The death penalty is largely unsupported by Missouri constituents and as the number of pending death penalty cases and the population of Missouri's death row steadily declines, Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty continues to be a driving force behind the movement to Abolish the death penalty in Missouri.
During the 1980s, anti-death penalty coalitions formed across the state as death sentences began to rise. In 1989, the United States Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment does not prohibit the death penalty for murders committed at ages 16 or 17 in the landmark case, Wilkins v. Missouri. This ruling was largely made possible due to the work of constituents in Missouri who rallied to end juvenile executions in the state. In 2015, we became an incorporated non-profit with statewide staff who work with chapters and activists throughout the state.
With successful campaigns to stop executions and unique attention to those most impacted, we continue our work to Abolish the death penalty in Missouri in order to end a system that has for too long placed vengeance over justice, furthered racial violence, and killed innocent people.
Learn about our Staff and Board below.
Social Media Manager
Elyse Max, Co-Director, (she/her/hers)
Elyse joined Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty in 2018, after leaving a decade-long career in higher education where her work focused on expanding access to education for refugees and immigrants, people with disabilities, and individuals impacted by the criminal legal system. She has worked for several campaigns including state and local candidates and in promoting public policy to forward the abolition of the carceral system starting with ending the war on drugs. Elyse’s advocacy centers on human and civil rights organizing by following the lead of those most impacted. Elyse has a MA in Sociology from the University of Missouri in Kansas City and a certificate in non-profit leadership.
Michelle Smith, Co-Director, (she/her/hers)
Michelle is a criminal punishment system-impacted advocate, abolitionist, and activist who experienced incarceration during the COVID-19 pandemic; which made her more intimately aware of the dire reality faced by our imprisoned populations as well as the egregious actions and apathetic behavior by the vast majority of institution staff and administrators. Her existence within the intersections of being Black, a woman, disabled, systems impacted, and experiencing generational poverty are the foundations of her ideological framework, which is rooted in advocating for those suffering & struggling within a society created, built, and carried out to oppress, marginalize, and dehumanize targeted vulnerable communities. She is dedicated to using her experiences, knowledge, determination, and voice in the struggle for equity, justice and recognition of humanity.
Michelle’s advocacy efforts extend to all facets of mass incarceration, including wrongful convictions, higher education for systems impacted people, humane and adequate healthcare, legislative reforms, and decarceration. Michelle is also the founder of a legislative and community advocacy organization purposed to advocate for the wrongfully convicted, as well as for humane and rehabilitative treatment while community members are housed in carceral institutions. She also serves on Boards of Directors for several grassroots organizations and is a leader/advisor in several national organizations' coalitions and cohorts.
Brianna Chander, Community Organizer (she/her/hers)
Nimrod Chapel, Jr., Board Chair
Nimrod is the founder and owner of The Chapel Law Group, President of the Missouri State NAACP Conference, and life member and President of the Jefferson City, Missouri NAACP. Rod also served as General Counsel/Director of Legal Services for the Missouri Department of Revenue. Prior to returning to the State of Missouri, he worked in Kansas City as a trial lawyer and was active in area bar associations and the community. Rod believes strongly in community service, serving on a number of other boards including the YMCA, Boy Scouts of America, MADP, Protect Your Right to Vote, Rotary, and Missouri Kids First, and Rotary. Abolition is an NAACP game-changer on the national level – Rod has prioritized abolition at the Missouri State Conference.
Denise Carpenter, Secretary
Denise is a geriatric and medical social worker by training and experience. Her experiences with those inside prison has aided her lifelong opposition to the death penalty.
Rob Schaeffer, Treasurer
Rob is a Certified Public Accountant from Springfield, Missouri. Rob’s commitment to the abolition of the death penalty is grounded in a single and simple belief – that the work of the soul and the grace of God is not to be lightly toyed with.
Lisa Bond, Vice Chair
Lisa is our newest Board member and is the Operations Manager at Race2Dinner. She was born and raised in Oklahoma, has a bachelor’s in criminal justice and sociology and an MBA. She is a Lean Six Sigma Blackbelt and prides herself on her ability to see, assess and solve problems - white supremacy, both internal and external, has proved the toughest one yet. Lisa views the death penalty and racism as inextricably combined - and to rid ourselves of one belief we must do so with the other.
Stan was elected to the Board in June 2019. He serves as an affiliate organization representative. As the founder of the 2nd Chance Freedom Foundation, Stanley works with juveniles and those who have been formerly incarcerated on address root causes of violence across St. Louis.
Dr. Wiley Miller, Columbia Chapter Leader
Wiley is a psychologist in private practice in Columbia, Missouri, and a retired adjunct faculty member of the University of Missouri. Wiley represents the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Community Remembrance Project of Missouri.
Margaret Phillips, St. Louis Chapter Leader
Margaret has served on the Board as well as the St. Louis chapter since 1989. Margaret taught Latin, Greek, and Greek civilization at University of Missouri-St. Louis. Beginning with the anti-Vietnam War protests and civil rights demonstrations in the ‘60s, Margaret moved to crime and punishment issues and has been an active part of activists groups across St. Louis.
Edward “Bob” Ronan, Kansas City Chapter Leader
Bob worked at Westinghouse for 28 years before retiring early. He then completed his Ph.D. and taught engineering at University of Missouri-Kansas City until 2006. While living in Jefferson City, Bob was in a Catholic group that visited persons in prison at the maximum security prison. He made many friends there, including some with death sentences – a couple of them were executed.
Wajeeh is one of the first openly gay men from Saudi Arabia, a decadent with Political Asylum in the USA. He is a graduate of Kansas State University with degrees in Political Science and Economics, Abdulrahman Alkhiary (“Wajeeh Lion”), is committed to international advocacy for human rights, anti-violence, and LGBTQ+ rights. Wajeeh is a sitting member on the Board of Directors for the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project, Board of Directors for Missourians for Alternative to the Death Penalty and is Chair of the Kansas City Health Commission Housing Committee. He was the first recipient of the International Leadership Award from the Kansas State Alumni Center, he is also one of the recipients of 30 under 30 Pi Kappa Phi achievement award. Wajeeh gives back to the community by speaking at ACLU events, international LGBTQ+ activism, and providing testimony regarding human rights violations.
Donna has a background in Sociology and Theology and taught at Springfield Catholic High School for several years.
Katie is a social worker currently working in Kansas City and has been an active member of the Kansas City chapter of MADP for five years. Katie has her Master's in Social Work from University of Missouri - Kansas City, and has been an MAPD board member since June 2021.
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