Marijuana leaf

Executive Leadership

Executive Leadership




Chris Alexander is the inaugural Executive Director of the New York State Office of Cannabis Management. Appointed by Governor Kathy Hochul in September 2021, he is charged with the implementation and oversight of New York's cannabinoid hemp, adult-use, and medical cannabis programs. A long-time advocate for social justice, racial equity, and civic engagement; Mr. Alexander is the architect of the Start SMART NY campaign to end marijuana prohibition and the lead drafter of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, New York's marijuana legalization bill. He is a native of Hollis, Queens and the son of immigrant parents who came to the United States from the Caribbean Island of Grenada.  


He has previously worked as the Government Relations & Policy Manager for a multi-state cannabis company, as an Associate Counsel for the New York State Senate and Policy Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance. He has also worked as a staffer in the House of Representatives during the 113th Congress and has led political campaigns on the state and local level.






Axel Bernabe serves as Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Director. Axel is responsible for standing-up and overseeing all aspects of the Office of Cannabis Management. Prior to starting the OCM, Axel spent 6 years as chief health counsel to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, overseeing all legal and policy deliberations in the health portfolio. As part of his cannabis responsibilities, he led the expansion of the medical program, directed the launch of the State's cannabinoid hemp program, and drafted and negotiated the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). Prior to joining the Cuomo administration, Axel was a partner at an international law firm where he was a nationally recognized antitrust expert, with a focus on the healthcare industry.











Patrick McKeage serves as First Deputy Director for the Office of Cannabis Management. Patrick has worked on the cannabis file in New York State for the past five years helping to implement the cannabinoid hemp program, expand the medical cannabis program and create the adult-use cannabis program. Patrick has extensive knowledge of cannabis policy and regulations and has been managing the operational logistics associated with implementing the Marihuana Regulation & Taxation Act and standing up the new Office of Cannabis Management. Patrick brings prior experience working in New York State Government from previous roles at the Department of Health, Office of General Services and the Department of Taxation and Finance. Patrick also has experience working in the New York State Assembly and an Albany based government relations firm.










Stanley De La Cruz serves as the Director of Executive Operations. He is responsible for designing, building, and implementing the Office's first long-term production workflow management system and operational protocol. The Director of Executive Operations' objective is to design the systems and processes that will increase productivity, responsiveness, and decision making by the Executive Team as they integrate existing operational activities across the three cannabis programs. He is the Agency Language Access Coordinator and Sustainability Coordinator. Stanley previously worked as the Deputy Director of Legislative Operations for the New York State Senate Majority Counsel and Program office.











Mary Adelaja is the Manager of Executive Operations and Chief Diversity Officer for the Office of Cannabis Management. In this role, she provides support and manages special projects exclusively for the Executive Team. She is responsible for the development and implementation of the Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusion, as well as it’s integration into OCM’s Strategic Plan and Social Equity Plan, as described in Section 87 of the Cannabis Law. She serves as the agency representative on New York State’s Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Council. Her 13 years of experiences gained from her previous employment with the Department of Homeland Security, will ensure the agency is meeting its internal diversity goals so that the workforce reflects all the communities of the state.







Chief Equity Officer

Damian Fagon


Damian Fagon was appointed as the Chief Equity Officer of the NYS Office of Cannabis Management in June 2022. In this role, Mr. Fagon will oversee the social and economic equity initiatives laid out in the MRTA. As a 3rd-generation farmer with a background in international development, agriculture and small business, he has led development initiatives with castor farmers in Jamaica, rice growers in Sierra Leone, and coffee exporters in Guatemala. Mr. Fagon has also launched and advised commercial cannabis operations in South Carolina, New York, and the Caribbean.