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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 based in San Francisco. 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, religion and social justice. She is Executive Director of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines (https://chacruna.nethttps://chacruna-la.org). She is Public Education and Culture Specialist at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and Adjunct Faculty at the East-West Psychology Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). She is also co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP) in Brazil. She is author, co-author, and co-editor of twenty-two books, two special-edition journals, and several peer-reviewed articles.

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, M.Div, is the director of Circle of Sacred Nature 501(c)3 church, a founding member of the UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. She has 20 years of experience in the field of psychedelics and long-standing relationships with the Kamentsa indigenous community of the Upper Putumayo of Colombia, with on-going partnerships spanning the past 12 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 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 an Emeritus Fellow in social anthropology at the University of Kent. She is a 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

Chief Operating Officer

Josh Meadow is a community builder and events producer based in the Bay Area. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines, where he oversees event production, community engagement, development and marketing for the organization. He is the lead producer for Chacruna’s annual conferences, including the Psychedelic Liberty Summit and Sacred Plants in the Americas II. Prior to Chacruna, Josh worked as the Chief Operating 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 50-1300+ people, bringing together thought leaders, entrepreneurs and researchers at the leading-edge of human consciousness, spirituality, psychedelics and modern culture. Josh received a B.A. in Comparative Literature and Film from Oberlin College and briefly attended the Integral Counseling Psychology MA Program at CIIS. He is passionate about many forms of transformational healing, and has worked at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and trained as a crisis support counselor and Zendo Project volunteer.

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-MéxicoPlantas Sagradas en las AméricasCultural and Political Perspectives on Psychedelic Science, Women and Psychedelics ForumForo Plantas SagradasQueering PsychedelicsSacred Plants IIPsychedelic Liberty Summit, and Sacred Plants II.

Communications Director 

Brystal Karber is the Social Media Director for the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines, where she develops creative content to promote Chacruna’s mission on social media. Brystal believes that social networks are instrumental tools for people to not only stay connected, but to mobilize for social change. Brystal built her early career as a social worker for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities by creating programs that bridged the educational, cultural, and institutional gaps between medical providers and social services. Brystal holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Colorado and currently studies media in the graduate Department of Communication at the University of Colorado. Her master’s thesis research focuses on the ways in which media portray psychedelics in entertainment television. When she’s not busy creating social media content for Chacruna, you can find her homesteading with her partner, Will, on their urban chicken farm.

International Branches

Associate Director of Chacruna Latinoamérica in Mexico

Diana Negrin, Ph.D, is a native of both Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a geographer and educator. Currently she is a professor at the University of San Francisco in the Urban and Public Affairs and Migration Studies Masters’ programs, and a lecturer at UC Berkeley in the Geography and Ethnic studies Departments. Her research largely looks at questions of race and ethnicity in Western Mexico, with a particular attention to Wixarika urban activism, as well as a focus on the social movements surrounding the protection of indigenous territory with a focus on Wirikuta and the conservation of peyote. In 2019 she curated and authored the catalogue for the exhibit, Grandes maestros del arte wixárika. Acervo Negrin, the largest exhibit to date on modern wixárika art. She is the author of Racial Alterity, Wixarika Youth Activism, and the Right to the Mexican City (University of Arizona Press, 2019). She sits on the board of the Wixarika Research Center, a nonprofit organization founded by her parents, Juan and Yvonne Negrin, that is expanding its online archive that brings together more than four decades of work with Wixarika communities. She is also Associate Director of Chacruna Latinoamérica in Mexico.

Associate Director of Chacruna Latinoamérica in Brazil

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 Associate Director of Chacruna Latinoamérica in Brazil.

Associate Director of Chacruna in Canada

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 Associate Director of Chacruna in Canada.

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
Grace Cepe is part of the Chacruna Chronicles editorial team and serves as the Communications Associate for MAPS. She has a B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). At UCSC, Grace was a research assistant for the social psychology department’s Sexual and Gender Diversity Laboratory, instructor’s assistant for the Introduction to Psychology course, and residential counselor intern for at-risk youth. Before joining MAPS and the Chacruna Chronicles editorial team, Grace was a volunteer with Chacruna, MAPS, and the San Francisco Psychedelic Society, and has been an activist with Decriminalize Santa Cruz.Since attending MAPS’ Psychedelic Science Conference in 2017, Grace’s interests in psychedelics evolved from a primary focus on the clinical applications of psychedelics and into Indigenous ways of life and ceremonial uses, human rights, social justice, and increasing inclusivity and diversity in the field of psychedelics. Outside of her psychedelic work, Grace loves getting involved with her community, spending time in nature, hip-hop and salsa dancing, and getting lost in a good book.
Jessica DeWitt is an environmental historian, editor, and digital communications strategist. She earned her PhD in History from the University of Saskatchewan in 2019. Jessica is part of the Chacruna Chronicles Editorial team, where she focuses on editing and optimizing Chacruna’s articles for readability and digital reach. She is an executive member of the Network in Canadian History and Environment (NiCHE), and a working board member of the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society and Girls Rock Saskatoon. A passionate social justice advocate, she focuses on developing digital techniques and communications that bridge the divide between academia and the general public in order to democratize knowledge access. You can find out more about her and her freelance services at jessicamdewitt.com.
Patrick Farrell is part of the Chacruna Chronicles editorial team, where he supports the series on the history of women in psychedelics. He graduated from the University of Alberta (Canada) with an MA in the History & Philosophy of Science. Currently, Patrick works as an editor based in Toronto. With fellow Chacruna member Erika Dyck, he helped co-edit Psychedelic Prophets: The Letters of Aldous Huxley and Humphry Osmond (2018). He has also contributed to several other publishing projects, including The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity (Viking Press, 2015), A Culture’s Catalyst: Historical Encounters with Peyote (University of Manitoba Press, 2016), and Yiddish in Israel: A History (Indiana University Press, 2020). In addition to his editing work, Patrick teaches courses in the history of philosophy at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. He is a proud volunteer at Toronto’s acclaimed Hospital for Sick Children.
Dr. Beatriz Caiuby Labate
Dr. Beatriz Caiuby Labate (Bia Labate) is a queer Brazilian anthropologist based in San Francisco. 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, religion and social justice. She is Executive Director of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines (https://chacruna.nethttps://chacruna-la.org). She is Public Education and Culture Specialist at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and Adjunct Faculty at the East-West Psychology Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). She is also co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP) in Brazil. She is author, co-author, and co-editor of twenty-two books, two special-edition journals, and several peer-reviewed articles.

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, her Master’s from Yale University, and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Connecticut. Jamilah serves as a MAPS-sponsored phase 3 MDMA-assisted psychotherapy co-therapist whose site focuses on treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress among people of color. She is also a member of Chacruna’s Racial Equity and Access committee. Her research interests include obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, the psychological effects of discrimination and racial trauma on people of color, and the neurological underpinnings of these disorders. 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 therein.
Darron T. Smith is a NCCPA-certified physician assistant and faculty member in the Department of Sociology at the University of Memphis. His areas of research and scholarship examine US-based systems of racial oppression and systemic inequality found in all domains across society including healthcare, the family (transracial adoption), healthcare disparities, religion, sport, culture and politics. Dr. Smith’s current research and practice intertwine the study of neurosociology, race-based trauma and mental illness by looking at the impact of neurofeedback versus MDMA-assisted psychotherapy on brainwave activity in individuals with racial trauma (PTSD) using EEG technology. He is featured in the CBS Sports Documentary, “The Black 14: Wyoming Football 1969,” as well as the Loki Mulholland film on transracial adoption, “Black, White & Us: Love is Not Enough.” He is the author of When Race, Religion & Sports Collide: Black Athletes at BYU and Beyond.  Dr. Smith is a member of Chacruna’s Racial Equity and Access Committee.
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.
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 broad research interests combining 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 specialise 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 trialing a new psychosocial intervention for psychosis. After a brief stint as a clinical trial manager, she had decided to pursue her passion for nature, by studying Conservation Science at Imperial College London, where she researched peyote ecology in Texas, USA. Anya is working as a research consultant in London, is a member of the Council for the Protection of the Sacred Plants at Chacruna, 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 medicinal use and preparation practices. His research has been published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, Journal of Psychoactive DrugsHuman Organization, and Curare, among other books and journals. He is a current board member of Cactus Conservation Institute, which is dedicated to the study and preservation of vulnerable cacti and is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants, and recently joined the Board of Advisors for Psyched Wellness, a Canadian health supplements company emphasizing medicinal mushrooms.
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. Sean has pioneered legal and business strategies for entrepreneurs in the cannabis, hemp, recycling, and psychedelics spaces. His work in the psychedelic space has included advising religious organizations on their rights to use psychedelics as sacraments, seeking DEA licensure for a public company manufacturing psilocybin for clinical trials, helping psychedelic assisted therapists understand the risks of these activities, advising on what is legal in decriminalized cities, and understanding new state regulatory laws like Oregon’s Measure 109. Sean’s work on drug policy reform goes back 25 years, starting on the Colorado Prison Moratorium Campaign in the mid-1990s. From 2004-2012, Sean served the chair of the Board of Directors of the organization that ran the Colorado recreational marijuana legalization campaign that voters ultimately approved. Sean has also worked on broader drug policy reform issues as a member of the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. Sean is an appointed member of the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel, which was the first ballot initiative in the U.S. decriminalize the possession, cultivation and storage of psilocybin. Sean has been a legal advisor to other cities and states considering psychedelic decriminalization efforts, including the Decriminalize California campaign in 2020 and Decriminalize Seattle in 2021. Sean is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants and Chacruna’s co-General Counsel.
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.
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

Ayahuasca Community Committee

Adam Aronovich is a doctoral candidate at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Spain, focusing on Medical Anthropology and Cultural Psychiatry. He is an active member of the Medical Anthropology Research Center (MARC) and part of the Ayahuasca Community Committee at the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. In the last four years he has conducted extensive fieldwork in the Peruvian Amazon, where he has been doing qualitative research in collaboration with ICEERS, the Beckley Foundation, and, more recently, the Centre for Psychedelic Studies at Imperial College. Beyond his work conducting and coordinating research, Adam regularly facilitates workshops at the Temple of the Way of Light, a prestigious healing center in the Iquitos area. He is also a process facilitator and preparation and integration support coach in private practice.
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
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.

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 on topics about 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, and land and territory defense. She is also 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.
Trey Brasher is a drug researcher and graphic artist from Denver, Colorado. He has a degree in pharmacology from Stockton University in New Jersey with minors in neuroscience and holistic health. His research and advocacy work touches psychopharmacology, drug policy, medicinal chemistry, and the nature of consciousness. He currently works at Unlimited Sciences, a psychedelic research non-profit, and is a graphic designer for the Chacruna Chronicles, an online educational series of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. He also works in an art and design capacity for Grassroots California and other companies.
Ibrahim Gabriell is a communicologist and multidisciplinary researcher of the phenomenon of expanded states of consciousness. As a professor in the state of Chiapas (Mexico), he has taught both Communication studies at the Universidad de los Altos de Chiapas and Transpersonal Psychology at the Universidad Jose Vasconcelos. He is part of the Chacruna Latin America team and is co-founder of Vía Synapsis, an academic society that organizes the National Congress on Psychoactive Substances at the National University of Mexico. He also served as an assistant editor for the  publishing house Lunaria. Ibrahim is co-host of Mindsurf’s podcasts: MindSurf – Transformations of Consciousness and Psyche & Cosmos.
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.
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 a member of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicine’s social media team, where she helps to curate 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.



A Virtual Psychedelic Summit on the Globalization of Plant Medicines and Indigenous Reciprocity April 23rd-25th, 2021 Buy Tickets This global virtual summit will bring together Indigenous leaders from throughout North, Central and South America as well as researchers, practitioners, community builders...
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