gabriel sayegh is the Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director at the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice. He brings over 20 years of organizing and advocacy experience to dismantle mass incarceration, end the war on drugs, and build communities.
sayegh has served as chief architect and strategist for numerous campaigns. From August 2015 – June 2017, he was the lead architect and chief strategist on the #CLOSErikers campaign which successfully forced New York City to adopt as its official policy, the closure of Rikers Island Jail Complex. sayegh was a key leader in the campaign to roll back the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws, devising and managing the strategy that finally 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 the number of marijuana arrests in NYC by half, and he served as chief architect, 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 municipal-focused and public health responses to drug use. From 2013 – 2016, he co-led and facilitated the development and launch of the innovative Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program in Albany, New York.
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. For 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. 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 Reform Conference.
From 2012 – 2014, sayegh led a unique collaboration with Charlotte Street Films on the powerful, Sundance award-winning documentary about the war on drugs directed by Eugene Jarecki, THE HOUSE I LIVE IN. In addition to advising the film director and producers on policy and advocacy, sayegh and his team 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. The collaboration included developing a toolkit to accompany the film and working with hundreds of community based organizations across the country in using the film as a tool for education and advocacy – in schools, community centers, legislatures, prisons and jails, and more.
Sayegh began organizing in 1996, working on prison moratorium and racial equity campaigns in California, and has subsequently worked on addressing domestic violence, ending violence against women and LGTBQ people, promoting fair trade, criminal justice and drug policy reform, and more. In 2003, sayegh served as session staff for Washington State Senator Debbie Regala (D-27), with a policy portfolio focused on criminal justice, welfare, and human services. From 2009 – 2012, he served as a field lecturer in the policy track of the Columbia Graduate School of Social Work.
He 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 co-author 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. He’s served as a guest speaker at hundreds of conferences, meetings and events across the country, and has given a TEDx talk about his personal struggles with addiction and the connections between the war on drugs, mass incarceration, and systemic racism.
Sayegh serves as a trustee of the New York Foundation, and sits on the board of Atlanta-based movement organization, Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide. He holds a Master’s in Public Health from the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College, and a BA from The Evergreen State College. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Donna Hylton is the Director of the Women and Girls Project at the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice.
For years, Donna has been deeply involved in movements for social justice around the country. She draws upon her experience imprisoned in a women's correctional facility for 27 years, with some of that time spent in solitary confinement. Now released, Donna emphasizes the importance of building communities through economic, racial and gender justice.
Donna encourages systems to recognize how the trauma of sexual violence and abuse are often root causes that result in victimization, and that 90% of women who have been abused are being incarcerated -- especially women of color. She is especially concerned with the general tendency to devote more resources and attention to a prison system that preys upon the weak and victimized; she urges communities to think seriously about the school to prison pipelines.
Donna is a founding member of From Life to Life, a national initiative dedicated to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex. She is a key member of the Correctional Association’s Violence Against Women Committee on the Inside, and serves as an advisory committee member for the New York Women’s Bar Association’s Parole Prep Project.
A 2015 JustleadershipUSA Fellow, Donna also works as key member of the Women and Justice Project that is “reimagining” the former Bayview Correctional facility into a Women’s Resource Building. She serves as Board Member of the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund.
During her incarceration, Donna earned an Associate of Science degree, a Bachelor of Science degree in Behavioral Sciences with a concentration in Social Psychology, and a Master’s of Arts degree in English Literature from Mercy College.
An accomplished author, Donna’s memoir “A Little Piece of Light” -- published by Hachette Books Group – was released June 5th, 2018 and is available for purchase on Amazon or at your local bookstore.
Yan Snead is the Manager of Communications and Digital Strategy at the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice. She grew up with a deep passion for digital strategy and branding, and an urge to build and strengthen connections between brands, organizations, and companies and their audiences.
Yan grew up in the suburbs of Trenton, New Jersey. She spent her earlier years as an undergraduate student honing her digital skill set writing as a freelance music journalist, graphic and web designer. Yan spent 8 years working her craft within the entertainment industry as a freelance Brand Strategist and Media Personality. She is the Editor-In-Chief of Long Island based media production agency, Dinner Land Network, and has worked with artists and brands including: Grammy Award winning producer Chase N. Cashe and his Can't Buy Respect Agency, Audiomack, KicksUSA, and more. Her work has been featured within The Rapfest, Bluntiq Magazine, ItsBizkit.com, Bossip, among others.
Prior to joining Katal, from 2016-2018 Yan taught 6th-8th grade students at Joyce Kilmer Middle School where she was deeply exposed to the inadequate and unequal educational systems that exist within inner cities. Her experience with these children instilled in her a deep concern and passion for their futures and the current state of the educational system within low-income communities.
An accomplished digital strategist, Yan joined Katal committed to helping to build with people within the same communities that these very artists and disadvantaged children come from.
Yan is a graduate of Kean University and holds a Bachelors in Communications, Public Relations concentration, and a Minor in Music.