Join Harm Reduction International's Naomi Burke-Shyne as she welcomes everyone to Constellations 2022!
Join Welby for a live Yoga session. The focus of this session will be around knowing and feeling everything we do - even something as simple as lifting our hands up.
Video for this class is not required; Welby will do the movements while explaining what your muscles are doing and how they should feel.
Session duration: 60 minutes
Welby has been teaching yoga for more than 10 years. He is an experienced practitioner who focuses on well-being of body and mind and movements awareness.
Based in Indonesia, he is teaching yoga and pilates for beginners to advanced students. A former head teacher in Fitness First Jakarta for five years, he will guide you to find the joy of discovering the gifts that yoga can bring to your life: the delight of moving in harmony with your breaths.
Give yourself an opportunity to join his class to experience mind-body connection. Yoga can help you to improve mental health and overall sense of wellbeing.
MUSA is a documentary of a mother's love and struggle to keep her son alive. Dwi's son, the late Musa, lived with Cerebral Palsy. He had his right to health, and to life, denied by the government of Indonesia as the country criminalised the use of medical marijuana, the medication that had helped him with his illness. Directed by Alexander Sinaga, the film follows Dwi's endeavours in filing a petition to the Indonesian Constitution Court to decriminalise medical use of marijuana in the country.
Session will be moderated by Colleen Daniels from Harm Reduction International.
Session duration: 75 minutes
Ma’ruf Bajammal is a public defender at LBH Masyarakat since June 2017. Before assuming that position, Ma’ruf worked as Research Assistant at the same organisation, where he was in charged in delivering legal training in 17 cities throughout the country. In his current position, his work mainly focuses on cases with civil and political rights dimension, such as police brutality, extrajudicial killings, and death penalty. In January 2019, Ma’ruf received Bertha Justice Fellowship from Bertha Foundation.
Dwi Pertiwi is the mother of the late Musa IBN Hassan Pedersen, who had Cerebral Palsy. Dwi, together with the other two mothers, filed a petition to the Indonesian Constitutional Court in effort to legalise the use of marijuana for medical purposes. On 28 December 2022, Musa passed away at the age of 16, before the Court reached their decision.
Alexander Sinaga, born in Magelang, 17 October 1986, is a rapper, and music producer of a hip hop duo, D.P.M.B, from Yogyakarta. He is also the founder of HELLHOUSE records, a hip hop collective. Lahir di Magelang, 17 Oktober 1986. He started his work in visual project in the mid-2016, when he created music videos of Indonesia’s finest rappers, such as Iwa K, Kill The DJ, Tuan 13, and others. In 2018, he debuted his documentary film, It’s Wijilan, that he directed and edited himself with the skills he self-taught. It’s Wijilan received a positive response and was played at Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival 2018, and World Cinema Amsterdam Festival 2019.
Colleen is the Deputy Director and Public Health Lead at Harm Reduction International. She has 24 years’ experience as a Director, Project Manager, and Technical Advisor in HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, gender, human rights, challenging operating environments, and community systems strengthening, working to deliver access to essential health services. She has worked in programs globally and has lived and worked in Australia, Kenya, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Thailand, the Kingdom of Tonga and the USA.
Join Kishore Kuvavala, World Chairman of the Laughter Clubs of India, for a lunchtime session introducing the philosophy behind his work, the importance of laughter and a laughter session!
Although it's a shame we won't be able to see each other, we can imagine each other laughing along with Kishore - and don't forget to post your laughing photos on the Constellations app wall!
Session duration: 60 minutes
Kishore Kuvavala is the founder of the Priyadarshini Laughter Club and the World Chairman of the Laughter Clubs of India.
It has been seven months since the start of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, with thousands of military and civilian victims losing their lives and homes and suffering from violence and gross human rights abuses. Millions of Ukrainians have been internally displaced or have fled abroad searching for a safe place. The war has affected every aspect of social, economic, and political life. However, despite all the casualties, damaged infrastructure, staff outflow, and lack of funding, harm reduction organisations and communities of people who use drugs in Ukraine and in the region have coped with this tragic situation.
During this discussion we will hear examples of the exceptional solidarity of all harm reduction activists, civil society and community in supporting Ukrainian key populations - both politically, with humanitarian support and donations, as well as with hosting Ukrainian refugees in their countries and organising housing, food, harm reduction and OST for them in Europe, UK, USA or Canada.
The main question of the session will be – what can be done to help people in Ukraine survive through a cold winter in a bombed country?
Session co-hosted by Eurasian Harm Reduction Association
Session duration: 75 minutes
Olga Belyaeva, program coordinator of the Eurasian network of people using drugs, will speak from city of Dnepro in the middle of Ukraine, under the threat of bombing. Olga and ENPUD are supporting people who use drugs from the most affected cities in receiving opioid agonist treatment, mental health support, food, a place to live and basic medications.
Velta Parkhоmenko is leader of the community-based harm reduction organization Eney in Kyiv. Velta is one of the well-known trainers for peer workers. She is a consultant on community mobilisation in Ukrainian network of people using drugs VOLNA, and a women’s movement activist in developing a system of support for GBV survivors among women using drugs and vulnerable women. From the first, hardest days of the Russian invasion and bombing until now, Velta has continued operating a shelter for women in Kyiv.
Magdalena Bartnik is Executive Director of the PREKURSOR Foundation, a leading harm reduction organization in Poland. She is a harm reduction and drug policy advocate mostly engaged in setting up services for people who use drugs and strengthening community inclusion. Magda will talk about the significance of harm reduction in times of war in relation to activists from neighboring countries, who are providing not only services but often temporary shelters, food, basic medicine, and support for women and children.
Ganna Dovbak is Ukrainian and the Executive Director of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association based in Lithuania and uniting 335 organizations and activists from 29 countries of Central, Eastern Europe and Central Asia for a progressive human rights-based drug policy, sustainable funding advocacy, and quality of harm reduction services responding to needs of people who use drugs. Ganna has an MA in Social Psychology and MA in Culture Studies. Ganna is a well-known community trainer, human rights activist, and social programs expert.
Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) is a non-for-profit public membership-based organization uniting harm reduction activists and organisations from Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CEECA) with its mission to actively unite and support communities and civil societies to ensure the rights and freedoms, health, and well-being of people who use psychoactive substances in the CEECA region. The Association is registered in Lithuania in 2017 continuing regional harm reduction activists’ network tradition since 1997.
The President Gustavo Petro of Colombia's passionate address at the UN General Assembly, 20th September 2022:
“The developed world let the rainforest burn as an excuse for the war against drugs. What is more poisonous for humanity, cocaine, coal or oil? The opinion of power has ordered that cocaine is poison and must be persecuted, while it only causes minimal deaths from overdoses…but instead, coal and oil must be protected, even when it can extinguish all humanity.” (Read more here.)
Drugs and Climate - An intersection that has been dangerously overlooked and without considerable attention and immediate action could play a significant role in accelerating the climate emergency.
The jungles of S.E Asia, West Africa and the forests of Central and South America are the planet's largest carbon sinks and key to our climate future. These equatorial landscapes are also the world's trafficking routes for the unregulated, untaxed and profit driven illicit drugs trade. Governments don't manage these forests; Organized Crime does.
So when it comes to stopping deforestation, restoring ecosystems, implementing climate resilient development and divesting communities away from fossil fuel economies - are these really going to be delivered by ‘ those in charge’?
Will Organised Crime pour their financial resources into protecting public and planetary health?
While Prohibition continues to underpin the socio-economic landscape of these areas, climate mitigation and adaptation will never be a priority, however urgent the situation becomes.
In this panel we will look at the power and resources the drugs trade offers to powerful actors and Organised Crime groups and why this poses such a threat to Climate Justice.
Pre-session: Watch this video on why global drug policy is a barrier to climate justice.
Session co-host: Health Poverty Action
Session duration: 75 minutes
Clemmie James has been a climate justice activist and social justice campaigner for almost 20 years.
She has worked on climate mitigation and adaptation projects in Tuvalu, Bangladesh and Trinidad.
Back in 2008 she was part of Drax 29, an activist group that hijacked a coal train and shut down UK largest coalfired power station. It was later discovered that her activist cell had been infiltrated with an undercover police officer and this led Clemmie to become interested in the targeted dismantling of the environmental agenda by state institutions. Since then, she has worked on issues that are subject to prejudice and stigmatisation, from a community to international level.
For 10 years she worked with Gypsy and Traveller communities all over the Uk campaigning against institutional racism and discrimination.
She is an associate of St Ethelburgas Centre for Peace and Reconciliation and alumni of their Spiritual Ecology program.
Currently she is the lead campaigner at Health Poverty Action on drug policy reform, and has been in this role since 2018. She is co-ordinating a international working group on Drug policy and climate justice. Her work here includes paper Legal Regulation through a social justice lens.
Dr. Diego Lugo-Vivas joined CET Academic Programs / Universidad del Valle in 2019 as an adjunct professor in environmental conflicts and then Universidad Santo Tomás as a researcher in 2021. Prior to taking up these positions, he was a PhD candidate at the University of Miami. His interests, lie at the intersection between political ecology, environmental sociology, Latinx and feminist geographies, as well as the politics of space and environmental change.
Part of his work has been published in the Journal of Land Use Science (JLUS), the Journal of International Affairs (JIA) - Oxford Academic Press, the Journal of Political Ecology, World Development, the Journal of Latin American Geography (JLAG), Revista de Estudios Colombianos (REC), CS Universidad Icesi, Sociedad y Economía – Universidad del Valle and Universidad Santo Tomás Press, among others. His book on land and resource grabbing & ecological militarism in post-conflict frontiers is currently being reviewed by university presses.
Kendra McSweeney is a geographer who has researched the links between drug policy and the environment for a decade, with a focus on Central America. Her PhD is from McGill University and she is a professor at the Ohio State University.
Neil Woods is a former undercover police officer. He’s now a board member of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership and the chair of LEAP U.K. and LEAP Europe, and the chair of the international sub-committee for the organisation.
The author of the best selling Good Cop Bad War and Drug Wars with JS Rafaeli, Neil is a regular media pundit around the world on drugs, drug policy, and Organised Crime.
Health for all is a right not a privilege – a right denied to many by a global system stacked against them. It doesn’t have to be this way. Health Poverty Action acts in solidarity with health workers, activists and communities worldwide to improve health and challenge the causes of poverty. When we stand together, we are all powerful.
"One of those moments where the rubber meets the road and you have to decide are you going to do something about it." - Ricky Bluthenthal, Fiasco: The Aids Crisis Podcast Episode 8: No Harm
When Ricky Bluthenthal was studying for his Ph.D. at Berkley in the early 1990s he came face to face with the HIV epidemic. Studying the prevelence of HIV among people who use in the Bay Area, he was faced with a dilemma - simply study people and leave them to contract HIV or be responsive to the problems that people were facing. He chose to act and to start distributing needles and syringes, despite knowing that he could be arrested for doing so. Since then, Dr Bluthenthal has continued to conduct community-engaged research on risk behaviors and health promotion among people who inject drugs (PWID), men who have sex with men, and other disadvantaged populations. In this session, he will reflect on his early career and his experience over the years.
Greg Scott is an professor in sociology who has coupled his academic career with hands-on work in harm reduction for more than two decades. He will show his film This is Somewhere Safe about the inception and operation of the first-ever unsanctioned safer injecting facility in an unnamed American city. After the film, Greg and Ricky will discuss matters arising from the film and will take questions from the audience.
Session duration: 75 minutes
Greg Scott is professor of sociology at DePaul University in Chicago, where he teaches classes on consciousness, drugs, ethnography, art worlds, and visual studies. His work involves the use of filmmaking, photography, performance, and sculpture to document and advance harm reduction and drug user liberation. Greg has worked in harm reduction for the past 21 years and has used drugs for the past 40 years.
Photo by Nigel Brunsdon.
Ricky N. Bluthenthal, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Populations and Public Health Sciences (DPPHS), Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in DPPHS, and Associate Dean for Social Justice in the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.
Since 1991, Dr. Bluthenthal has conducted community-engaged research on risk behaviors and health promotion among people who inject drugs (PWID), men who have sex with men, and other disadvantaged populations. His current studies include an observational cohort study on the substitution of cannabis for opioids among PWID, an evaluation of the Hollywood LEAD program, and qualitative, life histories of opioid use among substance using men who have sex with men. His studies have been funded by NIDA, NIAAA, NIMHD, and the CDC among others. Dr. Bluthenthal has published over 170 manuscripts in peer-reviewed scientific journals and is on editorial board of the International Journal of Drug Policy and Drug and Alcohol Dependence and is an Associate Editor of the Addiction Section for Annals of Medicine. Dr. Bluthenthal has received numerous awards including the John P. McGovern Award for Excellence in Medical Education from the Association for Multidisciplinary Education & Research in Substance Use & Addiction, the William Foote Whyte Distinguished Career Award from the Sociological Practice & Public Sociology section of the American Sociological Association, and the Social Science Distinguished Alumni Award from the Social Science Division of the University of California Santa Cruz. As a graduate student, Dr. Bluthenthal co-founded the syringe exchange program in Oakland, California and was a founding board member of the National Harm Reduction Coalition. Dr. Bluthenthal received his BA in History and Sociology from the University of California Santa Cruz, and his MA and PhD in Sociology from the University of California Berkeley.
A casual conversation with local advocates on the current state of Philippine drug policy and harm reduction in a new presidency.
Session moderated by Naomi Burke-Shyne, Executive Director of Harm Reduction International.
Session duration: 60 minutes
Cathy Alvarez is the executive director and one of the founders of StreetLawPh, a legal service NGO working on drug policy reform in the Philippines. They provide paralegal skills training for communities and persons deprived of liberty as part of their work for access to justice.
Panki Nadela is the founder and executive director of IDUCARE, the sole organisation in Cebu City catering to the health needs of people who use drugs. Since 2013, Panki has been an active drug user rights advocate focusing on access to harm reduction services and decriminalisation of drug use in the Philippines.
Naomi is the Executive Director of Harm Reduction International. She brings more than 15 years of international experience at the intersection of law, harm reduction, HIV and human rights.
From 2014-2017, Naomi worked for the Open Society Foundations’ Public Health Program, leading a portfolio of funding and policy engagement that supported civil society to challenge the negative impact of drug policy on access to controlled medicines, and strengthen access to justice for people who use drugs.
Between 2009 and 2014, Naomi worked in a regional capacity for the HIV and Health Law Program at the International Development Law Organization (IDLO); posted in Jakarta, Kathmandu, then Kampala. In partnership with local organisations in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea, Naomi implemented programs advancing the rights of populations vulnerable to HIV via legal services and national human rights mechanisms. Naomi spent the first five years of her career practising law in Australia, in the private sector and as a pro bono legal adviser at community centres.
Naomi is a member of the Strategic Advisory Group to the UN on HIV and Drug Use, a member of the Global Fund Technical Review Panel for Human Rights and Gender, and a member of the World Health Organization Guidelines Group on 'Ensuring Balance in National Policies on Controlled Substances.'
The Rights Reporter Foundation (Drugreporter) and the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) is producing advocacy videos in collaboration with local organisations of people who use drugs. The topics of these videos are selected by the local organisations, the interviews are conducted by the user activists themselves, and the films are edited by Drugeporter.
Two highlights of this project will be presented in this session.
The first film is titled: "Metzineres: From Survival to Fighting Back." (15 minutes) Metzineres provides a consumption room and safe
haven for womxn who use drugs who are also surviving violence in Barcelona.
The second film "The Wall of Shame" (41 minutes) explains why there is a need to open crack consumption rooms in Paris, instead of chasing people who use crack from one public park to another.
After the films, two guests will join the session: Aura Roig, the director of Metzineres, and Fabrice Olivet, director of ASUD, the French Drug User Union, to answer questions from István Gábor Takács of Drugreporter, who coordinated and edited the films.
Session co-host: Drugreporter
Session duration: 75 minutes
István Gábor Takács is a human rights activist, videographer and video trainer. He works at the Rights Reporter Foundation (Drugreporter). He ran the Video Advocacy Program of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union between 2007-2015 and produced several hundred online advocacy films and documentaries, among them award-winning feature length documentaries.
Fabrice Olivet is an historic leader of the French harm reduction movement, a drug user activist and a writer. Since 1996 he has managed ASUD (Self Support of Drug User), an NGO agreed by government to represent drug users’ interest in the French health system- www.asud.org.
A history graduate, he is a polemist engaged in several debates regarding race and discrimination in French society.
La Question Métisse , Mille et une Nuits, Paris, 2011
Au risque de la race , L’Aube , 2021
Aura Roig is a social anthropologist and has a Master’s Degree in Criminology and Sociology of the Penal System. Currently, she is working on her PhD in Medical anthropology. She is the Founder Director of Metzineres, the first non-governmental cooperative dedicated to develop Sheltered Environments for women and diverse gender people who use drugs, surviving violence and multiple situations of vulnerability. Collaborating with different organizations, she designed and implemented the first NEP in Colombia and wrote the National Harm Reduction Model of Costa Rica. She is also international advisor on drug policy, harm reduction, human rights and gender mainstream.
Drugreporter is the drug policy website of the Rights Reporter Foundation. The website was created in 2004 to promote drug policy reform advocacy in the region. In 2007 we started our video advocacy program and our website has become an international hub for English and Russian language news articles, blogs and films about harm reduction and drug policy reform. Our film database contains hundreds of short films aiming at educating and mobilising people. We provide training for activists and professionals on how to make and use films for advocacy, as well as how to communicate more effectively. We are in the forefront of harm reduction and drug policy reform advocacy activities in Hungary and in Europe.
The International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) is a global peer-based organisation that seeks to promote the health and defend the rights of people who use drugs. INPUD will expose and challenge stigma, discrimination, and the criminalisation of people who use drugs and its impact on the drug-using community’s health and rights. INPUD will achieve this through processes of empowerment and advocacy at the international level, while supporting empowerment and advocacy at community, national and regional levels.
In 2021, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (Working Group) published a landmark study on arbitrary detention on the context of drug policies. As part of their methods of work, the Working Group investigates cases of arbitrary detentions sent through urgent appeals, individual complaints and communications to concerned Governments to clarify and/or bring their attention to these cases.
This session aims to shed more light on how the Working Group’s methods of work could be utilised in advocating against the use of arbitrary detention in drug cases. During the session, Lawyering on the Margins (LOTM) will also launch its latest video illustrating the Working Group’s methods of work and its relevancies for marginalised groups.
Session moderated by Ruod Ariete of Harm Reduction International
Session co-hosts: Lawyering on the Margins and United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Session duration: 75 minutes
Ruod Ariete is a Project Assistant for Communications and Advocacy of the Human Rights and Justice Team at Harm Reduction International. Ruod is a communications and learning specialist with over five years of experience in facilitation, digital marketing, and advocacy promotion. They have a Bachelor's degree in Psychology at the University of the Philippines Diliman and are currently studying for a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology at the same institution.
Prior to joining Harm Reduction International, Ruod worked as the Public Engagement and Capacity Building Coordinator at NoBox Philippines, a leading harm reduction-focused drug policy organisation based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Their work focused mainly on the conceptualization and implementation of various workshops, events, and other initiatives in partnership with other civil society organisations, international organisations, and local government units. Ruod headed the organising committee for the Philippine Harm Reduction Summit 2021, which gathered harm reduction advocates from all over the Philippines and abroad to collaborate on ideas and action toward more responsive and appropriate drug laws in the country.
Ruod likes to shine their queer light on challenging the binary views on drugs and gender. They always find ways to inject nuance and a little fun into every engagement.
Dr Miriam Estrada-Castillo (Chair-Rapporteur) is a Professor of International Law, International Criminal Law and Human Rights and the Director of the UNESCO Chair at Casa Grande University, of Guayaquil, Ecuador. She is also a Visiting Professor at Bards College (NY/Palestine).
Professor Estrada worked for the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and as an International Prosecutor at Timor-Leste being part of the first 100 Brahimi Civilian Experts deployed in a Peacekeeping Mission by the UN. She is a former Vice chairperson of the Committee for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and member of the group which drafted the CEDAW Optional Protocol.
Dr Estrada was the Latin America Regional Adviser on Gender, Human Rights and Culture of Peace for UNESCO.
She has been Visiting Professor, and International Leading Expert on Human Rights at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI). Professor in Residence at the UN University for Peace and at the Australian National University. Former Minister of Social Affairs and a Former President of the National Court for Minors in Ecuador. She is the author of the Children’s and Family Law of her country and is known as the founder of the Human Rights Education on Ecuador. She has written profusely about Human Rights, Gender and Civil and Political Rights.
Giada is a Senior Analyst in the Human Rights and Justice team at Harm Reduction International. She monitors trends on rights violations committed in the name of drug control, authors reports and analyses, and coordinates advocacy with the UN and other institutional actors.
Giada holds a law degree from the University of Torino (Italy), and an LLM in Human Rights, Conflict and Justice from SOAS (University of London), and is a member of the Advocacy Coordination Working Group of the World Coalition against the Death Penalty.
Adrian is a Ugandan human rights lawyer and advocate. He is the Executive Director of Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF). He is the current Chair of the Legal Committee and former coordinator of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which coordinated civil society efforts to nullify Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act and which won the US State Department’s Human Rights Defenders Award 2011. Adrian coordinated the successful legal efforts to challenge the Anti Homosexuality Act, 2014 in Uganda’s Constitutional Court and is leading the process to challenge the Act at the East African Court of Justice. He holds an LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa from the University of Pretoria, an LLB degree from Makerere University Kampala, Uganda, and a postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre, Kampala. His research interests are in the areas of: LGBTI rights, the right to health, and children’s rights.
The Lawyering on the Margins network brings together lawyers serving marginalised populations from across the world.. The network was originally set up as a platform for lawyers to share best practice, challenges and support.
LOTM members work with people living with HIV, people who use drugs, sex workers, LGBTIQ+ people, people in prison, and other marginalised groups. Legal services are the core work for a majority of the LOTM members, with complementary national/regional/international advocacy, campaigns, community mobilization, and strategic litigation.
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has the mandate to investigate cases of deprivation of liberty imposed arbitrarily or inconsistently with the international standards set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the international legal instruments accepted by the States concerned.
The Working Group investigates alleged cases of arbitrary detention by sending urgent appeals and communications to concerned Governments to clarify and/or bring their attention to these cases. The Working Group also considers individual complaints under its regular communications procedure, leading to the adoption of opinions as to the arbitrariness of the detention. In addition, the Working Group conducts country visits to assess the situation of deprivation of liberty in the country.
Join Leila, Patriic and guests for an update on chemsex harm reduction in Greater London. During this roundtable, they will discuss:
Session duration: 75 minutes
Exasperated by the quality and scope of gay men's health promotion, Patriic co-founded the Gay Men's Health Collective (GMHC) in 2010. Its projects include MENRUS.CO.UK (health and well-being website) PIP PAC (safer chemsex packs) and THREE FLYING PIGLETS (making short health-related films). Prior to this, Patriic has background in HIV prevention and gay men’s health, and wrote the ground-breaking “Hand Book for Gay Men” and “Together: Life, Love and Lube”. This acerbic bear of a man is as charming as he is curmudgeonly as he continues to innovate campaigns and resources to better connect gay men with their health and well-being needs.
Leila Reid, MSc, MPH, is Director of Corporate Services for The Hepatitis C Trust (HCT), a peer-led national charity working to prevent and address hepatitis C. She leads HCT’s research, evaluation, patient support, and operations work. Prior to this, Leila was Head of Public Health England’s London office, and spent ten years working in public health and policy in the UK and overseas. Leila holds Master’s degrees in International Public Policy and in Public Health, and is a Trustee of Amaudo, a UK-Nigeria mental health NGO.
Join Kurt Schmoke, President of the University of Baltimore and former Mayor of Baltimore (1987-99) and David Simon, creator and producer of celebrated HBO series ‘The Wire’, in a discussion with Susan Sherman on their experiences of the War on Drugs, policing, drug policy and politics.
Session duration: 60 minutes
Kurt L. Schmoke was appointed the eighth president of the University of Baltimore in July, 2014. Mr. Schmoke earned his undergraduate degree in history from Yale University. While at Yale he co-founded a child care center that has been in continuous operation as the Calvin Hill Day Care Center and Kindergarten since 1970. He pursued graduate studies on a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford University and earned his Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School. Mr. Schmoke served as the mayor of Baltimore City for 12 years from 1987 to 1999, and was the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City from 1982 to 1987.
During his tenure as mayor, Mr. Schmoke initiated a number of programs in the areas of housing, education, public health and economic development. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush awarded him the National Literacy Award for his efforts to promote adult literacy, and in 1994 President Bill Clinton praised his programs to improve public housing and enhance community economic development. The Clinton Administration named Baltimore one of six cities to receive Empowerment Zone designation in 1994.
Mr. Schmoke’s other public service includes his appointment as Assistant Director, White House Domestic Policy Staff under President Jimmy Carter, and service as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Maryland.
After completing three terms as Mayor of Baltimore, Mr. Schmoke returned to the practice of law. He was a partner in the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering. He became actively involved in the American Bar Association and the National Bar Association, serving a term as Chair of the Council on Racial and Ethnic Justice of the ABA. He has provided countless hours of pro bono legal services to charitable organizations, such as the Children’s Health Forum, a non-profit group established to combat lead poisoning among our nation’s youth. Mr. Schmoke was appointed Dean of Howard University School of Law in January, 2003 and served in that capacity until July, 2012, at which time, he was appointed General Counsel for the university. During his tenure as Dean of Howard Law School, Mr. Schmoke focused much of his attention on increasing bar passage rates, and expanding the clinical law program to emphasize matters of environmental justice, fair housing and civil rights. Mr. Schmoke also served Howard in the role of Interim Provost from fall 2013 until June 2014.
Mr. Schmoke is a member of several boards and associations, including the Hippodrome Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Baltimore Community Foundation, and the Baltimore City Community College.
Mr. Schmoke is married to Dr. Patricia L. Schmoke, an ophthalmologist. They have two adult children, Gregory and Katherine.
David Simon is a Baltimore-based journalist, author, and television producer. He created and produced the celebrated HBO series The Wire, which depicts an American city's political and socioeconomic fissures.
A former reporter for the Baltimore Sun, Simon is the author of two books of narrative non-fiction. His first book, Homicide, was the basis for the NBC drama of that name, and his second, The Corner, became an Emmy-winning HBO miniseries. Subsequent television credits include Generation Kill, Treme, Show Me A Hero, The Deuce, and The Plot Against America. His most recent project, We Own This City, is a six-hour, limited series chronicling the rise and fall of the Baltimore Police Department's Gun Trace Task Force. It examines the corruption and moral collapse that befell an American city in which the policies of drug prohibition and mass arrest were championed at the expense of actual police work.
Simon is a 2010 MacArthur Fellow.
Photo Credit: Krestine Havemann
Susan Sherman is an epidemiologist and is the Bloomberg Professor of American Health in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at Johns Hopkins University.
Join us for a few minutes to wrap up Constellations for another year - see you next time!