Betty Aldworth is the Executive Director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy where she supports students and young people united to build a more sensible future through drug policies rooted in safety, justice, and education. Since joining the team in 2014, she has led the organization through its most substantial growth period: SSDP’s member base and campuses have doubled, global presence has quadrupled, and as a result the policy change and education efforts members are leading have grown immeasurably.
From 2009 until 2014, Betty specialized in community outreach, public relations, advocacy, and policy reform as a consultant to or staffer for cannabis-related businesses and nonprofit organizations. She served as spokesperson and advocacy director for Colorado’s successful 2012 Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the collaborative committee responsible for legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana for adults in Colorado and was the Deputy Director of the National Cannabis Industry Association in 2013, the organization’s fastest year of growth. Prior to her work in marijuana policy and medical cannabis, she was a volunteer leadership professional with some of Denver’s most well-respected nonprofit organizations, ultimately leading a team of 4,000 volunteers who contributed over 40,000 hours of service annually.
Betty’s early activism focused on anti-war, anti-apartheid, and environmental issues. Her fondest childhood memories include attending an annual Easter peace rally at the local nuclear testing facility, and she organized her first action at 13, a cleanup day at the local lake attended only by Betty and her mom. That action informed her commitment to “failing forward,” an approach which demands taking smart, managed risks and learning everything you can from them whether or not the result is a “success”. As an adult her activism centered around anti-war efforts; civic engagement; intersectional womens’ issues; and racial, economic, and social justice. Today, her primary issues of concern are ending mass incarceration, engaging citizens in the political process, and building economic justice; she understands that ending the War on Drugs is necessary but insufficient to replace the racist cycle of poverty and criminalization which continue to drive inequality and human rights abuses.
Betty lived and audited coursework at Deep Springs College, a small but elite academic and ranching community isolated in central eastern California. She has completed coursework in philosophy and women’s studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and periodically flirts with the idea of returning to complete her degree but then, as has always been the case, becomes absorbed with compelling work.