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.