Women's Month Archives - Green Market Report

StaffMarch 30, 2022
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6min990

Sarah Aziz is an Egyptian-American LA-based entrepreneur is a long time cannabis advocate and lover of the plant. Aziz entered the male-dominated cannabis industry in 2021 with her flower brand, Sundazed. The line of pre-rolls delves beyond the surface of cute packaging and focuses on the customer experience.

What is your proudest accomplishment in the cannabis industry?

My proudest accomplishment has been launching 9 products – I started in June of 2020 and have been working day and night so to finally get to this point where I’m about to launch feels like a huge accomplishment especially given the obstacles we faced with the pandemic. 

Do you feel that the cannabis industry has more opportunities for female-identifying people than other industries?

It’s definitely a boy’s club. There aren’t as many opportunities for female-identifying people but brands like ours are coming into the space and creating those opportunities. It’s only going to continue to grow and it’ll be interesting to see how that manifests in the market. 

Do you feel you have to work twice as hard as male colleagues or do you think the industry has moved past that?

Definitely. I feel like I’ve had to push very hard at every step of the way to be taken seriously. Not only am I a woman but we are a small business. I wanted to create this beautiful, elegant, pink packaging for cannabis, which had not been done in this way before. I really had to be relentless with the people I was working with (mostly males at the time in manufacturing) to work with me and help me move forward. On one of my first calls with a marketing agency, one of the owners stated in a surprising tone, “you sound confident,” which was just one of many moments where it was evident that my gender inhibited people’s first impression of me.

What was your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?

I dealt with two major challenges. The first is the pandemic. There were supply chain issues due to factories being short-staffed. As a small business we were at the end of the stick for everything and the only thing we really could do was be patient because it impacted everyone.

Secondly, self-doubt was something I had to contend with. I think as a first time entrepreneur this feeling is normal to have because you’re obviously stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a huge risk and you want to know that the path you’ve chosen will allow you to accomplish your dreams. I think surrounding myself with the right people, having so many friends who are entrepreneurs, and remembering my past successes helped immensely. 

What have you or your company done to help give more opportunities for women?

We are starting the hiring process now and I am working on building infrastructure that supports women and female-identifying people into my company because it’s really important to Sundazed and to me personally.

What are your personal goals for 2022?

My goals for 2022 are to create more products that people love. I’m considering edibles and hoping to incorporate Egyptian flavors in those products. I definitely want to work with more artists and continue to create opportunities where the consumer can take their smoking experience to the next level and truly feel immersed in the world of Sundazed. We’re finally starting to see the light as a society as the pandemic draws to an end and it’s time to have fun and prioritize pleasure. And while pleasure is paramount to Sundazed, helping those most in need within the cannabis community is not something that is lost on me. My top priority for 2022 is to give back to organizations that work with marginalized communities that have been most affected by the war of drugs. Creating equitable opportunities for all is so important to me, not only as a woman, but as an entrepreneur looking to make an impact on American culture as we know it. 

 


StaffMarch 28, 2022
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9min2080

AFC GAMMA

ROBYN TANNENBAUM – PARTNER, HEAD OF ORIGINATION AND INVESTOR RELATIONS, AFC GAMMA (NASDAQ: AFCG)

Mrs. Tannenbaum has over 7 years’ experience focusing on mergers and acquisitions and leveraged loans to healthcare companies. Additionally, she has 5 years of experience as an investor relations professional within the finance industry. Mrs. Tannenbaum formerly served as Head of Investor Relations at Fifth Street Asset Management and as a Vice President in Healthcare mergers and acquisitions at CIT Group Inc. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Finance, with a concentration in Marketing and a Public Relations minor from Lehigh University.

What is your proudest accomplishment in the cannabis industry?

 

My proudest accomplishment is starting AFC Gamma with my husband, Len, during the middle of a pandemic and convincing our partner Jon Kalikow to join us as well. We have now created the first publicly listed NASDAQ lender, employ almost 30 professionals, and are considered by many as the leading lender in the industry. I’m incredibly proud to be one of the co-founders of this company and am excited to build upon the growth milestones we’ve experienced in our first year.

 

Do you feel that the cannabis industry has more opportunities for female-identifying people than other industries?

 

I believe that the cannabis industry, because it’s newer and everyone’s coming in at the ground floor, definitely has more opportunities for females and has elevated more females to leadership positions. Two notable female leaders we work with on a regular basis are Rosie Mattio at Mattio Communications and Ariella Tolkin, the managing director at Jefferies’ cannabis practice. I believe that females are well respected in the industry and that this space is relatively more accessible to women who want to build their businesses from the ground up.

 

Do you feel you have to work twice as hard as male colleagues or do you think the industry has moved past that?

 

I’ve always worked twice as hard as my male and female colleagues, but I still believe that females have something to prove that men often do not. I remember reading an initiating coverage report on AFC Gamma and saw that I was called “Len’s wife.” No, I’m Robyn. I run originations for AFC Gamma. I’ve never seen a report where Len has been called my husband, so I think that as much progress has been made elevating females in the cannabis industry, there’s still more progress to be made. And I think that if you look at the leadership of large cannabis companies, the only large cannabis operator with a female CEO that comes to mind is Trulieve, and what Kim Rivers has done there is obviously incredible. And Jen Drake is very high up at Ayr, but other than that; the C-suites are still mainly comprised of male executives. 

 

What was your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?

 

The biggest challenge was deciding to start a fund in cannabis. This is an industry that was really only funded by family offices when we first started raising capital in 2019. There were many institutions that would not invest in a small fund unless you were NASDAQ or New York Stock Exchange-listed. So building our company from scratch and raising million by million from over thirty family offices to get the REIT running and off the ground before we decided to take it public was a challenge. And imagine doing that during COVID when all you’ve known is pitching and meeting people in person and now having to do everything remotely. So you’re basically asking people to trust you with their capital in a brand new industry that most people don’t know anything about.

 

In terms of overcoming this initial challenge, Len and I always like to talk about how we failed five times before we actually got AFCG started. There were partnerships or other opportunities that could have been helpful in raising capital, which all fell through, but we just kept going. While we were home during the pandemic, Len’s older boys – Stephen, Max and Adam, were with us, and every day they saw us fail and pick ourselves back up and go again.

 

What have you or your company done to help give more opportunities for women?

 

In general, female representation and diversity is an important topic because it brings a different perspective to a board and workplace. Our team is very focused on this internally, and we just added another female board member in Marnie Sudnow. We have an outstanding female board member in Jodi Bond, and supporting NASDAQ President and CEO Adena Friedman’s vision for diversity on boards and the inclusion of women is really important to us. Having more women on boards will perpetuate the cycle and lead to more women being on boards in the future due to their experience.  Personally, now having a daughter of my own, I want Gemma to see the sky’s the limit when it comes to what a female can achieve, so I hope to continue fostering opportunities for women to shine.

 

What are your personal goals for 2022?

 

Besides getting in shape after having a baby last year, one of the things that I’m most proud of is launching the AFC Foundation at the end of last year. The AFC Foundation seeks to partner with our borrowers in states that we operate in and give back to charities that we vet in each respective community. These operators become a source of jobs and tax revenue for the states, but it’s even more vital for them to give back to the communities that they work in. We believe it is crucial for cannabis leaders to reinvest their resources and create new economic opportunities that benefit local residents. My personal goal is to get the AFC Foundation up and running and make impactful donations in partnership with many of our borrowers. While we’re doing well as a company, we need to also do well for the world.

 

 

 


StaffMarch 26, 2022
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5min1380

MARIJUANA MATTERS

COURTNEY DAVIS – EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MARIJUANA MATTERS

What is your proudest accomplishment in the cannabis industry? 

My proudest accomplishment in the industry is finalizing our Social Equity Toolkit. The Toolkit was a document that our founder, Khadijah Tribble and a few others had conceptualized a few years ago. When I started with Marijuana Matters in 2020 I had the opportunity and task of editing and putting forward a finished product. The Toolkit which is available on our website, provides guiding principles that communities, policymakers, and businesses can use as they strive to draft cannabis regulations and laws that create equity in marketplace access, generate revenue, and improved economic conditions for individuals and communities most impacted by the failed war in drug policies. 

 Do you feel that the cannabis industry has more opportunities for female-identifying people than other industries? 

The cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the country so there is no shortage of opportunities for everyone. However, women still face significant challenges specifically in leadership roles. I’ve heard some refer to this as breaking the grass ceiling. In terms of opportunities, I do think brands and products marketed specifically to women have the potential for growth. I think a lot about the smoke culture and how women like the founders of Brown Girl Jane and Elevate Jane have been able to come in and create a new narrative of cannabis consumers.

Do you feel you have to work twice as hard as male colleagues or do you think the industry has moved past that? 

The more intersectionality you have the harder you have to work. So as a Black woman living in America, I’ve always been told that I have to work harder. When I worked on Capitol Hill I was always one of a few Black women working on agriculture of veterans’ policy. That can be extremely isolating at times. Since joining Marijuana Matters, I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of advocacy organizations like Women Grow, MCBA, M4MM, and Supernova Women where women are all at the helm. These are the women I call on for support when I need to get something done.  

What was your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?

 My biggest challenge with leading Marijuana Matters has been introducing our work to the public. We are a newer advocacy organization and not a lot of folks have heard of us before. Through thoughtful partnerships we’ve been able to amplify our mission and reach a larger audience.

What have you or your company done to help give more opportunities for women? 

Our organization consists of all women so Marijuana Matters directly gives more opportunities to women in the cannabis industry. And not by default, our first Minorities in Cannabis Bootcamp consists of all women. We refer to them as the Fab Five and they are entrepreneurs looking to make waves in the cannabis industry. There’s a lot of girl power and black girl magic at Marijuana Matters!

What are your personal goals for 2022? 

My personal goals for 2022 are to continue to show up authentically and convince at least one other woman join me in the cannabis policy space. The cannabis industry needs great minds and diversity of thought to continue moving the industry forward.


StaffMarch 25, 2022
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5min1420

EDIE PARKER

BRETT HEYMAN – FOUNDER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR, EDIE PARKER

What is your proudest accomplishment in the cannabis industry?

We recently launched Weedie Parker Creative, a newly-formed division that will work with emerging and established cannabis companies to develop compliant branding strategies, integrated marketing campaigns, and compelling packaging concepts. We are excited to launch this division with our team of forward-thinking creatives to help more cannabis brands execute larger-than-life ideas, find their unique voices and demonstrate how this industry can be a force for good in society.

Do you feel that the cannabis industry has more opportunities for female-identifying people than other industries?

When we launched Flower by Edie Parker, we saw a huge opportunity in the space for products that spoke to women in a more designed and elevated way. Like any other emerging industry, we found that existing brands didn’t speak to/champion women. Being a small team that is female-founded and run, we wanted to encourage and celebrate women in the space with a brand that they could identify with, that had authentic values consumers felt proud to support.

Do you feel you have to work twice as hard as male colleagues or do you think the industry has moved past that?

Being a brand that has existed for more than 10 years, we have had the experience of working with challenging partners in bringing products to life. Fortunately, these challenges and past experiences have prepared us to persevere in a space that was largely male-dominated.

What was your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenges we face by far are the onerous, confusing, and varied restrictions in a new market. As cannabis is still federally illegal, each state has a different set of guidelines and regulations that we are required to follow. These various restrictions that differ from state to state make it difficult to launch on a broader scale. 

What have you or your company done to help give more opportunities for women?

At Flower by Edie Parker we are cannabis by women, for women, who want to support women. 

One example is our ‘Boobs on Drugs’ campaign launched during International Women’s Month last year. During this campaign, 15% of the proceeds went to The Women’s Prison Association. The WPA has been around for 175 years. They help women and their families get back on their feet and reintegrated into life after incarceration. In the field of cannabis specifically, this is a cause we are especially passionate about. I am proud of that tee-shirt, the message and the cause. We are proud of the work we’ve done so far, but there is so much more to be done. In 2020, we were granted 501(c)(3) status through the Edie Parker Foundation and it is both a personal goal as well as company mission to continue to support organizations that empower women and children.

What are your personal goals for 2022?

We will continue to create products that are elevated, playful, and meant to be put on display. We are firm believers in the fact that having cannabis products/accessories available that people are proud to show off is a huge step in our fight towards the destigmatization of this plant. That being said, we are also deeply committed to destigmatizing cannabis use for mothers, and all women in general. From a business perspective, we have goals set for expansion into new markets, as well as new product sectors and can’t wait to share with consumers what’s in store this year for Flower by Edie Parker!

 


StaffMarch 24, 2022
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7min1600

Curaleaf

TRACY BRADY – VICE PRESIDENT, HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS, CURALEAF

What is your proudest accomplishment in the cannabis industry? 

I am incredibly proud of the team I have built in the last two years, both internally (from a team of none to a full service communications and public relations function), to our external partners and stakeholders. To me, the most important part of a career is not your individual achievements but the people you meet, inspire, learn from, and help grow along the way. No business can be truly successful without strong human relationships. I am also very proud of the work we have done to launch, sustain, and raise the visibility of the Rooted in Good CSR platform, which I believe is second to none in the industry. Being a part of driving that work forward alongside our SVP of CSR Khadijah Tribble, watching it grow and telling those stories has been very fulfilling in a sometimes crazy industry.

Do you feel that the cannabis industry has more opportunities for female-identifying people than other industries? 

I am a believer in making your own opportunities and never taking no for an answer. That said, there is plenty of opportunity in this industry for people (any gender) who are willing to work hard, be creative and relentlessly optimistic, and find ways around “no.” I think our industry should continue to be focused on creating opportunities and forging pathways to equity for people of color, and those harmed by previous cannabis legislation and the War on Drugs. They are the future this industry needs to believe in.

Do you feel you have to work twice as hard as male colleagues or do you think the industry has moved past that? 

I think women have to work twice as hard for their work to be noticed and recognized. Women simply get it done. They don’t feel the need to show up at the bar or the golf course and crow about how hard they are working and what they’ve achieved – and we pay a price for that. We often don’t self promote – because we are too busy making dinner, meeting teachers and taking the dog to the vet when we’re not working. That’s a stubborn cultural root that we’re still chopping away at. All good CEOs know that if you want something done yesterday, ask someone with a vagina.

What was your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it? 

I’m still in it – erasing the stigma of this plant, day by day, interview by interview, campaign by campaign. I used to think working with movie stars and media training Fortune 100 CEOs was challenging – then I had teenagers and a career in cannabis. Needless to say, getting an actor to hit their talking points on the Tonight Show to promote a superhero movie pales in comparison.

What have you or your company done to help give more opportunities for women? 

I’m proud that many of Curaleaf’s senior leadership positions are female represented (our head of Marketing, CSR, HR, Retail and Communications are women) and nearly half our workforce is female-identified. My team is 50% women, and through our Rooted in Good Supplier Diversity program, we’ve made a conscious effort to work with women and minority-owned agencies (of our three partner agencies, two are woman-owned and one is minority and LGBTQ-owned). I am also part of our terrific Executive Roundtable mentorship program, and one of my “mentees” is Liz Robinson of CBD brand The Gift (though I am quite certain I have learned more from Liz than she has from me). At Curaleaf, we have a variety of strong ERGs (employee resource groups)– I am the executive sponsor of our FamilyLeaf for working parents, and we also have our women-focused ERG, Women’s Cannabis Collective, which just sponsored our Women’s Appreciation Awards in recognition of International Women’s Day; the WCC is also starting its own mentorship program in Q2 of this year. We’ve also done partnerships such as sponsoring a recruitment event with Dress for Success. I also sit on the Communications Committee of the USCC, the industry’s leading voice in D.C. where it’s important to have not only female, but other diverse perspectives heard as we move our industry forward.

What are your personal goals for 2022? 

More sleep. Kidding. Everyone knows women in cannabis don’t sleep. Beyond that, my hobby is humor writing, and I’d like to get one of my personal essays published, if I can find the time and the right strain to help me. The working title is Middle School, Middle Age, and Marijuana – Pick 3.


StaffMarch 23, 2022
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3min1350

SIMPLIFYA

KATRINA SKINNER – GENERAL COUNSEL AND CHIEF BANKING OFFICER, SIMPLIFYA

What is your proudest accomplishment in the cannabis industry? 

With the ongoing conflict between federal and state marijuana laws, I pride myself on regularly working within legal confines to create sound solutions for clients who are taking incredible risks to build this industry.

 

Do you feel that the cannabis industry has more opportunities for female-identifying people than other industries?

I do, largely because as an industry it’s very new and has attracted participants who are not as concerned with limiting opportunities. Instead, there seems to be a common reflex to look to individuals, regardless of gender, who can bring their skills, passions, and resolve to make things happen. With so many shared goals, it’s not a space with much room or time for prejudice.

 

Do you feel you have to work twice as hard as male colleagues or do you think the industry has moved past that? 

In this particular industry, I think everyone has to work at least twice as hard as they do in traditional industries to find success, because it’s cannabis. Most people in this environment seem to understand that many of the hurdles this industry faces, on both social and federal levels, are due to ignorance – so I have not encountered much of it on this side of the table.

 

What was your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?

It’s very difficult navigating such a complex set of regulations, which vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, in a space that violates federal law. So far, knock on wood, we have overcome any hiccups by taking a more conservative approach that still embraces measured risk.

 

What has you or your company done to help give more opportunities for women?

It’s really all about providing the space. Simplifya has been sure to not only establish leadership roles for women, but to build a professional team that is nearly halfway comprised of women. 

 

What are your personal goals for 2022?

I’m focused on leveraging long-term relationships within the cannabis industry to create valuable partnerships. In turn, such partnerships will spark new and collective growth opportunities for those involved, likely in innovative and unexpected ways.


StaffMarch 22, 2022
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10min1310

Garden Society

 

Erin Gore/Spotlight 

What is your proudest accomplishment in the cannabis industry? 

Creating a brand that resonates and is meaningful to so many. Garden Society stems from my personal journey to find balance in life and being surrounded by women feeling the same pressures. I’m proud to have built a company alongside my business partner, Karli Warner, that’s based on a shared passion to encourage people to explore non-traditional ways of finding joy in their everyday lives. 

Do you feel that the cannabis industry has more opportunities for female-identifying people than other industries? 

While we have made strides as female-identifying individuals in the industry, we have rapidly declined from where we were a few short years ago. So, honestly, I’m not sure. In past years, I would have said “absolutely” since we’re literally building a new industry right now. We need more allies to step up to the table to join us in this journey. 

What has become apparent is that the cannabis industry is a highly capital-intensive industry filled with bias. Gone are the days you can make a beautiful product and sell it via the collective model. Now, one needs access to significant capital to launch and scale their business, and traditional capital channels like bank loans and small business grants are not available for the cannabis industry. The well-documented lack of funding for female-identifying individuals and the bias that reverberates across the industry if one does find bias definitely limits our potential. I think it’s our time to stand in our power and call out this bias and lack of capital, and find incredible allies that will support us to create a more equitable industry. 

Do you feel you have to work twice as hard as male colleagues or do you think the industry has moved past that? 

Only 2% of venture capital dollars go to women overall, and in cannabis, it’s even less (<1%). As I successfully navigated my own fundraising journey for Garden Society, it became clear that one of the reasons women fail to bring a great product to market is simply because they don’t know how to raise the capital. Women are much less comfortable being confident in their vision, usually from lack of confidence with financials and fundraising. This became even more clear during the pandemic–women were managing their children, their home responsibilities, their community responsibilities, and their career. 

During our fundraising, we were accused by men of not being authentic enough since we didn’t have any female investors–that was a turning point for us. We decided to build a slate of female angel investors, and they are undoubtedly amazing. We know first-hand how incredibly powerful women allies can be, and how we will work twice as hard to get the credit we deserve. We also 

have been able to find incredible male allies who see our vision, help us address bias, and empower us to build the company of our dreams.

And yes, we definitely have to work twice as hard as male peers in the industry. Do I think that it is fair and just? Absolutely not. Do I think it’s helped us build a better company? Absolutely yes. We are stronger, more profitable, more agile, and more resilient as a result. It has been proven that female-identifying founders deliver better returns on their companies. I think this is absolutely the main driver, and am proud to continue to deliver at Garden Society. 

What was your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it? 

The pandemic, hands-down, which while can be identified as the single biggest challenge, led to an entire series of difficult challenges. It started with working with our brethren in the Northern California cannabis community to deem our products and this plant “essential,” to immediately focusing on how to keep our team safe while keeping the doors open and our employees retained. This, all while moving sales in the right direction, as well as raising money – and all while raising my most important life asset: my son. Every minute of the day was exhausting as a mom and wife, CEO, and oh, by the way, I was Chair of the Board of Directors of our local hospital during this time too, so yeah, I was exhausted. 

What have you or your company done to help give more opportunities for women? 

This is very important to both Karli and me: we have a huge desire to accelerate the success rate of women in cannabis. I think one of the biggest accomplishments of the past two crazy years has been making the time to engage in my fellow female business community across the U.S., doing my best to serve as a resource and mentor to other female cannabis entrepreneurs. This includes working hard to share knowledge and resources that would help other women over the finish line in their own business efforts. We have had some wonderful mentors and allies to help us, and also learned everything else on our own through lots of failed attempts. We’re motivated to share our learnings with other women to hopefully accelerate their success rates. 

But it truly takes a village. I’m honored to be working with other successful women in the space, including female lawyers, founders, mentors, recruiters, and executives at public companies. We work to engage with entrepreneurial women far beyond encouraging chats and aim to give them the actual tools they need to drive their companies forward. 

What are your personal goals for 2022? 

The ever-elusive quest for balance and finding time to feed the soul, while doing the same for my family and business. If 2020 and 2021 were about surviving (literally and figuratively), during 2022 I am planning to spend time planning, visioning, and executing. I am super focused on achieving our potential at Garden Society by executing our plan across all aspects of the business. I also have a goal to develop a larger 3-5 year strategic plan, now that we’re through


StaffMarch 21, 2022
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5min1910

Ayr Wellness

 

JENNIFER DRAKE – CO-CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, AYR WELLNESS

What is your proudest accomplishment in the cannabis industry?

Let me start by saying that there are very few businesses that are harder to operate in than the legal cannabis business, but the opportunity in this space is unmatched. With that in mind, I am most proud of the amazing team I’ve built at Ayr. I love identifying talent and putting those individuals in positions to succeed, and because legal cannabis is such a new industry, I often get the opportunity to give people chances in this space that they wouldn’t have had in other industries. 

 

Do you feel that the cannabis industry has more opportunity for female-identifying people than other industries?

With the cannabis industry being a relatively new space, it has the tools to create greater opportunities for underrepresented groups. It’s important to never take that for granted, as we need to work actively every day to cultivate and uphold that environment. As long as we keep that top of mind, we’ll be able to maintain that kind of positive internal growth.

 

Do you feel you have to work twice as hard as male colleagues or do you think the industry has moved past that?

Absolutely. I wish it weren’t the case, but it’s just a fact that women have to work twice as hard as men, just to be seen as three-quarters as good. That’s not a cannabis issue – it’s a broader cultural issue in our world. While I do feel society is moving in the right direction, we just aren’t there yet. As more women thrive in leadership roles and more people begin to associate the idea of leadership with a woman, we will gain more opportunities to advance society along those lines. 

 

What was your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?

I come from Dayton, Ohio, raised by two schoolteachers and the youngest of four children. So I was never really exposed to the business world, and frankly knew nothing about it when I started my career out of college. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have really good mentors who have helped me through so many learning curves and challenges throughout my career. 

 

What have you or your company done to help provide more opportunity for women? 

We have made it a point of priority to develop infrastructure internally for women to have support systems, and by extension help them to thrive in their roles. One key example is our Employee Resource Groups, which are designed to raise awareness and support more inclusive processes over time. We’ve also made a conscious effort to hire women in key positions, including our Chief People Officer, heads of retail in key markets, and other leadership roles. 

 

What are your personal goals for 2022? 

Last year in 2021, we made some key hires and investments into our Corporate Social Responsibility and People functions, and hired really strong individuals to lead those areas. One of my key goals for 2022 is to take those investments and leverage them into industry-leading CSR and People programs, and to continue to develop one of the best company cultures in the United States. 

 


StaffMarch 14, 2022
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6min1990

ASCEND WELLNESS HOLDINGS

ANDREA CABRAL – CEO OF MASSACHUSETTS, ASCEND WELLNESS HOLDINGS (OTC: AAWH)

 

What is your proudest accomplishment in the cannabis industry?

My proudest accomplishment is my contribution to the creation and growth of a vertically integrated adult-use cannabis company in Massachusetts in 2018 right on the heels of adult-use legalization. AWH started in Massachusetts with five people and we were one of the first, if not the first, adult-use cannabis companies in the state. MassGrow and Ascend Mass – our cultivation, manufacturing, and retail operations – have grown enormously in less than four years and during a pandemic where the adult-use market was initially deemed non-essential. It still amazes me.

 

Do you feel that the cannabis industry has more opportunities for female-identifying people than other industries?

As a relatively new and therefore more open industry, cannabis presents more opportunities for female-identifying people, and certainly, there are a lot of female entrepreneurs in the space, but executive and middle managerial leadership is still predominantly male. There are a number of reasons for this that are not specifically tied to gender bias, but that bias does exist and the cannabis industry is not immune to its consequences. Companies must be very intentional and focused on recruiting and retaining female participation and leadership at all levels. It does not happen organically.

 

Do you feel you have to work twice as hard as male colleagues or do you think the industry has moved past that?

I don’t personally feel that I have to work twice as hard as male colleagues, but that is due in part to the professional background I brought to the job and my title, but I am certainly aware that my circumstances are unique. Again, the cannabis industry is not immune to perceiving competence and judging work performance very differently based on gender.

 

What was your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was learning the business of business.  I came to cannabis from a 28-year career in government, politics, and law enforcement. Learning about private industry, particularly a new and exciting one like cannabis was a very big challenge, but such a fun and rewarding one. Also, the nexus between government and cannabis created by legalization and regulation is just fascinating given their historical antagonism and I wanted to be part of how that relationship developed in Massachusetts.

 

What has you or your company done to help give more opportunities for women?

I have been very intentional about hiring female-identifying people at all levels and wherever possible. But mere hiring isn’t enough. There has to be a commensurate focus on retention and the kinds of opportunities for professional growth and advancement that make retention sustainable. Those things can be very different for men and women. It’s also a challenge because there’s a lot of natural attrition in cannabis and while many are comfortable getting into the industry, many still are not. Federal legalization would change that.

 

What are your personal goals for 2022?

My personal goals for 2022 involve pushing for review of state regulations to make them more consonant with the actual impact the industry has had on the state versus the impact policy and law makers feared it would have.  None of the anticipated public safety consequences, which heavily influenced regulatory content, have occurred.  Cannabis companies not only bring significant revenue to municipalities and the state, their presence improves the communities in cities and towns where they operate in many ways. The stringency of the regulations should reflect that.

 

Bio

Andrea J. Cabral is the Massachusetts CEO of Ascend Wellness Holdings, a vertically integrated, multi-state cannabis company.  She leads MassGrow LLC, a cannabis cultivation and manufacturing company and Ascend Mass LLC, a multi-site adult use retail cannabis company.  In 2020, she was listed by Forbes Magazine as one of Fifteen Powerful and Innovative Women in Cannabis.  Her leadership in AWH follows a 28-year career in government and public service.  Andrea is a former Assistant District Attorney, the twice-elected Sheriff of Suffolk County and a former Patrick Administration Public Safety Secretary.  She is the Chair of the Public Safety and Community Mitigation Subcommittee of the Cannabis Advisory Board appointed by Attorney General Maura Healy as an expert in criminal justice reform.

 

Ms Cabral also provides weekly commentary and legal analysis on Boston Public Radio, The Jim and Margery Show on WGBH Boston Public Radio.

 

She is a graduate of Boston College and Suffolk University Law School.


StaffMarch 12, 2022
shutterstock_1136157254-scaled.jpg?fit=1200%2C825&ssl=1

9min870

LEAFLINK

CLAIRE MOLONEY – SENIOR REGIONAL DIRECTOR, EAST, LEAFLINK

 

What is your proudest accomplishment in the cannabis industry?

Of course, it has been a very special journey as the first hire of LeafLink to be a part of our growth from the beginning: I still fondly remember celebrating the very first order on our marketplace back in 2016 (shoutout to Infinite Wellness in Colorado!), and now we have over 10,000 brands and retailers doing nearly $5B in orders on our much more robust supply chain platform. There are so many big team wins and contributions that have gone into that.

 

If I had to pick one thing, though, it would be that I’m proud of the amazing team of nearly 300 people (and counting) that LeafLink has built. I genuinely enjoy working with my fellow LeafLinkers – they are some of the smartest, most passionate people I’ve ever met. We really don’t have anyone simply clocking in and clocking out here, because everyone is so dedicated to building a product and an experience that will shape this industry for the better.

 

Do you feel that the cannabis industry has more opportunity for female-identifying people than other industries?

Yes, I do. Regulators, especially in states like NY and MA, have been extremely intentional in designing inclusive regulations that give more access to people of color, women, veterans, and other underrepresented groups. Because of this, we’re seeing more female-founded companies and commitments to hiring women than we might in other traditional industries. Of course, there is always more work to be done here, and I’m excited to see the industry keep pushing itself in a more equitable direction.

 

Do you feel you have to work twice as hard as male colleagues or do you think the industry has moved past that?

I think two key things make cannabis a great industry for women: the amount of opportunity and the awareness surrounding bias of all kinds (gender, race, sexual identity, and more). The birth of cannabis during this specific time period is unique, because there has been a global shift in how people are thinking about equality, and the cannabis community is really embracing that in how we think about moving this illicit industry to a regulated one, and making sure we do that thoughtfully.

 

However, I don’t think the work is anywhere near done. I do think women still need to work harder than their male colleagues do to prove that they are deserving of the same opportunities. There are still systemic biases that persist that create barriers for us (and for many other underrepresented groups). But, I think we should all be encouraged by the progress we’re making: every step forward we’re taking, no matter how small, is a step the women who follow us won’t need to take when they go for that promotion, that coveted initiative, that leadership position. On a personal note, every extra hour I spend perfecting presentations, crafting decks, or preparing for client meetings might just show someone in that room how powerful a woman at work can be, and that might be another hour a future woman won’t have to spend. I find that extremely motivating. 

 

What was your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?

 

My personal biggest challenge was learning how to get comfortable with constant change at a rapidly growing startup. As an early hire, you wear many hats – but over time, as the team grows, you inevitably need to give away your responsibilities as new, experienced colleagues join the company. At first, I was nervous about what giving away parts of my job would mean for my own future at LeafLink. Now that it’s happened so many times, I’ve learned that giving away my responsibilities is one of the most powerful things I can do for my own career, because it’s given me the chance to seize new initiatives or to spend more time on what I’m good at. Now, I jump at the opportunity to give away parts of my job to new hires (P.S. we’re hiring!)

 

What has you or your company done to help give more opportunities for women?

LeafLink has made diversity in hiring a key initiative and our Talent team reports on how we’re doing compared to our goals during our Town Halls. We spend extra time hiring to ensure we can interview diverse panels of candidates, especially for leadership positions. We partner with a number of groups, such as Women Who Code, to try to increase the number of candidates identifying as female in our pipeline. 

 

In addition to that, we have a Women’s ERG that meets monthly to foster a deeper connection across women at LeafLink. We have a buddy program within that group where women meet 1:1 to discuss the opportunities and challenges in their chosen career path. This has built a real internal community that can discuss ways to improve LeafLink for women, and it has surfaced new ideas and initiatives that we can take on to continue to make LeafLink a great place for women to work. 

 

What are your personal goals for 2022?

My personal goal in 2022 is to make a real impact in the upcoming adult use market in New York. I was born and raised in New York, I went to a state-funded college in New York, and I’ve worked in New York City for the last decade. I’ve spent the last 6 years launching LeafLink in states across the country, and I finally get the chance to launch it here – it’s truly coming full circle. I am so inspired by the regulators and community in New York, because I have witnessed their serious dedication to making our market the most diverse and inclusive in the country. Whether it’s bringing LeafLink’s technology to this market to help entrepreneurs rapidly scale their new businesses or simply lending advice to prospective licensees based on my years of experience in the industry – I want to do my part in making New York the best cannabis market in the world.

 


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The Green Market Report focuses on the financial news of the rapidly growing cannabis industry. Our target approach filters out the daily noise and does a deep dive into the financial, business and economic side of the cannabis industry. Our team is cultivating the industry’s critical news into one source and providing open source insights and data analysis


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By continuing I agree to your Privacy Policy and consent to receive relevant newsletters and other email communications on events, editorial features, and special partner offers from Green Market Report. I can unsubscribe or change my email preferences at any time.