During more than two decades experience as a non-profit executive, Matt Cherry has led advocacy organizations in three different countries. Before joining Death Penalty Focus in 2014, Matt had served three terms as president of the United Nations NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief, where he led hundreds of religious groups and civil society representatives in efforts to protect the basic human right to freedom of thought and conscience. Matt also served 5 years as executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism and then 8 years as executive director of the Institute for Humanist Studies.
In these leadership roles, he recruited, funded and mobilized powerful movements for human rights and social change. He achieved this through a wide range of successful initiatives, which included: pioneering outreach programs using new media to reach untapped audiences; initiating successful collaborative programs, including the creation of the first secularist lobbying group in the US; launching a student program that has resulted in more than a thousand campus groups since its launch; and creating successful fundraising campaigns that raised millions of dollars.
Matt has always opposed the death penalty because he believes that it is unjust, discriminatory and dysfunctional. But his human rights work at the United Nations also showed him that when the US deliberately kills its own citizens it gives moral support to the worst tendencies of the worst regimes in the world. He therefore believes the abolition of the death penalty in the US is an urgent and vital step towards a more just and peaceful world. He looks forward to using his skills to help build and mobilize a broad-based movement that will end the death penalty for good.
Yoko was born and raised in Japan. She moved to the United States in December 2001. While she was in Japan, she dedicated her spare time to the volunteer organization Soroptimist International America Japan Region Venture Club. She served as a board member, vice chairperson and the chairperson for several years. Yoko has worked with the elderly, the disabled, homeless people and battered women. Through this work, she became aware that many serious social issues were being overlooked by society. After immigrating to San Francisco, she earned a B.A. in Psychology from San Francisco State University. In school, Yoko became increasingly concerned with the cruelty of the U.S. prison system and with racism in the U.S. Before joining Death Penalty Focus, she volunteered her time helping vulnerable youth both in public and private school settings in San Francisco. In her private life, she loves hiking, reading books and listening to music.
As the Director of Community Outreach and Education, David manages DPF's programs, including Justice Advocates, California Crime Victims for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, Law Enforcement Outreach, Youth Outreach, and a network of more than 80,000 supporters. Before joining DPF, David earned his M.A. in US History and the History of Ideas at San Francisco State University, with special emphases on the histories of race, class, and capitalism in the US. During his time at SF State, David also coordinated a tutoring center that focused on the academic success of students from first-generation and other underrepresented backgrounds. He currently lives in Oakland and enjoys learning about everything that life in the Bay Area has to offer.
Leslie handles communications with DPF’s 80,000 plus supporters, including emails, web posts, videos and publications. She even does it in Spanish! As a seasoned journalist, Leslie also works to ensure the media get all the facts and pitches stories that show why we need to end the death penalty for good. Before joining DPF, Leslie spent more than 10 years as a reporter covering social issues, criminal justice, and race, most recently at the San Francisco Chronicle. She experienced Death Row up close and personal when she interviewed Stanley Tookie Williams at San Quentin State Prison just days before he was executed by lethal injection. That experience cemented her desire to seek an advocacy role. Her advocacy experience includes work as deputy media director for the California Right to Know Campaign, helping manage communications for a state wide ballot initiative (Prop 37). Leslie has a journalism degree from San Francisco State and a master’s degree in Literary Nonfiction from the University of Oregon. She is a Los Angeles native who now lives in Oakland.
Joe’s the guy to talk to if you have a question about a donation: whether it’s one you already made or the one you are thinking about making. Joe loves nothing more than getting to know our donors and helping them find the best way to contribute to the decline and demise of the death penalty. In addition to working directly with major donors, Joe handles all of DPF’s direct mail and email campaigns, researches and prepares grant proposals, and manages donor data and tracking. Joe is the lead staff person for DPF’s renowned Annual Awards Dinner in Beverly Hills, as well as coordinating other fundraising and promotional events. Joe is a native San Diegan who moved to the Bay Area in 2013. He has been working in the fundraising and development field since graduating from UCSD with a degree in communications in 2012. During the 2014 election cycle, Joe worked for two of the premier political consulting firms in California, KM Strategies and SGR Consulting. Most recently at SGR Consulting, he helped lead the Bay Area fundraising efforts to re-elect Dave Jones as Insurance Commissioner and elect Alex Padilla as Secretary of State. He’s worked as a fundraiser for ballot initiatives in California. A former college baseball player, Joe spends his free time watching sports, exercising and reading books. He lives in San Francisco with his fiancée.