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Chacruna is a voluntary organization run by a team of experts and enthusiasts who give their time freely to bring education and cultural understanding about psychedelic plant medicines to a wider audience. We promote a bridge between the ceremonial use of sacred plants and psychedelic science and envisage a world where plant medicines and other psychedelics are preserved, protected, and valued as part of our cultural identity and integrated into our social, legal and health care systems. Help us to achieve our mission! Please consider becoming a monthly donor so that your impact spans the entire year. Support of any frequency or amount helps the cause.
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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 who immigrated to the U.S. in 2017. 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), an organization that provides public education about psychedelic plant medicines and promotes a bridge between the ceremonial use of sacred plants and psychedelic science. 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 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 Drugs, Politics, and Culture (http://drogaspoliticacultura.net). She is author, co-author, and co-editor of twenty books, one special-edition journal, and several peer-reviewed articles (http://bialabate.net).
Board of Directors
Clancy Cavnar – Co-Founder and Secretary
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
Monnica T. Williams – Chair of the Board of Directors
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 Associate Director of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. Dr. Williams is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines.
Brian T. Anderson – Treasurer
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.
Daniela Peluso– Associate Director
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 is Associate Director of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines.
Dr. Sonya Faber – Associate Director
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 is Associate Director 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.
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 ChacrunaInstitute 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).
J. Hamilton Hudson is an attorney in the U.S. practicing in blockchain and psychedelics. He was born and raised in Hong Kong and lives in Chicago. He earned his JD with an MS in international development from Tulane University in New Orleans and his BA magna cum laude in anthropology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is a Research Associate at the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP), Brazil/USA and 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.
SeanMcAllister 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 20 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 has consulted with the Decriminalize Denver campaign, which is the first ballot initiative in the U.S. designed to remove criminal penalties for the possession of psilocybin. Sean is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants and Chacruna’s co-General Counsel.
Brad Bartlett is an attorney in Denver, Colorado where serves as senior counsel and director of the Tribal Cannabis Law Group at one of the largest cannabis law firms in the nation. Brad works with tribal nations across the U.S. and Canada on development of tribally owned enterprises related to Cannabis sativa L. Brad previously served as an assistant professor at the University of Denver 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 hopes to advance the dialogue around Controlled Substances Act prohibitions on psychoactive plants and its intersection with state’s rights and religious and medical freedoms.
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.
Noah Potter holds an undergraduate political science degree from Columbia University and a law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. He is a New York City-based drug policy consultant and Of Counsel to the Hoban Law Group. In 2010, Noah coined the term “psychedelic law” when he founded his blog, the New Amsterdam Psychedelic Law Blog. He is former chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Drugs and the Law, a member of the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Cannabis Law, a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants, and government relations and political speaker outreach director for the New York City Cannabis Parade. In 2018, Noah helped the Decriminalize Denver campaign draft the text of the voter initiative to decriminalize psychoactive mushrooms.
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.
Ariel Clark is a founding partner of Clark Neubert 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. She is also Chacruna’s co-General Counsel.
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, Journalof Psychoactive Drugs, Human Organization, and Curare, among other books and journals. He is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants.
Bob Otis Stanley is a long time Steward of Oakland’s Sacred Garden Community, member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants, and was the founding Chairperson of Decriminalize Nature Oakland. He is a clinical and molecular informatics researcher by day. Lifetime interest in diverse wisdom traditions was complemented by his Tennessee family’s medical, religious, and wild-crafting traditions. Family medical mission work in Asia, Central and South America exposed Bob to non-Western cultures and healing traditions at an early age. Over 35 years of personal and group experience with sacred plants and materials guide his passion for working with what he considers to be plant sacraments. Life changing early experiences led Bob to engage insight building and soul healing journeys overseas with his father, independently and with others, including journeys to and within Brazil, Mexico, India, Indonesia and other areas. Bob sought related guidance, was educated directly by and practiced with recognized leaders in the field including Frank Barron, Wendy Doniger, Troy Duster, Rob Montgomery, Sasha and Anne Shulgin, Jonathon Ott, Terrence McKenna, Christian Ratsch (Palenque ’98) and others. Following Psychology and Religious studies degrees from University of California Santa Cruz, Bob earned a Masters degree in Divinity from University of Chicago. Post-graduate cognitive science studies at New York University led to professional work in life science informatics. In addition to sacred plant learning, teaching and conservation, Bob’s passions include mindfulness meditation, epistemology, gardening, bicycling, and playing his Grandma’s violin. Bob is committed to growing respectful access to traditional plant sacraments and to their newly recognized relatives. He recognizes these plants as healing sacraments, properly venerated by ancient, living and emerging syncretic traditions.
Consultants: Ismail Ali, Jag Davies, Zara Snapp
Racial Equity and Access Committee
Cristie Strongman, M.A., is Chacruna’s Director of 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 Associate Director of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines.
Sara Reed, MS, MFT, is a Marriage and Family Therapist at the Behavioral Wellness Clinic in Tolland, Connecticut and a Study Therapist for the Psilocybin-assisted Psychotherapy for Major Depression initiative at Yale University. A member of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) Advisory Board, Sara also served as a Sub-Investigator and Study Coordinator for MAPS’ Phase 2 MDMA Clinical Study of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She is a member of Chacruna’s Racial Equity and Access Committee.
NiCole T. Buchanan, Ph.D., is an Associate 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).
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
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.
Alexander Belser, Ph.D. is a Clinical Research Fellow at Yale University, where he works to develop affirmative psychotherapies for LGBTQ people. His research with sexual minority people has focused on preventing suicide among adolescents and on the protective role of gay-straight alliances for students. Dr. Belser was a founding member of the Psychedelic Research Group at NYU in 2006 and is currently an Adjunct Faculty member at NYU’s master’s program in Counseling. He has been involved in a number of different psychedelic studies on depression, anxiety, OCD, addiction, trauma, and among religious leaders. He also serves as a study therapist for the MAPS study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD. He serves as a peer reviewer for the Journal of Psychopharmacology, and has published peer-reviewed articles on topics such as psychedelic mysticism, altruism, patient experiences in psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, cancer and psychedelic therapy, case studies, and psilocybin treatment. He is a member of Chacruna’s Women, Gender Diversity, and Sexual Minorities Working Group.
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.
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 an anthropologist and author whose work focuses on psychoactive plants, human rights and environmental change. She is the author ofWhen 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.
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.
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.
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.
Josh Meadow is a community builder and event producer based in the Bay Area. He has served as the 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 monthly events from 50-500+ people, bringing together thought leaders, entrepreneurs and researchers at the leading-edge of human consciousness and modern culture. Josh is responsible for bringing psychedelic medicine into the vision of Consciousness Hacking, and he co-founded their first 2-day conference, The Awakened Futures Summit, which explored the themes of psychedelics, technology and meditation and the future of healing and awakening. Josh is very excited to be working with Chacruna to help produce the Psychedelic Liberty Summit next year.
Social Events Coordinator
Amy Jones, Ed.M, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in New York City and has specialized in working with women, artists, and the LGBTQ community for 15 years. Amy holds graduate degrees from both the Smith College School for Social Work and Harvard University, where she studied human development, gender and trauma. She will enter the MA/Ph.D program in Jungian and Archetypal Studies at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in the Fall of 2019. Amy assists with psychedelic integration work in her private practice, as well as treating depression, anxiety, addiction, relationship issues, and trauma. Amy is Chacruna’s Social Events Coordinator.
Social Media and Web Video Team
Rebekah Senanayake holds a BSc in Psychology and Cultural Anthropology from Victoria University of Wellington, and is Chacruna’s Social Media Team Director. She is a queer New Zealand born Sri Lankan living in Wellington, New Zealand. Rebekah discovered her interests in indigenous plant medicine in the Peruvian jungle in 2016, where she observed and practiced indigenous traditions with a local shaman for many months. She has a background in yoga and meditation and finds that the combination of Indian and Peruvian spiritual practices work together in a symbiotic nature. Her main areas of academic interest include ritual, religion, and the exploration of altered states of consciousness. She works with sensory deprivation tanks, and is a hand-poke ritual tattoo artist. She is committed to promoting the interests and voices of minority groups, especially queer women of colour, within psychedelic conversations.
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.
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.
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.
Julie Holland, MD is a psychiatrist specializing in psychopharmacology with a private practice in New York City. Her book “Weekends at Bellevue” chronicles her nine yearsrunning the psychiatric emergency roomas an attending physician on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine.Frequently featured on the Today show and CNN’s documentary series “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. Dr. Holland sits on the Advisory Board of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines.
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.