Executive Board

The Executive Board makes sure the organization is meeting its goals and deadlines, that finances and record-keeping are in order, and that subcommittees are working well together. The executives head the national team and focus on strategy, support and creating opportunities for the rest of the board and chapter members to get involved in sensible drug policy events and campaigns.

Dessy Pavlova

Dessy Pavlova

Chair

Dessy is a professional writing and English graduate with a passion for research in cannabis and grassroots political advocacy. An aspiring project manager, she focuses research, outreach and freelance writing, editing and web development. After getting involved with CSSDP in high school, she founded CSSDP YorkU chapter in 2011 after getting involved with a CSSDP annual conference. She works towards raising awareness and making evidence-based harm reduction and drug education more accessible to youth: Honesty is the best drug policy. As a medical cannabis patient for more than 10 years, she has experienced firsthand the obstacles and impediments caused by bad drug laws. In 2015, she joined the CSSDP national board to connect with youth and policy makers alike and work together towards sensible drug policies on local, national and international levels.

Heather D'Alessio

Heather D'Alessio

Heather is a business student in Ottawa studying entrepreneurship and innovation at Algonquin college with a special interest in the newly emerging cannabis industry after seeing how cannabis as medicine contributed to their uncle’s recovery from an aggressive form of brain cancer. They’re also passionate about the relationship between food, health, and sustainability extending to the potential of hemp as a superfood, biofuel, and biodegradable alternative to plastic. Fascinated by corporate social responsibility, they’re excited to see how revenue from the cannabis industry can be put towards benefiting communities adversely affected by the war on drugs: disadvantaged youth, minority groups, and people with mental illness. Heather firmly believes that abstinence and fear-based education are not effective and that harm reduction is a far more reasonable approach to engaging youth in drug safety dialogue. Lastly, they advocate strongly for drug policy based on human rights and public health. Find her on instagram and on snapchat @heatherdalessio, or connect by email: heather@cssdp.org.
Nick Cristiano

Nick Cristiano

Personnel Liaison

Nick is a doctoral candidate at York University. His dissertation focuses on the intersection between drug normalization and harm reduction within the context of dance club culture. Among other things, he advocates for harm reduction strategies that target the environments of club drug use. He draws attention to the ways in which the nightclub and festival settings may limit users’ abilities to employ harm reduction tactics. He joined CSSDP in 2014 and he is the chair of the York University chapter. He is excited to be a part of the Board of Directors and to get more involved with CSSDP.
Michelle Theissen

Michelle Theissen

Treasurer

Michelle will be graduating this summer with a B.A. with Honours in Psychology from the University of British Columbia. She will begin her Master’s in Clinical Psychology in the fall of 2016 where she plans to continue her research examining the motivations and outcomes of the recreational and therapeutic use of cannabis and psychedelics. She co-founded the UBC Okanagan CSSDP chapter in 2015 and is currently the chapter Chair. Michelle’s interest in drug policy reform grew from her
concern regarding patient access and barriers to therapeutic cannabis and is continually expanding as she learns more about the harms of existing drug policies.

Kyle Lumsden

Kyle Lumsden

Secretary

Kyle Sittek-Lumsden is in his 4th year of undergrad at U of T majoring in political science and sociology. His goal is to get his master’s degree in public policy and have a career working in drug policy reform. He currently works for a criminologist at the university as an assistant on a research project related to recidivism in the USA. Kyle’s main areas of interest in drug policy are injection sites, violence associated with drug markets, alcohol harm reduction, the Portuguese model of decriminalization and psychedelics to treat mental health problems. He has been involved with the CSSDP and drug policy activism for the past year and has helped throw several events for the U of T chapter. Kyle’s main love in life is evidence-based policy and he has decided that drug prohibition is the ultimate failed public policy.

Board of Directors

The CSSDP board members work together in our fundraising, outreach, and political advocacy subcommittees to support our chapters across Canada, develop our annual national conference, and reach our local, national, and international goals. The national team works hard to connect with chapter members across Canada, spread harm reduction and achieve drug policy reform.

Antonio Cillero

Antonio Cillero

Antonio Cillero has a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineer from Queen’s University. His main interests are promoting harm reduction and fighting against the stigma associated with drug use. He writes about the interrelations between history, religion, culture, and drugs. Last year, he was on a team that translated Alexander Shulgin’s PIHKAL and TIHKAL to Spanish and most recently, he has started collaborating with infocannabis.org as their head translator.
Alex Betsos

Alex Betsos

International Representative

Alexander is a sociology and anthropology undergraduate student at Simon Fraser University. His interest in drug policy first began as a student with CSSDP-SFU. His interests revolve around how drug policy directly impacts individuals and also has an interest in the larger electronic dance subculture. Alexander was on the board of directors with CSSDP since November 2013, and was the Co-Chair of CSSDP-SFU since September 2013.

Stephanie Lake

Stephanie Lake

Stephanie is a doctoral student in population and public health at the University of British Columbia, where she is currently undertaking research to better understand the links between cannabis, opioids, and drug-related morbidity. Specifically, she is interested in understanding the potential role of cannabis in harm reduction among people who use illicit drugs in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. Her other research interests include the therapeutic use of cannabis among people living with HIV/AIDS. Stephanie has also served as staff writer for the UBC Medical Journal (2014-2016) and as an intern at the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (2014), and is currently working with other students to revive the CSSDP’s Vancouver chapter. In addition to her academic writing, Stephanie has published numerous letters and articles on cannabis in local newspapers including the Vancouver Sun and The Province. She joined the CSSDP in in 2016, and is looking forward to working with other students across Canada to push for a drug policy that is guided by evidence and human rights.

Avery Sapoznikow

Avery Sapoznikow

Avery is in his final year working towards his Bachelors Degree in Psychology (Hons.) at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. Currently, he is the vice president of CSSDP Okanagan and hopes to continue his studies in Clinical Psychology with a research program surrounding cannabis and psychedelics. Avery’s interest in drug policy stems from a perceived lack of widespread social awareness surrounding the impact of drug policy of everyone’s lives and how much work is left to do in order to make positive change and to better our society on this front.

Advising Team

The CSSDP Board of Directors relies on our mentors and advisors to help strategically brainstorm, plan, and execute essential functions for the organization as a whole. Our advisors provide insight, help and support to the CSSDP national team, as well as individual chapters across Canada. Their invaluable advice and experience is integral to how CSSDP functions on a local, national and international level, and they help the national team make and reach our collective goals.

Jenna Valleriani

Jenna Valleriani

Strategic Advisor

Jenna is a doctoral candidate in Sociology and the Collaborative Addiction Studies at the University of Toronto. Her dissertation looks at social movements, entrepreneurship and the emergence of new industries, focusing on the transition to the new federal medicinal cannabis program in Canada. Over the years, she has developed an increasing interest in advocacy around evidence-based drug policy reform and patient rights. She was on the CSSDP board of directors from November 2013, and was the Conference Chair for CSSDP’s 2015 conference in Toronto, Ontario. She also sat on the steering committee for the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition as the CSSDP representative, and a volunteer for NORML Canada, both of which provides an exciting opportunity to connect with some of her favourite drug policy reform advocates and researchers!

Donald MacPherson

Donald MacPherson

Strategic Advisor

Donald MacPherson is the Executive Director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition and one of Canada’s leading figures in drug policy. He advocates policies based on principles of public health, human rights, social inclusion, and scientific evidence and moving away from a criminal justice paradigm where people with health problems are criminalized.

MacPherson worked for the City of Vancouver for 22 years, first as Director of the Carnegie Community Centre in the Downtown Eastside and the last 12 as Drug Policy Coordinator for the City. In 2000 he published Vancouver’s groundbreaking Four Pillars Drug Strategy that precipitated a broad public discussion on issues related to addiction.

In 2007 he received the Kaiser Foundation National Award of Excellence in Public Policy in Canada. In 2009 the City of Vancouver was awarded the Canadian Urban Institutes Secure City Award for the Four Pillars Drug Strategy. In 2009 MacPherson was awarded the Richard Dennis Drug Peace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform by the Drug Policy Alliance in the United States. MacPherson is involved at local, national and international levels and is a founding member of the Drug Policy Coalition.

Nazlee Maghsoudi

Nazlee Maghsoudi

Strategic Advisor

Nazlee is the Knowledge Translation Manager at the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP). Her enthusiasm for drug policy reform has led her to advocate at the grassroots, national, and international levels. Her focus is on illicit drug policy reform, with an emphasis on the UN Drug Conventions and the international drug control regime. She worked specifically on these issues while interning at International Drug Policy Consortium and Harm Reduction Coalition. Nazlee is also a volunteer at TRIP! Project, a nightlife harm reduction program in Toronto. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Queen’s University and a Master of Global Affairs from the University of Toronto.

Gonzo Nieto

Gonzo Nieto

Strategic Advisor

Gonzo is a Montreal-based writer with a B.Sc. in Psychology & Neuroscience from Concordia University. A long-standing curiosity about drugs and altered states of consciousness crystallized into an interest in drug policy, research, and activism after attending the Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics conference in New York in 2014. Gonzo has written about psychedelics, harm reduction, and drug policy for Reset.me and AskMen, and he writes a column about drugs and the mind in The Link newspaper called Turning Inward. Having gotten involved with CSSDP after attending the 2015 National Conference in Toronto, he looks forward to working with a talented and driven collection of chapters and board members across Canada.

Amelie Roulet

Amelie Roulet

French Liaison Strategic Advisor

Amélie is a soon to be social worker and is completing a masters in social work at Université de Montréal. Through her research initiative, she collaborated with GRIP Montréal on their drug checking project and is still implicated by volunteering for the organisation on many of their projects. Founding member and chapter leader at ECPESP Université de Montréal, CSSDP’s first francophone chapter, her main interests are advocacy, human rights, harm reduction and also mental health. She really believes in community organisations and bottom-up processes networks. She joined CSSDP and the board to help extend its reach by including francophones and ease the accessibility to information and advocacy for all Canadians. She is excited to be part of the organization, and looks forward to making our voices heard, and respected, by working with the other board and chapter members.

Partners and Sponsors

Our partners and sponsors are what help CSSDP achieve goals through financial and other forms of support. Without partnership opportunities and sponsors to help fund our events, chapters and overall goals, CSSDP would not be able to work towards sensible drug policy in effective ways. Thank you for helping CSSDP succeed!

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