Headquarters: Portland, Oregon
Peg Sandeen, PhD, MSW, has been the Executive Director of the Death with Dignity National Center since 2005. Peg’s scope of work and impact expands far beyond the confines of the organization she leads. During her tenure with Death with Dignity, Peg has expanded her political and policy reform expertise across the nation and overseas, serving as a leading voice in promoting access to medical aid in dying and offering strategic leadership for advocacy campaigns, national agenda setting, and catalyzing end-of-life care policy reform.
In addition to over 25 years of experience in the social work and nonprofit leadership world, Peg’s academic background propelled her journey into the world of social work, lifelong research, and advocating for the rights of folks with terminal illness and other marginalized populations. She obtained an MSW in 1997 from the University of Iowa, and went on to obtain a PhD in Social Work and Social Research from Portland State University in 2013, where her dissertation entitled “Public Opinion and the Oregon Death with Dignity Act” still informs the work she does today. Prior to joining Death with Dignity, Peg served as the Executive Director of the AIDS Project of Central Iowa. As a result of her exploration of complex ethical, legal and medical issues related to social work, Peg was named a Price Fellow in HIV Prevention Leadership by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Peg’s knowledge and expertise on health care, social welfare, and anti-poverty policy expands into university classrooms. She has served as an Adjunct Instructor of Social Work at Portland State University since 2006 and an Adjunct Professor of Social Work at Columbia University since 2015. Her scholarship focuses on health policy, ethical decision-making, and the intersection of personal values, professional ethics, and the law.
As the daughter of a hospice nurse, Peg’s passion for working amongst those experiencing grief and dying started early. Peg continues sharing her knowledge and fervor for this field with peers, supporters of the movement, students, and those around her. To unwind in her homebase of Portland, OR, Peg does long-distance cycling and gardening, and she enjoys hanging out with her plethora of animals.
Originally from Colorado, Shaun was attracted to Portland’s unique culture after stints in many other American cities. He began working for Death with Dignity due to his strong belief in personal choice. In his spare time, Shaun paints, writes, and practices yoga.
Shaun is the organization’s longest-tenured employee, working with us since 2004.
Leadership Giving Manager
Ben works with our philanthropic community to engage our donors and advance fundraising efforts.
Death with Dignity connects to Ben’s understanding of the holistic approach to the importance of caring for the sick, which includes preventing undue suffering.
When not working, Ben enjoys spending his time watching movies, playing card games, and reading.
Ben joined Death with Dignity in 2021.
DeVida ensures our organization’s policies and practices support our commitment to integrity and transparency. She is responsible for our financial records, human resources, and our compliance with state filing requirements and charity oversight organizations.
In 1996, DeVida lost her mother to lung cancer. Witnessing her mother’s struggle with such a debilitating disease spurred her support of an individual’s right to die a good and dignified death.
DeVida is an honors graduate of Wellesley College where she studied French and Economics. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, baking, birding, hiking, and spending quality time with her two- and four-legged family members.
DeVida first worked at Death with Dignity from 2008 to 2014; she rejoined our team in 2016.
Elia manages and creates our digital content and serves as our long-term social worker, where she offers support, resources, and referrals to those confronting illness or loss.
She has spent most of her career advocating for fundamental rights for individuals belonging to vulnerable populations. She holds a Bachelor’s in Philosophy from the University of California Berkeley, a Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California.
Death with Dignity has always been important to Elia, a native San Franciscan, who experienced the painful deaths of many folks with AIDS before the passage of California’s End of Life Option Act.
When not working, Elia likes to read, watch movies, and eat ice cream with her husband, son, and five animals.
Elia joined Death with Dignity in 2017.
Val engages with lawmakers and supporting coalition organizations to promote and support the passage of active bills. She collaborates with state grassroots leaders and activists, providing mentoring and training.
Val organized and led Maine’s grassroots success for nearly six years. The law passed there in 2019. Simply put, she believes in self-determination and understands death as a personal, individual matter.
Val has three adult children and two grandsons who have stolen her heart. She is a motorcycle enthusiast, an artist, and a Navy veteran of 20 years.
Val joined Death with Dignity in 2019.
Social Work Intern (Oregon)
Our Social Work Intern, Lane (he/him), is a Master of Social Work student at Portland State University. Lane has more than five years of experience providing program development, training, and case management, with an emphasis on trauma-informed care, harm reduction, LGBTQ competency, and Disability Justice.
Throughout his journey, choice has remained a cornerstone of Lane’s social work practice. His passion for self-determination, choice, education, and preventing undue suffering drew Lane to Death With Dignity’s work.
Off the clock, you can find Lane planning adventures with his fiancé, restoring antique typewriters, watching rain storms with his cats, and playing board games.
On the Ground
Geoff works to expand and protect death with dignity laws in states including Nevada, Maryland, and Oregon.
Geoff was the first person hired to work on the successful 1994 Oregon Death with Dignity campaign, serving as campaign director for that effort, then working as media director in the 1997 campaign.
He has come to believe that this issue is critical to providing more and better care for people at the end of life.
In his 30-plus years as a political/communications consultant, Geoff has worked with Oregon’s top political leaders, including Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts (speechwriter, 1991), and has worked on numerous initiative campaigns including medical marijuana (1998), minimum wage increases, and criminal justice reform.
Geoff has lived in Silverton, Oregon for the past 30 years. He enjoys tennis, golf, making cherry wine, and poker.
Geoff most recently joined Death with Dignity National Center as our National Campaign Strategist in 2016.
Mark is a seasoned strategist in public affairs, advocacy and politics. He manages complex national and state issue campaigns, using all the tools of modern advocacy, to improve public policy on some of the toughest issues we face, against some of the most powerful special interests.
Mark’s clients have included some of the largest nonprofits and advocacy organizations in the United States, including the Open Society Institutes, the American Federation of Teachers, the Human Rights Campaign and Amnesty International.
Prior to beginning his private consulting practice in June 2014, Mark – the son of a former licensed gun dealer and NRA member – served as executive director of Everytown for Gun Safety, the nation’s largest gun violence prevention group. According to the Wall Street Journal, after the Newtown mass shooting, Glaze became “the face of the gun control movement.”
Mark is an honors graduate of the George Washington University Law School and The Colorado College, where he was a Truman Foundation Scholar. He also served as an advisor to the Commission on Federal Election Reform led by Former President Jimmy Carter and Former Secretary of State James Baker.