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Who we are

Founder and Executive Director

Bia Labate – Founder and Executive Director

Dr. Beatriz Caiuby Labate (Bia Labate) is a queer Brazilian anthropologist. She has a Ph.D. in social anthropology from the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil. Her main areas of interest are the study of plant medicines, drug policy, shamanism, ritual, and religion. She is Executive Director of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines (https://chacruna.net). She is Adjunct Faculty at the East-West Psychology Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. She is also Public Education and Culture Specialist at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). She is co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP) in Brazil, and editor of NEIP’s website (http://www.neip.info), as well as editor of the Mexican blog Chacruna Latinoamérica (http://drogaspoliticacultura.net). She is author, co-author, and co-editor of twenty-one books, two special-edition journals, and several peer-reviewed articles (http://bialabate.net).

Board of Directors

Clancy Cavnar – Co-Founder and Board Member

Clancy Cavnar has a doctorate in clinical psychology (Psy.D.) from John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, CA. She currently works in private practice in San Francisco, and is Co-Founder and a member of the Board of Directors of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. She is also a research associate of the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP). She combines an eclectic array of interests and activities as clinical psychologist, artist, and researcher. She has a master of fine arts in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute, a master’s in counseling from San Francisco State University, and she completed the Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). She is author and co-author of articles in several peer-reviewed journals and co-editor, with Beatriz Caiuby Labate, of eight books. For more information see: http://neip.info/pesquisadore/clancy-cavnar

Rob Heffernan – Chair of the Board of Directors

Rob Heffernan is an independent researcher and activist who has been involved in the vegetalismo, Santo Daime and other syncretic traditions since 2000. He has been involved with legal issues and organizing efforts in the Santo Daime and ayahuasca community for the last 12 years and has recently begun to speak and write about these matters publicly. He is a Chair of the Board of Directors of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines and part of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants. He is involved with integration work as a certified Shamanic Breathwork facilitator and a certified Integrative Sound and Music Practitioner (sound healing). This is complimented by a long term involvement with Buddhist Dharma. He has recently begun to write and speak about the integration of Buddhist Dharma and medicine work.

Brian T. Anderson – Treasurer

Brian T. Anderson is a psychiatrist at the University of California San Francisco where he studies psychedelic medicines. Brian has also been a member of the Núcleo de Estudos Interdisciplinares sobre Psicoativos (NEIP) since 2006 and currently is a member of the Board of Directors of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. Over the past decade he has conducted ethnographic research with ayahuasca religions, 12-Step recovery groups, and other communities of substance users in North America, South America and Europe.

Celina De Leon – Secretary 

Celina De Leon is the director of Circle of Sacred Nature 501(c)3 church, a PhD candidate at the Graduate Theological Union, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. She has long-standing relationships with the Kamentsa indigenous community of the Upper Putumayo of Colombia, with on-going partnerships spanning the past 10 years. Her work is dedicated to bridging indigenous wisdom to contemporary contexts while also fostering sustainable reciprocity. She is also a Stanford graduate, a Fulbright scholar, and she has a Masters in Divinity from the Graduate Theological Union.

Daniela Peluso – Board Member

Daniela Peluso is a cultural anthropologist who has worked over the last two decades in Lowland South America, mostly with communities in Peru and Bolivia. She has been actively involved in various local efforts on issues relating to health, gender, indigenous urbanization and land-rights and works in close collaboration with indigenous and local organizations. Her publications focus mostly on indigenous ontologies, urbanization, violence and relatedness. She received her PhD in 2003 from Columbia University and is a senior lecturer in social anthropology at the University of Kent. She is member of the Board of Directors of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines.

Dr. Sonya Faber – Board Member

Dr. Sonya Faber graduated with a Masters in Neurobiology from Brown University after completing her undergraduate work at the University of Pennsylvania. She continued her graduate studies at New York University earning a PhD in molecular genetics with a thesis concentration in signal transduction. Over the course of the last 15 years, she has had the opportunity and privilege to contribute equally to both academic research institutes and commercial pharmaceutical development. She has worked in clinical operations for companies including, IQVIA, Covance and Sanofi-Aventis. Her interests lie in in creating innovative solutions for projects which could benefit both patients and the scientific community, in part by connecting with top scientists, industry and regulatory agencies.In her academic roles, she assessed novel ideas and supported scientists in making these commercially viable while contributing to several original grants and research papers and patents. Her interest in protocol design, medical writing and project management, which she utilized in both pharma and biotech firms, included pre-clinical and clinical activities for phase II and III trials across multiple indications. She has a special interest in training the next generation of clinical researchers and has designed courses to teaching scientific writing and Good Clinical Practice. Dr. Faber is member of the Board Directors of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines.Her engagement on thisBoard is on a volunteer basis and is based on her personal interest in the science of psychedelics, which has long been an interest of hers before taking her current position at Syneos Health.

Staff

Program Manager

Horacio Guevara studied anthropology at Guadalajara University and has coordinated research teams for various projects focused on gangs and violence reduction within the College of Jalisco (COLJAL) in Guadalajara and Zapopan. He has implemented social intervention projects for government crime prevention programs. He has worked as Dr. Beatriz Labate’s research assistant at the Center for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS) from 2015 to 2020. Since 2017 Horacio has been Chacruna’s program manager. He worked on the organization of the conferences Drogas, Política y Cultura: Perspectivas Brasil-México, Plantas Sagradas en las AméricasCultural and Political Perspectives on Psychedelic Science, Women and Psychedelics Forum, Foro Plantas Sagradas, Queering Psychedelics and Psychedelic Liberty Summit.

Director of Events and Community

Josh Meadow is a community builder and events producer based in the Bay Area. He currently serves as Director of Events for the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines, and was lead producer and head of operations for the Psychedelic Liberty Summit, the largest virtual psychedelics conference ever held. The Summit brought together over 1300 attendees and 70 psychedelic visionaries, researchers, healers, veterans and indigenous leaders to explore the most important legal, cultural and political issues around the future of psychedelic medicine. Since 2018, Josh has served as Chief Operations Officer for Consciousness Hacking, a non-profit global community with over 50 chapters worldwide exploring the intersection of modern technologies, ancient wisdom and human flourishing. He has organized dozens of high production in-person and virtual events from 50-1000+ people, bringing together thought leaders, entrepreneurs and researchers at the leading-edge of human consciousness, spirituality, psychedelics and modern culture. Josh is the co-founder and executive producer of the Awakened Futures Summit, a highly interactive conference exploring how the renaissance of psychedelic science and mainstreaming of contemplative practices are combining with the latest transformative technologies to create the next paradigm of healing and awakening.

Committees and Working Groups

Chacruna Chronicles

Clancy Cavnar
Clancy Cavnar has a doctorate in clinical psychology (Psy.D.) from John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, CA. She currently works in private practice in San Francisco, and is Co-Founder and a member of the Board of Directors of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. She is also a research associate of the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP). She combines an eclectic array of interests and activities as clinical psychologist, artist, and researcher. She has a master of fine arts in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute, a master’s in counseling from San Francisco State University, and she completed the Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). She is author and co-author of articles in several peer-reviewed journals and co-editor, with Beatriz Caiuby Labate, of eight books. For more information see: http://neip.info/pesquisadore/clancy-cavnar
Jessica DeWitt
Erika Dyck is a Professor and a Canada Research Chair in the History of Health & Social Justice. She is the author of several books, including: Psychedelic Psychiatry: LSD from Clinic to Campus (Johns Hopkins, 2008; University of Manitoba Press, 2011); Facing Eugenics: Reproduction, Sterilization and the Politics of Choice (University of Toronto, 2013), which was shortlisted for the Governor General’s award for Canadian non-fiction; Managing Madness: the Weyburn Mental Hospital and the Transformation of Psychiatric Care in Canada (University of Manitoba Press, 2017), which won the Canadian Historical Association Prize for best book in Prairie History; and with Maureen Lux, Challenging Choices: Canada’s Population control in the 1970s (McGill-Queens University Press, 2020).  She is also the co-editor of Psychedelic Prophets: The Letters of Aldous Huxley and Humphry Osmond (2018); and A Culture’s Catalyst: Historical Encounters with Peyote (2016). Erika is the co-editor of the Canadian Bulletin for Medical History/Bulletin canadien d’histoire de la medicine and the co-editor of a new book series on the global history of alcohol and drugs, called Intoxicating Histories. Erika is also part of Chacruna’s Women, Gender Diversity, and Sexual Minorities Working Group, where is hosts the series “Women in the History of Psychedelic Plant Medicines.”
Dr. Beatriz Caiuby Labate
Dr. Beatriz Caiuby Labate (Bia Labate) is a queer Brazilian anthropologist. She has a Ph.D. in social anthropology from the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil. Her main areas of interest are the study of plant medicines, drug policy, shamanism, ritual, and religion. She is Executive Director of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines (https://chacruna.net). She is Adjunct Faculty at the East-West Psychology Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. She is also Public Education and Culture Specialist at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). She is co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP) in Brazil, and editor of NEIP’s website (http://www.neip.info), as well as editor of the Mexican blog Chacruna Latinoamérica (http://drogaspoliticacultura.net). She is author, co-author, and co-editor of twenty-one books, two special-edition journals, and several peer-reviewed articles (http://bialabate.net).

Racial Equity and Access Committee

NiCole T. Buchanan, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology at Michigan State University and Clinical Director and Founder of Alliance Psychological Associates, PLLC in East Lansing, MI. She is a member of Chacruna’s Racial Equity and Access Committee and a trainee in the MAPS MDMA-assisted psychotherapy training for communities of color and anticipates offering MDMA-assisted psychotherapy when clinical trials are completed. Dr. Buchanan is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, four separate divisions of the American Psychological Association, and has received numerous national and international awards for her research, teaching, clinical work, and professional service. She is an accomplished speaker, writer, and scholar with more than 70 journal articles, book chapters, and research reports, and her work has been highlighted in hundreds of media outlets, including CBS News, the Huffington Post, and Essence Magazine, and she has been a featured speaker for several programs, including TEDx and National Public Radio (NPR).
Jamilah R. George, M.Div., a Detroit native, singer, dancer, and actress obtained her bachelor’s from the University of Michigan, completed her master’s training at Yale University, and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Connecticut. Her research interests include obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, PTSD and the psychological effects of discrimination and racial trauma on people of color, the neurological underpinnings of these disorders, and the potential promise of psychedelic medicine as a means to healing. Recently, Jamilah was a MAPS-sponsored phase 2 MDMA-assisted psychotherapy co-therapist whose site focused on treatment-resistant PTSD among people of color and was the only site with this focus. Jamilah’s passion for social justice and equality issues fuels her work as she advocates for the mental and holistic wellbeing of socially disenfranchised groups, including women, people of color, impoverished domestic and international communities, and the intersections thereof. She is also a member of Chacruna’s Racial Equity and Access Committee. 
Sara Reed is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the Director of Psychedelic Studies at Behavioral Wellness Clinic in Tolland, CT. She provides individual psychotherapy and supervises and trains clinicians in providing culturally informed ketamine therapy. Sara’s prior research work includes participating as a Study Therapist on the Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy research study for Major Depression at Yale University. Before joining the research team at Yale, Sara was a Sub-Investigator and Study Coordinator for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) Phase 2 MDMA Clinical Study of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Sara also works to advance health equity and address mental health disparities among many underserved groups through community based initiatives. As a socially-minded therapist, Sara continuously works to expand culturally sensitive practices within her work and within the literature of the mental health field. She is also a member of Chacruna’s Racial Equity and Access Committee. 
Cristie Strongman, M.A., is a member of Chacruna’s Racial Equity and Access Committee. She is a graduate student at Teachers College, Columbia University in the program of Counseling Psychology with a concentration on diversity, and multicultural, bilingual competency. She holds two Master’s Degrees from Columbia University, the first one from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in Regional Studies: Latin America and the Caribbean (2018). Her research focused on the mimesis of indigenous rituals in urban landscapes and contemporary shamans. Her second Master’s is from Teachers College in Mental Health Counseling (2019) with a third one on the way in Counseling Psychology (expected, 2020). She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Hunter College, CUNY (2016), where she studied the sociology of drugs in urban spaces in the US. Her academic interests focus on alternative methods for healing trauma that incorporate Indigenous traditions of plant medicines along with the wellness model of mental health counseling. Cristie is a classically trained opera singer who enjoys performing compositions with homemade instruments and unique tuning, as she did in Carnegie Hall for three years (2010, 2011, 2013). Cristie is originally from Central America, Colón, Panamá. She lives in Brooklyn with her orange cat Gustav.
Monnica T. Williams is a board-certified licensed clinical psychologist and Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut in the Department of Psychological Sciences and Department of Psychiatry. She is also Clinical Director of the Behavioral Wellness Clinic, where she provides supervision and training to clinicians for empirically-supported treatments. Prior to her move to Connecticut in 2016, Dr. Williams served as the Director of the Center for Mental Health Disparities at the University of Louisville in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Dr. Williams’ research focuses on African American mental health, culture, and psychopathology, and she has published over 100 scientific articles on these topics. Current projects include the assessment of race-based trauma, unacceptable thoughts in OCD, improving cultural competence in the delivery of mental health care services, and interventions to reduce racism. This includes her work as a PI in a multisite study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD. She also gives diversity trainings nationally for clinical psychology programs, scientific conferences, and community organizations. Dr. Williams is a member of Chacruna’s Racial Equity and Access Committee.

Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants 

Ismail Lourido Ali is Policy & Advocacy Counsel for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), where he supports the development and implementation of strategies to create legal access to psychedelic substances in medical, sacramental, and personal contexts. Ismail presently sits on the Board of Directors for Sage Institute and on the Advisory Committee of the Ayahuasca Defense Fund. Previously Ismail has served as Chair of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) Board of Directors, and has worked for the ACLU of Northern California’s Criminal Justice & Drug Policy Project, as well as for the International Human Rights Law Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where he received his J.D. Ismail is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants.
Brad Bartlett is a seasoned attorney with a long career as a business lawyer, litigator, legal and policy advisor, and law professor and lecturer. Brad pioneers legal strategies and services for the cannabis industry; handles complex land-use and environmental matters; and advises American Indian Tribes and tribal communities on governmental, regulatory and business matters. Brad recently served as senior attorney at McAllister Garfield, P.C., a prominent cannabis business law firm, and before that served as an assistant professor at the University of Denver’s Sturm School of Law in the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program. Over his extensive career, Brad has worked with impacted tribal communities, including Native American Church members, on a wide variety of complex tribal and environmental justice matters. Brad is also a seasoned litigator and has brought numerous cases in the public interest addressing government accountability and overreach. Brad graduated the University of Colorado School of Law’s environmental and American Indian law program in 1998 and is an enrolled tribal member of the Sault Ste. Marie Band of Chippewa Indians of Michigan. Brad is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants where he works to advance the dialogue around Controlled Substances Act prohibitions on psychoactive plants and its intersection with state’s rights and religious and medical freedoms.  
Ariel Clark is a founding partner of Clark Howell LLP, a women-owned and run law firm focused on the cannabis and hemp industries. The firm represents established and emerging cannabis businesses across the supply chain and provides advice on corporate governance, financing, business transactional matters, entity formation and operation, and local and state permitting and regulatory compliance. She has served in leadership in a variety of drug policy reform and cannabis and hemp business organizations including the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force, Cannabis Business Council of Santa Barbara County, California Native American Cannabis Association, California Grower’s Association, and California NORML. Ariel has received many kind distinctions; she was named by Rolling Stone as one of 18 “women shaping the culture of tomorrow,” as one of the top 75 “most important women in cannabis” by Cannabis Business Executive, 30 “most powerful litigators” by MG Magazine, by National Law Journal with a Trailblazer award, and was included in Entrepreneur’s “top 100 cannabis leaders” in 2018. Ariel is very honored to be a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants.
Anya Ermakova has a motley background and varied research interests in nature conservation, ethnobotany, neuroscience and psychiatry, interweaving and connecting these diverse paths through psychedelic science. Anya worked at the forefront of psychedelic research as a science officer at the Beckley Foundation, and has provided psychedelic welfare and harm reduction services with PsycareUK and Zendo. Deep love for nature and wildlife has motivated Anya to study biology at the University of Edinburgh, while a quest to understand altered states of consciousness has prompted her to specialize in neuroscience and later continued during her PhD in psychiatry at Cambridge, where she investigated the origins of psychosis. She then worked for the NHS, developing and trialling a new psychosocial intervention for psychosis. After a brief stint as a clinical trial manager, she decided to pursue her passion for nature, by studying Conservation Science at Imperial College London. She is currently working as a research consultant in London but stays involved in peyote conservation work. She is a part of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants and a board member of the Cactus Conservation Institute.
Kevin Feeney, PhD, JD, is a cultural anthropologist and lawyer currently working as a Program Director and Instructor in Interdisciplinary Studies – Social Sciences at Central Washington University. His primary research interests include examining legal and regulatory issues surrounding the religious and cultural use of psychoactive substances, with an emphasis on peyote and ayahuasca, and exploring modern and traditional uses of Amanita muscaria, with a specific focus on preparation practices. During the 2000s he served as Board President and as a general board member for Compassion Center, a medical marijuana clinic working to implement Oregon’s medical marijuana program in a manner that would maximize patient access and health outcomes. His experiences combined with his legal background led him to co-write Medical Marijuana Law with Richard Glen Boire in 2007. His research has also been published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, Journal of Psychoactive DrugsHuman Organization, and Curare, among other books and journals. He is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants.
Martha J. Hartney is an attorney in Colorado, in private practice in the area of estate planning. She holds a J.D. from the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law. Her Boulder firm, Hartney Law, is a regional favorite, receiving the “Best of the West/Law Firm” award six years in a row. She was named a SuperLawyers Rising Star in 2020 and has published and presented on the art and science of death and dying for the last ten years in her professional capacity. Martha is a certified death doula through the Conscious Dying Institute and the first attorney to be admitted to the California Institute of Integral Studies prestigious Certificate in Psychedelic Therapies and Research program. Martha is also a trained mediator and has served as a guardian ad litem for the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Clinic. Martha came to the plant medicine path later in life—becoming a drug policy reform advocate after witnessing the healing of many people who had encountered our great allies. She champions the religious use of plant medicines; and advocates for excellent standards-of-care, best practices, integration work, and weaving modern trauma science into the powerful indigenous practices being stewarded into the western world. Martha lives with her partner and has two sons who are now grown and in college. She is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants. 
Rob Heffernan is an independent researcher and activist who has been involved in the vegetalismo, Santo Daime and other syncretic traditions since 2000. He has been involved with legal issues and organizing efforts in the Santo Daime and ayahuasca community for the last 12 years and has recently begun to speak and write about these matters publicly. He is a Chair of the Board of Directors of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines and part of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants. He is involved with integration work as a certified Shamanic Breathwork facilitator and a certified Integrative Sound and Music Practitioner (sound healing). This is complimented by a long term involvement with Buddhist Dharma. He has recently begun to write and speak about the integration of Buddhist Dharma and medicine work.
Sean McAllister is one of nation’s leading drug policy reform lawyers. In 2004, after working for the Colorado Attorney General’s Office for several years, Sean opened a solo law practice focused on criminal defense and represented hundreds of people charged with state and federal drug crimes. That same year, he founded the drug policy reform non-profit Sensible Colorado. Sean served as the chair of the Board of Directors of Sensible Colorado while the organization co-chaired the Colorado recreational marijuana legalization campaign that voters passed in 2012. Sean has also worked on broader drug policy reform issues as a member of the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. Today, Sean’s law firm, McAllister Garfield, P.C., has 15 lawyers in four states working primarily on cannabis business law and licensing matters. As part of his work, Sean’s firm has sued regulators numerous times under the administrative procedures act, petitioned the DEA to reconsider a harmful CBD rule, and represented Native America Tribes attempting to participate in the cannabis and hemp industries. In addition to cannabis, Sean is the General Counsel to the Decriminalize Denver campaign and an appointed member of the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel, which is the first ballot initiative in the U.S. designed to remove criminal penalties for the possession of psilocybin. Sean also acted as a legal advisor to the Decriminalize California campaign, which is seeking to decriminalize and regulate psilocybin mushrooms by ballot initiative in California in 2020. Sean is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants and Chacruna’s co-General Counsel.
Ben Meeus holds a Master Degree in International and European Law (Cum Laude) from the Free University of Brussels, and a second Master Degree in Latin American Studies at the Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation (CEDLA) in Amsterdam. He has been involved in Santo Daime for 10 years, and wrote a thesis on the legal issues related to the transnationalization of this religious practice. During that same time, he became board member of the Dutch “Centre for the Legal Assessment of the Religious and Ethical Integration of the use of Ayahuasca” (CLAREIA), and volunteered for various human rights causes. After his internship at the “Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section” of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), he became passionate about advancing the rights of indigenous peoples, with a specific interest related to traditional medicinal practices. To that regard, Ben has done extensive voluntary work with and for indigenous representatives in the Brazilian Amazon and abroad. Ben is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants.
Bob Otis is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants, cofounder of Decriminalize Nature Oakland and Sacred Garden Community Steward. Life changing early experiences led Bob to engage a lifetime of education and practice with sacred plants. Following Psychology and Religious studies degrees from University of California Santa Cruz, Bob earned a Masters degree in Divinity from University of Chicago. Journeys in Guatemala, Brazil, Mexico, India, Indonesia, Jamaica and other areas were dedicated to healing practice and learning; engaged independently, with his father and others. Over 35 years of personal and group work with sacred plants and traditions guide his passion for careful, respectful and appreciative relationship with what he believes to be soul healing sacraments.
Joseph Rhea is an attorney in Palm Springs, California.  Joseph grew up in eastern North Carolina and received his Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard. He taught in the areas of inequality and social movement organization at Harvard and Arizona State University.  He is author of Race Pride and the American Identity (2001). As a lawyer, Joseph first represented indigent defendants and then became very involved in cannabis legalization in California. Joseph is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants. Joseph is always eager to help with legal issues regarding safe access and he is particularly interested in those projects that address inequalities of access. 
Leonardo Rodríguez is a graduate of the Universidad Industrial de Santander (Bucaramanga-Colombia), where he studied political history. He obtained a master’s degree at Limoges University in French political history and a master’s in foreign societies and international relations from the Sorbonne University in Paris. He also holds a PhD in international studies. Currently, he is working as a civil society representative at the United Nations. He is also a consultant for NGOs, states, and intergovernmental organizations. His main areas of expertise are self-determination, Indigenous peoples’ and minorities’ rights, traditional knowledge, and drug policy. In this last area, he has conducted an advocacy campaign that led to recommendation 4(i) in the Outcome Document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem, which recognizes the traditional licit uses of psychotropic substances, according to the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. With the Association Maloca International, in the 2018 report on drugs issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, he obtained a recommendation about the right of religious minorities and indigenous peoples to use controlled substances, following article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As a permanent observer at the World Intellectual Property Organization, and inspired by the Venezuelan Political Constitution, he advocates for the prohibition of patents, including Indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge and genetic resources. Leonardo is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants.
Jack Silver is an attorney with the majority of his practice environmental. In addition to his environmental work he also helps guides and facilitators limit their potential personal and criminal liability. Jack was co-counsel in the successful Santo Daime case against DEA (Church of the Holy Light of the Queen v. Mukasey). Jack co-founded California River Watch and is still counsel to its board. Jack also sits on the boards of the Green Earth Foundation and Institute for Holotropics. Jack is a certified Holotropic Breathworker, Omotesenke licenced Tea instructor and holds the rank of sandan in Aikido. Jack is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants.

Women, Gender Diversity, and Sexual Minorities Working Group

Alex Belser, Ph.D, is a licensed psychologist and psychedelic researcher at Yale University.  He is the founding President of Nautilus Sanctuary, the first non-profit center for psychedelic medicine on the east coast. He serves as the Chief Clinical Officer of Adelia Therapeutics, a drug discovery platform for the development of proprietary tryptamine-based therapeutics. For the last 20 years, Alex has been active in the psychedelic research community, having conducted multiple clinical trials exploring psilocybin and MDMA as treatments for depression, anxiety, cancer-related distress, obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction, and trauma.  At Yale, Alex is the Co-Investigator of a study investigating the neural correlates of the effects of psilocybin as a treatment for OCD and is investigating psilocybin-induced neuroplasticity in the treatment of major depression. With MAPS, Alex is a therapist on studies of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of severe PTSD. He is  also part of the Chacruna Institute’s Women, Gender Diversity, and Sexual Minorities Working Group, where he works on issues affecting LGBTQI+ people. Alex completed his training in psychology at Bellevue Hospital, Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, and New York Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University Medical Center.  He is a graduate of Georgetown University, New York University, and the University of Cambridge. His writing is available at http://alexbelser.com, and his private practice site is http://centerforbreakthroughs.com.
Clancy Cavnar has a doctorate in clinical psychology (Psy.D.) from John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, CA. She currently works in private practice in San Francisco, and is an Associate Director at Chacruna (https://chacruna.net). She is also a research associate of the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP). She combines an eclectic array of interests and activities as clinical psychologist, artist, and researcher. She has a master of fine arts in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute, a master’s in counseling from San Francisco State University, and she completed the Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She is author and co-author of articles in several peer-reviewed journals and co-editor, with Beatriz Caiuby Labate, of eight books. For more information see: http://neip.info/pesquisadore/clancy-cavnar
Erika Dyck is a Professor and a Canada Research Chair in the History of Health & Social Justice. She is the author of several books, including: Psychedelic Psychiatry: LSD from Clinic to Campus (Johns Hopkins, 2008; University of Manitoba Press, 2011); Facing Eugenics: Reproduction, Sterilization and the Politics of Choice (University of Toronto, 2013), which was shortlisted for the Governor General’s award for Canadian non-fiction; Managing Madness: the Weyburn Mental Hospital and the Transformation of Psychiatric Care in Canada (University of Manitoba Press, 2017), which won the Canadian Historical Association Prize for best book in Prairie History; and with Maureen Lux, Challenging Choices: Canada’s Population control in the 1970s (McGill-Queens University Press, 2020).  She is also the co-editor of Psychedelic Prophets: The Letters of Aldous Huxley and Humphry Osmond (2018); and A Culture’s Catalyst: Historical Encounters with Peyote (2016). Erika is the co-editor of the Canadian Bulletin for Medical History/Bulletin canadien d’histoire de la medicine and the co-editor of a new book series on the global history of alcohol and drugs, called Intoxicating Histories. Erika is also part of Chacruna’s Women, Gender Diversity, and Sexual Minorities Working Group, where is hosts the series “Women in the History of Psychedelic Plant Medicines.”
Gregory Wells, PhD is a a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and currently works as a psychologist in private practice in San Francisco. He is is also a clinical researcher as part of the MAPS-sponsored research trial of MDMA assisted psychotherapy for PTSD where he is in the roles of co-principal investigator and co-therapist. He is also a co-founder of Polaris Insight Center (www.polarisinsight.com) where he provides ketamine assisted psychotherapy and conducts research on the efficacy of ketamine to treat depression and other issues. He is a member of Chacruna’s Women, Gender Diversity, and Sexual Minorities Working Group. Other interests include travel, traditional shamanic healing practices, and plant medicines.

Ayahuasca Community Committee

Adam Aronovich is a PhD candidate who lives and works in the Peruvian Amazon. Besides conducting fieldwork for his doctoral dissertation, Adam coordinates research projects and facilitates workshops at the Temple of the Way of Light, an ayahuasca healing center near the city of Iquitos. He is a member of the MARC (Medical Anthropology Research Center) – URV, as well as part of the Ayahuasca Community Committee of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. Adam holds a master’s degree in Medical Anthropology and Global Health, as well as two bachelor degrees,  in Psychology and Cognitive Science. Adam also has a diploma in Traditional Mexican Medicine from the University of Morelos, Mexico. He is interested in the epistemic, social and environmental dimensions of mental health, and the potential role that ayahuasca and other psychedelic medicines play in the remembrance of interdependent and reciprocal cosmologies and mythologies. 
Glauber Loures de Assis is a postdoctoral fellow at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where he also earned a Ph.D. in sociology. He is also Research Associate at the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP) and co-founder of the Center of Sociology Studies Antônio Augusto Pereira Prates (CESAP). He has developed research on Santo Daime groups from Brazil and Europe and has also studied the sociology of religion from a wider perspective. His main interests include the ayahuasca religions, New Religious Movements (NRMs), the internationalization of the Brazilian religions, and drug use in contemporary society. He is a member of Chacruna’s Ayahuasca Community Committee.
Joseph Mays earned a Master of Science in Ethnobotany from the University of Kent upon researching responses to globalization by indigenous Yanesha of central Peru. After graduating with bachelor’s degrees in biology and anthropology from Virginia Commonwealth University, he traveled to the Ecuadorian cloud forest where he completed an ethnobotanical survey of Camarones and published a medicinal plant guide for the Jama-Coaque Ecological Reserve. Joseph studies the relationship between biological and cultural diversity, and the way culturally-conditioned views of reality influence approaches to the environment. He presented a lecture entitled, “Visionary Plants and Thinking Forests in Biocultural Conservation (Exploring ontology in human-environment relationships in the Amazon)” at London’s Breaking Convention in 2019. He is a member of Chacruna’s Ayahuasca Community Committee.
Sophia Rokhlin MSc is an anthropologist and author whose work focuses on psychoactive plants, human rights and environmental change. She is the author of When Plants Dream: Ayahuasca, Amazonian Shamanism and the Global Psychedelic Renaissance (Watkins, 2019) which explores the legal, social and ethical aspects of the global ayahuasca boom. She is a Program Coordinator at the Chaikuni Institute, a nonprofit in the Peruvian Amazon supporting regenerative agriculture and the sustainable cultivation of ayahuasca. She is a member of Chacruna’s Ayahuasca Community Committee.
Emily Sinclair is a social anthropology PhD. candidate with Durham University, UK. Her research focuses on the globalization of ayahuasca in the context of the Iquitos region in Peru, where she was based between 2014 and 2018. Before beginning anthropological fieldwork, Emily lived and worked with a local healer and his family with whom she ran an ayahuasca healing center for over two years. She has also worked as a facilitator in other centers in the Iquitos region. Her interests include the contemporary revival of shamanic practice, the use of plant medicines for spiritual exploration and healing, and the study of human potentials and evolution. Emily is a member of Chacruna’s Ayahuasca Community Committee and is involved in Chacruna’s initiative on preventing sexual abuse.
Melissa Stangl holds a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, USA. After several years conducting brain and lung cancer research and gaining managerial experience across a wide range of businesses, her interests turned toward the healing power of plant medicines and psychedelics, and their influence on the mind-body connection. She has since managed operations and coordinated various social projects as Director of Business Development at a top-rated ayahuasca retreat center in the Peruvian Amazon. She is currently the Founding Partner and Chief Operating Officer at Soltara Healing Center (https://soltara.co), a plant medicine and holistic healing center in Costa Rica, with a strong focus on integration support. In an effort to dive more fully into the plant medicine movement and recent renaissance of psychedelic science, she is currently writing a book called Roots of Consciousness (www.rootsofconsciousness.net), which has won the MAPS-sponsored psychedelic literature contest through Publishizer. Melissa is a member of Chacruna’s Ayahuasca Community Committee.
Luís Fernando Tófoli, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychiatry at the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil. He heads the Laboratory of Interdisciplinary Studies on Psychoactive Substances and is a member of the State Council on Drug Policies of São Paulo. He is responsible for the Interdisciplinary Cooperation for Ayahuasca Research and Outreach (ICARO) at UNICAMP and has recently published on the field of drug policies and the therapeutic use of psychedelics, especially ayahuasca. He is a member of Chacruna’s Ayahuasca Community Committee.

Psychedelic Therapy Music Forum

Matt “River” Baldwin, MFT, is a musician and psychotherapist living in San Francisco. He is a 2017 alumnus of the California Institute of Integral Studies’ Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapies and Research Program. He has produced 9 albums of music under his own name, collaborated with a variety of artists, and has toured widely as a performer. He specializes in the use of music in psychedelic psychotherapy, having designed playlists for a MAPS Phase 3 MDMA trial and a variety of other applications. River holds a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric from The University of California at Berkeley and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from John F. Kennedy University. He is the Director of the Psychedelic Music Therapy Forum for the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. Most recently he has been collaborating with Nico Georis on plant-generated music.

Web, Video and Social Media Team

Karina Alvarez is a Mexican graphic designer, illustrator, photographer, and cacao/chocolate aficionado. Having a deep interest in topics about the de-stigmatization of drugs and their consumers, she has done graphic design work and volunteered for organizations such as Espolea, ReverdeSer, and the Program of Substance Analysis. She has also collaborated with video production and editing for Drug Reporter. She currently works in the area of communication for the Mexican Commission of Defense and Promotion of Human Rights, an organization that deals with subjects such as enforced disappearance, migration, femicide, extrajudicial detention, and land and territory defense. She is part of an independent feminist collective that deals with topics such as abortion. Karina is the graphic designer for the Chacruna Chronicles, an online educational series of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines, and also for other Chacruna projects.
Márcio Luiz is an entrepreneur, technology architect and software developer working with environmental, socio-economic and tech projects across Brazil, America and Europe. He works as webmaster at Chacruna and is interested in tech to deliver and scale solutions that empower the psychedelic science movement, environmental regeneration and deburocratization.
Mariom Luna is a motion graphic designer who also works with audio, music, and photography, based in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico. A travel and nature lover, from his very first psychedelic experience in 2009, he realized the importance of contributing to the de-stigmatization of the use of plant medicine. He has collaborated with drug policy organizations such as Espolea, Mind Surf, and La Drogoteca Library. He is the graphic designer for the Chacruna Chronicles, an online educational series of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines, and also for other Chacruna projects.
Marialba Quesada Abrams (Mai) is an audio-visual anthropologist, graphic designer and cultural manager based in San José, Costa Rica. She has worked as a freelancer with national universities such as the Universidad Estatal a Distancia (UNED) and the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR). She is currently the main graphic designer of Latinoamérica por una Política Sensata de Drogas (LPSD), and is also the Central American Representation in the Consultative Council of LPSD. She is also the Executive Producer of Las Históricas RadioU, the first radio program in Costa Rica fully based in intersectional feminism. Marialba is the graphic designer for the Chacruna Chronicles, an online educational series of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines, and also for other Chacruna projects.
Rebekah Senanayake (Bek) is currently working towards her Masters in Cross-Cultural Psychology and holds a Bachelor of Science with a double major in Cultural Anthropology and Psychology from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Interested in the social and cultural role of plant medicines, Bek seeks to investigate the symbolic position of the medicines and healers within society. Her other research interests include improving diversity relationships within organisations and their outputs. Bek first discovered her interest in ayahuasca in 2015 when travelling through the Peruvian Amazon, and since then has gone on to undertake ethnographic research in the jungle. She is the social media director of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines, and carefully curates Chacruna’s social media platforms to provide accurate and engaging information on psychedelics and culture whilst centering the voices of minority groups frequently excluded from psychedelic discourse.
Nicholas Spiers is an anthropologist and documentary filmmaker. He co-founded Agua de Rayo, a non-profit civil organization based in Mexico’s Sierra Mazateca, which is invested in visual ethnography and community projects and which also has an interest in Mazatec psychoactive plant use. He has a Master’s degree in visual anthropology from the University of Barcelona and is interested in the sensory experience of audiovisual mediums. He has recently created an award-winning series about the psychoactive plant Salvia divinorum. He is Chacruna’s web video producer, whereby he creates content collating different perspectives and discussions from Chacruna conferences through compact and compelling video formats. He is also co-director with Bia Labate of the documentary web series The Peyote Files.  
Kelan Thomas, PharmD, MS, is an associate professor and psychiatric pharmacist with outpatient behavioral health practice sites in San Francisco and Oakland. He completed undergraduate chemistry/pharmacology at Duke University, a PharmD at UC San Francisco, and a Clinical Research MS at University of Michigan. He has completed clinical pharmacy residencies at University of Michigan and University of Southern California. His research is related to psychopharmacology, adverse drug reactions and pharmacogenomics with the goal of optimizing mental health pharmacotherapy for psychiatric clients. More recently he completed the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research training program and started collaborating with psychedelic-assisted therapy clinical trials at UC San Francisco. He is also part of Chacruna’s social media team as curator of the “Science Sunday” series, with a psychedelic science publication posted weekly.

Advisory Board

Draulio Barros de Araujo, Ph.D., is a professor of neuroimaging at the Brain Institute (UFRN), Natal, Brazil. In recent years, his research has focused on using functional neuroimaging methods (EEG and fMRI) to investigate the acute and lasting effects of ayahuasca. His research group has also been studying the antidepressant potential of ayahuasca.
Kat Conour is a psychotherapist, facilitator, and experiential educator currently being trained in Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy and with MAPS to become an MDMA for PTSD therapy provider through Sage Integrative. With a background in non-profits, philanthropy, corporate consulting, and community organizing, Kat is passionate about supporting individuals and organizations in the psychedelic community turn their values and vision into aligned action. An Emergent Strategy fangirl, Kat recognizes that a movement is only as strong as the relationships upon which they are built. She currently serves as an Advisor to Auryn Fund which recently launched We Will Call It Pala, and focuses on ensuring that equity, ethics, and accessibility are embedded in practice within the scaling of psychedelic medicines. She also sits on the Advisory Board of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. 
Erik Davis is an author, podcaster, award-winning journalist, and independent scholar based in San Francisco. His wide-ranging work focuses on the intersection of alternative religion, media, an the popular imagination. He is the author, most recently, of High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies (2019) and performed the audiobook as well. He also wrote Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica (2010), The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape (2006), a short critical volume on Led Zeppelin (2005), and the cult classic TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information (1998). Erik’s scholarly and popular essays on music, technoculture, and spirituality have appeared in scores of books, magazines, and journals, and his writing has been translated into a dozen languages. Davis been interviewed by CNN, the BBC, public radio, and the New York Times. He graduated magna cum laude from Yale University, and earned his PhD in religious studies at Rice University. Erik sits on the Advisory Board of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. 
Julie Holland, MD is a psychiatrist specializing in psychopharmacology with a private practice in New York City since 1995. Her book Weekends at Bellevue chronicles her nine years as an attending at the psychiatric emergency room on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine. Frequently featured on the Today show and CNN’s docuseries “Weed,” Holland is the editor of The Pot Book and Ecstasy: The Complete Guide.  (Both books are non-profit projects that help to fund clinical therapeutic research.) Dr. Holland is the medical monitor for several MAPS PTSD studies utilizing MDMA-assisted psychotherapy or testing strains of cannabis with varying CBD/THC ratios. She has worked for decades on US drug policy reform based on harm reduction principles. Her 2016 book, MoodyBitches: The Truth About The Drugs You’re Taking, the Sleep You’re Missing, the Sex You’re Not Having, and What’s Really Making You Crazy has been translated into eleven languages. Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, From Soul to Psychedelics (2020, HarperWave) discusses the physiological benefits of experiencing oneness. Dr. Holland sits on the Advisory Board of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines.
Sidarta Ribeiro is Full Professor of Neuroscience and Vice-Director of the Brain Institute at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the Universidade de Brasília (1993), a Master’s degree in Biophysics from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (1994) and a Ph.D. in Animal Behavior from the Rockefeller University (2000), with post-doctoral studies in Neurophysiology at Duke University (2005). Has experience in neuroethology, molecular neurobiology, and systems neurophysiology, with an interest in the following subjects: memory, sleep, and dreams; neuronal plasticity; vocal communication; symbolic competence in non-human animals; computational psychiatry; neuroeducation; psychedelics and drug policy. Director of the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science in the biennium 2018/2019. From 2009-2011, served as Secretary of the Brazilian Society for Neuroscience and Behavior. From 2011-2015 he served as Chair of the Brazilian Regional Committee of the Pew Latin American Fellows Program in the Biomedical Sciences, and since 2011 he is a member of the Steering Committee of the Latin American School for Education, Cognitive and Neural Sciences (LA School). Senior research associate of the FAPESP Research Centre for Innovation and Diffusion in Neuromathematics. Scientific Coordinator and Member of the Advisory Board of the Brazilian Platform for Drug Policy and the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. Sidarta Ribeiro is greatly interested in the study of the neural bases of consciousness and its alteration, including investigation of the ayahuasca experience. He is also involved in the public debate on the medicinal uses and the legalization of cannabis in Brazil.
Glenn H. Shepard Jr. is an ethnobotanist, medical anthropologist and filmmaker who has worked with diverse indigenous peoples of Latin America, especially in Amazonia. He earned his undergraduate degree at Princeton University and completed his doctorate in Medical Anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley in 1999. His research interests include ethnobotany, medical anthropology, shamanism, sustainable resource management, visual anthropology and the territorial rights of isolated peoples. Publications include research articles, commentary and reviews in Nature (1998, 2009), Science (2003), Science Advances (2016), American Anthropologist (2004, 2012), Economic Botany (2008, 2011), Conservation Biology (2007), PLoS One (2015, 2015) and the New York Review of Books (2014, 2015, 2019). His work in the Amazon has been featured in news stories in National Geographic (2016) The New Yorker (2016, 2019) and the Financial Times (2019). He has participated in the production of several films, including the Emmy-Award-winning documentary, Spirits of the Rainforest, as well as Zapatista Memories, which debuted in 2016 at the Margaret Mead Film Festival. He is a tenured staff researcher in the Human Sciences Division at the Goeldi Museum in Belém, Brazil, where he curated the ethnographic collections from 2009-2013 and co-chaired the Division from 2014-2016, and currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. He blogs at Notes from the Ethnoground (http://ethnoground.blogspot.com/).
Leopardo Yawa Bane is the son of a traditional chief of the Huni Kuin (an indigenous group also known as the Cashinahua). Leopard Yawa Bane is an international and national advocate of the preserving the ecological heritage of the native lands of his people. Born in the Cashinahua Reserve of the Jordan River in the State of Acre, Brazil, Bane and his brother Fabiano were sent from the villages to Brazilian cities at a young age by their father and chief, in order to learn new knowledge of the world outside the forest and to represent their people in tradition, heritage, and politics. Since then, Bane has completed his university studies, learning to speak Portuguese fluently, and has begun to represent his people nationally and internationally as an ambassador and healer. Bane and his people see the mystical and natural duality of the plants and how the spiritual world can be accessed through the plants found in their native areas. As is common with indigenous tribes around the world, and particularly in the Amazon, the Huni Kuin have a unique worldview, from creation to the beyond, derived from the wisdom of plants and their shared history. Bane grew up using and being trained in the use of medicinal plants by his grandfather. Fifteen years ago, he started using different medicinal plants with non-indigenous people. Bane brings the knowledge of his ancestors, of his people, and of the forest.

 



Featuring Dr. Fernanda Palhano-Fontes Wednesday, October 21th from 12-1:30pm PST  REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT HERE The use of ayahuasca, an indigenous brew from the Amazonian...