SSDP prepares for departure of Stacia Wallis ‘05, Betty Aldworth from staff

Betty Aldworth and Stacia Wallis sitting at an SSDP table

In light of the ongoing health pandemic and accompanying economic recession, SSDP must reduce staff and prepare for significant budget cuts for the foreseeable future. 

However, with careful attention and planning SSDP can adapt, fundraise, and streamline to ride out several years of anticipated recession or depression.

While expenses have been cut in many areas of the budget, SSDP has always been an exceptionally lean organization and there are few areas in which savings can be realized. By reducing staff and preparing for significant budget cuts for the foreseeable future, we can build reserves in the likely event of extended recession or depression. 

Executive Director Betty Aldworth and Deputy Director Stacia Wallis ‘05 have identified that layoffs will almost certainly be necessary in July or August and have identified their own positions as most appropriate for layoff. The role of deputy director will be eliminated with most governance functions shifting to a newly formed Governance and Administration Committee, co-chaired by Madalyn McElwain ‘12 Esq. and Alejandro Rodriguez ‘19 J.D. who are both well-versed in nonprofit governance. Human resources functions will primarily shift to Dr. Vilmarie Fraguada Narloch ‘09. The role of Executive Director will be filled following a search; in meantime, Betty will serve as interim Executive Director in a limited volunteer capacity. 

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Stacia became an SSDPer in 2005 when she was a freshman at University of Maryland, and has spent the last 15 years dedicating herself to providing young people with a platform for drug policy activism. She was long able to boast that she had served in every role at SSDP, including interim executive director in 2013. As an outreach coordinator, Stacia developed and implemented systems to provide better support to members, mentoring countless students through campaigns and community organizing while developing tracking and reporting systems that remain integral to our ability to communicate our stories to donors and the SSDP family. 

As associate director, she professionalized the organization with creation of our first annual report and each subsequent report, development of organizational goals and objectives through consensus-based process, and review processes to support professional development for the staff members she supported. 

When she became deputy director, Stacia additionally became responsible for management of all human resources implementation and organizational administration, both of which grew tremendously in difficulty and complexity as the organization grew. She managed nine national and international conferences, provided dozens of training sessions, developed the chapter-alumni mentorship program, and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. Through each transition, Stacia has maintained a steadfast dedication to SSDP’s grassroots nature, a deep commitment to lifting voices too often unheard, and integrity matched only by her dedication to good fun. 

Betty became a fan of SSDP in 2012 when she worked with members in Colorado to pass Amendment 64, legalizing cannabis for adult use in the state. A year after her first SSDP conference, she became the second person to work for SSDP despite never having been a chapter member (only because SSDP hadn’t reached the west coast during her traditional college experience). 

During her tenure, Betty has supported expansion of SSDP from presence in four countries to thirty four. She has led efforts to develop more clear pathways for member influence over organizational priorities; established integrative management practices; effectively quadrupled SSDP’s annual budget through innovative, values-centered fundraising; and facilitated monumental increases in participation and leadership from women and non-binary members, BIPOC, those who speak openly about their current or past stigmatized drug use, and others who have been directly impacted by drug war enforcement.* 

Under their leadership, Betty and Stacia:

  • Developed and institutionalized equity-based organizational policies for hiring and compensation, event participation, and resource allocation through the Intersectionality Committee, including securing funding for racial justice initiatives
  • Increased influence of the Board of Directors and members in SSDP governance and oversaw improvements to Board training and education to cultivate engagement 
  • Professionalized the organization with implementation of policies, practices, and activities according to nonprofit best practices with a special focus on integrity, compassion, and member input

On behalf of the SSDP Board of Directors and our 7,000 members, we thank Betty and Stacia for their work and the countless ways they have contributed to the drug policy reform movement by ensuring a strong, vocal, and innovative youth contingent.

Sensibly, 

Oriana Mayorga ’14, Julia Hilbert ’17, & Kris Krane ‘98

Executive Committee of the Board of Directors

* From 2013-2020, hiring rates of BIPOC increased from 6% to 34% and of women and non-binary staff from 15% to 38%. The Board of Directors elected women as chair every year since 2014 except when they elected the first board chairs who identified as POC or non-binary. Demographic information was not collected from chapter leaders for many years, but in the years it has been collected since 2014, representation rates of women, non-binary people, and BIPOC have increased.