Who we are

Board of Directors

Bia Labate – Founder and Executive Director

Beatriz Caiuby Labate 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. She is Adjunct Faculty at the East-West Psychology Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco, and Visiting Professor at the Center for Research and Post Graduate Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS) in Guadalajara. She is also Public Education and Culture Specialist at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). She is co-founder of the Drugs, Politics, and Culture Collective, in Mexico (http://drogaspoliticacultura.net), and co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP) in Brazil, as well as editor of NEIP’s website (http://www.neip.info). She is author, co-author, and co-editor of twenty books, one special-edition journal, and several peer-reviewed articles (http://bialabate.net).

Clancy Cavnar – Co-Founder and Associate Director

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 Associate Director 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

Brian T. Anderson – Associate Director

Brian T. Anderson is a psychiatrist and postdoctoral fellow at the San Francisco VA and the University of California San Francisco where he is the study lead for the university’s first clinical trial of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy. Brian has also been a member of the Núcleo de Estudos Interdisciplinares sobre Psicoativos (NEIP) since 2006 and currently is Associate Director 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.


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 and currently works at the Center for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS) as a research assistant. Horacio is Chacruna’s program manager. He has worked on the conferences Drogas, Política y Cultura: Perspectivas Brasil-México, Plantas Sagradas en las AméricasCultural and Political Perspectives on Psychedelic Science, Women and Psychedelics Forum and Foro Plantas Sagradas, was responsible for the organization, logistics, and promotion of the conference.

Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants 

J. Hamilton Hudson is a lawyer from the U.S.A., born and raised in Hong Kong. He earned his JD with an MS from Tulane University in New Orleans and his BA magna cum laude in anthropology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Currently he is Research Associate at the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP), Brazil/USA. He 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 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.
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. 

Women, Gender Diversity, and Sexual Minorities Working Group

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
Jae Sevelius, PhD is Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and is a licensed clinical psychologist. At the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, Dr. Sevelius’ community-led research is focused on leveraging data to develop and evaluate transgender–specific, trauma-informed interventions to promote holistic health and wellness among transgender people, with an emphasis on serving transgender women of color and those affected by HIV in California and São Paulo, Brazil. Dr. Sevelius holds a Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research from the California Institute of Integral Studies. Dr. Sevelius’ research and clinical interests lie at the intersections of social justice, sexuality, health, and identity.
Adam Knowles PgDip is a member of the Charuna’s Women, Gender Diversity, and Sexual Minorities Working Group and also contributes articles. He is a London-based existential psychotherapist trained at Regent’s University (UK) and maintains a small private psychotherapy practice after a 20+ year career leading teams in technology. He is a member of professional bodies the BACP and the SEA, and due soon to be accredited by the UKCP. He is currently conducting research into the experience of those in the UK with ayahuasca and its therapeutic potential. Adam has published articles in the Reflections Journal about psychotherapy training and the Hermeneutic Circular on developments in Clinical Psychology. Past interests include campaigns to promote LGBT humanism. Current interests are crypto/blockchain and psychedelics, particularly ayahuasca, and the intersection of these developing technologies with psychotherapy.
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. Other interests include travel, traditional shamanic healing practices, and plant medicines.
Alex Theberge, MFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based out of San Francisco specializing in psychedelic integration and support. He has been exploring psychedelics for 25 years, has spent several years living in the Peruvian Amazon studying ayahuasca shamanism and facilitating plant medicine ceremonies, and continues to lead plant medicine retreats to Peru. Previously, Alex worked at the University of California San Francisco’s Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute where he was a staff therapist and Program Manager in the Partial Hospitalization Program.  Alex has a 15 year history of working in diverse clinical and healing settings including community mental health, residential treatment, and hospice care.

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 the Ayahuasca Community Committee at Chacruna (https://chacruna.net/), and in 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 Pulse Tours/Arkana Spiritual Center, an 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, indigenous tradition, and education. She has also deepened her work with the plants through several dietas. In an effort to dive more fully into the plant medicine movement and recent renaissance of psychedelic science, she is also currently writing a book called Roots of Consciousness (www.rootsofconsciousness.net), which has won the MAPS-sponsored psychedelic literature contest through Publishizer. Melissa is also a member of the Ayahuasca Community Committee at Chacruna (https://chacruna.net/), and in is involved in Chacruna’s initiative on preventing sexual abuse.
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.
Sophia Rokhlin, MSc., is a cultural anthropologist and writer based in Pucallpa, Peru. Her work and research focuses on political ecology, alternative economies and the globalization of ayahuasca. She holds a degree in anthropology and religious studies from the New School University. Her fieldwork was based in the Sucumbios region of the Ecuadorian Amazon, where she worked with yagé and studied the cosmovision of the Secoya people. Sophia is passionate about psychedelic harm-reduction and has worked with organizations like KosmiCare. She holds a Master’s degree in ecological economics from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, where she specialized in the political economy of the palm oil industry and its impacts on indigenous and rural women. At the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (ICTA) she contributes to the Environmental Justice Atlas (https://ejatlas.org) documenting grassroots activism related to agro-industry expansion. She currently serves as Development Coordinator at Alianza Arkana, an intercultural nonprofit collaborating with Shipibo-Konibo communities on agroforestry, environmental justice and cultural revitalization. She is the co-author of a forthcoming book, When Plants Dream (2019) on the global spread of ayahuasca. Sophia is a member of the Ayahuasca Community Committee at Chacruna (https://chacruna.net/). 
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. 

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.

Social Media Team

Cristie Strongman, M.A., is Chacruna’s Social Media Team Director and is a graduate student in psychological counseling at Teachers College, Columbia University with a bilingual (English/Spanish) concentration. She holds a Master’s Degree from Columbia University, in Regional Studies: Latin America and the Caribbean, where she studied the mimesis of indigenous rituals in urban landscapes that are performed by contemporary shamans, and the impact that globalization has on indigenous traditions as they intersect with the interests of urban, non-indigenous people. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Hunter College, City University of New York, where she studied the intersectionality between the sociology of entheogens in urban spaces, and drug policy in the United States. Her academic interests focus on Indigenous traditions of medicine and on the wellness model of mental health counseling. She is a classically trained opera singer who enjoys performing new compositions with experimental-sound-techniques of instrumentation. Cristie is originally from Colón, Panamá.
Miroslav Horák, Ph.D., is a member of the social media team of Chacruna. He specializes in social and cultural anthropology, ecology, and philology. Currently, he works as a research assistant at the Department of Languages and Cultural Studies, Faculty of Regional Development and International Studies, Mendel University in Brno. In his research on drug addiction treatment in cross-cultural perspective, he compares therapeutic programs in Peru, Nicaragua, and the Czech Republic. He focuses on spirituality in addiction treatment, and retention of inpatients in therapeutic communities and their motivation. For this purpose, he has implemented several projects. Traditional medicine of the Amazon has been a subject of professional interest since 2007. He is the author and editor of several books, including The House of Song (2013), A Reader in Ethnobotany and Phytotherapy (2014) and Etnobotánica y Fitoterapia en América [Ethnobotany and Phytotherapy in America] (2015). His publications are available online at: https://miroshorak.academia.edu

Advisory Board

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.
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.
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.


Culture Section: Diana Negrín

Science Section: Alli Feduccia, Sidarta Ribeiro

Policy Section: Noah Potter, Ismail Ali, Jag Davies, Kevin Feeney, Ben Meeus, Zara Snapp

Integration Section: Ingmar Gorman, Sharon Rafferty, Geoff Bathje



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