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.
Racial Justice Coordinator
Elyse Max, Executive Director, (she/her/hers)
Elyse Max joined Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty in 2018, after leaving a decade-long career in Higher Education where her work focused on education for those most marginalized in society, including; refugees and immigrants, people who are incarcerated, and individuals impacted by the criminal legal system. Elyse has a MA in Sociology from the University of Missouri in Kansas City. Elyse became the Executive Director at Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty in October 2019. As state director, she works to amplify those most impacted by the death penalty and know those voices are central to this work. Elyse believes that ending the death penalty will promote non-violence in local communities and that murder is never an appropriate state response to crime.
Michelle Smith, Racial Justice Coordinator, (she/her/hers)
Michelle was born and raised in St. Louis. As a justice system impacted Black woman who has served time in state and federal prison, her experiences have left her with insight, knowledge, and drive to help others and holistically change the criminal legal system. While in prison, Michelle became a law clerk and chair of the NAACP chapter’s legal redress committee. She works with The National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women, Cut50, and is a graduate of Prison to Ph.D.
Lauren Sobchak, Organizer, (she/they/them)
Lauren works within education and outreach, event planning, fundraising, and communications at MADP. She oversees the MADP pen pal program, spiritual advisor program, speaking engagements for Missouri death row exonerees, communications, digital media, and works in coalition with groups across the country that address decarceration, racial justice and equity, environmental justice, and immigrant rights.
Aida Tesfay, Intern, (she/her/hers)
Aida is a high school senior in Kansas City who has assisted with data sets within our legislative and racial justice programs. She plans to enter the healthcare field to help empower Black, Indigenous and People of Color remove barriers of inequality in the United States.
Nimrod Chapel, Jr., Interim 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 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’s views the death penalty and racism as inextricably combined - and to rid ourselves of one believes 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, Chair of the Columbia Chapter of MADP
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, Chair of the St. Louis Chapter of MADP
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, Chair Kansas City Chapter of MADP
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.
Donna Walmsley - MADP’s Springfield Chapter Leader
Donna is the Springfield Chapter Leader and has a background in Sociology and Theology and taught at Springfield Catholic High School for several years.
MADP is not currently hiring.
If you are interested in interning with MADP, please contact with a cover letter and resume.