Board of Directors
Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) is governed by our Board of Directors and our Board of Trustees,
a designated body of the Board of Directors. Together, they are responsible for crafting strategy for the organization, overseeing compliance and financial affairs, and overseeing SSDP’s Executive Director.
To view Students for Sensible Drug Policy’s bylaws, click here.
Julia Hilbert '17 | University of Pittsburgh Julia Hilbert is the Chair of SSDP's Board of Directors. She currently serves as the President and founder of her Dancesafe chapter, the Business Manager of Pittsburgh Agents of Cultural Change, and an active volunteer and intern with Prevention Point Pittsburgh. She is a student in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work, and plans to continue on to get her Master's degree in social work with a specialization in Community Outreach and Social Action. She plans to use this degree to go into work with and on behalf of people who use drugs and/or people engaged in sex work. She is passionate about harm reduction in any form, and planning to dedicate her career to ending the War on Drugs.
Oriana Mayorga '13 | Columbia University Oriana Mayorga ‘13 (she/her/hers) is a community organizer dedicated to dismantling structural oppression, promoting racial justice, and ending violence against women. She is a longtime advocate of legalizing psychedelic medicine. She received a B.S. in Psychology from Fordham University in 2014 and a graduate certificate in Harm Reduction Psychotherapy from the New School of Social Research in 2016. This fall, Oriana will be pursuing her Masters of Divinity at Columbia University's Union Theological Seminary. Oriana hopes to someday be an ordained Reverend and psychedelic therapist who is proficient at pole dancing.
Maya Tatum '13 | Arizona State University, Tempe Campus Maya Tatum '13 was born and raised in Chicago where she experienced the negative impacts of the Drug War firsthand. This aided in her passion for activism and has continued most of her life. She is a recent alumna of Arizona State University where she joined SSDP in 2013 completely shifting her viewpoint on drugs and how society views (and punishes) people who use drugs. In her major of Justice Studies and African & African-American Studies, she has dedicated her academic career to drawing parallels between the histories of colonialism and present-day systematic and institutional oppression, emphasizing how the ‘Political-Economic’ dynamic forms oppressive policies like. She served as President of her chapter at ASU, where she advocated for campus policies that redefine the way we approach drug use and people who use drugs
Alejandro Rodriguez '19 | Golden Gate University School of Law Alejandro Rodriguez is an alumnus of The University of Texas at El Paso where he majored in Political Science. He is currently attending Golden Gate University School of Law and has an expected graduation date to obtain his Juris Doctorate in May 2020. Alejandro is passionate for serving underrepresented communities and it stems from his familiarity with a justice system and immigration system that denied opportunities from his family members because of their ethnicity and not having a legal status in the United States. That familiarity drove him to attend law school to ensure his community has a fair shot at justice. As President of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Alejandro has held community events, job fairs, and equity sessions to place individuals— who have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs—on a path towards success by clearing criminal records and providing resources to launch their career/ entrepreneurship goals.
Alex Akin '14 | Kent State University Alex Akin ‘14 (she/her/hers, they/them/theirs) is a long term palliative care patient and activist. During her second year of college, she fell ill with a severe degenerative condition that lead to life-threatening organ failure. Seeing the suffering that patients face up close, she became committed to increasing access to medication. Her goal is to help lessen human suffering by becoming a palliative care practitioner and working to mitigate risks caused by pain medication and opioids.
Clement Bofa-Oppong '16 | University of Ghana Clement Bofa-Oppong is a passionate youth activist who currently serves as the Chair of the SSDP International Organising Committee and the Finance Director for SSDP Ghana. He graduated with a Bachelor's degree in History and Geography & Resource Development from the University of Ghana (UG) in 2019. Clement was formerly the National Students Coordinator for SSDP Ghana and the founder of SSDP University of Ghana chapter in 2016. He has been very pivotal to the successes of SSDP Ghana since its inception, working closely to coordinate policy advocacy with other Ghanaian chapters and with government institutions, NGOs and other key CSOs to reform drug policy in Ghana. He has received training on Drug Use Prevention Messaging by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and he is the co-founder of Happy Smiles Foundation, an NGO that reaches out to destitute children and does charitable works in dynamism. Clement is the project head for a youth led coalition group working to address the issue of Tramadol misuse by young people in Ghana. He represented students in Ghana at a stakeholders consultative meeting organized by the Parliament of Ghana to review the country's Narcotics Control Commission Bill 2019 which has finally been passed into law in March 2020. This is a means of contributing to reshaping the 30 years bill into a better one that embraces human rights and education for young people, which is the first of its kind in their African sub Region to consider progressive humane drug laws.
Eric Sterling *99 | Criminal Justice Policy Foundation Eric E. Sterling *99 has been a funder and advisor to SSDP since 1999, and been on SSDP’s board of directors since 2004. SSDP’s Lifetime Achievement Award is named after Eric, commemorating his contributions to the organization and drug policy reform. He has been an attorney forty-three years, has been active in several bar associations, and been part-time faculty at American University and George Washington University. He was a prominent student activist at Haverford College (’73) and Villanova Law School (’76). He was a public defender in the late 1970s. For nine years in the 1980s, he was counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, responsible for drugs, gun control, pornography, money laundering, organized crime, and other issues. He was Executive Director and co-founder of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation (1989-2020), and co-founder and advisor of other drug policy and criminal justice reform organizations (MPP, FAMM). He is active in civic and community affairs, such as serving as past president of his local elementary school PTA. He served nine years on the Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Advisory Council of Montgomery County, MD. In 2013, he was appointed by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley to a four-year term on the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, where he was a leader in developing the regulations to implement medical cannabis production and distribution there. In 2015, he was presented with the NORML Lifetime Achievement Award. He was a Vice-Chair of Marijuana Majority and a LEAP speaker. He led wilderness canoe trips in the mid 1970s, was active in trail and bicycle politics in Pennsylvania in the late 1970s and climbed the Matterhorn in 1979. He loves biking, hiking, reading, cooking, parenting and dancing, and lives with his wife of 24 years in Maryland. Their daughter graduated from college in 2020 and is working with the Westmoreland Service Corps in Washington, DC.
Erica Darragh '14 | University of North Georgia Erica is a community organizer and harm reductionist working in drug policy reform, climate justice, and digital rights advocacy. Current roles include: Chapter director and outreach coordinator at DanceSafe, development officer at Psymposia, social media manager at Fight for the Future, hub coordinator and distributed organizer at Sunrise Movement, crisis counselor with Crisis Text Line, and an organizer with 11th Principle: Consent. She plans to pursue licensure as a psychedelic therapist and earn a PhD in consciousness studies.
Evan Nison '09 | Nison Co. and CFO, Whoopie & Maya Evan Nison '09 is the youngest ever Executive Director of NORML New Jersey, and has been a member on Students for Sensible Drug Policy’s Board of Directors for several years. He also runs a cannabis specific PR firm, NisonCo and is a co-founder of Whoopi & Maya.. In New York he is the Co-Founder of the NY Cannabis Alliance, which has helped craft numerous pieces of cannabis related legislation in New York. In 2010 he moved to California to run the college outreach effort for Prop 19 in California, which spanned over 40 schools. He was President of Ithaca Students for Sensible Drug Policy for 4 years, which was rated the #1 college drug law reform chapter in the country in 2011, and under his leadership passed one of the first college policies in the country that equalized penalties for cannabis and alcohol on campus. Evan was instrumental in the passage of the New York 911 Good Samaritan Law and served as Drug Policy Advisor to Mayor Svante Myrick of Ithaca, NY, one of the youngest mayors in the country, where he helped spearhead an effort to pass a US Conference of Mayors resolution supporting the legalization of marijuana. Evan has been mentioned in news sources such as the NY Times, Politico, USA Today, NBC New York, Bloomberg TV, Forbes, and has been profiled in the Ithaca Times, Home News Tribune, and the Sun Times. He also received the 2011 NORML Student Activism Award and High Times Freedom Fighter Award for his advocacy.
Jason Ortiz '08 | University of Connecticut Jason has been fighting to end the war on drugs since he first heard the words “School to prison pipeline” after being arrested for cannabis possession at age 16. He has dedicated himself to the cause of justice for communities impacted by over-policing and serves as the President of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, a 501c6 trade association of entrepreneurs and activists of color. At MCBA Jason was instrumental in creating model policies regarding equity in the cannabis industry. Jason earned his Bachelor's degree in Public and Community Engagement from the University of Connecticut, where he was an active member of UConn SSDP.
Julian Hodge '17 | University of California Santa Cruz Julian (Jules) is a fourth-year history major and the president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz. They joined in 2017 as someone outraged at the blatant dysfunction of the drug war and have since become the social media officer for the Bay Area DanceSafe chapter, served ten months as SSDP Global’s social media intern, and become the Santa Cruz volunteer organizer for Decriminalize California. Before getting into drug policy, most of their advocacy experience came from their work in the LGBT+ community. They have worked to educate their community on queer issues since high school, and spent a summer working at the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. during the Summer of Action in 2017. Currently, they are working on their Decriminalize Santa Cruz campaign to decriminalize various psychoactive substances in their town.
Kat Ebert '18 | Michigan State University Kat Ebert '18 is a senior at Michigan State University studying Neuroscience with a Pharmacology/Toxicology minor. Kat hopes to receive her PhD in Neuropsychopharmacology to research and administer effective treatment for various mental health disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and addiction. She is currently involved in a multitude of organizations including a board position for the new 24/7 Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program, a volunteer for DanceSafe, The Army of Survivors, empowHER, and was also selected as an Honors College Dean Ambassador at MSU. Kat is also the founder and chapter president of the Michigan State University chapter of SSDP, one of the largest SSDP chapters in the world. She currently researches ketamine-induced cystitis on campus and hopes to one day operate her own psychedelic research lab that focuses on the healing properties of psychedelic medicine.
Kat Murti '09 | Feminists for Liberty Kat Murti '09 is a libertarian, feminist, and activist, working to make the world a better, freer place, one day at a time. She is the co-founder and executive director of Feminists for Liberty. Kat has been actively involved with SSDP in various roles since January 2009, including leading the CalSSDP chapter, serving as co-coordinator of the AMPLIFY Project, interning at SSDP’s San Francisco office, and chairing the Intersectionality Committee for over 8 years. She has been an appointed director on SSDP's board since 2013. Kat was named an Alumni All Star in December of 2010, a Spotlighted Alum in January of 2012, and the 2016 A. Kathryn Parker Outstanding Alumnus in Service to SSDP.
Kat first became involved with drug policy in 2007 when she joined the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of NORML. She served as Bay Area Regional Director of the Proposition 19 campaign to legalize adult recreational cannabis, and has worked at the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, and, briefly, in cannabis business law. Kat earned her B.A. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley, and is is a graduate of Oaksterdam University. She lives and works in Washington, D.C., and occasionally plays on the One Hitters softball team.
Madalyn McElwain '12 | University of Denver Law School Madalyn holds the position as Chief Legal & Financial Officer with DanceSafe, a harm reduction and public health nonprofit dedicated to promoting health and safety in the nightlife, music, and arts communities. In 2012, as a self-proclaimed cannabis activist, Madalyn discovered and quickly became involved in her law school's chapter of SSDP, and by the following year, she was Director of her chapter. While in her leadership position, she hosted free educational events with organizations such as the Harm Reduction Action Center, a Denver-based syringe exchange program, and organized accredited CLE classes for practicing attorneys about how to represent marjiuana clients in a budding new industry. Madalyn also volunteered with the Amendment 64 campaign, which was Colorado’s successful initiative that made it the first place in the world to legalize and regulate adult-use marijuana. Madalyn believes that drug policy should be rooted in science, compassion, and public health, and is dedicated to helping dismantle the racist War on Drugs and it's ensuing systems of oppression. Madalyn is licensed to practice law in the state of Colorado and has extensive knowledge in the aspects of both nonprofit operations and drug policy. For six years, she served as Inaugural Secretary on the Board of Directors for CHOICE Education Foundation, a start-up nonprofit that provides full ride scholarships to low-income Colorado high school seniors. A lifelong Colorado resident, Madalyn enjoys teaching yoga and spending time in the Colorado Rocky Mountains with her partner and two dogs.
Mariah Gaither '16 | Ferris State University Mariah Gaither is currently a part of the Ferris State University chapter in Big Rapids, Michigan. She is pursing a degree in Secondary Education Biology with a minor in Geography. During her time as an SSDPer, she has grown passionate about drug education and how we approach pre-college students about drugs and sex. She hopes that her time in SSDP will gain her enough knowledge, resources, and expertise in order to help her push for a more sensible curriculum for schools systems to use surrounding safe use and smart sexual decisions.
Luis Montoya '16 | Students for Sensible Drug Policy Luis Montoya ‘16 first joined SSDP as a member of the Florida International University chapter. He attended SSDP2016 and was blown away by this network of badass organizers and activists bringing about change. He was president of the Florida International University chapter for a year. At SSDP2017, he ran for the Board of Directors and got voted on as the first alternative. Shortly after, he was hired as an Outreach Coordinator on Staff, and has dedicated the last three years to coaching and supporting SSDPers.
Rachel Wissner '11 | Students for Sensible Drug Policy Rachel Wissner ‘11 got involved with SSDP in 2011 at the State University of New York at New Paltz chapter. During her time at New Paltz, she worked to end the “two-strike” marijuana policy and worked on the successful SUNY-wide Ban the Box initiative which culminated in a SUNY Board of Trustee vote to end the requirement that SUNY college applicants declare any previous felony convictions. Prior to joining SSDP staff, Rachel served as Secretary of SSDP’s Board of Directors, worked at the Family Law & Cannabis Alliance, and spent four years working with the New York Public Research Group, first knocking on doors to raise money for their environmental justice campaigns, and then as a project coordinator, helping students organize around environmental justice, higher education affordability, voting rights, consumer protection, and hunger and homelessness. Rachel joined SSDP’s development staff in 2018 and has since supported SSDP’s fundraising efforts.