March 3, 2020 – New York, NY – PRESS RELEASE – The Board of Directors of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) has selected the acclaimed drug policy reform activist Kassandra Frederique as its next executive director. Frederique, who is now the organization’s Managing Director of Policy Advocacy and Campaigns, will assume the role in September after completing projects to which she is committed to in her current position.
“We could not be more excited that a leader with Kassandra’s strategic vision, integrity, and passion will take the reins at DPA,” said Board Chair Derek Hodel. “By any measure, Kassandra is a force to reckon with – she has significantly influenced drug policy reform in New York, and has helped to shape the national drug policy conversation. She will be a terrific executive director.”
“There is a lot at stake in this moment, and to be afforded the chance to lead the Drug Policy Alliance is a responsibility I do not take lightly,” said Frederique. “I’m looking forward to drawing on the rich tapestry of ideas represented by DPA and the drug policy reform movement to build humane and compassionate solutions. I am humbled by this opportunity and am excited to do my part to shape the next chapter in drug policy, one of the most important issues at the intersection of autonomy and justice.”
As executive director, Frederique will be at the helm of the nation’s leading organization fighting to end the war on drugs and replace it with policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. DPA has played a critical role in promoting sentencing reform, marijuana legalization that repairs the harms of prohibition, harm reduction measures such as naloxone access and supervised consumption sites, and decriminalizing simple drug possession.
Frederique will succeed Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno, who announced in January that she will step down as executive director on March 6 to join Human Rights Watch. Richard Burns, who most recently served as interim executive director at Lambda Legal and has extensive experience leading organizations through transition, will take on the interim role until Frederique takes the helm in September.
McFarland expressed enthusiasm for the board’s selection of Frederique. “Kassandra is exactly the right leader, not just for DPA, but for the movement: she combines intellectual brilliance with deep humanity and top-notch strategic advocacy skills, and has a remarkable ability to bring people from all walks of life along with her,” said McFarland.
Frederique has been an architect of innovative campaigns to expand the debate around the impacts of policing, the importance of legalizing marijuana with social and racial justice at the forefront, engaging municipalities and state legislatures in comprehensive harm reduction strategies, and the breadth of the overdose crisis within communities of color. She has mobilized cities to rethink their approach to drug policy from the ground up, and helped bring the dialogue around safer consumption spaces to the national level with her strategic organizing and partner development.
Throughout her work, Frederique has been a powerful advocate for working closely with people who have been directly impacted by the war on drugs, and she has built strong alliances with partners in New York and beyond. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, MSNBC, USA Today, National Public Radio, and the Netflix documentary Grass is Greener.