Drug Policy Alliance Names Rising Criminal Justice Reform Leader Maritza Perez National Affairs Director

Drug Policy Alliance Names Rising Criminal Justice Reform Leader Maritza Perez National Affairs Director

New York, NY – The Drug Policy Alliance has named Maritza Perez the new Director of its Office of National Affairs. In this role, Perez will lead the organization’s federal legislative agenda and strategy, as well as its work in the District of Columbia.

Most recently, Perez served as the senior policy analyst for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress, where she worked on a number of legislative issues around drug policy, policing, prison and sentencing reform. 

“I am thrilled to be joining the Drug Policy Alliance, an organization that’s been on the frontlines of fighting for sensible drug policy reform in this country,” said Perez. “I’m excited to continue the organization’s mission of creating a more compassionate and equitable society where drug policy is developed from a health approach and racial justice is at the forefront of our policymaking decisions.”

Perez has received extensive recognition as a rising leader in public service and the law, and was recently named one of the Hispanic National Bar Association’s Top Lawyers Under 40 in 2019, recognizing her outstanding record of public service and professional excellence. Before joining the Center for American Progress, Perez was a legislative staff attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) in Washington, D.C. After completing law school at the University of California at Berkeley, Perez started her legal career at MALDEF as a Soros Justice Fellow, advocating for policies to end mass incarceration and the disproportionate representation of Latinos in the criminal legal system. Previously, she had also worked in Congress as an aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. A native of Nevada and the proud daughter of immigrant parents, Perez now sits on the Board of Directors of both the Hispanic Bar Association of DC and the American Constitution Society (Washington, DC Lawyer Chapter). 

At the Drug Policy Alliance, Perez will report to Kassandra Frederique, Managing Director of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns. 

“With so much at stake on the national political front, we needed someone who was able to take the reins, build strategic partnerships and ultimately push our federal legislative work forward, said Frederique. “And we are confident Maritza, leading our federal team, couldn’t be more equipped to take on the task.”

Even while at CAP, Perez has already been working closely with DPA on various initiatives, including the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act and other criminal justice reform measures.

“We are so excited to have Maritza Perez joining us to lead our federal work,” said Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “She has repeatedly proven herself to be a strong voice in the fight for social and economic justice for those who have been most harmed by the war on drugs.”

Perez’ first day in her new role with DPA will be Monday, December 9.

A high-resolution headshot of Perez is available here.