Black History Month Spotlight: Jess Hollins


Jess Hollins / Senior Regional Director

Jess Hollins brings years of business operations and strategy consulting experience to her role as a Senior Regional Director at LeafLink where she oversees the go-to-market strategy across the Mountain West and Midwest regions. Jess works closely with all of the business lines at LeafLink (Insights and Marketing services, Payments, Logistics) to ensure that LeafLink is continually evolving our offerings to solve our customers’ problems in any given market. Prior to LeafLink, Jess was a Director of Business Operations at National Veterinary Associates and worked as a consulting manager at Bain & Company in their energy and private equity practices.

When did you formally enter the cannabis space?

My formal entrance into the space came in the spring of 2021 when I joined LeafLink.  I was still living in Canada when cannabis was federally legalized and almost made the pivot into the space at that point, but wasn’t fully swayed until I moved to California.

What made you decide to work in the cannabis industry?

The idea of helping shape the way an entire industry is set up was inspiring to me. I saw cannabis tech as a way to merge the skill set I’ve developed over the years with an industry that’s still in its nascent stages in a lot of ways.

Since cannabis was made federally legal in Canada in 2018, I’ve been passionate about Black people having a significant share of the wealth created in this space.  Whether that was me personally or helping uplift others that were carving out their own space.

Do you feel there is more opportunity for Black Americans in the cannabis industry versus a more traditional industry? Yes or no and why?

While I’ve been surprised at how progressive and forward-thinking the industry is as a whole, I still believe that there is a lot of room for growth here. I think governing bodies, public and private companies, are all establishing the “rules” with social equity in mind, which makes me optimistic that that will result in more representation than there would have been otherwise. Like most other industries, I still believe it’s easier for those with an established reputation and easy access to capital to develop a stronghold in the space and push those that don’t meet that criteria to the fringes.  I’m glad to see organizations actively fighting against that outcome.

What is the most successful social equity effort in your opinion? Can be a charity or company program. 

It’s hard for me to play favorites, but I’ve loved keeping tabs on all of the various initiatives different states and companies are establishing. Whether it’s donating time and expertise to help social equity license holders establish their business or working to expunge the records of those with cannabis-related offenses – it’s all necessary and all positive to me.

What is your personal goal for 2022?

My personal goal for 2022 now that I’m starting to get my feet under me regarding the industry, is to provide as much support as possible to social equity founders and small businesses.  With my background and the space that I occupy at a company like LeafLink, I want to give my time and brainpower to help carve out as much space (and wealth) as possible for Black owners.  I’m also excited to start participating in more industry events and deepen my relationships with other Black leaders in the industry.

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