For Immediate Release: November 14, 2013
Contact: Dave Satterfield

Matthew Cherry to head non-profit advocacy group

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 14– Death Penalty Focus, one of the country’s largest non-profit grassroots advocacy groups dedicated to abolishing capital punishment, has named a new executive director– Matthew A. Cherry, president of the United Nations NGO committee for religious freedom and an anti- death penalty advocate from New York.

Cherry, 46, will assume his duties January 2 and will direct a non-profit with 80,000 members and supporters nationwide committed to repealing the death penalty through various forms of civic engagement.

“This is a vital step, one that will propel our critical work into the future,” said DPF President Mike Farrell, a human rights activist and veteran television and movie actor known to millions as Dr. B.J. Hunnicutt on the TV show “M*A*S*H*”.

“Matt comes to us with excellent experience, skills and qualifications to fill the role of executive director,’’ Farrell said. “He has worked nationally and internationally on human rights issues and on anti- death penalty issues in New York State, where he was part of the lobbying effort to prevent reinstatement of the death penalty.”

Cherry will relocate from New York to the San Francisco Bay Area.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to help make a difference on an issue that I’m passionate about,’’ Cherry said. “Abolishing the death penalty in California and across the United States will send a strong message to the rest of the world. I know many people care deeply about this issue; we want to help them get involved in eliminating this shameful violation of human rights.’’

Since 2002, Cherry has been president of the UN’s Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief, where he has led hundreds of religious groups and civil society representatives in efforts to protect the basic human right of religious freedom. Prior to that, he served as executive director for the Institute for Humanist Studies and the Council for Secular Humanism, where he managed multi-million-dollar fundraising campaigns, pioneered recruitment through social media, and introduced programs that greatly expanded local chapters and financial assets.

Since 2008, Cherry also has developed and implemented marketing and programming for the International Humanist & Ethical Union, an NGO with member organizations in 40 countries. During that time, he also was Executive Vice President of Cherry Communications.

Death Penalty Focus, founded in 1988, has been fighting to repeal death penalty laws through public education, grassroots and political organizing, media outreach, state and national coalition building, original research and the education of religious, civic and legislative leaders about the alternatives to capital punishment.


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