Staff ASA Leadership
Office of the Executive Director
Steph Sherer, Founder
phone: (202) 857-4272
Steph Sherer is founder and President of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists, and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research.
Her direct experience with the medical benefits of cannabis and her political organizing background led Steph to form ASA in 2002 with the purpose of building a strong grassroots movement to protect patients and their rights. As a powerful advocate, a skilled spokesperson, and an energetic initiator of campaigns, Steph has trained over 100,000 individuals across the country on civic engagement.
Steph has become the foremost international leader and expert on medical cannabis patient advocacy and, alongside American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), has created the first industry standards in the areas of distribution, cultivation, analytics, and manufacturing, packaging and labeling.
Debbie Churgai, Executive Director
phone: (202) 618-6973
As the Director, Debbie manages all day-to-day aspects of the organization, including ASA's Patient Focused Certification (PFC) and Cannabis Care Certification (CCC) programs. She has served as a writer, editor, and reviewer on many ASA publications including the Cannabis and Cannabis Resin Critical Review Document that was sent to the United Nations. Debbie first entered into the medical cannabis field by helping a company write their State license applications for cultivating and manufacturing medical cannabis. She worked in conjunction with horticulturists, physicians, and patient advocates and learned a great deal about the industry. She joined ASA in February of 2016 as the Executive Assistant to the Executive Director, Steph Sherer and quickly worked her way up to managing programs. Her previous work experience was in the Behavioral and Public Health fields working on projects in tobacco regulation and substance abuse prevention and treatment. She holds a Master’s degree in Psychology.
Geoffrey Marshall, Office & Membership Coordinator
phone: (202) 618-6971
Geoffrey Marshall joined Americans For Safe Access as the Office and Membership assistant in 2015. He brings a dedication to organization and efficiency to the role, where he works to facilitate the organization’s operations and workflows. A graduate of The College of Idaho, Geoffrey’s background has largely focused in the world of non-profit development including time at the Marijuana Policy Project. His own experience with medicinal marijuana (beside the myriad of policy arguments) prompted his work with drug policy reform and cannabis legalization. He also works as consultant for non-profit and campaign clients using the NationBuilder platform.
William Dolphin, Publications
William Dolphin is responsible for ASA's newsletters and other print publications, such as the booklets on treating specific conditions, state legal manuals, and activist training materials. He has been part of ASA's communications team since 2002, following a media relations campaign for Ed Rosenthal's landmark federal trial that generated coverage by the New York Times and major networks. William is a widely published author and editor and has taught at San Francisco State University, Rhodes College, and UC Berkeley. He is currently on the faculty at University of Redlands and is the co-author of The Medicalization of Marijuana: Legitimacy, Stigma, and the Patient Experience (Routledge), the first comprehensive study of what it means to participate in a state medical cannabis program.
Paul Marini, Technical Director
Paul has been with ASA since its inception, serving in a myriad of roles. He is happy to bring the logistical expertise he learned in the anti-globlization movement to bear to keep things running smoothly at ASA.
Benjamin Morrison, Senior IT Consultant
Benjamin Morrison specializes in nonprofit online infrastructure, including modern web design standards, mobile design optimization, online fundraising and online/social media marketing strategy. Formally trained in art history, ceramic arts and ceramic chemistry, Benjamin branched out into web design on the Nationbuilder and Modx platforms in 2009. Former clients include retail businesses, charitable nonprofits, non-partisan political nonprofits, and educational organizations nationwide.
His philosophy in web design is encompassed very well by his company’s slogan “Getting People Involved & Keeping People Involved."
Dustin McDonald, Interim Policy Director
phone: (202) 618-6975
Leading ASA’s policy work is Dustin McDonald, a freelance policy, government relations and public affairs expert with over 20 years of experience in advocacy. Prior to this work, Dustin spent nearly three and a half years at Weedmaps where he built and managed a 20-person international policy and government relations team, and guided associated federal, state, local and international government engagements on cannabis policy issues. Dustin joined Weedmaps in 2016 after serving for three and a half years as the Director of the Government Finance Officers Association’s (GFOA) Federal Liaison Center, where he led advocacy on municipal finance issues for a coalition of state, county and city government associations. At GFOA Dustin also served as lead staff on the GFOA’s Committee on Governmental Debt Management, working with committee members to develop best practices that promote sound financial practices for state and local governments.
Prior to his work with GFOA Dustin spent 10 years providing direct federal advocacy services to local governments and local government agencies from across the U.S., working as a member of Holland & Knight’s Public Policy and Regulation Group, as well as the government relations practice of MARC Associates. In this role, Dustin led successful advocacy campaigns on a diverse group of issues, including municipal finance and tax reform, multi-modal transportation and related infrastructure, housing and economic development, water and wastewater infrastructure improvements, telecommunications reform, public safety and manufacturing.
Before entering the private sector, Dustin served as staff in the Washington, DC office of a member of the California congressional delegation.
Don Duncan, California Director
phone: (202) 857-4272
Don Duncan has served on the Board of Directors since he co-founded American for Safe Access in 2002. As California Director, he is coordinating the grassroots and grasstops campaign to fully implement the states medical cannabis laws, respond to federal interference, and build a broader and more powerful coalition for medical cannabis in California. Mr. Duncan was instrumental in galvanizing grassroots resistance to federal raids and in seeding local self-regulatory alliances for medical cannabis providers statewide. He has worked closely with elected officials, law enforcement, collective operators, and community members in local implementation efforts in several California cities and counties, and is currently working with lawmakers in Sacramento to adopt legislation to expand rights for patients.
Mr. Duncan co-founded one of the oldest and most reputable families of medical cannabis dispensing collectives in California, helping to open legal facilities in Berkeley, West Hollywood, and Los Angeles. He is a leading consultant in the field of medical cannabis and has been featured in major media coverage, including 60 Minutes, Dan Rather Reports, Retirement Living TV, and the Los Angeles Times.
Reenal Doshi, Director of Outreach and Communications
phone: (202) 618-6972
Reenal Doshi has 15 years of experience in health policy and communications at the international, federal, state, and nonprofit levels. She holds a Master of Public Health degree and a Bachelor of Science degree in Community and Public Health. She worked for several members of Congress for five years on Capitol Hill in legislative, press, and caseworker positions. She also worked in the government relations department of a health advocacy organization for five years where she tracked federal legislation, performed outreach, helped organize Congressional events, and met with members of Congress and their staff.
As a health fellow for the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, Reenal carried out research and created communications materials for the United Nations. Reenal also served as a delegate for the health sector at the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa, where she helped write a position paper that was read at the UN General Assembly.
Most recently, she worked in the office of policy and compliance for the State of Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Patient Focused Certification
Heather Despres, M.Sc., PFC Director
phone: (707) 921-5255
Heather Despres, M.Sc. is serving as the Director of the Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program. Her prior experience in cannabis testing laboratories, as well as environmental and pharmaceutical labs, brings with it years of working to ensure that the products made for medical marijuana patients is safe. Heather has degrees in chemistry and bio-molecular science from Clarkson University as well as a Master’s in Chemistry from the University of Colorado at Denver. She has recently relocated to California with her family and is looking forward to continuing to grow the Patient Focused Certification Program.