing.

In addition to working for policy solutions to reduce the harms associated with drug use, Frederique works with communities throughout the state to address and resolve the collateral consequences of the War on Drugs – state violence. As a co-author of Blueprint for a Public Health and Safety Approach to Drug Policy and as technical advisor to Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick’s The Ithaca Plan, Frederique cultivates and mobilizes powerful coalitions in communities devastated by drug misuse and drug criminalization to develop municipal strategies to foster healthier and safer communities.

Frederique’s professional focus includes building a reparative justice framework that positions Black and Latinx leaders to create solutions that not only end and repair the harms of the drug war but also create accountability structures between policymakers and people who use drugs. She is currently working on an emerging body of work that discusses Black recreation and drug use.

A native New Yorker, Frederique holds a M.S. in Social Work from Columbia University and earned a B.S. in Industrial Labor Relations at Cornell University.

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

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Katharine Celentano

Policy Coordinator

Katharine Celentano is a Policy Coordinator with the New York Policy Office of the Drug Policy Alliance. Based in Ithaca, Katharine helps manage the development and implementation of municipal efforts to address drug use throughout Central and Western New York as well as statewide efforts regarding opiate overdose.

Katharine brings almost a decade of experience in political communication and campaigns, government and grassroots organizing. A coalition builder at heart, she has worked in diverse contexts—from neuroscience lab to Capitol Hill, lived in rural, suburban and urban areas of New York, Vermont and the Midwest and helped forge partnerships across party lines and life experience.

Prior to DPA, Katharine worked for the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, the New York State Psychiatric Institute, a governor’s office, the U.S. Senate and a presidential campaign, and she has led and advised national, local and campus campaigns regarding drug policy as well as mental health, veterans and academic pipeline issues. In 2013, Katharine was appointed to the Vermont Children and Family Council on Prevention Programs, and she was one of 125 leaders invited by SAMHSA to the National Leadership Summit on Youth Recovery. Katharine has also served on the board of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Young Professionals Board of the Washington Heights CORNER Project, and she has been invited to speak at conferences across the country.

A graduate of Columbia University, Katharine serves on the board of the Columbia Alumni Association. Katharine’s experiences as a former client of a residential psychiatric facility and losing loved ones to overdose, incarceration and trauma motivate her work.

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Melissa Moore

Deputy 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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Board

Alejandro Madrazo

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

Angela Pacheco

Former District Attorney, 1st Judicial District, New Mexico

Christine Downton

Former Vice Chairman and Founding Partner of Pareto Partners

David C. Lewis, MD

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

Derek Hodel

Independent Consultant

George Soros

Chairman, Soros Fund Management

Ilona Szabó de Carvalho

Director, Igarapé Institute

Ira Glasser, President

President of Board; Former Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union

James E. Ferguson, II

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

Jason Flom

President, Lava Records

Josiah Rich, MD

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

Joy Fishman

Harm Reduction Advocate

Kenneth Hertz

Senior Partner, Hertz Lichtenstein & Young LLP

Pamela Lichty

President, Drug Policy Forum of Hawai'i

Rev. Edwin Sanders, Secretary

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

Susan Kane

Lawyer

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.