Gia Moron Archives - Green Market Report

StaffStaffMarch 6, 2020
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11min1055723

In honor of International Women’s Day, we are releasing our annual “Most Important Women in Weed” list for 2020. This list includes women in the industry that have collectively moved the industry forward with all of their hard work, continuous dedication and effort.

This year we opened up the list for nominations and received almost a thousand nominees. After consideration of each, we have developed what we feel is one of the most inclusive and carefully curated lists of the most accomplished and impressive women in the cannabis industry.

As we could not name them all, we would like to thank and celebrate all of the women who have dedicated their precious time to the advancement of cannabis globally.

It is because of each one of these ladies that this industry remains in the lead above all others as far as female leadership is concerned.

This list is in no special order. Each one of these women provide a great contribution to the cannabis industry in their own unique and badass way.

Thank you to every one of you for all that you do!

The “List”

Dr. Chanda Macias

Yvonne DeLaRosa Green

Mara Gordon

Rosie Mattio

Shawna McGregor

Lori Ferrara

Gaynell Rogers

Stormy Simon

Trista Okel 

Lori Ajax

Amy Dawn Bourlon-Hilterbran

Kim Rivers

Amanda Soens

Dona Frank

Kat King

Sara Payan

Hannah Daphna

Sandra Castaneda

Erin Gore

Wendy Kornberg

Kristin Nevedal

Wendy Turner

Parisa Rad

Brittany Nicholson

Emily Paxhia

Jessica Billingsley 

Gia Moron

Andrea Brooks

Tahira Rehmatullah

Tracey Mason

Lindy Snyder

Jasmine Rose Gunderson

Shannon Hattan

Adelia Carrillo

Karen Petersen

Wanda James

Barbara Blaser

Ophelia Chong

Amanda Ostrowitz

Pamela Nicole Epstein

Melissa Mentele

Jamie Cooper

Sarah Remesch

Jessie Gill

Erica Daniels

Lizzy Jeff

Lelehnia DuBois

Whitney Beatty

Dr. Michele Ross

Manndie Tingler

Chef Lauren Gockley

Kyra Reed

Jamie Evans

Kristin Jordan

Ellie Siegel 

Sara Brittany Somerset

Linda Marsicano

Heidi Groshelle

Amber Senter

Nique Pichette

Jennifer Price

Molly Peckler 

Bonita Money

Susan Hwang

Judy Yee

Julie Chiarello

Leah Heis

Leslie Andrachuk

Terra Carver

Nancy Whiteman

Luna Stower

Karen Paull and Wendy Robbins

Beth Stavola

Alison Gordon

Penny Green

Sara Gullickson

Dr. Lakisha Jenkins

Pamela Hadfield

Jessica Peters

Dr. Rachel Knox and Dr. Jessica Knox

Tiffany Bowden

Mary Jane Gibson

Michelle Janikian

Dr. Uma Dhanabalan

Taylor Blake

AC Braddock

Kerri Accardi

Heather Sobel

Betty Aldworth

Cathy Jordan

Suzanne Sisley

Nina Parks

Eliza Nova Maroney

Selena Xochitl Martinez

Angelika Penuela-Ruiz

Sarah Mitra Payan

Gretchen Gailey

Nikki Lastreto

Ann Lawrence

Sheena Shiravi

Christina Ianuzzi

Kassandra Frederique

Shannon Buyers

Celia Tapp

Kelly Archer

Katie Field

Randi Sether

Shannon Reed

Katrina Yolen

Ngiste Abebe

Brooke Westlake

Courtney Maltais

Katrina Tso

Anne Don0hoe

Alicia Rose Kelley

Dr. Jacqueline Harding, PhD 

Mary Pryor 

Dr. Uma Dhabalan

Olivia Mannix

Heather DeRose

Libby Cooper

Leslie Hoffman

Yvonne Perez Emerson

 

Again, thank you to all of the women who do so much in our industry day in and day out. Your work does not go unnoticed and is deeply appreciated.

Happy International Women’s Day to all women around the world!

Special shout out to our Green Market Report co-founders Debra Borchardt and Cynthia Salarizadeh on this day!


Cynthia SalarizadehCynthia SalarizadehJanuary 29, 2020
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22min37221

As journalists, brand owners and industry professionals, daily we must interact and engage with communication specialists to accomplish a myriad of goals. Like anything, some individuals tend to be more efficient, trustworthy, effective and more of a pleasure to work with overall.

There is nothing more upsetting than wasting time and money on services that do not meet your company’s needs, especially if it can be avoided. So understanding who these people are can help us in our collective decision making when it comes time to scout talent or in hiring firms and consultants.

Over the last year and a half, our team at the Green Market Report has created a running list of the top communication professionals that we feel warrant recognition. After careful consideration among the GMR team, we have selected the top ten that we feel you and your company can engage with effectively.

We feel comfortable recommending each person in this group for their work and accomplishments within their special areas of the industry for communications.

Each one of these individuals rank among the most knowledgeable, influential, helpful and professional to work with.

 

Daniel Yi, Chief Communications Officer at Shryne Group Inc.

Daniel is a seasoned communications executive with more than two decades of experience crafting narratives that connect with audiences.

In 2016, he joined a little known cannabis management firm called MedMen and helped the brand become one of the most recognized names in the industry, earning the company more than six billion earned media impressions in 2018.

As a former journalist, Daniel understands and believes in the power of narrative to change minds and hearts. In the span of a 10-year career at the Los Angeles Times, he covered several beats and later transitioned to marketing communications and public relations, helping organizations like the Port of Long Beach, the County of Los Angeles and Edison International connect with diverse audiences.

Today, Daniel is the chief communications officer of Shryne Group, a vertically integrated cannabis enterprise focused on California, the largest, most mature legal cannabis market in the world.

 

 

Rosie Mattio Founder & CEO of Mattio Communications

Rosie is the founder and CEO of MATTIO Communications, the preeminent cannabis marketing agency in the U. S. She helped usher in the New Cannabis Age, garnering global media coverage in mainstream publications for clients, including the first cannabis article ever published in Oprah Magazine.

Over the past year, her New York firm has grown alongside the industry, adding marketing and communications services for clients, including content, SEO, investor relations, event planning, and influencer marketing.

Today, Rosie is considered a market maker in the world of cannabis. She has been acknowledged in High Times Female 50, and Forbes Fifteen Powerful and Innovative Women In Cannabis. MATTIO Communications has been named in MG Magazines Top 50 Cannabis Employers and Green Entrepreneur’s Top 100 Cannabis Companies.  Ranked the #1 cannabis PR firm by Greenmarket Report, Rosie is a strategic powerhouse, industry connector and influencer. 

 

 

Jason Erkes, Chief Communications Officer at Cresco Labs 

Jason joined the leadership team of Cresco Labs as their Chief Communications Officer and Spokesperson in 2018 after working with the company as a consultant since its inception. Cresco Labs (CL:CSE), based in Chicago, is one of the largest vertically integrated multi-state operators in the United States. The company has a mission to normalize and professionalize the cannabis industry and bringing in subject matter experts like Erkes greatly helps Cresco move closer to that goal.

Erkes has been a journalist, political advisor, entrepreneur, Influencer, turnaround expert and philanthropist. He has been identified as a “rising star” as a Crain’s Chicago Business “40 under 40”, won Emmy Awards for excellence in journalism through his work at ABC and FOX News, and received national political recognition as a recipient of the prestigious Reed Award from Campaigns & Elections Magazine.

Erkes has been instrumental in helping craft and share Cresco’s narrative overseeing the company’s media relations, employee relations, investor communications as well as working cross-functionally with all departments on any external communications.  Most recently he facilitated the company’s launch for Illinois adult-use sales achieving a record one billion earned media impressions in the first week for their Sunnyside* Dispensaries.

 

Gia Moron, Founder and CEO of GVM Communications, Inc

Gia is the Founder and CEO of GVM Communications, Inc. a public relations, brand & business development consulting firm launched in 2012. She has a team of consultants & freelancers work with an array of clients in the Arts, Education, Financial Services, Diversity & Inclusion, Publishing, Sports & Entertainment, Technology, and Wellness.

In 2015, the firm expanded its services into the cannabis industry. Gia leverages her 25+ years of experience in corporate communications, and her firm remains equally vested in diverse markets of business ranging from: (Non-Profits, privately owned to Publicly traded Fortune 500 companies. The firm has a client base that ranges from small to mid-sized businesses, non-profit organizations, entrepreneurs, authors and celebrity clients).

Prior to launching her firm, Gia was a Media Relations Officer in the Corporate Communications department for fifteen years at Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. While at Goldman Sachs, Gia oversaw various business areas from Private Equity, Urban Investment, Investment Research and Technology to the firm’s organizational focus on Corporate Engagement, Diversity, Recruiting, Human Resources and Corporate Services. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, Gia was Director of Promotions and Publicity for six years at The Fremantle Corporation, an international television distribution, and production company. 

 

Linda Marsicano, VP Corporate Communications at Green Thumb Industries

Linda Marsicano joined Green Thumb Industries in February 2018 as Vice President of Corporate Communications and manages all aspects of media and public relations. She has more than 20 years of experience in communications working for publicly traded companies, private entities and nonprofit organizations.

Her background includes leading external communications for Fortune 500 nuclear power company Exelon Corporation, serving as Vice President of Corporate Communications for Playboy Enterprises, and Vice President of Public Relations for mortgage lender Guaranteed Rate. She has also overseen public relations for medical societies and not-for-profit professional associations. Linda has a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Miami University in Ohio.

Marsicano serves on the advisory board of the Civic Leadership Foundation, an educational organization dedicated to preparing under-served young people for college, career and active citizenship. She lives in Chicago with her husband and 12-year-old twin daughters.

 

Alex Howe, Head Of Corporate Communications at Harvest Health & Recreation, Inc.

Howe has two decades of experience working in corporate strategy and communications for cannabis, consumer, technology, Fortune 50 and sports and entertainment companies and has helped launch dozens of companies and build brands across industries.

Howe is currently the Head of Corporate Communications for Harvest Health & Recreation Inc., a vertically-integrated cannabis company with one of the largest and deepest footprints in the U.S., where he leads communications and strategy focusing on patients, consumers, media, regulators, investors, local communities and partners.

Howe formerly served as president and co-founder of Powerplant Global Strategies, the first strategic partnerships, communications and investor relations firm exclusively focused on the legal cannabis industry. At Powerplant he worked closely with many of the best-known companies in the cannabis industry, including PAX, Arcview, Merida Capital Partners, I Heart Jane, THC Design and many others. In 2018, he was named one of Marijuana Venture magazine’s “40 Under 40.”

Prior to joining Powerplant, Howe was a director at fama, North America’s premier boutique PR firm for technology companies, where he launched startups and developed thought leadership campaigns for enterprise companies in the B2C and B2B spaces. Before fama, Alex was a vice president at Global Strategy Group in New York City, where he provided public affairs support, digital, traditional and crisis communications and produced award-winning campaigns for Google, Formula 1, UFC, Nestlé Waters, Time Warner, Inc. and the New York Road Runners.

 

Shawna Seldon Mcgregor, Founder & CEO of Maverick Public Relations 

Shawna Seldon McGregor is the founder of Maverick Public Relations, which was established in 2018 and quickly garnered recognition as one of the most effective cannabis PR agencies.

McGregor’s cannabis and hemp experience is unparalleled, working from the inception of adult-use in Colorado to bring brand messaging to the national stage and working closely with national and trade reporters, as well as infiltrating specific emerging markets. With two decades of experience in New York City and Denver, McGregor has deep experience representing a multitude of sectors including health & wellness, biotech, agribusiness, associations and media. Her mission is to provide big agency expertise with outstanding client service by seasoned and knowledgeable communications expert.

She’s passionate about good journalism and wants to see the Fourth Estate not just survive but thrive. She is hands-on, sincere, genuine and responsive, and oversees a diverse team based in metro Denver, California, Florida and Pennsylvania.

 

Lewis Goldberg, Managing Partner at KCSA Strategic Communications

Lewis is a Managing Partner at KCSA and oversees the firm’s public relations practice.For more than 20 years, Lewis has worked to implement eminence, thought leadership, and public affairs programs designed to build business and garner fairer valuations.

Lewis developed a campaign mentality working in national, state and local politics for U.S. President Bill Clinton, U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli and then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. He designs programs with a specific business objective in mind, a targeted timeframe, attention to maximizing limited resources and a measurable ROI.

In 2015 Lewis helped found KCSA’s cannabis practice and has become recognized as one of the most effective strategic thinkers in this growing field. He is the co-host of KCSA’s weekly podcast, The Green Rush, and speaks regularly at conferences on the use of strategic communications to achieve specific business objectives.

 

Evan Nison, Founder & CEO of Nison Co.

Evan Nison is the youngest member of the NORML Board of Directors and sits on the Board of Directors of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. He is the founder of the PR firm NisonCo, which connects leaders in the legal cannabis, medical marijuana, and hemp industries with influential journalists across the U.S. and world. As part of his mission to build socially driven businesses, he co-founded Whoopi & Maya, a women’s-focused cannabis brand with actress Whoopi Goldberg and fellow NORML board member Rick Cusick. He then went on to co-found Emerald Farm Tours, a Northern California-based cannabis tour company to give the public a transparent hands-on view of the cannabis industry from seed to sale, and Bloody Good Vape & Smoke, a smoke shop in New Jersey he founded with a victim of cannabis prohibition who was held in jail for a year awaiting trial.

Evan has been mentioned in news sources such as the NY Times, CNN, Politico, USA Today, NBC New York, Bloomberg TV, Forbes, and has been profiled in The Cannabist, Civilized, Ithaca Times, Home News Tribune, The Marijuana Times, and the Sun Times. He also received the 2011 NORML Student Activism Award and High Times Freedom Fighter Award for his advocacy. He also received one of the pens used to sign the New York 911 Good Samaritan Law and New York medical marijuana law for his involvement in the passage of both bills.

Heidi Haller Groshelle, Founder & CEO of Groshelle Communications

After four decades of technology public relations, which included launching consumer products like the first plasma TVs, the first mobile phone for kids, and the first flying car, Heidi tackled the cannabis industry in 2015. Heidi’s passion for the plant has allowed her business to thrive with a stellar client roster including PHILTER Labs, PLUS Products, PrestoDoctor, CannaBiz Connections, TraceTrust, and Solful Dispensary to name a few. 

In the past five years, Heidi has introduced the first cannabis-infused gum, rolled out the first line of doctor-designed and approved cannabis topicals, and launched dozens of cannabis brands onto the national stage. 

Heidi has earned numerous accolades for her work including the Hermes Award, Bulldog, and Communicator awards. Heidi’s unique approach to cannabis (and her stellar client roster) has given her a reputation as a leader in the cannabis market and more importantly as a champion of all women in the industry.

 


StaffStaffSeptember 26, 2019
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23min10300

Editors Note: This article was reprinted with the approval of the writer Mai Perkins. 

It was late spring 2018 in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, not far from Biggie’s old stomping ground, when Emmanuel Baptist church hosted a free financial empowerment workshop called Exodus: Exiting Egypt. The all-day seminar was well attended by members of the congregation and featured panels on general topics like debt relief and estate planning.

What would set this event apart from others likely to be held at churches around the country with a vested interest in their community base were two unexpected workshops: Understanding Bitcoin, and The Business of Cannabis.

Being a member of EBC, I was amazed to discover that I could explore both topics of interest at my home church in a completely judgment-free zone, and decided to attend. I understood that these just were not your average subjects among Black churchgoers, and particularly not discussed at the house of the Lord. Or so I thought!

SOURCE: BREWERS ASSOCIATION, WINE INSTITUTE, FORTUNE, CANDYINDUSTRY.COM, STATISTA AND EUROMONITOR NOTE: UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED, COMPARABLE INDUSTRY FIGURES ARE FOR 2014

I’ll be honest. Part of my motivation was to attend just to see who else would be in the room. And considering the handful of people who sat around the table listening to Gia Morón, Executive Vice President of Women Grow, it didn’t really dawn on me that eight months later her organization would collaborate with Emmanuel to create the first ever church-hosted Business of Cannabis Conference.

So how did all of this come about, anyway? Ten minutes into that first low-key workshop, Reverend Anthony L. Trufant, better known as Rev., sauntered into the room to all of our amazement, and sat down to join the discussion. With great joy, he and Gia recounted a chance meeting, one that both believed was orchestrated by the hand of God.

Months earlier, they both had arrived at Penn Station on the same train and decided to share an Uber back to Brooklyn. During that divine appointment, Rev. asked Ms. Morón what she’d been up to, completely unaware that her answer would lead to a destined partnership between his church and Women Grow.

“$105 million: The estimated annual sales tax revenue generated by medical marijuana dispensaries in California, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based group that supports legalization.”

Her countenance lit up as Gia explained her current role with the nationwide advocacy organization that supports women with connections to help them own and lead cannabis related businesses. Admittedly, she was a little apprehensive, sharing the details of a perceived controversial, if not taboo, choice of profession.

But Gia’s conviction for and commitment to dismantling what she felt were distorted, negative imaging and factually inaccurate beliefs related to cannabis, across the board, led her to share her testimony with Reverend Trufant.

It was the passion in her words, her keen fact-based knowledge, and her personal experience that convinced Rev. that Emmanuel would not only benefit from, but welcome her message as a cannabis evangelist. Taking a risk, to Gia’s surprise, he invited her to speak at the financial empowerment workshop months later.

From that chance meeting, and two small breakout sessions up on the second floor of the church, the vision for The Business of Cannabis Conference was established. And what has come to fruition nearly a year later is a cannabis event of great proportion, never before seen within the confines of a religious institution.

Certainly not the Black Baptist church. But unlike the meeting in June, this event emerged as a hot ticket item, selling out weeks in advance to attendees with varying levels of interest in cannabis from across the country.

“$134.6 million: The amount of estimated tax revenue Maryland would earn every year if it legalized and regulated marijuana, according to a 2014 estimate from the Maryland Department of Legislative Services.”

Very little was announced beforehand of what to expect beyond the workshop titles to register for during the week leading into the conference. The panels included: Acquiring Cultivation or Dispensary Licenses; Ancillary Businesses/Careers in Cannabis; Integrative Cannabinoid Medicine by the Knox Family; Medical Benefits of Cannabis and Hemp; The Need for Equity Programs; Cannabis 101; Social Justice and Policy Reform; Destigmatizing Cannabis; Parenting and Cannabis: Learning Together; Healing with Hemp, CBD and Cannabis: topicals, vapes, edibles, and more; Types of Businesses in Cannabis; and, Networks and Industry Conferences in Cannabis.

In addition to these twelve breakouts, there were five Q&A rooms where attendees could pop in and speak with professionals from the industry, which included: What is Unaccredited Investing?, How to Enter the Cannabis Industry, Questions About Legalization of Cannabis, Ask the Medical and Science Professionals, and, Opportunities for Women in Cannabis.

Each panel included POC and women entrepreneurs, attorneys and advocates, dispensary owners and growers, medical doctors and researchers, business analysts, public relations professionals, and content creators. Several cannabis advocacy and media groups from coast to coast contributed to panels including Estrohaze, Cannaclusive, MJM Strategies, Cannagather, and the Minority Cannabis Business Association.

A common thread among the speakers was that each one managed to take their prior work experiences and parlay that expertise into the cannabis industry. Moving throughout the day you could truly feel the essence of the mantra: Whatever YOU do, do it in cannabis!

As if the outpouring and overwhelming amount of information were not enough, the conference also welcomed a riveting keynote address from the CEO of Women Grow, Dr. Chanda Macias  on dispelling the myths of cannabis. Dr. Macias, who earned her Ph.D. from Howard University with a concentration in Cell Biology, evoked the passion of civil rights leaders as she beseeched the packed audience with her searing words. She implored us to take our rightful ownership in this fight for equityfor people of color within the cannabis industry as legalization, from the state to the federal level, continues to take shape.

An overarching theme of the conference was the Social Justice component that points to why it has become an imperative to demand Equity Day One in cannabis legislation as the end of marijuana prohibition nears. Social Equity simply means reinvesting a portion of the newly generated capital from the legalized cannabis industry directly into Black and Latino communities.

These are the neighborhoods that were impacted by unprecedented marijuana arrests and convictions due to Nixon’s damaging War on Drugs campaign. Research studies and anecdotal knowledge have starkly proven how the War on Drugs targeted communities of color, grossly contributing to the United States having the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Because of this, advocates in the multibillion dollar industry are demanding that these very people are poised to stake their claim now that the same marijuana plant that locked up scores of men and women is being sold in their neighborhoods primarily by white-owned cannabis companies. “Do not miss this boat…,” Dr. Macias charged the audience, who responded in agreement.

Adding to the progressive conversation were remarks by New York State Attorney General, Letitia James; Congressman Hakeem Jeffries; Assistant Counsel to Governor Cuomo, Jason Starr; Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo; Senator Velmanette Montgomery; and, Brooklyn District Attorney, Eric Gonzalez.

Each representative acknowledged the need for deliberate goals and strategic policy planning on the part of advocates, lobbyists, constituents and elected officials to be on the right side of history by creating legislation with day one social equity as New York State approaches legalized recreational cannabis in 2019.

Lobbyists also distributed form letters urging attendees to be a part of the political process by contacting their Senators and Representatives in Albany so that they are fully aware of the demand for Equity Day One.

 

As the reverend, Anthony Trufant, thanked Gia Morón’s and his own staff for working so tirelessly around the clock to pull off this crowning achievement, particularly during Black History Month, you couldn’t help but feel how monumental and historic this day was.

Revolutionary in his own right, Trufant is a Morehouse College educated faith-based visionary with a commitment to moral and social justice, which is why he was entrusted with this mission to help bridge the gap between the cannabis community and the church, despite initial pushback from some of EBC’s established members.

When both he and Dr. Chanda prayed from the pulpit, there was a sincere and humbled thanksgiving each expressed to God for the many health and wellness benefits of the cannabis plant. “We thank you for reminding us that You have already placed on the planet resources that can help us to ease pain, resources that will enable us to move forward as a community, and to provide economic opportunities.

We pray, oh God, that you will enable us in the justice work, to join our Brooklyn DA and our Attorney General for the State of New York, as well as our legislature and governor as they deal with legislation that is pending. May we, the citizens, give them the support and the backing that they need to take this courageous step. And finally, God, we pray for men and women, boys and girls who are in great pain today.

We pray that they will experience some degree of relief, that they will have an opportunity to be able to partake of that which you’ve planted so that the pain will be eased for them. Oh God, as we go our respective ways, be with us. We ask this in the name of our God. Amen.”

– Contributed by Mai Perkins

Mai Perkins is Cali girl in a Bed Stuy world, with several blogs under her belt including Uberlicious.nyc and MaiOnTheMove.com. She is a contributing writer for the music publication Pop-Mag.com, and has written for Relevant and Bust Magazine.

With an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, and an MA in International Affairs from The New School, she reps her beloved alma mater, Howard University, every chance she gets. As a poet and a non-fiction writer, she has just published her first manuscript, The Walking Nerve-Ending, available now on Amazon & Kindle.



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