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Youth RISE Board of Directors

ILona Szabo (Brazil) - Coordinator, Global Commission on Drug Policy
Ilona Szabo de Carvalho is a violence reduction and drug policy specialist and the founder of the Igarape Institute. She serves as the co-coordinator of the Global Commission on Drug Policy Secretariat and formerly on the secretariat of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy.
She acted as the civil society liaison with the Quakers UN Office (Geneva) to the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development between 2008 and 2011.
In 2009 and 2010 Ilona designed and produced a short documentary film entitled Faces of Violence, and was also the co-script writer and researcher for the documentary Breaking the Taboo, on drug policy issues. Before starting the Igarape Institute, she coordinated the world’s largest disarmament campaign and a national referendum to ban the sale of handguns to Brazilian citizens together with Viva Rio.
Ilona earned a Master Degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Uppsala in Sweden and is a Specialist in International Development, from the Oslo University. Graduated in International Relations and has a course on Executive Management of Operations of Disarmament, Demobilization & Reintegration of ex-combatants.
Niamh Eastwood (United Kingdom) - Executive Director, Release
Niamh is a non-practising barrister; she initially joined Release in 2002 as a legal advisor, was appointed Head of Legal Services in 2007 and Deputy Director in 2009. She is particularly interested in the issue of civil liberties and is concerned that the current trend of limiting rights impacts disproportionately on drug users. Niamh is interested in developing Release's legal capacity with a view to becoming more involved in public law as way of challenging unacceptable practices in the arenas of health, criminal justice and education. 

Damon Barrett (Ireland) - Senior Human Rights Analyst, Harm Reduction International
Damon Barrett joined Harm Reduction International in 2007 as Human Rights Analyst and now heads up our human rights programme. Damon holds a degree in Law and a masters degree in International Human Rights Law and he has a background in children’s rights and UN systems and mechanisms. His work at Harm Reduction International is focused on the development of a human rights based approach to drug policy at the international level; international donor and agency accountability; and the rights of the child. He was a member of the UK delegation to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs from 2008-2011, and has worked to raise the profile of drug policies at the UN Human Rights Council and within UN human rights mechanisms. Damon has authored numerous articles and reports, and has spoken internationally, on human rights and drug policies.

Damon is a co-founder of the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy, and an Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal on Human Rights and Drug Policy.  He is editor of the book, 'Children of the Drug War: Perspectives on the impact of drug policies on young people' published by iDebate Press, 2011.

Caitlin Padgett (Canada/Mexico) - Independent Public Health Consultant
Caitlin has gained significant global experience as one of the founders and coordinators of Youth RISE. She has been working for 10 years in peer based, youth-led HIV and AIDS, harm reduction and public health programs. This work began with YouthCO AIDS Society, Canada’s only youth-led HIV and AIDS organization, where Caitlin began volunteering at age 15. After directing several youth video productions, she later went on to become the provincial Hepatitis programs coordinator for the Agency. Caitlin also coordinated Crystal Clear, a peer-based harm reduction program for and by street-youth who use methamphetamines. Caitlin then became Vancouver’s (Canada) first Youth Advocate Mentor, an advocacy position that reported directly to Mayor and City Council on the needs of children and youth in the city. With this position, she worked on issues as varied as youth homelessness, law enforcement relations and a monitoring project based on the Conventions on the Rights of the Child. After leaving Vancouver for San Francisco and then Mexico, Caitlin began her international work with Youth RISE and then as the International Campaigns Coordinator for Hope’s Voice International and the “Does HIV Look Like Me?” training in Thailand.

Caitlin received her diploma in Child and Youth Care Counseling and Bachelor’s of Arts in Interdisciplinary Humanities and Psychology. She speaks French and Spanish, and a little Thai and Khmer. In her free time, she loves to dance, play with art, and be outside.

Aram Barra (Mexico) - Drug Policy Programme Director, Espolea
Aram has been a youth activist for almost the past ten years and he has been working in HIV/AIDS and harm reduction issues in Latin America for the past three years.  Before that, he worked on youth participation on diverse world issues, youth employment, education and sexual and reproductive rights through Euphoric Youth and Espolea, both of which he is a co-founder.  He currently acts as Projects Director of Espolea, a youth-led, Mexican based organisation working on human rights and empowering of young people in their own communities with a gender perspective.  Such initiative currently sponsors the first youth for youth national harm reduction campaign which expects to continue growing in the upcoming years to a regional scale.

In the past, Aram has represented Latin America and the Caribbean as an International Working Group member for Youth RISE and has worked as an Events Coordinator for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Mexico, focusing on youth political participation through capacity building of youths at key positions within political parties, unions and NGOs.  In this work, he has particularly focused on gender implementation and negotiation techniques of young people, fostering advocacy skills for agenda construction.
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