Turner C. Bitton – Board President
Turner was born and raised in Ogden, Utah on a family cattle farm as the son of a career law enforcement officer. It is this upbringing that he credits for his passion for efforts to improve society. Turner is a actively engaged in many causes and is a familiar face in many important organizations. His largest passion is life is as a self-described technocrat making nonprofit organizations efficient, impactful, and ethical.
Turner uses a data-centered approach in all that he does and has lectured, spoken, and presented on the intersections between political engagement, donor cultivation, and digital organizing. Turner is a member of the Utah Society of Fundraisers, Association of Fundraising Professionals, Utah Nonprofits Association, and Grant Professionals Association. Turner also serves on the Board of Directors of several organizations including the Planned Parenthood Action Council of Utah, Utah Cultural Alliance, Utah Sierra Club, and others.
Turner lives in Ogden with his fiancé Chase and his two dogs Charley and Moose where he is active in local politics and affairs.
Jessica Reade Gleim – Vice President
Jessica was at the end of her rope with her current pharmaceutical and medical regime, which weren’t helping her 5 ½ year battle with Trigeminal and Occipital Neuralgia. She was introduced to DPPU at a community event and joined the organization during the summer of 2015. With a very rare, chronic nerve pain disorder, Jessica wishes for a patient inclusive medical cannabis program that would not only include her but other’s like her with rare and unknown diseases.
Jessica is a graduate of the University of Utah, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and an emphasis in graphic design. She manages her own design and branding business, with a handful of clients that keep her creative and busy. She also serves as the President of the Kappa Kappa Gamma, Salt Lake City Alumnae Association. Originally from Park City, Jessica currently resides in Salt Lake City with her husband and their pets. Jessica enjoys skiing, camping, concerts at Red Butte, and vegan cooking.
Kathy Dennis – Secretary
Like many of the Board members and volunteers at DPPU, Kathy is also a patient. On a trip to The Netherlands 7 years ago she found herself in incredible pain and almost canceled her bicycle trip through Holland because of that un-relenting pain. As a last ditch effort, she bought some cannabis at a coffee shop and found that her pain disappeared. She used cannabis throughout the rest of her seven-day trip and came home to research the cause of her pain and found out she had osteoarthritis. Since then she has had four surgeries, including a major back fusion and a total hip replacement, all related to this disease that she inherited from her parents. She now travels to Colorado to cannabis dispensaries to get pain relief. The travel, however, frightens her and she worries that she is violating federal laws in order to get good pain relief.
Kathy is a graduate of Utah State University, did graduate work at the University of Kansas, and worked for the Federal Aviation Administration in various capacities for 29 years until her retirement. She is married with five children and eight grandchildren and lives in Bountiful. She volunteers regularly, and completed Utah State Extension Services Master Gardener program 6 years ago.
Erin Brown – Treasurer
Erin Brown, our Lead Technical Writer and Board Treasurer, has two Masters Degrees, one in Nutrition, the other in Public Health. Through her Master’s thesis research on the intersection of metabolism and the endocannabinoid system, she has become a steadfast advocate of the medical properties of the cannabis plant. In addition, Erin is devoted to de-mystifying and re-informing the public about the health benefits of many of the ‘drugs’ that are currently found on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Schedule 1 list.
Her passion to be an active part of making the world around her increasingly informed, has led to her important work with Drug Policy Project of Utah. Erin has developed the group’s Education Center and through this accurate, science-based warehouse of information, she hopes to foster an escalation in understanding among Utah’s residents. Strategically addressing this country’s outdated drug policies is at its core a mission to confront widespread social injustice. Stripping our fellow citizens of their liberties based on ideas we know to be untrue needs to be challenged and dealt with immediately. This is very much about righting historic wrongs and building a better drug policy system for all Utahns.
Erin brings her enthusiasm for educating to the Drug Policy Project of Utah’s team. Through her writing, she hopes to empower Utahns on wide-ranging drug policy topics. Knowing the facts and how current policies are impacting our communities is the first step in making meaningful and lasting state-level change.
Mindy Vincent – Board Member
Mindy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in mental health and addiction treatment. Through both her own personal experiences as well as her professional work, Mindy has seen and experienced first hand the destructive power of addiction and as a social worker and a person in long term recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, she feels a personal obligation to advocate for safe, responsible and effective drug policies. Mindy came discovered the Drug Policy Project of Utah while doing research after losing her sister to an opiate overdose.
While Mindy herself is not a medical patient, her husband suffers from debilitating chronic back pain. He chooses not to take opiate-based pain medications because of the high risk of addiction associated with their use. Mindy strongly believes that allowing people access to a safe, non-lethal alternative to pain medications will not only enhance their quality of life, but will actually save lives currently being lost to accidental overdoses.
Mindy received her bachelor’s degree from Utah Valley University and earned her Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She is in the application process to return to the University of Utah to complete her PhD in social work and a Masters of Public Administration. She continues to work as a therapist in the field of mental health and addiction treatment. Mindy created "The Walk to Remember" an annual event at the capitol, honoring those who have lost their lives to disease of addiction, and continues to do advocacy work surrounding drug policy and recovery on both a state and national level.
Mindy lives in Heber City with her husband and two children.
Don Moore – Board Member
Don came to the Drug Policy Project of Utah in May of 2015 shortly after the organization became an official 501c3. His diverse background includes serving active duty in the US Army as a Bradly Fighting Vehicle mechanic, working for one of the largest DoD government contractors as an operations analyst focusing on process improvement projects, forecasting sales demands for a distribution center providing products to markets nationwide, and providing consultation and training to the procurement departments of companies implementing SAP Business Solutions. Don uses his unique combination of skills to provide the Drug Policy Project of Utah with insight on procurement, social media presence, and overall direction. He also volunteers his time to educate the public on sensible drug policy, and the facts about medical cannabis.
Don was raised in a military family and had the fortunate experience of being exposed to many different people and cultures throughout his life. His favorite places to live were Germany and Washington, and his least favorite were Iraq and Georgia. Don enjoys live music, art, and exploring in the mountains, he currently resides in downtown Salt Lake City with his cat, Kittyfoo.
David Jolley – Board Member
Like many of the Board members and volunteers at DPPU, David is also a patient. David was diagnosed with leukemia in 2007 and received a bone marrow transplant in 2008. Even though the transplant was a success, David was left with a condition known as “Graft vs. Host Disease,” in which his immune system attacks the donated (foreign) bone marrow in his system. This results in a myriad of symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, tightening of the joints, lack of appetite, and rheumatoid arthritis. To deal with this condition, David has been put on numerous immune –suppressive and pain medications, which have many risks and side effects of their own.
However, the one drug that David has found helps him deal with his condition the most, without the negative side effects is medical cannabis. Not only has cannabis helped David deal with all the physical side-effects that come with such a diagnosis, but also with the mental and emotional aspects as well. For these reasons, David has become a big advocate of safe, legal access to medical cannabis for Utah patients like himself who would benefit from its use.
David is a graduate of Gonzaga University School of Law and in his spare time enjoys cooking, reading, watching movies, and listening to music.
James Leyba – Board Member
James is a Utah native and a business consultant with 10+ years experience in the investment banking industry. James is a steadfast advocate of establishing responsible drug policy in Utah. One the most important initiatives this year will be educating the community on the merits associated with legalizing medical cannabis. Legalization provides medical relief to patients; commercial benefits to the economy; and its decriminalization will daylight a black-market activity that will negatively impact the drug cartels.
As the cannabis industry emerges in the United States; there needs to be responsible policy to protect the interests of patients, small business entrepreneurs, and all members of the community. It is our obligation to get this right as the cannabis industry has generated tens of thousands of jobs, produced millions in tax revenue, and created billions in economic activity in the United States. The goal is to enhance public safety, revenue, and civil liberties through responsible licensing, regulation, and taxation. James is committed to ensuring that Utah’s program is safe, transparent, and successful.
James received his MBA from Carnegie Mellon University and his Bachelors from the University of Utah. He enjoys skiing, camping, concerts, cycling, and traveling around the world.