In 2017, DPA founder Ethan Nadelmann stepped away as the organization's director after many years at the helm. Later that year, Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno from Human Rights Watch was hired as his replacement. But after less than two years on the job, she returned to Human Rights Watch last year. Layoffs and financial belt-tightening characterized her tenure at the DPA.
As managing director of policy, advocacy and campaigns, Frederique has led the organization's push to get marijuana legalization passed in the New York state legislature. According to a DPA press releaase:
"Kassandra is well suited to lead DPA. Kassandra started at DPA a decade ago as an intern. Her exemplary work propelled her meteoric rise through the organization... In New York, she ran the campaign that reduced marijuana arrests in NYC by 84%. Through strategic advocacy, she shifted the politics around the issue, even bringing skeptic Gov. Cuomo around to the point that New York is now poised to legalize. Kassandra is the architect of innovative campaigns to roll back mass criminalization and expand the debate around overdose. Her voice leads national conversations about the complex interplay between race and the overdose crisis. Her leadership launching The Ithaca Plan strategically elevated the conversation about #saferconsumptionspaces to the national level and she worked to secure commitments from NYC and Ithaca to open overdose prevention centers.
"Kassandra’s voice powerfully lifts up people who have been impacted by the War on Drugs – she has centered their experiences in her work across the drug policy reform movement and social justice advocacy. The board and staff of DPA congratulate Kassandra Frederique on her new role and know she will lead with vision, integrity and passion."
VOCAL-NY hailed the decision to promote Frederique on Twitter.
.@Kassandra_Fred has led the movement to end the drug war in NYS for over 10 years, inspiring a generation of new leaders, while holding to account those in power with unwavering conviction.— VOCAL-NY (@VOCALNewYork) March 3, 2020
Now She will lead the nation through these perilous times towards justice root in love. https://t.co/w6LLExpn9V
Frederique will officially become the DPA's director this fall.