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 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 decriminalization of 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, forthcoming from Nation Books in February 2018. She holds a law degree from New York University School of Law and did most of her undergraduate studies in Lima, Peru, before completing her BA 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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asha bandele

asha bandele

Senior Director, Grants, Partnerships and Special Projects

asha bandele, DPA’s Senior Director of Grants, Partnerships and Special Projects, joined the organization in 2005. She built and continues to manage DPA’s grants program, which supports grassroots organizations by providing financial and intellectual resources, while regularly engaging a wide array of audiences in public conversations about drugs and drug policy.

The award-winning, best-selling author of The Prisoner’s Wife, and four other books, asha is also a journalist whose articles have been read widely in publications that include the the New York Timesthe Nation, Vibe, Ebony and Essence, where she covered a broad range of people from Winnie Mandela to Denzel Washington, from Assata Shakur to Mary J. Blige. She has reported from places that included Cuba, South Africa and Newtown, Connecticut after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In 2014, asha was the last person to interview Dr. Maya Angelou, 10 days before her death. 

In 2016 Scribner will re-release asha’s 2003 novel, Daughter, about the impact of police violence on one Brooklyn family, with the updated e-edition including advice on healing from the founders of Black Lives Matter, Harry Belafonte, Michelle Alexander, Kadiatou Diallo and numerous others incredible scholars and advocates.

asha completed her B.A. at The New School, her M.F.A. at Bennington College and served as a Revson Fellow at Columbia University in which her cohort unpacked issues of economic disparity in a post-9/11 New York City. But her single greatest joy and passion is parenting her daughter, Nisa, an honors-level high-schooler, dancer, writer and Aries, who published her own first work when she was 15. The two live and create in Brooklyn, New York.

Select public conversations

With Michelle Alexander

With Dr. Stanton Peele

With Dr. Carl Hart

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Bill Piper

Senior Director, National Affairs

Bill Piper is the senior director of DPA’s office of national affairs in Washington, D.C., where he is responsible for developing and implementing strategies for ending the federal war on drugs. He lobbies Congress in support of cutting drug war waste, protecting state marijuana laws from federal interference, reforming draconian sentencing laws, re-structuring federal law enforcement agencies, and preventing drug overdoses and the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.

Read Bill's writings.

Piper has provided analysis and commentary on Fox News, Al Jazeera, BBC News, Voice of America, the Oliver North Radio Show, and NPR’s Marketplace. He has been quoted in dozens of regional and national newspapers, including the New York TimesChicago TribuneChristian Science MonitorRoll CallPoliticoSan Francisco ChronicleUSA Today and Washington Post.  He is the author of several DPA publications, including the seminal 2008 report, A Four-Pillars Approach to Methamphetamine: Policies for Effective Drug Prevention, Treatment, Policing and Harm Reduction.  His opinion pieces have appeared in the Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionChicago Sun-TimesDes Moines RegisterSeattle Post-Intelligencer, and Washington Post. He is also a regulator contributor to Huffington Post and Alternet.

Prior to joining the organization, Piper was director of research for the Initiative and Referendum Institute, a national nonprofit working to preserve and expand the rights of voters to change public policy through the ballot box. Before that, he worked for U.S. Term Limits, the largest grassroots organization working to enact term limits for elected officials. He is a graduate of Indiana University with a double major in political science and economics, and has nearly twenty years of political experience in Washington, D.C.

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Ellen Flenniken

Managing Director, Development

Ellen Flenniken manages the Drug Policy Alliance’s development and donor engagement efforts. 

Before joining DPA, Ellen worked extensively as a political campaign manager and fundraiser. She 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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Megan Farrington

Director, Digital Communications

Megan Farrington is Director of Digital Communications. Before joining DPA's communications team, Farrington did technology planning for nonprofit community-based organizations in New York City and worked for Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch.
 
Farrington grew up in the Washington, DC, area and has a B.A. in Modern Languages and Linguistics from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. She became interested in drug policy when she realized the scare tactics and misinformation put forth by traditional drug education programs were actually harming young people.

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Roseanne Scotti

Senior Director, Resident States and State Director, New Jersey

Before joining the Drug Policy Alliance, Roseanne Scotti, Senior Director, Resident States and State Director, New Jersey, was a research coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Studies of Addiction in the HIV Prevention Research Division. As a research coordinator, she worked on various research projects studying the incidence of HIV among injection drug users with the goal of designing effective prevention interventions. Scotti received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and her J.D. from Temple School of Law.

Scotti has authored and co-authored law review and medical journal articles on HIV prevention and drug policy. She founded the Prevention Point Philadelphia Harm Reduction Law Project, which provides free legal assistance for drug users and sex workers in Philadelphia. She lectures often on the issues of harm reduction and drug policy.

In 2004, Scotti received the award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of HIV Prevention from the New Jersey HIV Prevention Community Planning Group. In 2005, she was appointed to New Jersey's Gang Land Security Task Force.

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Ryan Chavez

Managing Director, Finance and Administration

Ryan Chavez is managing director, finance and administration, based in New York. Ryan has over 20 years of progressive experience in government and nonprofit management, emergency feeding programs, technical assistance and AIDS housing services. Prior to joining the organization, Ryan served for seven years as deputy executive director of Community Health Action (CHASI), a community organization based in Staten Island that provides services to individuals and families challenged by health disparities.

Before joining CHASI, he was director of strategic planning for NYC’s HIV Health and Human Services Planning Council. Previously, he worked at Bailey House, a nationally-recognized AIDS housing provider, where he developed a technical assistance department providing program planning and evaluation, fiscal management, conflict resolution and trainings to NYC AIDS housing agencies. He was a member of NYC’s Housing Works Group and the Massachusetts statewide Housing Advisory Committee. While at Bailey House, he worked closely with the city to develop a number of new housing models, including the Sustainable Living Fund. Ryan has an M.S. from the University of Massachusetts at Boston with a concentration in nonprofit management, and a B.A. in Psychology from Cornell University.

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Tamar Todd

Senior Director, Office of Legal Affairs

Tamar Todd directs DPA’s Office of Legal Affairs.  She is responsible for developing and overseeing the organization’s legal work as it relates to legislative drafting, policy advocacy, litigation, and public education in local, state and federal jurisdictions.

Todd also directs the work of DPA’s Marijuana Law and Policy Unit, which focuses primarily on medical marijuana, marijuana decriminalization, and marijuana legalization and regulation initiatives, and their implementation across the United States.

She has co-authored several state and local ballot initiatives and statutes, including Amendment 64 in Colorado, and she has advised the government of Uruguay on its efforts to legalize the production and distribution of marijuana.  She has testified in numerous legislative and government bodies in the United States and abroad on the issue of drug policy and the intersection of state and federal law.

Todd received her B.A. from the University of Vermont and her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center, where she graduated magna cum laude and served as executive editor of the Georgetown Law Journal. After law school, she clerked for the Hon. Emmet Sullivan on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and she spent several years representing death row inmates as a staff attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta. Todd is a member of the California and Alabama bars.

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Tony Newman

Director, Media Relations

Tony Newman is director of media relations, a position he has held since 2000. Newman has more than 20 years of public relations experience. Before joining the organization, he was the media director for the human rights organization Global Exchange and co-founded the public relations firm Communication Works. Newman received his B.A. from the University of California Santa Cruz.

Read Tony's writings.

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Widney Brown

Managing Director, Policy

Widney Brown is the Drug Policy Alliance’s Managing Director of Policy, overseeing work at the state and national level promoting drug policies that are compassionate, based in science and uphold the human rights of people who use drugs.

Prior to joining DPA, Brown was the Director of Programs at Physicians for Human Rights where she oversaw the organization’s research, documentation and training projects with a particular focus on Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Syria. She writes extensively on human rights issues, recently publishing an article on the intersection of social justice and human rights. Previously Brown was the Senior Director for International Law and Policy at the Secretariat of Amnesty International in London where she was responsible for the organization’s legal analysis, policy development, and advocacy. Brown held a variety of positions, including deputy program director, at Human Rights Watch from 1997 through 2005.

Brown received her B.A. from the George Washington University and her J.D. from the New York University School of Law where she was a Root-Tilden Scholar.

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Communications

Anthony Papa

Manager, Media and Artist Relations

Anthony Papa is manager of media and artist relations. He is an artist, writer, freedom fighter, noted advocate against the war on drugs and co-founder of the Mothers of the New York Disappeared. Papa’s stinging opinion pieces about the drug war have appeared in news sources across the country. He is a frequent public speaker and college lecturer on his art and criminal justice issues.

Read Anthony's writings.

On 12/31/16 Papa received a pardon from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and became the first person in NYS history to receive both clemency (from Gov. George Pataki 1997) and a pardon. Papa is the author of This Side of Freedom: Life After Clemency, his second memoir about his 18 years of freedom after imprisonment, and 15 to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom (2004), a memoir about his experience of being sentenced to state prison for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense under New York’s draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws.

Papa has been interviewed by a wide range of national print and broadcast media, including The New York TimesThe Washington Post, The Nation, National Public Radio, “Democracy Now,” Court TV, “Extra,” C-Span, WPIXRNN among others. His art has been exhibited widely from the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York to many cultural centers, and he has appeared on nationally syndicated talk shows such as CNN's Your MoneyMSNBC Live withTamron Hall, “Charles Grodin,” “Geraldo Rivera,” and “Catherine Crier Live.”

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Derek Rosenfeld

Manager of Social Media and Media Relations

Derek Rosenfeld is DPA's manager of social media and media relations, based in New York. He strives to promote harm reduction strategies for dealing with drug use, enjoys staying current on drug policy reform issues, and makes every effort to share current events with as many people as possible.
 
Prior to joining the organization, Rosenfeld interned with New York City Council Member Stephen Levin (D-33) in Brooklyn, NY, where he handled constituent casework, budget responsibilities, and other tasks. He also worked side-by-side with the Greenpoint/Williamsburg Community Liaison in an effort to establish a “wet” homeless shelter in the Greenpoint area of Brooklyn.
 
Rosenfeld grew up in New York and received a B.A. in Social Sciences Interdisciplinary, with a concentration in Legal Studies, from the University at Buffalo. He also completed a minor in Sociology. His interests in criminal justice and civil rights, as well as a Sociology class called “Drugs & Society,” catalyzed his passion for drug policy reform.

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Ifetayo Harvey

Communications Associate

As Communications Associate, Ifetayo focuses on developing new systems and enhancing existing ones that foster communication and collaboration across DPA’s communications team and other departments. Ifetayo also helps coordinate the communications team’s regular retreats and meetings.

Ifetayo comes to the Drug Policy Alliance after previously interning in the media department in 2013 and later opening the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver, Colorado with a speech that focused on her experience of growing up with a parent incarcerated.

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

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Jag Davies

Director, Communications Strategy

As director of communications strategy, Jag Davies works with communications, program, development and senior management staff to oversee production of all DPA publications and to facilitate best practices in the implementation of the organization’s messaging and brand identity.  Davies manages a team that includes DPA’s research coordinator and communications coordinator, as well as external consultant relationships with writers, designers, and multimedia content producers.

Davies also plays a key role in DPA’s media work.  He is regularly quoted in a wide range of media outlets and his writings have appeared in the New York TimesWashington Post, BBC.com, CNN.com, and dozens of regional and online publications.

Davies has more than a decade of professional experience working to establish drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.  Before joining the organization, he served as director of communications for MAPS, a nonprofit pharmaceutical company conducting clinical trials aimed at developing marijuana and certain psychedelic drugs into federally-approved prescription medicines.  Davies also previously served as policy researcher for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Drug Law Reform Project (now known as the Criminal Law Reform Project), where he coordinated local, state, federal, and international efforts to end punitive drug policies that cause the widespread violation of constitutional and human rights.

Davies grew up in Miami and is a graduate of New World School of the Arts, where he majored in theater.  Davies is also a graduate of New College of Florida, the honors college of the state university system of Florida, where he majored in cultural anthropology.  He currently lives in New York City.

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Joanna Mendez

Audience Development Associate

Joanna Mendez is the Audience Development Associate for the Drug Policy Alliance, based in New York. She is responsible for helping to build the Latinx community base for DPA.

A former United Nations fellow, she advocated for Latinx communities around the Americas to UN delegates, particularly in relation to forced migration due to violence stemming from drug cartels and gangs, environmental degradation, and lack of quality education and fair-pay work. She has also worked with the Fund for Public Housing – a nonprofit committed to innovate New York City’s public housing – to create and implement a curriculum focused on empowering youth living in the New York City Housing Authority to become politically engaged and active.

Mendez is currently an MA student at St. John’s University, where she is majoring in Government and Politics.

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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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Megan Farrington

Director, Digital Communications

Megan Farrington is Director of Digital Communications. Before joining DPA's communications team, Farrington did technology planning for nonprofit community-based organizations in New York City and worked for Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch.
 
Farrington grew up in the Washington, DC, area and has a B.A. in Modern Languages and Linguistics from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. She became interested in drug policy when she realized the scare tactics and misinformation put forth by traditional drug education programs were actually harming young people.

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Melissa Franqui

Manager, Communications and Marketing

Melissa Franqui is the manager of communications and marketing for the Drug Policy Alliance, based in New York. She is responsible for supporting the execution of campaigns with visual components, as well as the development and promotion of the organization’s publications and merchandise. Franqui also manages internal and external branding for DPA’s offices, conferences and events.  She is passionate about social justice and is driven to combat the inequities created by America’s failed war on drugs, particularly in communities of color.

Franqui has ten years of experience in communications strategy and event management. She previously worked as a communications consultant for Housing + Solutions, a grassroots nonprofit serving homeless women in Brooklyn. She also previously served as the director of communications for the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a community-based organization dedicated to the empowerment of Harlem residents through economic development, affordable housing, education and social services. Prior to that, she worked to produce walk-a-thons in Central Park for a breast cancer awareness organization, and began her career at Fordham University’s Development and Special Events Office.

Franqui attended Wellesley College where she majored in English literature and concentrated in Africana studies.

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Michelle Eastwood

Digital Content Strategist

Sasha Simon

Safety First Program Manager

Stefanie Jones

Director, Audience Development

Stefanie Jones is director of audience development at the Drug Policy Alliance, based in New York. In this role she oversees communication and outreach to specific communities on drug use and drug policy topics, including on novel psychoactive substances (NPS) and DPA’s youth drug education work.  She personally runs the Music Fan program, which introduces harm reduction principles and drug policy alternatives to partygoers, public health officials and city nightlife regulators across the U.S. 

In her prior role within the organization 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.

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Suchitra Rajagopalan

Research Coordinator

Suchitra Rajagopalan is the research coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance. She is responsible for creating content for DPA-branded materials, conducting secondary research to inform DPA’s publications, media, web and policy work, and maintaining a comprehensive reference library of relevant research on drugs, drug policy and criminal justice reform. 

Prior to joining DPA, Suchitra was based in Mumbai, India, where she worked on drug policy issues at the HIV/AIDS unit of a legal aid organization called Lawyers Collective. Her passion for drug policy reform stems from a commitment to human rights and social justice.

Suchitra studied political science at Sciences Po Paris and studied law at Trinity College Dublin and the University of Mumbai.

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Tommy McDonald

Director, Multimedia

Tommy McDonald is director of multimedia. After earning his B.A. at Tennessee State University, McDonald began his career as a sports writer for The Nashville Banner in 1991. He was a community news reporter at The Sacramento Bee and a local sports editor for ANG Newspapers, which owns The Oakland Tribune. McDonald also worked as a freelance writer and consultant for several years.

After an eight-year journalism career, McDonald made the transition into public relations in late 1998, joining Communication Works, a San Francisco-based nonprofit public relations firm in the public interest. During his tenure, Communication Works became the largest such PR firm on the West coast. In early 2001, Communication Works merged with Fenton Communications, the nation’s largest public interest PR firm. In late 2001, he joined Children Now, a nationally recognized child advocacy organization based in Oakland. McDonald managed national media campaigns on social justice issues, such as juvenile justice, consumer litigation, affordable housing, drug policy, human rights and gun control.

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Tony Newman

Director, Media Relations

Tony Newman is director of media relations, a position he has held since 2000. Newman has more than 20 years of public relations experience. Before joining the organization, he was the media director for the human rights organization Global Exchange and co-founded the public relations firm Communication Works. Newman received his B.A. from the University of California Santa Cruz.

Read Tony's writings.

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Development

Alexis Martin

Development Associate

Alexis Martin is the development associate 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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Cindy Mathew

Deputy Director, Development

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 manages the Drug Policy Alliance’s development and donor engagement efforts. 

Before joining DPA, Ellen worked extensively as a political campaign manager and fundraiser. She 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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Josh Pearson

Director, Membership

Josh Pearson is the director of membership at the Drug Policy Alliance, where he manages the organization’s digital fundraising and email communications. 

Before joining DPA, Josh worked in the digital advocacy department at FreedomWorks, and was the delegate operations coordinator for Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign. Josh grew up outside of Philadelphia and went to University of Pittsburgh. He is currently based out of Washington, D.C.

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Judh Grandchamps

Development Operations Manager

As development operations manager, Judh helps connect people to the Drug Policy Alliance’s mission and programs and runs the back-end functions of our fundraising department.

Before joining DPA, Judh worked as a supervisor and maintained the database for a market research company that conducted surveys, primarily with doctors, for pharmaceutical companies to analyze the effects of certain drugs prescribed to patients.

When he started at DPA in 2007, then tasked with improving and managing our database, he was a self-described drug policy reform skeptic. Now he regularly speaks and writes about the injustice of the drug war and the need to break down stigma and embrace a harm reduction approach to drugs. Judh credits his personal growth to his colleagues, our members, and the social justice organizations we partner with. 

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Lesedi Ntsele

Membership Marketing Associate

Lesedi Ntsele is the Membership Marketing Associate at the Drug Policy Alliance. She is responsible for supporting all functions of the development department, with a particular focus on the organization’s digital fundraising and membership campaigns. 

She received her B.A in Liberal Arts, with a concentration in journalism and politics, from Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Her interest in drug policy developed while she was enrolled in a combined writing course at a maximum-security women’s prison. The yearlong class allowed her to study alongside people incarcerated at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility where the inequalities of the war on drugs were illuminated for her. Prior to joining DPA, Lesedi interned at various arts organizations including the Poetry Project, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the New York City Ballet. 

Lesedi is a native of Johannesburg, South Africa. Before moving to New York, she attended the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan where she majored in saxophone performance and creative writing.

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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.

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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Devon Hutchins

Human Resources Manager

Devon Hutchins manages the people function of the organization, including recruitment, onboarding, staff trainings, performance management, and employee relations. She has worked exclusively in nonprofits over the past decade in both program and operations roles, most recently supporting human resources talent at the Center for Reproductive Rights. She returns to DPA after formerly serving as the policy associate for the DC Metro Project.

Devon received her master’s degree from the University of Cambridge in Modern Society & Global Transformations and went on to complete coursework in operations management and professional human resources.

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Haneefah Vincent

Finance Coordinator

Jeffrey Chen

IT Systems Manager

Jim Clapes

Events Manager

As events manager, Jim Clapes handles logistics for DPA’s International Drug Policy Reform Conference, staff retreat and other organizational events.  Jim has ten years’ experience in meeting and event management, including more than eight 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 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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Lina Mingoia

Director, Human Resources

Ryan Chavez

Managing Director, Finance and Administration

Ryan Chavez is managing director, finance and administration, based in New York. Ryan has over 20 years of progressive experience in government and nonprofit management, emergency feeding programs, technical assistance and AIDS housing services. Prior to joining the organization, Ryan served for seven years as deputy executive director of Community Health Action (CHASI), a community organization based in Staten Island that provides services to individuals and families challenged by health disparities.

Before joining CHASI, he was director of strategic planning for NYC’s HIV Health and Human Services Planning Council. Previously, he worked at Bailey House, a nationally-recognized AIDS housing provider, where he developed a technical assistance department providing program planning and evaluation, fiscal management, conflict resolution and trainings to NYC AIDS housing agencies. He was a member of NYC’s Housing Works Group and the Massachusetts statewide Housing Advisory Committee. While at Bailey House, he worked closely with the city to develop a number of new housing models, including the Sustainable Living Fund. Ryan has an M.S. from the University of Massachusetts at Boston with a concentration in nonprofit management, and a B.A. in Psychology from Cornell University.

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Public Policy

Stephanie Polito

Program Manager

Stephanie Polito is the program manager for DPA's public policy program. She is responsible for supporting the internal operations of the program, including developing systems that foster communication and collaboration, managing regular retreats and meetings, and coordinating the development of content for the bi-annual International Drug Policy Reform Conference.

In her prior role within the organization, Polito served as program associate for the Drug Policy Alliance’s advocacy grants program, supporting the organization’s grant-making efforts and managing the National Scholarships Program for the bi-annual International Drug Policy Reform Conference. Prior to joining DPA, Polito worked as a clinical interviewer for the Institute for Social and Psychiatric Initiatives, a research project run by the NYU School of Medicine, administering diagnostic assessments to individuals with mental illnesses hospitalized at Bellevue Hospital.

She previously interned with the Mental Health Court Advocacy Program in Brooklyn, a pre-arraignment diversion program for individuals with mental illness. She also volunteers with the Crime Victims Treatment Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital and is certified as a rape crisis counselor in the state of New York.

Polito received a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from Loyola University Maryland in 2006 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. 

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Widney Brown

Managing Director, Policy

Widney Brown is the Drug Policy Alliance’s Managing Director of Policy, overseeing work at the state and national level promoting drug policies that are compassionate, based in science and uphold the human rights of people who use drugs.

Prior to joining DPA, Brown was the Director of Programs at Physicians for Human Rights where she oversaw the organization’s research, documentation and training projects with a particular focus on Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Syria. She writes extensively on human rights issues, recently publishing an article on the intersection of social justice and human rights. Previously Brown was the Senior Director for International Law and Policy at the Secretariat of Amnesty International in London where she was responsible for the organization’s legal analysis, policy development, and advocacy. Brown held a variety of positions, including deputy program director, at Human Rights Watch from 1997 through 2005.

Brown received her B.A. from the George Washington University and her J.D. from the New York University School of Law where she was a Root-Tilden Scholar.

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Advocacy Grants Program

asha bandele

asha bandele

Senior Director, Grants, Partnerships and Special Projects

asha bandele, DPA’s Senior Director of Grants, Partnerships and Special Projects, joined the organization in 2005. She built and continues to manage DPA’s grants program, which supports grassroots organizations by providing financial and intellectual resources, while regularly engaging a wide array of audiences in public conversations about drugs and drug policy.

The award-winning, best-selling author of The Prisoner’s Wife, and four other books, asha is also a journalist whose articles have been read widely in publications that include the the New York Timesthe Nation, Vibe, Ebony and Essence, where she covered a broad range of people from Winnie Mandela to Denzel Washington, from Assata Shakur to Mary J. Blige. She has reported from places that included Cuba, South Africa and Newtown, Connecticut after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In 2014, asha was the last person to interview Dr. Maya Angelou, 10 days before her death. 

In 2016 Scribner will re-release asha’s 2003 novel, Daughter, about the impact of police violence on one Brooklyn family, with the updated e-edition including advice on healing from the founders of Black Lives Matter, Harry Belafonte, Michelle Alexander, Kadiatou Diallo and numerous others incredible scholars and advocates.

asha completed her B.A. at The New School, her M.F.A. at Bennington College and served as a Revson Fellow at Columbia University in which her cohort unpacked issues of economic disparity in a post-9/11 New York City. But her single greatest joy and passion is parenting her daughter, Nisa, an honors-level high-schooler, dancer, writer and Aries, who published her own first work when she was 15. The two live and create in Brooklyn, New York.

Select public conversations

With Michelle Alexander

With Dr. Stanton Peele

With Dr. Carl Hart

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Laini Madhubuti

Program Coordinator

Criminal Justice Reform Strategy

Alyssa Stryker

Criminal Justice Reform Manager

Alyssa Stryker is DPA’s Criminal Justice Reform Manager. She is committed to ending the War on Drugs so that it can no longer be used as rhetorical cover for the criminalization of poor communities and communities of color.

Prior to joining DPA, Alyssa oversaw the casework portfolio at the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) in Vancouver, Canada. In this role, she worked to integrate community concerns about policing and the criminalization of poverty into the BCCLA's organization-wide policy development. Alyssa holds an MA in Human Geography from the University of British Columbia and a BA (Honors) from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, but has learned just as much from those outside academia as she has from those within it.

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Art Way

Senior Director, National Criminal Justice Reform Strategy and State Director, Colorado

Art Way is a Senior Director for DPA’s National Criminal Justice Reform Strategy and State Director for DPA’s Colorado Office. As Senior Director, Art co-leads an internal process to generate a multi-year criminal justice reform strategy to guide DPA’s efforts in the field and is responsible for establishing DPA’s criminal justice policy and advocacy priorities.

Read Art's writings.

Art brings substantial public policy and criminal justice reform experience to DPA. He is a graduate of Florida Coastal School of Law where he was appalled at the gap between our constitutional liberties and what he witnessed growing up during the escalation of the drug war in the 1980s. Prior to joining DPA, Art directed the Racial Justice Program at the Colorado Progressive Coalition, where he worked to halt the overrepresentation of people of color in the state's criminal justice system. He successfully spearheaded a legislative campaign amending state law regarding police duties during searches. As a result, Colorado has the only consent-to-search legislation in the nation that protects pedestrians as well as motorists.

A belief in the ills of mass incarceration and drug war policies fuel Art's desire to manage DPA's efforts in Colorado, where his work involves minimizing the role of the criminal justice system in addressing drug-related issues. This work includes the passage and implementation of overdose prevention efforts, such as third-party naloxone distribution and the state’s 911 Good Samaritan law. Art has also been deeply involved in the passage and implementation of Colorado’s marijuana legalization law, and has travelled domestically and internationally as a speaker addressing this historic policy shift. 

His on-the-ground efforts in Colorado and nationally have expanded the base of drug policy reformers to include prominent racial justice and criminal justice stakeholders. 

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Emily Kaltenbach

Senior Director, National Criminal Justice Reform Strategy and State Director, New Mexico

Emily Kaltenbach is a Senior Director for DPA’s National Criminal Justice Reform Strategy and State Director for DPA’s New Mexico Office. As Senior Director, Emily co-leads an internal process to generate a multi-year criminal justice reform strategy to guide DPA’s efforts in the field and is responsible for establishing DPA’s criminal justice policy and advocacy priorities, convening and coordinating a departmental criminal justice team to inform and advise priorities and strategy, devising and outlining reform campaigns that advance the organization’s goals and objectives, and ensuring that criminal justice policy and advocacy campaigns across the organization are strategic, coordinated, and maximally efficient.

Based in New Mexico, Kaltenbach also manages the staff of the New Mexico Office. As state director since 2011, she helped start the second Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program in the nation and was deeply involved in reforming New Mexico’s asset forfeiture law, a model for the rest of the country.

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.

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International

Hannah Hetzer

Senior International Policy Manager

Hannah Hetzer is senior international policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance, based in New York. She serves as DPA’s liaison for Latin American and broader international issues, closely following, supporting and informing developments in drug policy reform in the region. Hetzer spent 2013 in Uruguay, working on the campaign that made it the first country in the world to legalize marijuana.

Hetzer received her bachelor’s degree in Economics, Politics and International Studies from the University of Warwick (UK) and has previously worked with the Latin America Unit of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Americas Division at Human Rights Watch, and the Human Rights Foundation.

Hetzer’s interest in drug policy stems from her concern about the dire consequences of the war on drugs in Latin American countries and has been magnified since learning about the myriad negative effects of punitive drug policies on human rights globally.

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Office of Academic Engagement

Alexandrea Hatcher

Research Associate

Alexandrea Hatcher is the research associate for the Office of Academic Engagement. She supports the OAE’s work to engage scholars, researchers and experts in the field and to strengthen the Drug Policy Alliance’s use of research in advancing policy positions. She also convenes scholars in efforts to advance drug policy reform.

Alex comes with a wide array of experience, ranging from youth outreach services, advocacy, and research, to providing direct services for people in recovery. While pursuing her master’s degree in social work, she split her field-work between direct services and research. She worked on multiple research projects with two experts in the field of addiction research and is in the process of finishing a manuscript for peer review. This rewarding experience further motivated her to bridge the gap between academia, direct services, and policy to give people who use drugs better life chances. As a child from a community fraught with injustices and as a former treatment provider, she has seen and heard firsthand the horrors of policies that rely on incarceration rather than humanization.

Alex earned her B.A. in sociology with a double major in women’s and gender studies from the University of California, Davis in 2013. She then completed her master’s degree at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work in 2016.

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Julie Netherland

Director, Office of Academic Engagement

Julie “Jules” Netherland, PhD, is the Director of the Office of 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.

Dr. Netherland is the editor of Critical Perspectives on Addiction (Emerald Press, 2012). More recently, 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 CollegeShe teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and is a social work field instructor for Columbia University and the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College.

Read Julie's writings.

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Sheila P Vakharia, PhD

Policy Manager, Office of Academic Engagement

Sheila P Vakharia is the Policy Manager of the Office of 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. 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.

Dr. Vakharia’s research and teaching interests include harm reduction therapy, drug policy reform, drug user stigma, overdose and overdose prevention, and social work education. Sheila is on the Board of HAMS Harm Reduction Network and is a member of the Harm Reduction Therapy Research Group. 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

Jolene Forman

Staff Attorney

Jolene Forman is a staff attorney with the Drug Policy Alliance’s office of legal affairs. She engages in legislative and initiative drafting, policy advocacy, litigation, and public education in support of drug policy reform.

Forman received her earned J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law, M.Sc. in Criminal Justice Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and her B.A. with honors in Psychology and Business Management Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Since joining DPA, Forman has authored multiple pieces of state legislation, including marijuana legalization and racial and ethnic impact statement bills. She has also drafted amicus briefs challenging draconian drug laws that are applied to people who sell drugs and pregnant women who use drugs. In addition, Forman has written several reports for DPA, including analyses of racially disparate drug arrests in California.  

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Joy Haviland

Staff Attorney, Marijuana Law and Policy

Joy Haviland is a staff attorney for Marijuana Law and Policy at the Drug Policy Alliance. She engages in legislative and initiative drafting, litigation, advocacy, and public education in support of marijuana policy reform.

She comes to DPA after spending six years representing individuals directly harmed by the drug war.  As a staff attorney at the Three Strikes Project at Stanford Law School, she represented inmates serving life sentences for non-violent crimes under California’s Three Strikes Law. She litigated petitions for resentencing under both Propositions 36 and 47 throughout the state and helped to secure the release of many people in prison. Joy also spent five years at The Bronx Defenders in New York City as both a Staff Attorney and Supervising Attorney in the Criminal Defense Practice. At The Bronx Defenders, she represented indigent clients in all aspects of misdemeanor and felony criminal litigation. Having represented hundreds of people charged with the possession and sale of drugs, she had a front row seat to the damage wrought by the war on drugs. She received her B.A. from Pitzer College and her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law where she was a member of the Death Penalty Clinic. Joy is a member of both the California and New York state bars.

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Lindsay LaSalle

Senior Staff Attorney

Lindsay LaSalle is a senior staff attorney in DPA’s office of legal affairs. LaSalle engages in litigation, legislative drafting, and public education in support of drug policy reform. She is particularly active in the areas of harm reduction and overdose prevention, including Good Samaritan and naloxone distribution laws, expanded access to medication-assisted treatment in both community and criminal justice settings, and supervised injection services, among others.

LaSalle received her B.A. and J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, where she served as development editor of the California Law Review, chair of the Berkeley Law Police Review Advocates, chair of Juvenile Hall Outreach, and a member of the Death Penalty Clinic. Prior to joining DPA, LaSalle worked at Morrison & Foerster LLP for three years on commercial litigation matters. She also maintained an active pro bono practice, which included representing incarcerated individuals at parole hearings and assisting clients with expunging their criminal records.

Before law school, she worked to expand access to affordable housing, child care, and charter schools at the Low Income Investment Fund. A native of Sacramento, she now lives in San Francisco with her husband and daughter.

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Rodney Holcombe

Legal Fellow

Rodney Holcombe is a legal fellow with the Drug Policy Alliance’s office of legal affairs. He will engage in a year-long record reducing and clearing project focused on implementing the record change provisions of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Prop 64).

Holcombe is an avid supporter of compassionate and evidence-based solutions that curb drug addiction, prioritize public health, and promote responsible use, as well as efforts to call attention to and end the Drug War’s devastating impact on communities of color.

Prior to joining DPA, Holcombe interned at the Southern Center for Human Rights, the Attorney General’s Office for the State of New Jersey, Marriott International, Inc., The Huffington Post, and NBCUniversal. While in law school, he was a student intern in the Interdisciplinary Child Advocacy and Mediation Clinics, and co-directed a documentary on the cumbersome process Pennsylvania inmates must endure to seek medical transfer – or “compassionate release” as it is known in many states – called A Dignified Death: Compassionate Release in Pennsylvania State Prison.

Holcombe received his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and his B.A. with honors in Journalism from Howard University. He grew up in Houston, and enjoys CrossFit, running, and watching Netflix in his free time.

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Tamar Todd

Senior Director, Office of Legal Affairs

Tamar Todd directs DPA’s Office of Legal Affairs.  She is responsible for developing and overseeing the organization’s legal work as it relates to legislative drafting, policy advocacy, litigation, and public education in local, state and federal jurisdictions.

Todd also directs the work of DPA’s Marijuana Law and Policy Unit, which focuses primarily on medical marijuana, marijuana decriminalization, and marijuana legalization and regulation initiatives, and their implementation across the United States.

She has co-authored several state and local ballot initiatives and statutes, including Amendment 64 in Colorado, and she has advised the government of Uruguay on its efforts to legalize the production and distribution of marijuana.  She has testified in numerous legislative and government bodies in the United States and abroad on the issue of drug policy and the intersection of state and federal law.

Todd received her B.A. from the University of Vermont and her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center, where she graduated magna cum laude and served as executive editor of the Georgetown Law Journal. After law school, she clerked for the Hon. Emmet Sullivan on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and she spent several years representing death row inmates as a staff attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta. Todd is a member of the California and Alabama bars.

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Teegan Lee

Administrative Associate

Theshia Naidoo

Legal Director, Criminal Justice

Theshia Naidoo is the legal director of criminal justice with the Drug Policy Alliance’s office of legal affairs 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

Bill Piper

Senior Director, National Affairs

Bill Piper is the senior director of DPA’s office of national affairs in Washington, D.C., where he is responsible for developing and implementing strategies for ending the federal war on drugs. He lobbies Congress in support of cutting drug war waste, protecting state marijuana laws from federal interference, reforming draconian sentencing laws, re-structuring federal law enforcement agencies, and preventing drug overdoses and the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.

Read Bill's writings.

Piper has provided analysis and commentary on Fox News, Al Jazeera, BBC News, Voice of America, the Oliver North Radio Show, and NPR’s Marketplace. He has been quoted in dozens of regional and national newspapers, including the New York TimesChicago TribuneChristian Science MonitorRoll CallPoliticoSan Francisco ChronicleUSA Today and Washington Post.  He is the author of several DPA publications, including the seminal 2008 report, A Four-Pillars Approach to Methamphetamine: Policies for Effective Drug Prevention, Treatment, Policing and Harm Reduction.  His opinion pieces have appeared in the Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionChicago Sun-TimesDes Moines RegisterSeattle Post-Intelligencer, and Washington Post. He is also a regulator contributor to Huffington Post and Alternet.

Prior to joining the organization, Piper was director of research for the Initiative and Referendum Institute, a national nonprofit working to preserve and expand the rights of voters to change public policy through the ballot box. Before that, he worked for U.S. Term Limits, the largest grassroots organization working to enact term limits for elected officials. He is a graduate of Indiana University with a double major in political science and economics, and has nearly twenty years of political experience in Washington, D.C.

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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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Kaitlyn Boecker

Policy Manager

Kaitlyn Boecker is a policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance's Office of National Affairs in Washington, D.C., where she supports ONA’s work to advance DPA’s federal legislative agenda.

Kaitlyn’s interest in drug policy issues stems from witnessing the devastation the drug war has wreaked on families and communities, and from her commitment to promoting social and racial justice and ending the inequities in the US criminal justice system.

Before joining DPA, Kaitlyn worked in government affairs at the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget’s Campaign to Fix the Debt, and Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti Inc. (a boutique lobbying firm), and served as an intern in the Office of the Vice President.

Kaitlyn graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, CA with a BA in Politics and Environmental Analysis. A native of Iowa and Nebraska, Kaitlyn now lives in D.C., loves both local and national politics, and enjoys cheering on the Nats and the Wizards.

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Michael Collins

Deputy Director, National Affairs

Michael Collins is deputy director at the Drug Policy Alliance's Office of National Affairs, in Washington, D.C., where he works with Congress on a wide variety of drug policy issues including drug war spending, syringe access funding, appropriations, and Latin America. He is originally from Scotland, and lived in France, Spain and Mexico, before moving to the U.S.

Before joining DPA, Michael worked at the Information Technology Industry Council, interned for Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and worked on drug war issues in Mexico for the CIP Americas Program. He holds a Master’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he studied international relations. He also has an undergraduate degree from Strathclyde University in his hometown of Glasgow. He speaks French, Spanish and Catalan. Michael has discussed drug policy issues on the BBC, NBC’s Telemundo, TVE and Telesur. He has also appeared in the Baltimore Sun and Proceso magazine.

In his free time, he enjoys watching football (soccer), especially his beloved Glasgow Celtic and FC Barcelona, reading books, watching films, and occasionally dj’ing – on special request.

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Michelle Wright

Policy Manager

Michelle Wright is the policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance, where she works to implement statewide policies that reframe the narrative around regulating drug use. By actively partnering with state-based organizations, she is committed to working towards criminal justice reform, strategizing on best movement building practices, and tackling racial inequities that have decimated communities of color.  

Prior to joining the Drug Policy Alliance, Michelle worked at the intersections of anti-Black, social justice and queer advocacy, as a trainer, organizer and advocate. She has facilitated public narrative trainings, implemented non-violent direct actions and has trained at national conferences. 

A California native, with deep-seeded roots in Oakland, Michelle has seen firsthand the devastating results of the war on drugs and is ready to use her expertise to contribute to the dynamic organizational landscape at DPA.

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Norrell Edwards

Administrative Associate

Queen Adesuyi

Policy Associate

Queen Adesuyi is a policy associate at the Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs in Washington, D.C., where she supports ONA’s work to advance DPA’s federal legislative agenda. Her areas of focus include collateral consequences and reentry hurdles for those involved in the criminal justice or juvenile justice systems. She also co-chairs the Reentry and Housing Coalition, a broad coalition of advocates with the mission of expanding access to affordable housing for the justice-involved.

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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State Policy Offices

Roseanne Scotti

Senior Director, Resident States and State Director, New Jersey

Before joining the Drug Policy Alliance, Roseanne Scotti, Senior Director, Resident States and State Director, New Jersey, was a research coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Studies of Addiction in the HIV Prevention Research Division. As a research coordinator, she worked on various research projects studying the incidence of HIV among injection drug users with the goal of designing effective prevention interventions. Scotti received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and her J.D. from Temple School of Law.

Scotti has authored and co-authored law review and medical journal articles on HIV prevention and drug policy. She founded the Prevention Point Philadelphia Harm Reduction Law Project, which provides free legal assistance for drug users and sex workers in Philadelphia. She lectures often on the issues of harm reduction and drug policy.

In 2004, Scotti received the award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of HIV Prevention from the New Jersey HIV Prevention Community Planning Group. In 2005, she was appointed to New Jersey's Gang Land Security Task Force.

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California

Aimee Ewell

Administrative Associate

Aimee Ewell is the administrative associate for the Drug Policy Alliance, Los Angeles. Ewell oversees office finance and administrative systems, supports the organization’s legislative and advocacy efforts in California, and advocates for fair and effective implementation and monitoring of Proposition 64 (the Adult Use of Marijuana Act).

Prior to Ewell joining the Drug Policy Alliance in 2013, she worked in the cannabis industry for seven years.

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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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Eunisses Hernandez

Policy Coordinator

Laura Thomas

Deputy State Director, California

Laura Thomas is the deputy state director, California, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She oversees the organization's municipal drug strategy work in San Francisco and leads DPA’s California harm reduction and public health legislation. She has over 25 years of experience in HIV and public health policy, along with a strong commitment to community advocacy, thoughtful policy analysis and coalition building. She first became involved in AIDS activism with ACT UP in San Francisco. Before joining DPA, she was a consultant specializing in HIV policy and planning, with clients ranging from the California State Office of AIDS to the National Association of People with AIDS. She has also worked for Tenderloin Health, a nonprofit health and social service provider serving a predominantly homeless population in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

Thomas has been a syringe access volunteer for more than 18 years, and helped organize a successful 2007 symposium on safe injection facilities. She is proud to have received the AIDS Hero Award from the 2000 AIDS Candlelight Memorial. She serves on the HIV Prevention Planning Council and the San Francisco Cannabis State Legalization Task Force and is on the Steering Committee for the national HIV Prevention Justice Alliance.

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Marsha Rosenbaum

Director Emerita

Marsha Rosenbaum is director emerita of the San Francisco office of the Drug Policy Alliance, where she spearheaded DPA's work on youth and drugs and created the Safety First booklet.  She received her doctorate in medical sociology from the University of California at San Francisco in 1979.  From 1977 to 1995, Rosenbaum was the principal investigator on National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded studies of heroin addiction, methadone maintenance treatment, MDMA (Ecstasy), cocaine, and drug use during pregnancy.

She is author of three books:

Four booklets:

  • Just Say What?: An Alternative View on Solving America's Drug Problem
  • Kids, Drugs, and Drug Education: A Harm Reduction Approach
  • Safety First: A Reality-Based Approach to Teens and Drugs (currently in its sixth printing and translated into Spanish, Russian, Hebrew, Polish, Ukrainian, Chinese, Czech, Portuguese and Romanian)
  • Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators are Saying No (1st and 2nd editions with Jennifer Kern, Fatema Gunja, Alexandra Cox and Judith Appel)

As well as numerous scholarly articles about drug use, addiction, women, treatment, and drug policy.

Rosenbaum has written opinion pieces for the San Francisco ChronicleOakland TribuneChicago TribuneSan Jose Mercury NewsThe Detroit News, NewsdayThe San Diego Union-TribuneUSA TodayLos Angeles TimesLos Angeles Daily NewsThe Orange County RegisterLa OpiniónThe Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionSeattle Post-IntelligencerAlterNetThe Daytona Beach News-JournalThe Times (Trenton, New Jersey), and Pittsburgh-Post Gazette.

She co-chaired the international conferences:

  • "Just Say Know: New Directions in Drug Education" in 1999
  • "The State of Ecstasy: The Medicine, Science and Culture of MDMA" in 2001
  •  And organized the California Statewide Task Force on Effective Drug Education in 2003

Rosenbaum regularly speaks to PTAs, other parent groups, schools, drug treatment and prevention professionals and the media about teenagers and drugs, Ecstasy, and drug policy issues. She currently serves on the California Blue Ribbon Commission to study marijuana legalization in California.

Read Marsha's writings.

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Morgan Humphrey

Policy Coordinator, Harm Reduction

Morgan Humphrey is the Policy Coordinator at the Drug Policy Alliance’s Los Angeles office. Humphrey works to reform California’s drug policies and implement legislative changes that prioritize human dignity, social justice and public health. Her investment in harm reduction comes from witnessing the devastating effects substance use disorders on friends and family. The ineffectiveness of the criminalization of people who use drugs, paired with the lack of effective treatment options, has led to unnecessary, preventable deaths from overdose. Humphrey hopes to change that.

Before joining DPA, Humphrey worked at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. As a paralegal for the Traffic Unit, she witnessed firsthand the stigma associated with people who use drugs and the biased policing of communities of color under the guise of the war on drugs. Upon relocating to Los Angeles, Humphrey sought opportunities to advance her interest in harm reduction and criminal justice reform including volunteerism and outreach to existing organizations like the Center for Harm Reduction at Homeless Health Care Los Angeles.

Humphrey earned her B.S. in Economics with a concentration in Business and Public Policy from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in May 2013. When not working on drug policy issues she enjoys watching documentaries and attending concerts with friends.

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Colorado

Amanda Bent

Policy Coordinator, Colorado

As Colorado Policy Coordinator, Amanda Bent works to reform the state’s drug policies and implement legislative changes that prioritize human dignity, social justice and public health. Before relocating to Colorado, Bent was a policy coordinator in DPA’s New Jersey office.

Bent grew up in New Jersey and was first exposed to harm reduction through an undergraduate internship at Rutgers College, where she majored in English and Linguistics. She stayed on at Rutgers to earn a master’s in public policy with a concentration in social policy and women’s issues from the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. She spent several years working in Student Affairs, mentoring residential college students to help build positive and inclusive communities and promote civic involvement.

Most recently, she completed her master’s in social work at Temple University. During her tenure there, she had the opportunity to intern at Philadelphia’s syringe exchange program, furthering her interest in harm reduction and inspiring her continued work in this area. She is also a long-term domestic violence hotline volunteer.  

Bent appreciates the intersections between different forms of oppression and sees the harm reduction approach as an ethical imperative underscoring advocacy and clinical practice for social workers and others who are committed to eradicating social injustice, facilitating social progress, and advancing much-needed policy reform.

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Art Way

Senior Director, National Criminal Justice Reform Strategy and State Director, Colorado

Art Way is a Senior Director for DPA’s National Criminal Justice Reform Strategy and State Director for DPA’s Colorado Office. As Senior Director, Art co-leads an internal process to generate a multi-year criminal justice reform strategy to guide DPA’s efforts in the field and is responsible for establishing DPA’s criminal justice policy and advocacy priorities.

Read Art's writings.

Art brings substantial public policy and criminal justice reform experience to DPA. He is a graduate of Florida Coastal School of Law where he was appalled at the gap between our constitutional liberties and what he witnessed growing up during the escalation of the drug war in the 1980s. Prior to joining DPA, Art directed the Racial Justice Program at the Colorado Progressive Coalition, where he worked to halt the overrepresentation of people of color in the state's criminal justice system. He successfully spearheaded a legislative campaign amending state law regarding police duties during searches. As a result, Colorado has the only consent-to-search legislation in the nation that protects pedestrians as well as motorists.

A belief in the ills of mass incarceration and drug war policies fuel Art's desire to manage DPA's efforts in Colorado, where his work involves minimizing the role of the criminal justice system in addressing drug-related issues. This work includes the passage and implementation of overdose prevention efforts, such as third-party naloxone distribution and the state’s 911 Good Samaritan law. Art has also been deeply involved in the passage and implementation of Colorado’s marijuana legalization law, and has travelled domestically and internationally as a speaker addressing this historic policy shift. 

His on-the-ground efforts in Colorado and nationally have expanded the base of drug policy reformers to include prominent racial justice and criminal justice stakeholders. 

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New Jersey

Alex Staropoli

Policy Manager

As Policy Manager for the DPA New Jersey office, Alex Staropoli works on a variety of drug policy issues with a focus on criminal justice reform.

Staropoli completed her Bachelor of Science in Family Science at the University of Maryland, College Park and her Juris Doctor at the University of Maryland School of Law, where she was the 2012 recipient of the Anne Barlow Gallagher Prize for Service to Children and Youth. While in law school, Staropoli participated in the Community Justice Clinic and held externships at Community Law in Action, the Public Justice Center, and the National Juvenile Justice Network. After law school, Staropoli was the Associate Director of Government and Field Relations for the Coalition for Juvenile Justice in Washington, DC.

Most recently, Staropoli served as the Senior Policy and Legislative Analyst for the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention in Maryland. In this capacity, Staropoli worked on a wide range of criminal justice issues including pretrial justice, substance abuse treatment and overdose prevention, domestic violence, and reentry. While in Maryland, Staropoli also served as a Court Appointed Attorney for indigent defendants at their initial appearance hearings.

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Ami Kachalia

Policy Coordinator

As Policy Coordinator for DPA’s New Jersey office, Ami Kachalia works on a variety of drug policy issues.

Kachalia earned her B.A. in Political Science, with a minor in women’s and gender studies, from Rutgers University – New Brunswick, where she was a Lloyd C. Gardner Fellow in Leadership and Social Policy. While in college, she worked at the Center for American Women and Politics and completed internships with the New Jersey Department of Education and the Office of Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr.

Most recently, Kachalia served as the Program Associate at The Fund for New Jersey. There, she contributed to grantmaking on a range of issues, including civil rights and criminal justice, poverty, educational equity, environmental justice, and immigrant rights.

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Meagan Glaser

Deputy State Director, New Jersey

As Deputy State Director for DPA's New Jersey office, Meagan Glaser works to diminish the harms associated with both drug use and the war on drugs.

Prior to joining DPA, Glaser served as the director of legislative services for a New Jersey state assemblyman, worked in public affairs for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of New Jersey, and completed an internship at the Princeton Public Affairs Group, the largest government affairs firm in New Jersey.

Glaser is a magna cum laude graduate of The College of New Jersey, where she received a BA in political science, with minors in law and philosophy, and women's and gender studies. Glaser completed a master's degree in public affairs and politics at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. While pursuing her graduate studies, Glaser was awarded a Governor's Executive Fellowship from the Eagleton Institute of Politics. Through this fellowship, Glaser studied at the Institute and worked in New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine's Intergovernmental Affairs Office.

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Roseanne Scotti

Senior Director, Resident States and State Director, New Jersey

Before joining the Drug Policy Alliance, Roseanne Scotti, Senior Director, Resident States and State Director, New Jersey, was a research coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Studies of Addiction in the HIV Prevention Research Division. As a research coordinator, she worked on various research projects studying the incidence of HIV among injection drug users with the goal of designing effective prevention interventions. Scotti received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and her J.D. from Temple School of Law.

Scotti has authored and co-authored law review and medical journal articles on HIV prevention and drug policy. She founded the Prevention Point Philadelphia Harm Reduction Law Project, which provides free legal assistance for drug users and sex workers in Philadelphia. She lectures often on the issues of harm reduction and drug policy.

In 2004, Scotti received the award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of HIV Prevention from the New Jersey HIV Prevention Community Planning Group. In 2005, she was appointed to New Jersey's Gang Land Security Task Force.

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New Mexico

Emily Kaltenbach

Senior Director, National Criminal Justice Reform Strategy and State Director, New Mexico

Emily Kaltenbach is a Senior Director for DPA’s National Criminal Justice Reform Strategy and State Director for DPA’s New Mexico Office. As Senior Director, Emily co-leads an internal process to generate a multi-year criminal justice reform strategy to guide DPA’s efforts in the field and is responsible for establishing DPA’s criminal justice policy and advocacy priorities, convening and coordinating a departmental criminal justice team to inform and advise priorities and strategy, devising and outlining reform campaigns that advance the organization’s goals and objectives, and ensuring that criminal justice policy and advocacy campaigns across the organization are strategic, coordinated, and maximally efficient.

Based in New Mexico, Kaltenbach also manages the staff of the New Mexico Office. As state director since 2011, she helped start the second Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program in the nation and was deeply involved in reforming New Mexico’s asset forfeiture law, a model for the rest of the country.

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.

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Jessica Gelay

Policy Manager

Jessica Gelay is the policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance’s New Mexico office. Her dedication to public health and social justice organizing is lifelong. Gelay works to end the prohibition of drugs and to stop the criminalization of people who use drugs. This entails engaging with community members and elected officials to lift up the stories of people negatively affected by current policies to create pressure for change. Gelay primarily works on issues related to marijuana law reform and is DPA’s point person on issues related to military veterans.

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Rebecca Elicio

Administrative Associate

New York

Ashley Marrero

Administrative Associate

Ashley Marrero is an administrative associate with the New York Policy Office at the Drug Policy Alliance. As an administrative associate, Ashley offers administrative, logistical and financial support to the New York Policy Office and Office of Academic Engagement. She assists with managing and creating an open and inviting environment for the DPA staff at our satellite office in New York City. Her commitment to the work enables the satellite office to thrive, as she continues to support any and all visitors to the office.

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Chris Alexander

Policy Coordinator

Chris Alexander is a policy coordinator with the New York Policy Office of the Drug Policy Alliance. As policy coordinator, Chris works to support forward-thinking policies and organizes community groups to pass legislation to end marijuana prohibition in New York State.

Chris is a native of Queens, New York, and comes to DPA with legislative and community organizing experience that he utilizes in the fight to end mass incarceration and the drug war. Chris is an advocate for social justice, racial equity and a champion for civic engagement.  He received his BA in political science from Syracuse University.

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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

State Director, New York

Kassandra Frederique is New York State Director at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).

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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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 brings more than a decade 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.

Throughout her career, Melissa has worked toward social change by bridging policy analysis and targeted campaigns with direct engagement, first as part of the Economic and Social Human Rights Program at the Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First, then as the Communications Director for the Oakland Institute, and as Media Outreach Coordinator for The Opportunity Agenda.

She has trained advocates across the country and internationally on effective communications, helping activists leverage their voices and learn how best to target key audiences to move campaigns and policy forward and make a lasting impact. Her work has also included guiding messaging development and framing on a wide range of issues. In tandem with her nonprofit roles, Melissa served as an award-winning editor with Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. 

A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, 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.

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Zacchaeus Stanton

Policy Associate

Zacchaeus Stanton is a policy associate with the New York Policy Office of the Drug Policy Alliance. As policy associate, Zacchaeus is working to support forward-thinking policies that will end marijuana prohibition in New York State and address the harms caused by the failed drug war. 

Still deeply attached to his Texas roots, Zacchaeus is an alumnus of Columbia University where his undergraduate research examined the effects of the drug war on youth and hip hop culture in the Gulf Coast region and aimed to advance harm reduction efforts relating to recreational prescription cough syrup use.

Prior to joining DPA, Zacchaeus worked with the Columbia University Institute for Research in African-American Studies, the ACLU Racial Justice Program, Columbia Students Against Mass Incarceration, and the Columbia Center for Justice. He is currently a Beyond the Bars Community Fellow, and is an advocate for black lives, safe use, restorative justice, and community education.

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Board

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

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

Jodie Evans

Co-founder, CODEPINK

Josiah Rich, MD

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

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

US Honorary Board

International Honorary Board (In Formation)

Departments & State Offices

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

DPA also has an office of 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.