22 Mar 21 Women leading the canna industry in Illinois
I’m sure you know by now that March is International Women’s Month. But I bet you didn’t know all these incredible ladies that are doing amazing work in the cannabis industry in Illinois.
We here at IL NORML wanted to give a spotlight to some incredible movers and shakers in the industry. Not only are the people on this list doing amazing things on their own, they are giving back to their community so that we can all be empowered by each other’s strengths.
A few weeks ago, we asked our volunteers to compile a list of their idol people in the industry that they want to see spotlighted and they gave us an overwhelming list of responses!
The list of ladies that was compiled is not who’s better than, it’s a collective of women who are pushing the envelope and showing their fierce side without hesitation. They know what they want and they are going for it alongside helping others around them.
Make sure to check each of the femme forward thinkers on this list and give them some love by supporting their businesses by patronizing them or by giving them a follow, subscribe, and even share of their content. You don’t always have to financially support to give support. The ones on this list will be ever grateful for your efforts in sharing their content to reach a wider audience, so make sure to do just that!
Tiffany Woodman, Owner of CannaBella Lux Chicago’s first Highbrid Boutique, IL NORML member
Tiffany Woodman is the founder and CEO of Canna Bella Lux, the femme-forward, cannabis-inspired “highbrid” boutique and lifestyle brand. Canna Bella Lux is focused on providing an elevated experience and ethically sourced items from Womyn, POC, LGBTQIA+ and small businesses.
Through her work as a Latinx business owner, Tiffany strives toward inclusivity and equity in the cannabis industry and to change how people see cannabis. She runs the Canna Bella Lux boutique in Chicago with her shop dog Barbara, a senior rescue chihuahua from Alive Rescue.
Tiffany embodies Canna Bella Lux’s mantra: Lead with love. Uplift others. Be eXtra. When she became a medical marijuana patient, she saw the need for a hybrid boutique that served customers like her and created Canna Bella Lux as a safe place for women and others who might not gravitate to cannabis because of the stigma or the atmosphere and offerings at a smoke shop.
When not at the boutique, you can find Tiffany spending time with her husband and five (yes, five) rescue chihuahuas (Barbara, Dante, Daisy, Penny, and Holly). She enjoys anything and all RuPaul, rewatching Criminal Minds, Hallmark movies, and cooking. Her favorite strains are Floria Orange, Cake Mints, and East Coast Sour Diesel.
Tiffany has an extensive background in operations and human resources as well as experience in corporate culture, customer service, events, and sales. She holds a SHRM-CP certification (Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional) and a certificate from The Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell University. Tiffany is a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy.
Edie Moore, Founding Board Member & Executive Director Chicago NORML
An experienced construction project administrator and compliance director, Edie Moore has assisted in the development of affordable housing, zoological projects, and community developments. She has led administration teams on small to mid-sized projects ranging from several hundred thousand to multi-million dollar capital improvements programs.
Edie advises and assists small and mid-sized minority and women-owned businesses to grow their business by obtaining local, state and federal business certifications and pursuing
Working primarily on the compliance and community engagement teams, she is one of the original owners of the only majority minority-owned firm to receive licensure for a medical cannabis dispensary and cultivation facility in Illinois in 2014.
Continuing her interest and work in the exploding cannabis industry, Edie, along with her filmmaker son, received a Chicago Community Trust Acting up Grant to produce their Cannabis on the Table microfilm series, Humans of Cannabis, which features people of color who are medical cannabis patients and caregivers.
Edie is passionate about educating and reforming cannabis policies in her communities.
In 2017, she became a founding board member and Executive Director of Chicago NORML, a local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. In May 2019, Chicago NORML helped Illinois pass the only adult-use cannabis legislation in the country that includes strong and intentional social equity provisions.
As Director, she works closely with lawmakers, industry professionals, wellness professionals, and community leaders to share the latest, accurate cannabis information.
A frequent guest speaker and presenter, her expertise is and insight sought to advise on and interpret policy, licensure, and minority business certification.
Amor Montes Oca, Illinois Women in Cannabis Executive Director
As the very first Executive Director of Illinois Women in Cannabis, Amor leads a vibrant community of women interested in working in Illinois’ nascent regulated cannabis industry. IWC champions women with diverse backgrounds, entrepreneurial spirits, and innovative ideas, and so does Amor. As the former Director of Strategic Initiatives for 2112, Chicago’s first incubator for creative industries, she focused on creating meaningful programming, raising capital, and developing advanced professional development initiatives. Within Illinois’ burgeoning cannabis industry, Amor sees vast opportunity to use her experience in order to create more equitable economic opportunities, drive innovation, and encourage entrepreneurial initiatives.
Candace Clark, Eat Chicago (Equity and Transformation) S.E.E.N., Co-Founder and COO of LinkUp
I am a native of Montgomery, AL now living in Chicago. As an entrepreneur, I am committed to service, inclusion and innovation. After a decade in the IT field, I have used my strengths in communication, business development and tech to align myself with powerhouses in Social Media, Software Development and the legal Cannabis space.
I am Co-Founder and COO of LinkUp – a community-based business & professional development social network that provides education and resources for social justice advocates, entrepreneurs, and creatives. The focus is to create an empowering setting that helps those that have been adversely affected by cannabis prohibition and other symptoms of the war on drugs become a part of growing agricultural industry legally, and in a way that creates a path for others in their community to follow.
I am also a freelance IT consultant and digital strategist, working primarily with non-profit organizations, social media influencers, and growing startups.
Kalee Hooghkirk, Midwest Hemp Coalition President & Owner of Full Spektrum Services
Kalee Hooghkirk is a board member of Illinois Women in Cannabis and co-chair of the Professional Development and Events Committees. She is the owner of Full Spektrum Services and founder of United Hemp Co. She is a medical patient and traveling cannabis educator. Kalee has designed and developed wellness programs that customize treatments for qualified patients approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health. She has partnered with local physicians assisting prospective patients in registration to become eligible for the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. The highlight of her involvement with the Illinois Medical Cannabis Industry was her role as Director of Patient Care for one of Illinois first dispensaries. In addition to her patient registration and start-up support, Kalee was one of the first few employees in the state to begin cannabis sales on the opening day of the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. Her passion doesn’t stop there. She is the president of the Midwest Hemp Coalition (formally the Illinois Hemp Industries Association) and leads the Illinois Hemp Professionals Group. Through her IWC platform Kalee hopes to inspire others to think “outside the box” by supporting and encouraging non-traditional entry routes through the hemp space and ancillary services.
Gina Gault RISE Dispensaries Community Outreach Specialist & Illinois Women in Cannabis Board Member
Gina Gault is a valued board member and serves as secretary for Illinois Women in Cannabis. Gina joined IWC in 2017 to assist them in their mission to reach and empower women of all backgrounds. She is an active social media influencer making great connections, fighting stigmas, and championing practical social norms. Gina works as the Community Outreach Specialist with Rise Dispensaries sharing the benefits of medical cannabis, uplifting her community, and inspiring others to do the same. She believes strongly in IWC’s mission and hopes to empower the canna-curious to educate themselves and find rewarding careers in the industry.
Christina Colon, Owner of Mama Verde Apothecary & Chicago NORML Board Member
Momma Verde Apothecary specializes in all natural,hand-made Full Spectrum Whole Hemp Skincare and Wellness Products.
Kiana Hughes, Chicago NORML Board Member and Founder of Elevated Education, LLC
As a founding board member and Education Director for Chicago NORML, she created and facilitated cannabis industry training for people from disproportionately impacted communities in and around Chicago. In her current role as Deputy Director, she advocates for social equity in the cannabis industry, drafting legislation and campaign proposals and lobbying at the state and federal levels. She is well-respected member of the cannabis community who is often sought after to design and facilitate outreach initiatives that empower women and people of color to enter the cannabis industry and learn about the cannabis plant.
Kiana holds a master’s degree in Communications and Training and is a graduate of Oaksterdam University’s cannabis business program.
Kirsten Velasco, The Medical Cannabis Community Outreach Manager & Author of Cannabis Basics Textbook
Prioritizing cannabis education, I published Cannabis Basics Textbook https://lnkd.in/eDtdjSK . Throughout Illinois, I’ve given over 150 educational presentations, and executed successful networking events providing brand development sponsorships (promoted and attended by local media). I created and implemented the Illinois Women in Cannabis (not for profit) – all-volunteer Cannabis Education Campaign 2016 & 2017 while continuously creating content that makes cannabis safe and accessible. These guerrilla marketing techniques provide the opportunity to: identify consumers/customers, educate future consumers, connect with advocates, build acceptance by non-consumers, promote brand awareness, and collect data points for all interactions. Each exposure is an opportunity to normalize cannabis, instill correct perceptions, and trigger advocacy, which is key to broadening the consumer base beyond “medical” and “recreational.” In 2019, I broadened my education and experience as a full-time outreach coordinator and licensed dispensary agent (Patient Care Specialist). Recently, as a freelance consultant, I provided cannabis marketing content for the Spring 2020 semester at DePaul University, and project managed and created the content for a cannabis training manual and pocket guide. Non-traditional marketing in the cannabis space is the specialty of The Medical Cannabis Community. If your personal or business interests intersect with cannabis, our community is a juggernaut of insights and opportunities.
Tiffany Reynolds, Founder of Soul & Wellness & Chicago NORML member
Tiffany Reynolds has been in the cannabis industry for 5 years advocating and educating individuals about the medical benefits of the plant while breaking the stigma. She has witnessed first hand the positive benefits of medical cannabis in both adults and children and have been inspired by their success stories.
Working in the industry has also given her insight on the disparity of minority owned cannabis businesses and how it is imperative to break this racial curse. Tiffany’s goal is to be the catalyst for providing a wide array of resources, education, and holistic products to the community to reverse the curse on the war on drugs.
Her experience in the industry, coupled by a Masters Degree in Psychology, are the foundation of her holistic vision, Soul and Wellness.
Dina Rollman, Co-Founder of Illinois Women in Cannabis, Oversees Government & Regulatory Affairs for GTI
Dina Rollman is the co-founder of Illinois Women in Cannabis and serves as its president and a director. She is also senior vice president for Government and Regulatory Affairs at Green Thumb Industries, a Chicago-based multi-state operator of licensed marijuana cultivation facilities and dispensaries. Dina earned a B.A. from Oberlin College and a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law. She is passionate about helping women succeed in the cannabis industry and helping the industry enjoy continued success as it grows.
Sarah Sykes, Sarah Rose Botanicals Wellness Coach and Natural Product Enthusiast
Sarah Sykes is the founder of Sarah Rose Botanicals, a provider of holistic services and retail products. She is a certified empowerment-based wellness coach and trauma-informed cannabis consultant. Her specialties include stress relief and anti-inflammatory practices. She brings more than a decade of direct service experience and over 1,000 hours of Cannabis R & D to consulting with you. Sarah Rose is dedicated to the cannabis equity movement and is an active proponent of more joy, more pleasure, and more play!
Joline Rivera, Kitchen Toke Founder & Illinois Women in Cannabis Member
Joline Rivera is the founder and creative director of Kitchen Toke and Red Belly Honey.
Kitchen Toke is the first media brand dedicated to promoting health and wellness through culinary cannabis. A skilled visual storyteller and food and lifestyle expert, she has more than 20 years of experience as a creative director, lending her design expertise to clients like Food Network Kitchens, US Foods, Meredith Publishing, Crate & Barrel and more. She has also directed award-winning publications, including Food Fanatics, Sweet Paul and Uncrate. With Kitchen Toke, she turns her elevated eye to the world of cannabis. After Rivera investigated the benefits of medical cannabis to help a friend’s father during his cancer battle, she was inspired by the possibilities of culinary cannabis as part of a path to wellness. Drawing on Rivera’s years of experience in the publishing industry—as well as her long-standing connections to top chefs, writers, photographers, filmmakers and food stylists—Kitchen Toke provides a credible, refined resource that aims to change the way people think about cannabis.
And in June of 2020, she partnered with Bee-Fuse Technology to launch Red Belly Honey the world’s first full-spectrum, whole-plant, CBD honey on the market today, infused by bees and not humans. Joline’s continued priority is to shine a light on relevant cannabis-infused food helping people introduce cannabis to their bodies with the focus of being healthy, not just high. And most important to Joline is to continue the dialogue that cannabis is food, and food is medicine.
Mahja Sulemanjee Bortocek, CEO of High Haven & Illinois Women of Cannabis member
Mahja Sulemanjee Bortocek is the Founder and CEO of High Haven, a cannabis consulting firm and a dispensary agent responsible vendor trainer for IDFPR. She brings with her over 15 years of experience in healthcare business development, including four years of experience in cannabis business development.
Jondae Scott, M4MM IL Chapter President & Chicago NORML Education Committee Director
The need for legal cannabis regulation is severe in Illinois. Through research, volunteerism, and marketing experience, I aim to connect opportunities in cannabis with communities affected by the war on drugs.
Support Minorities for Medical Marijuana and other cannabis action organizations!
See her Chicago NORML Article here
Payal Shah, Founder of Cannabis Insight Collective & Chicago NORML member
Payal Shah is founder and CEO of the Cannabis Insight Collective. She’s spent the last two decades in strategic planning, working in leadership roles within global advertising agencies, on blue-chip clients including Proctor & Gamble, Microsoft, Walmart, Kelloggs, and Porsche.
Her experience is focused on understanding how cultural paradigm shifts and trends impact and influence people, their behaviors and brand choices. Her knowledge is grounded in creating and cultivating online panels, or Collectives, of all sizes and shapes, to address a variety of challenges for various clients. This background, along with a compassion and conviction for the cannabis industry, inspire her to be an advocate to drive the cannabis industry forward.
Cannabis Insight Collective is a living, breathing online community of people across the United States, brought together by their connection to the cannabis industry. We exist to uncover cultural, category and consumer trends and insights within the category by tapping into our proprietary Collective, and working with people directly to answer questions that brands are struggling to answer.
At Cannabis Insight Collective, we are committed to supporting social equity in the cannabis market, and treating everyone fairly and respectively, through a number of Corporate Social Responsibility business initiatives:
- The Cannabis Insight Collective panel will be representative of the entire United States population to ensure a representative voice is heard.
- A percentage of CIC’s revenue will be donated to the advancement and mentorship of minority-owned cannabis businesses.
- CIC will continue to advocate to establish new and existing laws that make sure the cannabis industry is fair and equitable.
Wendy Berger, Founder of Illinois Women in Cannabis Board Member at GTI, CEO and Founder of WBS Equities, LLC
WBS Equities specializes in ground-up construction, renovation, development, sale lease back transactions and acquisition of industrial buildings for food and beverage manufacturers and distributors. Wendy is CEO and Founder of WBS Equities, LLC, a company she founded in 2004. She has grown the business into a nationally recognized leader in this niche area within industrial real estate development and acquisitions. In addition to the firm’s focus on real estate development for food and beverage manufacturers and distributors, Wendy has over 25 years’ experience in real estate brokerage, real estate finance and structuring complex real estate transactions.
Wendy serves on the Board of Directors of Green Thumb Industries, Inc. (GTI) (CSE: GTII) (OTC: GTBIF). Green Thumb is a national cannabis consumer packaged goods company and retailer, is dedicated to providing dignified access to cannabis while giving back to the communities in which they serve. Green Thumb manufactures and distributes a portfolio of branded cannabis products including Beboe, Dogwalkers, Dr. Solomon’s, incredibles, Rythm and The Feel Collection. The company also owns and operates rapidly growing national retail cannabis stores called Rise™ and Essence. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Green Thumb has 13 manufacturing facilities, 43 retail locations, licenses for 96 retail locations and operations across 12 U.S. states. Established in 2014, Green Thumb employs over 1,700 people and serves thousands of patients and customers each year.
Wendy is also a serial entrepreneur. Outside of WBS Equities, LLC, Wendy brings decades of experience in strategic planning, execution, and exits for rapid growth start-ups. She loves being a part of the explosive growth phase of companies and working alongside founders to provide strategic leadership and guidance to help create dynamic and forward-thinking organizations.
Wendy earned her MBA in Finance and Real Estate from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business. She received a B.S., cum laude, in Finance and Marketing from Syracuse University. In her spare time Wendy is an avid triathlete, having completed 33 Olympic Distance triathlons. Wendy was a participant in the 2011 class of Leadership Greater Chicago. Wendy serves on the Board of directors of the Jewish Federation/Jewish United Fund of Chicago (2001 – 2007, and 2009 – present). Wendy serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Chicago Public Library Foundation Board (2016 – present). In 2014 Wendy co-founded Illinois Women in Cannabis (IWC).
Felicia Santiago, Elevated Education Admin, Chicago NORML Board Member & Owner of Diskrete Wellness
Felicia Santiago is the owner of Diskrete Wellness, a luxury Terpene Infused Candle Line. She serves as the Events Committee Director for Chicago NORML. With a B.A in Healthcare Management and working towards a MBA specializing in Project Management, Felicia is passionate about providing access to naturopathic healthcare services such as cannabis, vitamins, herbs and fresh foods to her community. She enjoys advocating for Women’s Health issues as well as providing administrative and project management support for Chicago NORML and other cannabis ancillary businesses.
She is the mother to a busy student athlete Jason Jr. and spends most of her time working for her community and watching her son play baseball around the chicagoland area.
Danielle Schumacher, Founder THC Staffing Group, Former IL NORML member & Executive Director
Danielle Schumacher is a seasoned activist with experience running cannabis businesses across the country. As the first chancellor of Oaksterdam University, Danielle worked with Richard Lee to establish America’s first cannabis college. She has been quoted by various media outlets including The Associated Press, Fox News, CNBC, and San Francisco Chronicle.
Danielle was recruited by Berkeley Patients Group in 2005 to head the Cannabis Action Network. Danielle has served as office manager for internationally-respected authority on cannabis Chris Conrad and activist author Mikki Norris, and for noted practitioners Frank Lucido MD and Maria Mangini PhD FNP. Danielle was Executive Director of Illinois NORML and held the Youth Seat on the National NORML Board of Directors. She was named Freedom Fighter by High Times Magazine at age 22. Danielle co-founded the University of Illinois chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy in 2001. She earned a degree in anthropology in 2004, graduating with highest distinction.
Danielle serves as the current President & CEO of THC Staffing Group and continues her mission of perpetuating diversity and inclusion in the legal cannabis industry.
Rachel Berry, CEO of Illinois Hemp Growers Association
Rachel Berry is the founder and CEO of the Illinois Hemp Growers Association, a women-led benefit corporation and grassroots organization representing over 700 members. Her hemp industry experience includes:
- Secretary on the board of directors for the U.S. Hemp Building Association
- Client relations / superintendent on a 25,000 plant startup grow in 2019
- Frequent speaker/panelist at Illinois Extension, Farm Bureau, SBDC, and many other hemp industry and community events
Rachel is a first-generation regenerative farmer raising poultry, growing heirloom vegetables, native medicinal plants, and industrial hemp with her family on their 13 acre homestead. Her work is dedicated to building the resources and relationships necessary to grow a sustainable and equitable Illinois hemp industry.
Rachel represented the Illinois Hemp Growers Association in an interview with Phil Ponce, host of WTTW’s Chicago Tonight. She has also been featured on the Lancaster Farming Industrial Hemp Podcast, in Grow Greater Englewood’s Grow Your Own Series, on the Mike Nowak Show, on NPR’s The 21st, and in many more media appearances.
In addition to being the CEO of a grassroots hemp organization and regenerative farmer, Rachel is a community organizer, educator and dedicated volunteer. She serves on the board of directors for the Illinois Stewardship Alliance. She believes local food matters and that hemp should be a part of local food systems in the future. Rachel is also experienced in hemp-lime construction.
Rebecca Abraham, Acute on Chronic Cannabis Nurse & Activist
Rebecca Abraham, RN, BSN has worked in healthcare for 15 years with extensive experience in Emergency Medicine, Critical Care, Heart Failure, Surgical Services, and Case Management. Rebecca has trained and worked at some of the best academic medical centers in the country and is board certified in Critical Care Nursing. She also has a certificate in Cannabis Nursing through the American Association of Cannabis Nurses.
Rebecca was awarded a continuing education scholarship from National Nurses United to Rutgers University’s Women’s Global Health Leadership Certificate program. In 2015 she was awarded the Illinois Nurses Association 40 under 40 Leaders in Nursing Award, and was a scholarship winner for the 2012 Nurse in Washington Lobbyist Internship. Rebecca remains an active member of the American Association of Cannabis Nurses, National Nurses United (NNU), Patient Advocacy Alliance, and Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society. She has testified and lobbied for healthcare, patient safety, nursing, and cannabis policies on the municipal, state, and federal levels.
In addition to her healthcare work, Rebecca is also proud to serve her community as a Board of Education Member for District 219 and also serves on the Skokie Park District Outreach Committee, Skokie Family Services Commission, and formerly the School District 73.5 Strategic Planning Committee. She was formerly a board member (2015-2018) at the Chicago Center for Music Education, a non-profit music school that serves the Chicagoland area. She also served as a board member (2015-2017) as well as a community advocate and in government relations for WeWill (formerly Mom+Baby), an organization that lobbied for women and family-friendly policies in Illinois.
Jean Lacey, President of Psychadelic Society nonprofit
After a decade-long career in cosmetology, Jean Lacy used her leadership, business development, and interpersonal skills to dive into the cannabis industry. After her own experience reaching the end of the rope of what traditional western medicine has to offer and her personal success discovering the power of plants and fungi, Jean became passionate about advocating for patients like herself and educating medical professionals on the use of plant based therapies in conjunction with their western medical practices and unlocking the full power of holistic, integrative healthcare.
As a medical cannabis educator, she worked alongside a physician to establish a successful cannabis based internal medicine clinic that served communities all across the state of Illinois. As this practice grew, they learned the limits of cannabis therapy and sought to provide more treatment options for their clients. Jean developed and established one of the first Ketamine Infusion Clinics in Chicago, IL. She aided in designing the patient experience with ketamine in a therapeutic setting and laid the foundation of operations.
In 2020, Jean founded the Illinois Psychedelic Society to bring together advocates, medical professionals, and patients alike to build community, provide harm reduction focused education on psychedelic compounds, and further fuel the psychedelic renaissance in a time when the world is in utmost need of a shift in consciousness and perception.
At World Tree Sanctuary, Jean works leading sacrament ceremonies with entheogens and plant teachers to further World Tree Sanctuary’s mission to expand the consciousness of humankind and raise the energetic frequency of the world at large. She designs ceremonies and provides preparation and integration support to participants to aid in the spiritual emergence process and effectuate positive change in their lives. She trains volunteers to assist with ceremonies and provide peer to peer support. She structures and manages all church business functions with the same best practices that have been consistent throughout her career.
Jean believes the path of expanded consciousness should be available to all, should feels sensical as opposed to mystical, and can be achieved through a mindful lifestyle. She seeks to bridge the gap between the clinical and plant medicine communities to increase the accessibility of healing.
Margo Vesely, CEO of Margojuana & PhytoEndoConnection Podcast
Margo Vesely is the Founder and CEO of Margojuana, where she’s dedicated her career to inspiring humanity to understand the blessings in cannabis. Margo is a passionate cannabis advocate, researcher, explorer, and entrepreneur with almost two decades of cannabis and legal experience, both in the public and private sectors.
Margo strives to use her platforms to share her vision of the future of cannabis, by encouraging continued research for data-driven science, biology, and advocates for laws concerning cannabis. She is passionate about helping the community grow and succeed in this new industry, as well as promoting opportunities within it.
Cannabis research fascinates and thus prompted Margo to develop the new video series podcast called the PhytoEndo Connection; an educational cannabis platform showcasing the whole plant’s potential benefits in conjunction with our individually unique endocannabinoid systems.
Margo encourages continued research for data-driven science, biology, and advocates for laws concerning cannabis. She is passionate about helping the community grow and succeed in this new industry, as well as promoting opportunities in it.
You can support all these incredible ladies pushing the needle forward for federal changes by purchasing products from them, offering donations to their organizations and by sharing their content that they produce amongst your networks.
These hard working ladies have been caring about this plant and its people and the work shows. We need you to help spread the good words that are being brought forth by these movers and shakers that are influencing this big change in history.
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