Job posting: Executive Director, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition


Via Canadian Drug Policy Coalition

Job title: Executive Director

Reports to: Governing Council

The Opportunity: Canadian Drug Policy Coalition seeks a skilled organizational leader and advocate to lead our expanded team to meet this important moment in Canadian drug policy development. The Executive Director will bring insight and skills for strategic drug policy advocacy processes, organizational development and change leadership, fundraising, people management, partnerships and public relations, and governance; we seek candidates with the demonstrated ability to bring an intersectional justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion approach to their work as well as working knowledge (or ability to quickly develop working knowledge) of local, national and international drug policy landscapes, drug policy reform movements, and innovative services for people who use drugs.

CDPC has recently rapidly expanded both the staff team and our programmatic work, all in the context of both the ongoing drug poisoning crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. While this posting reflects the anticipated breadth of the role over the long term, the next Executive Director can expect to spend their first 12-18 months leading a strategy and governance refresh, spearheading ongoing fundraising efforts, and managing change as the organization builds. Taking over from founding Executive Director Donald MacPherson, the next Executive Director can expect to work with the Governing Council to shape and evolve the role over time.

Application deadline: September 10th, 2022

Desired start date: mid-November 2022

Location, Hours, and Travel: Vancouver/remote – CDPC’s head office is based on unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) lands, in so-called Vancouver at Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Faculty of Health Sciences. The staff team currently works remotely across three time zones and collaborates with people across six or more time zones, working within regular business hours with some evenings and weekends. Some domestic and international travel will be expected in this position. The new ED will need to develop strong relationships with key SFU stakeholders and should expect to spend significant time in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland during their first year; a candidate with strong remote management and relationship skills does not necessarily have to live in the Lower Mainland (specific arrangements are flexible and can be discussed during the recruitment process).

Compensation: $100,000 to $110,000 annual starting salary commensurate with skills and experience.


About Us

The Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (CDPC) is a national coalition of over 50 organizations that advocates drug policies based on principles of public health, human rights, and social inclusion. CDPC promotes drug policies informed by the priorities of communities of people who use drugs, ethical research and knowledge-gathering processes, and First Nations, Inuit, Metis, and Indigenous sovereignty. CDPC’s goals are to educate, engage, and mobilize people to become involved in Canadian and international drug policy reform movements.

CDPC facilitates drug policy and legislation reform by producing and advancing constructive policy recommendations; building sustainable, mutually enhancing partnerships; assembling and disseminating clear information and analysis; and fostering productive dialogue and action within civil society. CDPC’s current policy priorities are focused on harm reduction, decriminalization, legal regulation, and safe supply of drugs.

The Canadian Drug Policy Coalition values equity, diversity, justice, and inclusion, and is focused on enriching our commitment to and application of these principles. We value and welcome the knowledge that comes from lived/living experience, and welcome candidates to share how their experiences of Indigeneity, race, drug use, ability, sexuality, gender, class, citizenship/immigration status, and/or the criminalization of drugs and/or sex work may strengthen their ability to take on this role. (Disclosure of these identities and experiences is welcome but not expected/required; there will be opportunities to demonstrate skills and knowledge during the recruitment process.) We strongly encourage you to apply if you have a passion for CDPC’s mission and meet the core required qualities and attributes below.


Duties and Responsibilities

Organizational Leadership & Strategic Planning

  • Lead CDPC’s staff team to achieve our mission and vision to transform drug policy in Canada, with oversight from the Governance Council and in relationship with our coalition members and key partners.
  • Ensure strategic focus and clarity through strategic planning, effective evaluation, and other strategy synthesis and development processes, in alignment with CDPC’s mission and policy objectives including decriminalization, legal regulation, harm reduction, and safe supply of drugs within a justice and equity framework.



  • In coordination with the Governing Council, steward a governance work plan including but not limited to strategic planning, budget approvals, human resource policies, funding strategies, coalition and partnership strategies, and risk management.
  • Support the Governing Council and staff to ensure equitable diversity and representation within governance, hiring, partnership, and advisory processes, including but not limited to the centering of people with living/lived experience of drug use.
  • Ensure effective communication between governance bodies, staff, and coalition members, including facilitating effective input regarding governance priorities and decisions.
  • Ensure Memoranda of Understanding with SFU and key partners are managed and updated as needed.


Fundraising & Finances

  • Lead CDPC’s fundraising and financial strategy, including development of foundation and research funding, fee-for-service, consultancy, and/or donor & sponsorship campaigns.
  • Lead budgeting and oversee financial reporting; in collaboration with the Operations Manager, ensure effective management of CDPC’s finances.
  • Coordinate with SFU Advancement to identify grant, sponsorship, and donation opportunities; lead the development and submission of funding proposals and asks.


Partnerships, Advocacy, & Public Relations

  • Develop and steward strategic organizational relationships, including key stakeholders such as drug user groups and people who use drugs, service providers, key domestic and international partners and social change organizations, Indigenous leadership, government legislative and funding liaisons, and funders.
  • In collaboration with the Senior Policy Analyst, other staff, and coalition members, contribute to the development of policy positions, advocacy strategy, and coalition and supporter mobilization.
  • Act as an effective organizational spokesperson and advocate for policy change to government, media, and other audiences; provide guidance on public relations messaging within the context of emergent drug policy discourse.
  • Provide expertise in inter-organizational partnerships and working in multistakeholder, diverse coalition, including managing conflict and restorative justice approaches when needed.
  • Act as a liaison and maintain relationships with the SFU Faculty of Health Sciences administration and faculty regarding funding, research, and programmatic developments; provide opportunities to students for internships, volunteering, and/or research work.


Management & Human Resources

  • Ensure that CDPC is well-managed and works to build a thriving team and collaborative organizational culture; provide supervision and support to staff, including responsibility for the overall management and support of the staff team.
  • Ensure that human resources policies and processes are effective and aligned with the organization’s values and strategy; formalize CDPC’s human resources processes within a disability justice framework, including proactive accommodations practices.


Applicant Qualities & Attributes

We strongly encourage you to apply if you have a passion for CDPC’s mission and meet the below core requirements:

  • 3+ years of experience in an organizational leadership role, including experience leading human resources policy and process development and implementation, risk management, and governance
  • 5+ years of experience managing people and projects; organizational fundraising, including research and/or program grants; and budgets and/or organizational finances
  • Strong commitment to CDPC’s mission and to social justice, including a vision of people who use drugs as leaders in this work.
  • Ability to lead a national non-profit organization, including managing change, collaborative strategy development, and governance best practices; experience leading strategy development or strategic planning processes, especially within an advocacy and/or coalition context.
  • Ability to lead a team in establishing and implementing short- and long-term priorities in the context of an ongoing drug poisoning crisis.
  • Ability to be an effective advocate for CDPC’s policy priorities; aware and engaged with, or ability to rapidly get up to speed with, Canadian and international discourses on drug policy and its impacts within frontline sectors and communities.
  • Ability to develop and steward mutually trusting relationships with, and communicate values-based messages to, a wide range of people and organizations, especially people and communities most impacted by drug policy.
  • Experience developing and/or ability to develop strong relationships with Indigenous organizations and communities (as an Indigenous or a settler/newcomer organizational leader)
  • Ability to translate organizational commitments to justice, equity, diversity, decolonization, and inclusion, including trauma-informed practices and supports, into action.
  • Ability to lead and support work within a civil society coalition, including conflict navigation and restorative justice processes when needed.
  • A relational approach that involves connecting people and organizations and maintaining long-term relationships; strong convening, facilitating, and movement building skills in an advocacy context.
  • Ability to understand and work with government officials and processes.
  • Strong written, oral, and interpersonal communication skills in English, in person, via phone and video call, and using common office and collaboration technology (e.g. Outlook, Slack, MS Office, Google Workspace, etc).
  • Ability to foster effective bilingual (French + English) organizational communications.
  • Highly organized, with the ability to adjust priorities rapidly when required.
  • Ability to handle confidential and sensitive information with integrity.


The following are considered additional assets (we do not expect any one candidate to have all of these):

  • Extensive experience in any of the core requirements listed above
  • Graduate degree or equivalent experience in organizational management and business, law, critical public policy, critical sociology, public health, human rights or related field, with demonstrated experience in organizational development.
  • Knowledge gained through lived/living experience of criminalized substance use, including the ways in which criminalization and/or state intervention is compounded for people who experience additional forms of marginalization (disclosure is welcomed during the hiring process but not expected/required)
  • Experience with frontline work with people who use drugs and/or experience marginalization (e.g. on the basis of Indigeneity, race, drug use, ability, sexuality, gender, class, citizenship/immigration status, and/or the affects of the criminalization of drugs and/or sex work)
  • Experience within Simon Fraser University or other post-secondary research institutions, particularly building effective faculty and administrative working relationships.
  • Experience leading a rapidly growing team.
  • Entrepreneurial capacities and connections to government and private grant funders.
  • Communication and media skills in French and/or other languages spoken by communities affected by drug policy in Canada.

If you do not meet every qualification listed above, but have relevant professional and/or lived/living experience and are motivated about this role, we encourage you to apply.


Application Process

The application deadline is Saturday, September 10th, 2022 at 11:59 PM Pacific Time. Please send your cover letter (max. 2 pages) and resume to [email protected]. Please send PDFs named in the format LastNameFirstNameCoverLetter and LastNameFirstNameResume. In your cover letter, please tell us about your ability to lead the CDPC through its next chapter – particularly your ability to manage change as the organization builds, lead a justice- and equity-based coalition strategy and governance refresh, and spearhead fundraising.

The hiring team may adapt the recruitment process as needed in order to understand candidates’ potential to succeed in this role. Currently, we anticipate that this selection process will include:

  • Shortlisting, likely involving a short phone screening call
  • A time-limited practical round (modest honorarium offered)
  • An interview, which will be via video call
  • Reference checks (please be prepared to provide the names and contact info for three references who can speak to your experience and potential for this role)

The hiring team has engaged an external consultant to support our recruitment process and intends to contact all candidates who submit a complete application with updates on their progress through our selection process. If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact Maggie Knight at [email protected]

Early applications are encouraged and appreciated. Thank you to all who apply.


Visit Canadian Drug Policy site to view posting and learn more.