SSDP ED to Take New Position as Director of Strategic initiatives at the Last Prisoner Project

SSDP ED to Take New Position as Director of Strategic initiatives at the Last Prisoner Project

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This entry has been published on July 31, 2023 and may be out of date.
SSDP ED to Take New Position as Director of Strategic initiatives at the Last Prisoner Project

Washington, DC – SSDP’s Executive Director, Jason Ortiz, has accepted the position of Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Last Prisoner Project. He will start in his new role August 1st but will remain on staff as SSDP’s Board of Directors works through the process of selecting the next Executive Director. That process will be determined by the Board of Directors and updates on that process will be provided when they are available. 

“I am incredibly proud of the work our organization has been able to accomplish as we exited a difficult time for our organization, dealing with surviving the pandemic that changed college  campus-focused student organizing forever. Despite the historically difficult situation we launched multiple career development pipelines, created our own legislation, and pushed them through state legislatures, and held congress and the president accountable for lack of progress through direct action and national lobby days.” said Jason Ortiz. “Our young leaders were featured in countless major media outlets, including the New York Times (twice), the Washington Post, National Geographic, Teen Vogue, Filter Magazine, and so many more. The strength of SSDP is in our people and we were able to show that our community is stronger than any pandemic and we will continue to fight for our freedom until the War on Drugs is officially over.”

“Jason is a valued alumni who led SSDP to so many important victories during his tenure as Executive Director,” said Kat Murti, SSDP Board Treasurer. “SSDP has always prided itself on our role as a talent incubator that gives youth activists the tools they need to spearhead the next generation of positive global change. We are excited for Jason’s transition to the Last Prisoner Project and the potential this opportunity holds for SSDP and the drug policy reform movement at large.” 

“Over the last year that I have been working with Jason, I have observed just how much knowledge Jason holds regarding SSDP, drug policy, and non-profit work,” said Jeanne Porges, SSDP Board Chairperson. “As someone who has been an SSDPer since 2008, Jason has been intimately involved in drug policy reform. During the past year, he developed SSDP’s HBCU ambassador program to bring young black and brown students into cannabis fields. In addition, Jason has cultivated strong relationships with other drug policy organizations such as the Last Prisoner Project—who collaborated with us to organize a lobbying week, and DC Marijuana Justice—who collaborated with us to organize a direct action campaign, both of which were led by Jason and our Policy Council Tactical Team. As Jason transitions to work with the Last Prisoner Project, I see his future endeavors as an extension of the work he achieved while with SSDP and I am excited to have him as an ally to SSDP as he moves into this new position.” 

Over Jason’s two and a half year tenure he was able to accomplish:

  1. Creation of the HBCU accelerator program with SMART, adding 20+ young black community organizers throughout the Southeast

  2. Led an act of civil disobedience at the White House demanding pardons for those in federal prison for cannabis crimes, which was featured in a National Geographic documentary

  3. Established a POC-focused Harm Reduction fellowship in the state of North Carolina, training 6 fellows in harm reduction messaging and community organizing

  4. Master of Ceremonies of the Policy Stage at Psychedelic Science, the largest Psychedelic-focused gathering in human history, while our student leaders and alumni were featured on 6+ panels

  5. Hosted SSDP’s first all-Spanish language interview with Fabiola Pinachu of the Nasa people of Colombia on ending US funding of aerial crop eradication of coca plants in Colombia, with the help of the Bay Area Latino Cannabis Alliance(BALCA)

  6. Mobilized a National Federal Lobby day in DC advocating for cannabis prisoner release, making psychedelic research more accessible, and pushing the Department of Education to allow harm reduction on college campuses. Introduced Senator and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as part of the Congressional Forum on Cannabis reform. 

  7. SSDP created our own Municipal Resolution to Advance Sensible Drug Policy, empowering students nationally to have local conversations about all-drug decriminalization

  8. Co-sponsored and participated in Regennabis Live, a cannabis environmental, social, and governance (ESG) focused event held within the United Nations in New York

  9. Successfully passed prisoner release legislation (HB6787) through the Connecticut House of Representatives

  10. Awarded Connecticut Activist of the Year and Keynote speaker at  NECANN Connecticut, the state’s largest cannabis related event.