Women's Cannabis Chamber of Commerce WCCC Vanessa Palacios

Vanessa Palacios

Vanessa Palacios had a successful 20 year career with the Public Service Company (PNM) Her entrepreneurial husband, Oscar, encouraged her to make a career change and to consider opening a business. 

Vanessa’s career with PNM gave her the opportunity to develop and perfect skill sets that would secure her an executive position with any company. She coordinated program implementation, including developing participation forecasts, designing promotions, managing contracts, tracking participation and budget, working with participating vendors, retailers, and contractors, and preparing regulatory compliance reports on programs.

Vanessa’s skill sets are the skill sets needed to develop a business plan, s.o.p.’s, and launch a cannabis dispensary.

Vanessa Palacios is a co-owner and Chief of Operations for Lemon Cannabis Co, located in the Nob Hill Neighborhood of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Lemon Cannabis Co is an integrated microbusiness that has just opened their first dispensary storefront. Lemon Cannabis Co. focuses on premium products and knowledgeable Budtenders to ensure both the novice and the connoisseur finds the perfect product.

Lemon Cannabis Co is working towards a more sustainable cannabis industry. They use glass containers for single pre-rolls and sturdy boxes for pre-roll 6-packs. Lemon Cannabis Co has a refill program: Bring the glass container and/or the pre-roll box back to be refilled and receive 10% off the purchase. They were surprised by the lack of biodegradable packaging and have begun working with companies to develop biodegradable packaging for Lemon Cannabis Co products. 

Although Lemon Cannabis Co is new to the area, Vanessa and her team are native Albuquerqueans with strong ties to the community. 

Creating a positive experience is what Vanessa strives to do in all interactions. As a past customer satisfaction trainer and 20 years of interacting with consumers to understand their needs, she brings a wealth of knowledge to the cannabis industry to meet consumer needs. 

Her passion also lies within the community she serves, “I love Albuquerque! The people make it a beautiful place to live and I hope to be a part of all the wonderful and positive things happening here.” 

Vanessa has been involved with United Way Worldwide for over 20 years. She has been an

avid contributor and was selected as a PNM Co-Captain in 2013 and 2014 to assist in raising money for the Annual Campaign.

Vanessa and the Lemon Cannabis Co. team continue the commitment to serving their community. They are creating a foundation to improve the community and have pledged to donate 5% of all Lemon Cannabis Co. profits.

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Women's Cannabis Chamber of Commerce

Meaka Brown

Meaka Brown recently received a five year appointment to the Massachusetts Cannabis Social Equity Fund Advisory Board. Her cannabis industry resume includes cannabis banking regulatory specialist, Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.

Meaka did not appear to be on a career path that would lead her to becoming the first WOC to manage a dispensary in Massachusetts. She was a City of Boston Constable for eleven years.

It was during this time that her entrepreneurial spirit led to developing body care products, lotions, bath scrubs and tea blends. When her grandmother had multiple knee surgeries, Meaka wanted to create a product to help reduce her pain. 

In 2015 her sister in-law passed from Cervical Cancer, her medical card arrived on the morning she passed away.

“ I was deeply disturbed by this fact and became activated from there to learn more about cannabis and the industry and the laws that surrounded it. I started to research and eventually began to study herbal medicine with Karen Rose of Sacred Vibes, Brooklyn NY and Tammi Sweet of Heartstone Center for Earth Essentials, Ithaca, NY. I learned the principles of Herbal medicine with Karen and Cannabis Science and Medicine from Tammi.”

The love of the plant and her passion for healing has inspired her to relaunch her Babes Handmade Brand incorporating CBD and THC into the Babes Handmade Body Care and Wellness Line.

Meaka’s love of the plant and passion for healing has evolved into healing communities. She is working on a cannabis curriculum specifically designed for ADI communities that aims to educate, uplift and restore the people of those communities. 

She is also working on a Social Equity Webinar to help banks understand why banking the underserved in the industry is vital and necessary to create a truly diverse cannabis space.

And, she is working on a project to bring more Minority Depository Institutions in the Cannabis Banking Space. 

“If we can introduce them to the ways in which they can safely participate in the industry, then they can begin to have a meaningful impact on the cannabis businesses in their neighborhood and begin to generate more wealth in their communities. Why should BIPOC led cannabis businesses have to leave their communities to bank in other towns and in some cases other states in order to access services.”

Meaka Brown is a woman paving the path and opening doors for women in the cannabis industry. She is setting the standard for women in cannabis in Massachusetts.

Meaka Brown is a Woman Cultivating Success.

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Women's Cannabis Chamber of Commerce

Alexis Berends

Alexis Berends job title is Chief Visionary Officer at Union Chill Cannabis Company llc. In Lambertville, NJ. The title fits her. 

Alexis has lived in Lambertville, NJ, (Nishowmensa, Lenapehoking) most of her life. At best calculation, her son is the seventh generation to call her beloved river city home. Hailing from a line of activists, musicians, and artists, she deeply believes in inclusivity and change, and that the fledgling NJ cannabis industry can be utilized as a catalyst to shape our collective future. 

 After receiving a Bachelors of Honors in Globalization, Development and Human Rights from Arcadia University in 2009, Alexis continued on to pursue her Masters in International Peace & Conflict Resolution. Her studies brought her to the Middle East where she studied the plight of the Palestinian people in the context of environmental justice. Her research was focused on water access and indigenous rights through the lens of international law. After a series of divine interventions – including a vision quest with an AWOL Israeli soldier and a kidnapping in revolutionary Egypt – her life path was forever altered. 

 Upon returning to the United States, Alexis promptly moved to St. Croix in the United States Virgin Islands. During her time in the USVI, Alexis began to immerse herself in the Rastafarian culture and their deep relationship with cannabis. After leaving the USVI, Alexis found her way to Humboldt County, California where she was introduced to the cultivation side of cannabis. Not dissimilar to the USVI, in California Alexis gained an intimate glimpse into the lives of many of our Native American brothers & sisters who have been so negatively impacted by the war on drugs and industries at large.  

 It is Alexis’ goal to create a cannabis industry that honors the First Nations Peoples of the world and a shared commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship, as well as one that offers sincere equity to the communities most impacted by the War on Drugs. 

 Alexis Berends is also a Divemaster, Master Shark Diver, Yoga Teacher, and Reiki Master. She enjoys anything related to vampires, the ocean, and the spacetime continuum. Of her revolving titles at Union Chill Cannabis, Chief Visionary Officer seems to best encompass her passions and vision. She deeply believes in the medicine of cannabis, especially in treating PTSD in conjunction with mindfulness and intention. 

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Women's Cannabis Chamber of Commerce

Larisa Bolivar

The Washington Post called Larisa Bolivar  “one of the city’s [Denver] most well-known proponents of decriminalizing marijuana nationally,” Larisa came to Denver in 2001 as a medical cannabis refugee. She immediately began assisting patients in navigating the early and complicated process of finding doctors who would recommend cannabis and matchmaking them with registered caregivers in an effort to create safe access in a legally ambiguous space. A cannabis career and company began.

Larisa founded Caregivers for Safe Access and helped thousands of patients with registering for medical marijuana cards. Caregiver for Safe Access was renamed the Colorado Compassion Club and in 2005 the first dispensaries in Colorado prior to 2008. (Regulations were created in 2010). In 2008, she returned to the DC area where she’s from and continued her cannabis advocacy work while simultaneously working for a billion dollar valued clean tech company.

Her activism, advocacy, expertise and commitment to patients’ rights moved her into the national spotlight. She has published articles in respected publications such as the Denver Post, and in 2017, she published the Cannabis Consumers Coalition: 2017 Report on Cannabis Consumer Demographics and Consumption Habits that was mentioned by Forbe’s, Entrepreneur and Investing News. A well-recognized global expert on cannabis policy, industry and business, Larisa Bolivar has been featured and quoted in multiple publications and speaks on a variety of cannabis business and advocacy topics at major conferences around the globe.

Larisa was named one of the 2019 “Top 100 People You Should Know”by Hemp Connoisseur Magazine. She has been recognized as an industry pioneer by Sensi Media in the first issue of Sensi Magazine, Colorado 2016. In her 2020 interview with Westword, Larisa talks about the realities of the Colorado cannabis industry. 

In 2014, Larisa founded the Cannabis Consumer Coalition, 501(C)(3), which promotes consumer advocacy and education.  She has also served as co-chair on the board of the National Diversity Inclusion Cannabis Alliance (NDICA) and on the board of Colorado NORML.

The mission of the Cannabis Consumers Coalition is to provide cannabis consumers with a voice in the growing cannabis industry, and to ensure consumer rights and ethical behavior on behalf of cannabis-related businesses. 

In 2020, Larisa helped write and push for Colorado House Bill 1424 Social Equity in Regulated Cannabis Businesses to lay the groundwork for creating statewide social equity. Larisa’s father is a Peruvian immigrant and her multi-racial has been targeted in the War on Drugs on two continents.

Larisa has been consulting independently as Bolivar Consulting since 2008. She began writing business plans before there was market data, becoming a contributing thought leader. 

Over the years Larisa has been instrumental in winning licenses for clients in competitive states, including Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. She has written standard operating procedures and other company operating documents across multiple highly regulated markets, assisted companies in becoming more efficient and profitable, has successfully helped businesses get organized and prepared for mergers and acquisitions and further provides organizational development support.

Larisa Bolivar is the owner and founder of Bolivar Hemp Company. Bolivar Hemp Company was years in the making, starting with a dream, and then bringing that dream to a reality in December 2018. The company launched with 9 products and two lines and is in the process of a reorganization in Oklahoma.

Currently, Larisa is also the chief operations and compliance officer for HPF Productions which produces flower for Moss Greenery under the brand Higher Power Flowers, which is marketed as Higher Power Flowers produced by Moss Greenery.

Larisa Bolivar continues to advocate for consumer rights, accountability in the cannabis industry and social equity and justice. 

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Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories, is the  2023 theme for Women’s History Month.

We are celebrating women who tell our stories, stood up and SHOUTED OUR STORIES. Women who used their voices, their pens, and their lives so all women would be heard; so all women would be seen. We are celebrating women of courage.

Telling our story has been dangerous. “Modern research points to roughly 40,000 to 50,000 witch executions in Europe between 1450 and 1750, and an estimated 75%-80% of those executed were women. That would put the number of executed women witches at 40,000.”

Denying girls an education ensured our voices and visions would not be valued. Without the ability to read or write we had little control over our future. There were men who taught women to read, who in turn taught other women and girls to read and write. In the 17th century boarding schools for girls were founded. Girls were taught writing, music and needle work. In 1678 there was only one woman in the world with a Ph., Italian, Elena Piscopia.

The education of women has  varied from civilizations, cultures and regions, to explore this more follow this link. 

In the United States women had no property rights until the mid-1800’s, New York passed the Married Women’s Property Act in 1848 and the Act Concerning the Rights and Liabilities of Husband and Wife in 1860. This gave women the right to conduct business and contract without a husband, father, or male guardian’s consent and the right to own property. The laws gave women legal authority over their own children.

Ancient history? No, its current history. Prior to the 1974  Equal Credit Opportunity Act a woman could not get a credit card without her husband’s signature. When writing about the evolution of women’s rights the words married and husband dominate. The stigma and obstacles of being a single woman lasted into the 90’s. 

The consistency in our history and our story is control, dehumanization and fear through rape and brutality. 51% of rape victims report being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance. One in three women are sexually abused or raped the first time between the ages of 11 and 17.

We all know “our story.” As a child I heard our story whispered by mother and her friends over coffee and donuts. I heard our story whispered in my grandmother’s quilting group and in the backseat of the car as my aunts drove us to church. As an adult I’ve heard “our story” as a rape counselor, over cocktails with friends, and in the feminist movement. I have heard “our story” in the quietness after an expo or conference. I know the story well, it is every woman’s story. It is my story.

The women we are celebrating for Women’s History Month did not tell “our story” alone. The women who whispered “our story” supported them in their own way. You do not have to lead a march or protest to have your voice heard. You have to stop whispering, speak up and stand your ground. You are making history by being a strong woman for your family and the women who have not found their voice. 

One woman can change the world. Together we can ROCK the World!

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Brianna’s Insights

Brianna’s position as the National Executive Director of The Women’s Cannabis Chamber of Commerce and Founder and CEO of SunBaked Goods provides her with insights into multiple aspects of the cannabis industry.

Too many companies forget, or fail to realize, how deeply rooted culture is within cannabis. A majority of conversations I have had recently revolve around the frustration felt by employees who seek genuine leaders, but feel as if their requests are falling on deaf ears. With the industry professionalizing at a rapid pace, it’s crucial for recruiters to understand that leading a successful team in another industry cannot be a copy-paste experience when developing teams in the cannabis space.

This is an industry that is on a path to become substantially lucrative, but was built by the efforts and sacrifices of many who must not just be included, but made whole. The current landscape of corporate cannabis lends itself to those with no prior industry experience securing leadership roles because “they have done it before, and can do it again” in another arena. But this line of thinking does a disservice to the progress made by those who have put in years of hard work to build the infrastructure now being relied upon by these organizations.

These are professionals who have knocked down barriers, fought for reform, and continue to lead through their unique perspectives that can only come from lived experiences. To create successful teams, it is important to remember that while there are similarities between managing any type of business, this is still an incredibly nuanced industry with its own complexities. Companies who wish to be at the forefront of innovation should start by valuing the importance of having a team that reflects the incredible diversity within the cannabis community.

To learn more about Brianna’s business career in cannabis visit the Our Team page, and SunBaked Goods

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Angelica Lilley

Angelica Lilley

Angelica Lilley, is well qualified to be the Community Outreach Specialist for RISE in Florida, serving the needs of patients along the west coast. Having grown up in Florida and being active in her community, she understands the concerns and misconceptions around cannabis as an alternative to prescription medications.

In 2017 Angelica began working with her sister in law, a doctor of oriental medicine, to provide holistic patient care. Partnering with a cannabis clinic in 2018 was a natural transition and opened up another and more controversial element of holistic patient care.

Cannabis is one of the oldest recorded medicinal plants. It dates back to Shen-Nung, the Father of Chinese Medicine, 2700 B.C.E. Political referendums in the 1930’s resulting in criminalization of cannabis created decades of advertising and anti-drug campaigns that have affected Americans’ attitudes and perceptions about cannabis users.

As a woman of Asian ancestry, Angelica realized she needed to educate Asian Americans on the medicinal properties and history of cannabis as medicine in their culture. Her knowledge of holistic medicine coupled with scientific research, patient’s stories, and her and her husband’s, a Veteran, personal experiences and journey enables Angelica to address patients’ questions and needs. 

It was this knowledge and commitment that brought Angelica to RISE. RISE’s company values and company culture resonates with Angelica’s core beliefs and her approach to educating and working with the community.

RISE not only focuses on quality, they focus on the “whole plant” including the properties and role of terpenes. Their corporate (Green Thumb Industries) mission statement includes:

“We believe everyone has a right to well-being. Within our industry, we hold ourselves to a higher standard to grow and serve even more people with safe, quality cannabis. As a leading cannabis company we exist to be helpful stewards on everyone’s journey to well being.”

At RISE the Community Outreach Specialist involves more than ensuring positive and stress free experiences for patients, it is educating and being an active part of the community.

Angelica and the RISE Team will participate in the 2022 Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale MORE THAN PINK Walk, October 08. 

RISE supports the community and RISE hopes that its cannabis community will support cancer research by donating to the RISE Team’s goal at their page on Susan G. Kormen.

You can connect with Angelica and team members at RISE sponsored networking and special events that emphasize women’s roles in cannabis and the industry.  Green Thumb Industries has 17 manufacturing facilities, 77 open retail locations and operations across 15 U.S. markets. Established in 2014, Green Thumb employs approximately 4,000 people. The number of women and minorities is significantly greater than the national average. 

Angelica LilleyAngelica points out the influence women have within the company and how it carries over to the product lines and the future for women in the cannabis industry.

“Having women in the industry and in positions to make decisions is what is needed to progress our presence. RISE has a Tincture line called The Feel Collection…. “Created by Badass Women, for Badass Women”.  Enough said.”

RISE – Green Thumb Industries raises the standard of community investment with Good Green which offers unrestricted funding for 501(c)3’s working in Black and Brown communities that are creating change in Education, Employment, and Expungement.

Meet Angelica and team at the WCCC Candy Making Event October 16 in Jacksonville.

Learn more about Angelica’s expertise, experiences and insights on being a woman in the cannabis industry with Women Cultivating Success – Conversations with Women in the Cannabis Industry, Online, October 19. Join the Conversation! REGISTER

Angelica Lilley Women Cultivating Success

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Stephanie Kronen Women Cultivating Success

Stephanie Kronen Curaleaf

One of the most frequent questions is “how do you start a career in the cannabis industry?”.  Stephanie Kronen, the Director of Marketing at Curaleaf SE, knows the answer. 

Stephanie’s interest and career path has focused on women wellness, developing education and outreach programs, business development and strategic partnerships.

She is the former founder and president of a television production company. The company produced a nationally syndicated women’s health series in a joint venture with International Management Group and Trans World International. During her career with Publicis Touchpoint Solutions she provided training and education to pharmaceutical representatives on behalf of multiple products for medical conditions. Stephanie Kronen received multiple Service Star Awards for exceeding expectations and providing exemplary service. Her business accomplishments and career were well established. Stephanie’s career and future were secure. What motivated or inspired her to make a major career and life change to work in the cannabis industry?

Like so many in the cannabis industry it was about wellness, and educating and helping others achieve a better quality of life through better health. It wasn’t her own journey through pain and disability that inspired her to enter the cannabis industry. (Stephanie’s future in pro tennis ended abruptly when multiple shoulder surgeries left her with permanent nerve damage and trigeminal neuralgia. She was also diagnosed with an auto-immune disease.)

It was her cousin’s deteriorating physical and mental health. 

I got started in the cannabis industry because of my cousin, who is more like a brother to me. He had several major back surgeries that left him disabled in his mid-twenties. He was taking 50+ pills a day from morphine to muscle relaxers, along with anti-anxiety and depression pills. The combination made him suicidal, obese and left him with zero quality of life. When medical cannabis became legal in CT where he resided at the time, he began experimenting. After about 18 months, I saw him lose 200 lbs, get on an airplane for the first time in 20 years to visit me, find his smile and have the desire to have the best life possible. Although he will always be on disability, he works out every day, has since moved to Florida and we took him for his first Margarita at a restaurant in 25 years. 

Stephanie’s cousin’s experience with medical cannabis made her passionate about the medical cannabis’ health benefits and determined to get into the industry.

Her resume and letters of recommendation would ensure a position with any corporation. But, this is the cannabis industry and to quote Stephanie –“The cannabis industry is the world’s largest startup.” 

Stephanie Kronen strategically selected a company that resonated with her values and passion for providing quality products, Curaleaf. Her first position with Curaleaf was developing outreach and an educational program. The industry in Florida was new. Curaleaf had not opened dispensaries in Florida. Physicians had no knowledge of the medical cannabis program. Stephanie went directly to the physicians’ offices providing them with plant education and assisting them with navigating the new arena of medical cannabis. Stephanie moved into the marketing department as the Brand Relationship Manager. Stephanie now holds the position of Director of Marketing  and has been part of the Curaleaf family for five years.

When asked if she has any regrets, Stephanie talks passionately about the patients’ stories that motivate and inspire her every day and Curaleaf’s commitment to the community. It is important to her that Curaleaf is committed to providing patients with the purest and cleanest medical cannabis and that it is a company that puts their patients’ wellness first.

Curaleaf continually explores new ways to understand and better serve their patients. Curaleaf employed The Harris Poll to conduct a survey on the top health and wellness reasons Americans consume cannabis. The findings were recently published in Forbes. She explains how the Curaleaf Rooted in Good  platform addresses Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Social Equity, and Environmental SustainabilityCuraleaf has launched a pre-roll box with the  Veterans Cannabis Project that contains five small pre-rolls. $1.00 is donated to VCP for every box sold. It is a way we can all give back to Veterans. 

Stephanie certainly has no regrets about her career in cannabis.  As part of the companies Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I), she sits on the leadership board of two task forces that focus on improving processes to strengthen Workforce Development and Supplier Diversity.  A favorite guest speaker at industry events, it is always her goal to educate the public on the benefits of medical cannabis and address their questions or concerns. She is a recognized medical cannabis expert for the Florida Health Information Management Association (FHIMA). She is also a published author. 

Stephanie’s advice to women wanting a career in the cannabis industry:

“Connect with the community, educate yourself about cannabis, research the company you are applying with, and do what you are passionate about.”

Stephanie Kronen will share her experiences and insights into the cannabis industry on Wednesday, August 24, 6:00 EST on Women Cultivating Success – conversations with women in cannabis, an interactive Zoom meet-up, bring your insights and questions. Hosted by the Women’s Cannabis Chamber of Commerce.

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Destiny Simon

Destiny Simon

Across the country there are women working at the local and state level to:

  • Provide education to help medical marijuana patients make informed decisions.
  • Create a community where women can come together to share their experiences.
  • Build support systems for caregivers and patients. 
  • Offer business resources and mentoring.
  • Advance local and national legislation. 

Destiny SimonDestiny Simon is one of those women. She is a founder of Canna Events by Leo

“Canna Events was founded in 2020 due to the overwhelming request from clients, organizations, and cannabis supporters to help be connected with industry resources. Now we have a team dedicated solely to meeting those needs while planning incredible events.

When we first got involved with the cannabis industry we immediately noticed the amount of vultures & frauds trying to come into the industry is absolutely insane! We work to not just serve the cannabis industry but to protect the industry with these three steps;

Elevating Educating Empowering.”

Launching an event company during a pandemic would appear to be a difficult task. Destiny,  (Amanda and Jess) have produced innovative and interesting virtual events. Canna Events by Leo is energizing and educating the cannabis community in Kansas City. 

Destiny is a masterful organizer. She is the chapter founder and leader of Tokeativity Kansas City. Tokeativity is The Global Feminist Community for Active Cannabis Culture. She is the Women+Weed founding Kansas City leader. Women+Weed mission is to connect women, grow a strong healthy cannabis community by sharing resources for women and their families.

Destiny is the treasurer for Canna Matriarchs of Mo., a non-profit organization supporting mothers across the midwest.

2020 has been Destiny’s year of fully committing to the cannabis community and industry and to having a positive impact. Her company, Leo Accounting, helps cannabis companies stay in compliance. 

I have over a decade of experience in the accounting field, working in positions ranging from basic data entry up to auditing & reconciling multi-million dollar corporate accounts. This has been a priceless opportunity to gain a vast knowledge of not only how to implement and complete day to day tasks, but also to see the effects of those tasks on a corporate level!

I have taken all my knowledge, experience, passion for accounting, and unquenchable thirst for knowledge and focused it on the Cannabis Industry! I am passionate about the cannabis movement as I have seen first hand the incredible benefits of medicinal usage. I am not only an expert of cannabis accounting services but also a supporter of this revolutionary movement in the US today.

Destiny Simon does more than bring women together  – she inspires women. She is a Woman Cultivating Success


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