At the end of September, hundreds of students from around the world convened to engage in drug policy reform at the Students for Sensible Drug Policy International Conference.
A crucial aspect of the SSDP conference each year is the annual Congress, in which students are elected by their peers to serve two-year terms on the Board of Directors. SSDP is truly a student-led organization, with two-thirds of the Board comprised of Student Directors. The 2014 Congress was especially unique, with students overwhelmingly voting in favor of amending SSDP’s bylaws to create a Board of Trustees as a designated body of the Board. This new structure also enables the Board of Directors to provide further assistance and support to our chapters.
Congratulations to the seven new student board members – Lauren Mendelsohn (Vice Chair), Stephanie Izquieta, Reid Murdoch, Jeremy Sharp, Rafael Gonzalez, Vilmarie Narloch and Sarah Merrigan. These individuals bring a diverse range of skills and experience to the Board, and will undoubtedly help to advance SSDP’s values of justice, liberty, compassion and reason. You can learn more about the members of the Board here.
We cannot celebrate the new Student Directors of SSDP without acknowledging the hard work and dedication of their predecessors. Thank you to Stephen Duke, Graham de Barra, Kellen Russoniello, Kat Humphries and our fearless leader and former Board Chairman, Sam Tracy.
While SSDP will certainly miss these five outstanding board members, the new composition of the organization is telling. For the first time in SSDP history, women hold the top four executive leadership positions in the organization. With women serving as the Executive Director, Deputy Director, Chair and Vice Chair, this may very well mark the first time a drug policy reform organization has had women in these four influential roles. I am looking forward to working alongside Betty Aldworth, Stacia Cosner, Lauren Mendelsohn and the rest of the Board and staff on continuing to expand the diversity and strength of SSDP.