March 27, 2017
By the DanceSafe Board
Over the last few years, the nightlife community’s awareness of harm reduction has increased exponentially. A conference rarely goes by without a panel dedicated to reducing the risks participants face at nightlife events, and these panels are often standing room only. There are literally dozens of independent harm reduction organizations, and many large promoters have their own internal harm reduction teams. Despite all of this, we are still seeing adverse medical incidents and preventable deaths at events. Getting serious about harm reduction is long overdue, and DanceSafe is restructuring its leadership to meet the needs of the community and take our work to the next level.
As of today, March 27, 2017, DanceSafe promoted Mitchell Gomez to the position of Executive Director, after a vigorous interviewing process spanning several months, with dozens of highly qualified applicants that involved input from the broader harm reduction community on multiple levels. Since 2014, Mitchell has served as the National Outreach Director, and his passion and commitment to the DanceSafe mission is without parallel.
Not only will Mitchell offer compelling leadership, but he is also equipped with an amazing team.
DanceSafe has also hired Madalyn McElwain to serve as Deputy Director of the organization. Madalyn received her juris doctor from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and is currently licensed to practice law in the state of Colorado. Madalyn’s involvement with harm reduction began in 2012, as Director of her law school’s chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, where she hosted free educational events with organizations like the Harm Reduction Action Center, Colorado’s clean needle exchange program. Madalyn has been trained to administer naloxone, and she volunteers with the Psychedelic Club of Denver, passing out informative fliers at various events about the risks and effects of different synthesized and naturally occurring psychedelics. She hopes to help bridge the gap in knowledge of the risks associated with various substances by sparking honest dialogue about how to mitigate harm when people choose to use drugs. Her passion for harm reduction stems from her involvement with Colorado’s EDM and nightlife communities, which she has been an active participant in since 2006.
Finally, DanceSafe’s Kristin Karas has been promoted to Director of Programs. Kristin’s passion for harm reduction, and her experience in organization, structure, planning, implementation, and evaluation have contributed to DanceSafe’s success since she joined the team in 2016. This year, Kristin will relaunch the DanceSafe Visionaries Program, make improvements and expand the DanceSafe Training Program, and will launch a new public health campaign, among other projects.
In conclusion, here is a letter from our new Executive Director, Mitchell Gomez:
“To the nightlife community,
Promoters: DanceSafe has over 20 chapters, a global pool of volunteers, and connections with virtually every harm reduction organization working within the nightlife community worldwide, and we are here to help. We will work events with or without offering drug checking services; we can help you train your own harm reduction teams; and we can find you local partners ready and willing to help you make your event as safe as possible.
Harm reduction saves lives. Drug checking saves lives. But, many areas face legal constraints to openly offering drug checking services. The time has come to allow local harm reduction nonprofits on site, develop your own harm-reduction teams, or openly support efforts to change the laws that you feel make it difficult for you to allow these services. DanceSafe can support you in all those capacities.
We are always happy to modify our services to meet the comfort levels of promoters, venue owners, security, law enforcement, or other stakeholders involved.
If you are interested in having us set up at your event, you can request our services here:
Artists: You can get involved with the movement in a variety of ways. You can join the AMPLIFY Project to speak out about these issues; you can tell promoters that you want DanceSafe at events where you are performing; and you can support DanceSafe’s outreach mission directly (contact me at mitchell@DanceSafe.org to discuss this further).
To anyone interested in volunteering with DanceSafe (or just learning the skills they need to protect their own health and to educate their friends), please do so here.
Overall, between current and new leadership, DanceSafe’s incredible Board of Directors, and our remarkable base of volunteers, DanceSafe is ready and willing to take on the harm reduction challenges ahead.”
– Mitchell Gomez