So long and thanks for all the CATs

131936_10101390974986828_141278175_oIn 2012, I was running the field for Colorado’s Amendment 64 campaign when I was first introduced to Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Drew, the quietly subversive outreach director tasked with mobilizing students on the ground and across the nation in support of the initiative through a phonebank he built. Later that year, he came out to Colorado and couchsurfed his way through state, mobilizing students through his own action. Thousands of in-person contacts and 18,000 calls later, Drew and I celebrated victory and the work he had done to advocate for student engagement on the campaign.

A year later, we had our first meeting with Stacia and Devon as a staff team. Drew immediately impressed me with his insightful approach to outreach work and fierce devotion to the students he represented. Since then, we’ve had countless talks — and a couple of healthy fights — that have grounded us in the work we do and provided the foundation for the innovations that have shaped the last two years at SSDP.

Drew has spent the last two years empowering our work through the tools he builds and, more importantly, creating the space and opportunities for us to grow even more rapidly than I expected. He’s been a trusted partner in this incredibly important work, and we’d surely not be where we are today without him. As we close out Drew’s chapter as SSDP staffer, we’re grateful to know that he’ll remain a close member of the SSDP family.

Read on to hear from Drew.

With countless thanks and our very best wishes for his next chapter,

betty sig

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This summer marks the end of an era for me, as I start to transition out of my role at SSDP.

I joined in 2009 when I ran for president of WVU Hillel, lost, and started my own club so I could be president of something. And, of course, to smash the drug war. I’m proud to say that the WVU chapter is still going strong. I was hired as a Regional Outreach Coordinator in 2011 when we were a 4-person organization in a one-room office.

I’ve grown through 3 titles, 3 offices, 2.5 executive directors, 6 strategy summits, 6 statewide legalization initiatives, and I don’t even know how many conferences.

I’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds of students over the years, running the student engagement initiative for Colorado’s Amendment 64 (where I first met Betty), and helping with the efforts in DC, Florida, Arizona, and Massachusetts. I built SSDP’s website (circa 2012), our legalization phonebank, and most recently the Chapter Activity Tracker. I’ve hired and trained 9 staffers, been on countless conference calls, and sent 16,611 emails (not including blasts).

By the time I’m done, I will have been on staff just short of exactly 5 years, making me the second longest lasting staff member in SSDP staff history, topped only by Stacia.

I’ve learned so much in my time here; how campaigns work; how nonprofits operate; how to motivate, inspire, and empower young people. I would say that most importantly, though, I learned what it looks like when thousands of people pour their hearts and souls into a common cause.

SSDP is an incredibly important organization, and I don’t know where I — or a ton of other people — would be without it. It’s more than a political training organization. It’s more than a network of friends and professionals. It sounds cliche, but SSDP really is a family, and it’s hard to put into words what that actually means to so many people.

Working at SSDP is an amazing and indescribable experience. But after 5 years on staff and 2 as a student (a quarter of my life at this point), it’s time for me to go. It’s time for me to step out of the way and let the next generation make this organization their own.

I’m excited to be involved in the alumni network and to see our staff grow into the strongest SSDP has ever seen. With Betty’s Bettyness; Stacia’s tenacity; Lauren’s optimism; Frances’ and Tyler’s knack for thinking differently about what SSDP can and should be; Scott’s never-ending passion; Jake’s hugely influential role in the internationalization of SSDP; and the work Colin, Cameron, and Austin are doing to make sure young people capture the power of their vote this year, I have no doubt that your best years are still ahead.

I’ll still be a monthly donor, I’ll still attend (most of) the conferences, and I’d like to eventually run for an alumni association leadership position. In the far far future, I may even run for a position on the national Board of Directors or Trustees. For the immediate future, I’ll be closing out a few projects over the summer and working with SSDP in a web consulting capacity, so I can continue building on and improving the CAT, the phonebank, and any other future-facing organizing tools that SSDP and I can dream up.

I don’t know where I’d be if I never discovered SSDP, if I never lost that Hillel election, or if I didn’t think legalizing drugs was a valid career choice. I do know though that I’m happy that my path led me to SSDP and I’m excited for what the future holds for this organization and the amazing people who make it what it is.