LORENZO JONES, CO-FOUNDER AND CO-DIRECTOR
Lorenzo Jones is the co-founder and co-director of the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice. Katal collaborates with their partners to build powerful, research-based campaigns to dismantle mass incarceration, end the war on drugs, strengthen organizing and movement infrastructure, and advance health, equity, and justice.
Since 2005, Jones has served as the executive director of A Better Way Foundation, a Connecticut-based advocacy organization building power in urban, suburban, and rural communities most affected by mass incarceration, the drug war, and the inequitable access to resources, and teaching everyday people that they can make the change they want to see.
Over the years, he has built a network of thousands of trained activists and plugged them into campaigns that have rolled back draconian and racist penalties for drug possession, created access to marijuana for medical purposes, established policies to prevent drug overdose fatalities, reduced employment discrimination for people convicted of felonies, increased funding for local programs and services, required racial impact statements for new criminal justice policies, and more. He has also helped launch several successful community activist groups run by people he has trained.
As the reputation of A Better Way Foundation grew more prominent outside the state, Jones became a sought-after trainer and coach on campaigns across the country and internationally. He has lent his expertise to the Open Society Foundations, Perrin Family Foundation, Public Welfare Foundation, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Drug Policy Alliance, Council on Europe’s Pompidou Working Group on Drug Policy, and reform working groups in Poland, Canada, and Brazil.
Since he knocked on his first door in 1994 as a part-time organizer with United Connecticut Action for Neighborhoods, Jones has trained more than 4000 people from all walks of life. He lives in Hartford, Connecticut, with his wife Kimberly Jones and three children Jordan, Lorenzo Jr., and Loren.
GABRIEL SAYEGH, CO-FOUNDER AND CO-DIRECTOR
gabriel sayegh is the co-founder and co-director of the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice. Katal collaborates with their partners to build powerful, research-based campaigns to dismantle mass incarceration, end the war on drugs, strengthen organizing and movement infrastructure, and advance health, equity, and justice.
sayegh is one of the nation’s leading experts in the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, a community-based diversion approach to law violations that flow from addiction and mental illness. sayegh provides strategic guidance and technical support to local jurisdictions developing LEAD programs. LEAD was first implemented in Seattle in 2011, has since been replicated in Santa Fe, and now is in development in many other cities and counties around the U.S., including Albany, NY; Atlanta, GA; Portland, ME; Baltimore, MD; Louisville, KY; San Francisco, CA; and Fayetteville, NC.
Prior to co-founding Katal, from 2003 – 2015, sayegh worked at the Drug Policy Alliance, a national organization working to end the war on drugs. Over 12 years he served in many positions, including as Managing Director of Policy and Campaigns, where he supervised a staff of 27 and a budget of $4m, and was responsible for devising strategies to synthesize DPA’s reform campaigns in California, Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York, and at the federal level. During his tenure, sayegh built and led numerous reform campaigns, provided technical assistance and leadership development to grassroots organizations, and passed reform legislation in multiple states. sayegh was a key leader in the campaign to roll back the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws, devising and managing the strategy that led to one of the most significant sentencing reform victories in a generation. He was the architect of the campaign to end New York City’s racially biased marijuana arrest crusade, which cut marijuana arrests in NYC by half, and he served as chief strategist and director of the campaign to pass New York’s medical marijuana legislation. sayegh managed a bipartisan effort to enact life-saving Good Samaritan overdose prevention legislation in New York, and coordinated with community organizations to expand public health responses to drug use, including passing legislation to expand syringe access. To connect DPA’s work to a grassroots base, sayegh launched DPA’s first office focused explicitly on field organizing, established DPA’s grantee partners network, and for many years managed the scholarship program for DPA’s signature International Drug Policy Conference.
sayegh has appeared in a wide range of broadcast, online, and print media, including The New York Times, NY1, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, Fox News, Fusion, NPR, Washington Post, Newsweek, Vice, NY Daily News, NY Post, Associated Press, Huffington Post, The Village Voice, Gawker, BBC, and more. He is the author of numerous articles and coauthor of several reports, including Blueprint for a Public Health and Safety Approach to Drug Policy (the subject of a New York Times editorial) and From Handcuffs to Healthcare: Putting the Affordable Care Act to Work for Criminal Justice and Drug Law Reform. As a featured or keynote speaker for conferences, universities and community groups, he’s given hundreds of talks, including a TEDx talk about the war on drugs, mass incarceration, and systemic racism.
From 2007 – 2013, he served as a lecturer in the graduate program of the Columbia School of Social Work. Prior to joining DPA, sayegh served as an organizer and researcher on campaigns for fairness in global trade agreements and domestic welfare reform, ending violence against women and LGTBQ people, and achieving racial equity. In 2003, sayegh served as session staff in the Washington State Senate, with a policy portfolio focused on criminal justice and human services. He began his organizing career in 1996, working on prison moratorium and racial equity campaigns in California.
sayegh is a Trustee of the New York Foundation, and serves on the board of Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide, based in Atlanta. He lives in Brooklyn.
MELODY LEE, CO-FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY & CAMPAIGNS
Melody Lee is the co-founder and Director of Strategy & Campaigns for the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice. Katal collaborates with their partners to build powerful, research-based campaigns to dismantle mass incarceration, end the war on drugs, strengthen organizing and movement infrastructure, and advance health, equity, and justice.
Lee is one of the nation’s leading experts in Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) and was one of the key organizers of the National Convening on LEAD hosted by the White House Domestic Policy Council Office at the White House in 2015. She assists local community stakeholders in developing LEAD programs, working closely with an array of stakeholders ranging from police departments, district attorneys, civil rights organizations, service providers, and business groups.
From 2012-2015, Lee worked at the Drug Policy Alliance, most recently as Policy Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance’s New York Policy Office. As Policy Coordinator on numerous reform campaigns, she was responsible for intensive project management, creating and facilitating stakeholder partnerships, developing and executing communications strategies, and routinely organizing and coordinating lobbying days with dozens – and sometimes hundreds – of constituents. Lee was a core member of the campaign team that passed New York’s medical marijuana bill, and she played a critical leadership role in the campaign to end NYPD’s racially biased marijuana arrest practice.
From 2012 – 2014, Lee co-led a unique collaboration between the Drug Policy Alliance and Charlotte Street Films related to THE HOUSE I LIVE IN – the powerful, Sundance award-winning documentary about the war on drugs. As the Impact and Outreach Consultant, she devised strategies to utilize the film as an advocacy tool to leverage local reform efforts and spur public debate about mass incarceration and the war on drugs. In this role, Lee successfully coordinated hundreds of community engagement screenings around the country, assisting community based organizations in using the film as a tool for education and advocacy.
Lee received a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College with a concentration in public policy and psychology. She lives in Brooklyn and knows where to find really delicious pasta.