On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the social, cultural, economic and political achievements of women. And in the burgeoning and innovative cannabis space, many trailblazing women are seizing opportunities, taking on leadership roles and shaping the industry for the better.
From April 1-3 in Las Vegas, you’ll have the chance to meet many of these pioneering, industry-leading women—from cultivators, to dispensary owners, to researchers, attorneys, consultants, and more—at Cannabis Conference 2019.
Here, we’d like to shine a light on the women who will be speaking at Cannabis Conference 2019 and helping to make this event into a premiere cannabis education experience.
Shelly Anwyll, Data Communications Management
Shelly brings 27 years of experience in out-sourced marketing services across a broad sector of industries. As Senior Vice President, North America, Retail & Emerging Markets, she leads market sector strategy and oversight for DCM enterprise business solutions.
During the years leading up to the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada, DCM positioned itself as a key industry player, supporting licensed producers across the country. Under Shelly’s leadership, DCM has successfully configured a full solution to meet Health Canada’s regulatory labeling requirements and established partnerships with more than 12 of Canada’s leading cannabis producers.
Laura Day, Yerba Buena
Laura Day is the Director of Operations at Yerba Buena in Portland, Ore., among the first eight recreationally licensed farms in Oregon. With more than 20 years of experience working with cannabis across several states, and eight-plus years of experience in strict seed-to-sale environments, she has designed and implemented various successful business models from dispensaries to cultivation focused around environmental stewardship, organic growing practices, creating a nurturing and empowering work environment with exemplary labor practices, and contributing to the local community. Yerba Buena was the first cannabis company to receive the 100 Best Green Companies award by Oregon Business Magazine and won the award in both 2017 and 2018, placing 9th and then 6th respectively in the state of Oregon, across all industries. In addition, Yerba Buena has been voted Best Indoor Grow by the Dope Industry Awards, Best CBD Strain by the Cultivation Classic two years in a row in addition to the Innovation Award for energy efficiency in 2018, Best Cannabis Farm in the Best of Portland by Willamette Week two years running, and the Dope Cup for Best Sativa. Day Rivero also serves as Vice Chair on the Board of the Cannabis Certification Council, a non-profit dedicated to establishing standards for organically produced cannabis using fair labor practices.
Maria Denzin, MJ HR Strategic Solutions
Denzin is the owner of MJ HR Strategic Solutions, an HR consulting firm based in Palm Springs, Calif. Denzin specializes in talent strategy and development for the cannabis industry. Her firm helps cannabis business owners create strategic HR plans to select, develop, reward and retain employees who deliver value and loyalty.
Lezli Engelking, FOCUS Standards
With a distinguished professional career spanning more than two decades, Engelking has considerable experience in pharmaceuticals, government relations, mental health, and nonprofit industries. Her 12-year tenure with Eli Lilly and Company provided a foundation for her next role as Executive Director of Bloom—the first vertically integrated medical cannabis retail chain in Phoenix, Arizona.
In 2014, Engelking founded FOCUS, the not-for-profit International Cannabis Health and Safety Organization. Engelking has stayed true to FOCUS’ mission to protect public health, consumer safety and safeguard the environment by promoting integrity within the cannabis industry. With a progressive and intuitive approach, Engelking has helped shape local and international policy, including coordinating and developing cannabis specific educational content for the FDA, Department of Agriculture and the National Environmental Health Association. Most recently, Engelking participated in the 2018 United Nations and World Health Organization meetings on the global rescheduling of cannabis.
Jessica Feingold, Stem Holdings Inc.
Jessica M. Feingold is Senior Legal Counsel for Stem Holdings, Inc. and its operational affiliates. Stem is a real estate company that acquires and builds state-of-the-art facilities for its multi-state, vertically integrated operational partners focused on all aspects of manufacturing, production and retail processes of marijuana and CBD from seed to sale. Stem has cannabis real estate assets and active operational partners in Oregon, Nevada and in Oklahoma, which include: large-scale indoor cultivation facilities, light deprivation greenhouse farms, Class 1 and Division 1 extraction labs, pick, pack and ship distribution capabilities, commercial kitchens, a variety of infused brand products, dispensary locations and an upcoming tissue culture lab.
Jessica focuses her practice on regulatory compliance, lobbying for proposed marijuana rules and legislative reform, intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, labor and employment, land use and zoning and commercial real estate.
Prior to her current position with Stem, Jessica was General Counsel for Medically Correct, LLC, d/b/a incredibles, one of Colorado’s largest and most-awarded marijuana infused product manufacturers. Jessica is licensed to practice law in Florida, Colorado, Texas and D.C. and is a Steering Committee Member of the ABA TIPS Cannabis Law and Policy Task Force. She graduated Cum Laude and earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Miami. She received her J.D. from Nova Southeastern Shepard Broad Law Center and a LL.M in Real Property Development from the University of Miami School of Law.
Rachel Gillette, Greenspoon Marder
Rachel Gillette is among the first attorneys in the nation to dedicate her practice to the cannabis industry. Since 2010, Ms. Gillette has helped marijuana/cannabis businesses with licensing and regulatory compliance, business law and transactions, contract drafting and review, tax litigation, corporate formation, and tax matters, including audit representation. She works with startups and entrepreneurs, investors, and ancillary industry businesses to help develop the cannabis innovation ecosystem, and is a zealous advocate for the industry.
Ms. Gillette regularly represents clients before the IRS’s Examinations, Appeals, and Collections Divisions, including marijuana businesses facing the challenges of IRS adjustments under 280E. She has successfully protested local, state and federal tax deficiencies on behalf of her clients, having prevented hundreds of thousands of dollars in incorrectly assessed taxes, interest, and penalties. She can assist individual and business taxpayers in 280E proposed assessments, offers in compromise, audit examinations, innocent spouse claims, sales, use, and employment tax matters, trust fund tax penalty assessments, penalty abatement’s, and levy releases.
Debby Goldsberry, Magnolia Wellness
Debby Goldsberry is executive director at Magnolia Wellness, an award-winning dispensary in Oakland, Calif., and the managing director of the Berkeley Community Care Center dispensary at Amoeba Music. She co-founded the Berkeley Patients Group (BPG) medical cannabis collective in 1999, directing its growth for more than 11 years. In 2017, Goldsberry published her first book, “Idiot’s Guide: Starting and Running a Marijuana Business.”
Tina Gordon, Moon Made Farms
Tina Gordon is the founder and owner of Moon Made Farms, a Sun and Earth Certified regenerative Sungrown Cannabis farm in Southern Humboldt County. Moon Made Farms sits at 2,100 feet elevation in a south facing oak grove and is guided by lunar farming, supported by full sun, fresh air, and rain caught water.
Full season plants are grown from seed in hügelkultur mounds, beds, and trenches that were built from materials sourced from the land. Tina is a founding member of the international Cannabis Farmers Association and co-owner of San Francisco’s Vapor Room.
Ann Grimaldi, Grimaldi Law Offices
Ann Grimaldi maintains a diverse practice centered on chemical regulation, with primary focus on Proposition 65, California’s Green Chemistry Initiative/Safer Consumer Products Regulations, nanomaterial regulation, and the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
Her diverse client base consists of entities operating at every point across supply chains, from chemical manufacturers to consumer product retailers.
Her practice intersects with a variety of industries including cannabis, pesticides, life sciences, art materials, furniture, plumbing products and more.
Chrissy Hadar, Oregrown Industries
Chrissy Hadar is Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Oregrown Industries. Drawing from a background in business, with a finance degree from the University of Montana, the Portland, Oregon, native designed Oregrown’s award-winning flagship store—from wholesale and retail operations to the customer experience.
Hadar’s retail and business development expertise also saw the creation of the company’s lifestyle and marketing divisions where today teams of prominent artists, developers, ambassadors, and specialized vendors innovate on driving Oregrown’s message to the marketplace.
Overseeing Oregrown Industries’ 60+ employees and expansion, Hadar fosters the organization’s financial and operational growth while shepherding the brand from the shadows of prohibition.
Wanda James, Simply Pure
Wanda James is the co-founder and CEO of Simply Pure Dispensary in Denver and is a leading advocate in the cannabis industry.
She is also the founder and President of the Cannabis Global Initiative (CGI), a marketing and consulting firm that specializes in diversity development, regulatory framework and marketing.
She was appointed to the Los Angeles Small and Local Business Commission and sat on the Board of Directors for the Starlight Children’s Foundation, and the Board of Directors of the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce.
Hope Jones, Emergent Cannabis Sciences
Dr. Hope Jones is the founder and CEO of Emergent Cannabis Sciences—a research, development and advising company— whose mission is to drive scientific innovation within the cannabis industry.
Her tenure at University of Arizona Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC), where she earned her B.S. in Plant Sciences and a Ph.D. in Molecular & Cellular Biology and Plant Sciences, allowed her to develop extensive micropropagation skills and knowledge. This expertise enabled her to develop novel micropropagation in vitro systems to rescue populations of endangered and difficult to propagate orchids. And she is one of a very select few scientists in this country that have extensive experience in utilizing these techniques with cannabis specifically.
Dr. Jones' previously worked as a Staff Scientist for NASA’s Life Sciences and Biosystems Engineering Program, where she was responsible for micropropagation production of crops high in antioxidants, phytochemical research and developing growing system technologies that improved both quality and quantity of crop yields during deep space missions. Dr. Jones has also worked as the Director of Science and Micropropagation for a large cannabis cultivation and product manufacturer in Arizona.
Autumn Karcey, Cultivo Inc.
Autumn Karcey is the CEO and founder of Cultivo, Inc., a design and engineering firm located in Southern California specializing in industry specific solutions for the cannabis industry.
To date, Ms. Karcey has built, designed, and consulted on facilities in more than 10 U.S. states and thee countries, totaling more than 2-million square feet of canopy area. Karcey’s current designs include a 30,000-square-foot facility on the Big Island of Hawaii, more than 200,000 square feet currently under development in California, and 70,000 square feet in Tuscon, Ariz. Together, Ms. Karcey and her team of industry specific professionals—comprised of architects, engineers, cultivators, and scientists—work together to provide aid and understanding of indoor, greenhouse cultivation environments for optimum plant health.
Brandy Keen, Surna Inc.
Brandy Keen has been designing and consulting for environmental systems in indoor agricultural facilities for over ten years. In 2006, Ms. Keen co-founded Hydro Innovations where she served as its Director of Operations. At Hydro Innovations, she developed a sophisticated knowledge of the controlled environment agriculture industry and established herself as an expert in the garden and indoor climate. Currently, Ms. Keen is the Co-Founder and Senior Technical Advisor for Surna, Inc., which acquired Hydro Innovations in 2014. Surna develops innovative technologies and products that monitor, control and address the energy and resource intensive nature of indoor cannabis cultivation. Surna also provides consulting and reporting services for climate control, odor control mitigation and biosecurity. Prior to Hydro Innovations, Ms. Keen’s career includes highly technical sales, entrepreneurship, and leadership in the semiconductor and construction industries.
A trusted resource for environmental design and management, Ms. Keen has had varying levels of involvement (from consulting to full scale design) with over 700 unique grow facility designs ranging from small cultivation operations to facilities in excess of 100,000 square feet.
Ms. Keen is often engaged as a speaker on climate control and energy efficiency by organizations such as NCIA, CWCBE and CannaCon and has been interviewed by Bloomberg News, cited in numerous industry related publications and has responded to Reddit followers via an AMA session. Her background in environmental management in cannabis cultivation is unparalleled. Her unique experience lends an understanding of all perspectives in the cultivation facility, including the cultivator, the business owner, the investor, the regulating body, and the community. In her role at Surna, she is required to guide licensed PE's in mechanical design of facilities, teach solutions to consumers who know little about the systems they are purchasing, design systems that meet local regulations and reduce energy consumption, and improve on standard and outdated practices. Ms. Keen’s expertise recently brought her to participate in the Cannabis Sustainability Work Group through the City of Denver, as it looks to provide best practices for sustainability (including energy efficiency) in the cannabis industry. Her coverage of a worldwide market has exposed her to every conceivable cultivation practice, giving her a wealth of experience shared by few.
Emily Kowalski, LeafLine Labs
Emily Kowalski is the Director of Cultivation at LeafLine Labs, LLC, one of two medical cannabis companies serving the patients of Minnesota. She utilizes her 10 years of experience in propagation, greenhouse production, and outdoor nursery production to cultivate consistent, healthy cannabis in LeafLine’s state-of-the-art indoor facility. Kowalski never settles for status quo and digs deep into data to drive quality and efficiency within her operation. She received her B.S. in Horticulture from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Rachel Loeber, LeafLine Labs
Dr. Rachel Loeber is a medicinal chemist by training with extensive experience in analytical chemistry, organic chemistry, and pharmacology. She earned her B.S. from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls with a dual major in Biochemistry and Biotechnology followed by a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry in the laboratory of Dr. Natalia Tretyakova at the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Cancer Center.
Her research focused on gaining a better understanding of the chemical mechanisms of carcinogenesis and the therapeutic actions of anti-tumor drugs.
At LeafLine Labs, Dr. Loeber oversees both production and R&D activities involving cannabis extraction, medical cannabis formulation, analytical testing, and regulatory compliance. She has drawn from her previous industrial laboratory experience to bring scientific rigor and good laboratory practices to LeafLine Labs, differentiating them as a leader in the ever-evolving medical cannabis industry.
Dr. Loeber enjoys networking with other scientists and is an active member of numerous scientific and cannabis-specific interest groups.
Cassie Neiden, Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary
Cassie Neiden is the managing editor for Cannabis Business Times, Cannabis Dispensary and Cannabis Conference. She joined GIE Media’s Cannabis group in February 2017. Previously, she worked as the associate editor the company’s sister publications, Greenhouse Management and Produce Grower, where she covered topics ranging from business management to greenhouse design, integrated pest management (IPM), horticultural lighting, urban agriculture and more. She’s also an experienced freelance writer, with bylines in publications such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Yahoo! Tech and Cleveland Magazine. In 2018, Neiden received an “Editor of the Year” honorable mention at Folio:’s Eddie and Ozzie Awards gala in New York City. She is an alumna of Kent State University’s School of Journalism & Mass Communication with a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism.
Crystal Oliver, Washington’s Finest Cannabis
Crystal Oliver is the President and co-founder of Washington’s Finest Cannabis, an outdoor cannabis farm, licensed since August of 2014. She is also the Executive Director of the Washington SunGrowers Industry Association. She has served on several regulatory workgroups including the State Building Code Council, Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board, Spokane Clean Air Agency, & Spokane Conservation District's Voluntary Stewardship Workgroup. Crystal has been a tireless advocate for small business and family farm friendly policy in Washington and is regarded as a subject matter expert on cultivation regulations in Washington.
Dr. Nadia Sabeh, Dr. Greenhouse Inc.
Dr. Nadia Sabeh (A.K.A. “Dr. Greenhouse”) is President and Founder of Dr. Greenhouse, Inc., an agricultural and mechanical engineering firm that specializes in the design of HVAC systems for indoor plant environments. Dr. Sabeh first became interested in controlled environment agriculture (CEA) as an undergraduate, while working on a small shiitake and oyster mushroom farm in southern Idaho. For over 20 years, Dr. Sabeh has dedicated her education and career to helping farmers control their environments, allowing them to grow crops indoors, in greenhouses, and in locations that would otherwise make it impossible or impractical to do so. She and her team have designed HVAC systems for facilities growing cannabis, strawberries, leafy greens, and vine crops all over the world, including Europe, the Middle East, Canada, and the U.S. Dr. Sabeh has her Ph.D. in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC) and is a licensed Mechanical Engineer in the State of California. She currently serves as the Chair of a new American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers/American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers co-sponsored committee that is developing the standard “HVAC for Indoor Plant Environments Without Sunlight.”
Jamie Schau, Brightfield Group
Jamie Schau attained an M.A. in Global Policy and Strategy from the University of California, San Diego, and has been with Brightfield Group since early 2015, performing quantitative and qualitative analyses of various aspects of the U.S. and global cannabis markets as Head of Research.
Anna Shreeve, Urban Paragon Inc.
Anna Shreeve is President of Urban Paragon, Inc., Targeted Intent, Inc., and The Bakeréé.
Shreeve entered the medical cannabis industry seven years ago with her son, and she and her team opened The Bakeréé, a division of Cookie Fam Genetics, a collaboration with legendary breeder “Jigga.” Shreeve’s group holds two recreational producer/processor licenses in Washington, and a recreational retail/processor license in Oregon.
Noelle Skodzinski, Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary
Noelle Skodzinski has 20+ years’ experience in publishing. She co-founded Cannabis Business Times with previous owner Tim Hermes in 2014.
She has been named among the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Cannabis. In 2012, she founded mediaShepherd–a website serving media professionals–where she served as president and editorial director. Previously, she was editorial director of the Publishing Group at North American Publishing Co., where she oversaw two national business magazines, all related digital content products, as well as the annual Publishing Business Conference, and Publishing Business Virtual Conference. Skodzinski also held posts as editor of The Crafts Report magazine, managing editor for Inside Direct Mail, senior writer for Target Marketing, among other posts.
Andrea Sparr-Jaswa, Farma
Andrea Sparr-Jaswa is the Director of Education at Farma in Portland, Oregon, where she is responsible for developing, aggregating, and implementing both internal and customer-facing educational resources and programming. She advocates for accessibility and comprehensive understanding by using current research and resources to address questions and concerns that have been steeped in myth and stigma. Sparr-Jaswa is passionate about helping folks from all of life's stages form a lasting and positive relationship with cannabis through the language of cannabinoid science.
Jade Stefano, Puffin Farm
Dr. Jade Stefano is Co-Founder and CEO at Puffin Farm, a Washington State sungrown cannabis producer and processor licensed since 2014. Jade is on the Board of Directors of the Washington Sungrowers Industry Association, a non-profit that advocates and lobbies for sungrown cannabis farmers’ interests in the state. She holds an undergraduate degree in Biology from Reed College and is a state-licensed Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. At Puffin Farm, Jade oversees operations, product development and co-manages crop production with her husband Benjamin Short. She has been a cultivator for over 20 years.
Melissa Stewart, House of Dankness
Melissa Stewart serves as the store manager for Denver’s House of Dankness, where she has worked in inventory management for both the retail and production sides of the business.
Previously, Stewart managed the packaging department at The Growing Kitchen, a cannabis manufacturer in Boulder, and she also worked as a budtender for River Rock dispensary. Stewart also has experience working for Craft710, a producer of cannabis concentrates, where she helped open two facilities while managing the company’s gramming and packaging department and helping with shipping and receiving.
Priscilla Vilchis, Premium Produce
Wearing multiple hats, Priscilla Vilchis is the CEO and CMO of Premium Produce. She is a self-made business magnate who has earned a reputation as the most interesting female in the cannabis industry.
She was the youngest and first-ever minority female CEO to be awarded licenses to cultivate and produce medical and retail (recreational) cannabis in Nevada and recently launched her "Reina" cannabis brand.
Vilchis' ultimate goal is to generate reimbursements from health insurance providers for medical cannabis.