In June 2021, Fortune Magazine announced that female executives in the Fortune 500 List had broken three new records. Last year, the number of women running businesses on the Fortune 500 hit an all-time high, totaling forty-one (41) female executives.
For the first time in herstory, two Black women had taken the helm of top-performing American corporations (Roz Brewer of the Walgreens Boots Alliance and Thasunda Brown Duckett of TIAA). In 2021, CVS Health was ranked No. 4 on the Fortune 500 list. Another historical moment, recognizing CEO Karen Lynch “at the helm of the highest-ranking business ever run by a female CEO,” according to Fortune.
While there is progress in the number of female corporate executives, gender disparity in executive leadership is still a challenge. Fortune reported that in 2021, there were 41 female CEOs versus 459 male executives leading America’s highest growth organizations.
The U.S. cannabis industry (medical and adult-use) is one sector that provides more opportunities for female leadership. And during Women’s History Month, the innovation of successful women in executive leadership was the focus of cannabis media websites like MJBizDaily.
Hear Insights from Trailblazing Female Cannabis Leaders
According to MJBizDaily, 22% of executive-level roles in the cannabis industry were held by female executives in 2021. And seven of those executives were featured on the MJBizCon™ “Seed to CEO” podcast.
Recognized as one of the Most 50 Powerful Women in cannabis, Kristi Kelly is also one of the top 100 political advocates and influencers for the industry. Kristi served as the Executive Director of the Marijuana Industry Group in Colorado.
Kristi Kelly also was the COO, Investor, and Co-Founder of Critical Mass Industries. In Colorado, CMI was a holding company for medical and adult-use licenses. And the Managing Member for the Cannabis Business Management and Strategic Consulting Company.
In addition to Kristi’s role as the Chief Strategy and Government Affairs Officer at Sozo Companies, she is also championing environmental protection. Kristi Kelly has been an investor in 9Fiber since 2017. The recycling company processes cannabis and hemp stalk to divert waste and create commercial products. The company also helps employ non-violent offenders as part of its commitment to social responsibility.
Social equity legislation and programs seek to correct negative economic and generational outcomes from The War Against Drugs. Historically, persons of color (POCs) have been disproportionately targeted. Evident through many studies of cannabis arrest bias, like “A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform,” by the ACLU.
As the Co-Founder and CEO at NuProject, Jeannette Ward Horton is creating impact. The NuLeaf Project addresses equity hurdles for Black, Native and Latin communities in three unique ways.
First, the organization provides funding for cannabis businesses. This helps POC Americans enter the high-growth cannabis sector as entrepreneurs. NuLeaf provides business education and mentoring for entrepreneurs and contributes to equity policy development. And the NuLeaf Project helps businesses and municipalities develop social equity programs for cannabis entrepreneurs.
If you have ever visited a dispensary, chances are you have seen Wana Brands on the shelf. The company is one of the most widely recognized manufacturers of CBD and cannabis edibles. First established in Colorado, you can now find Wana Brands at dispensaries in Oklahoma, Missouri, Florida, Oregon, California, and many other states.
Nancy Whiteman was the Co-Founder of Wana Brands when it launched in 2010. Expansion of Wana Brands happened rapidly after cannabis was legalized in Colorado. Wana Brands products are now available in Canadian dispensaries. And in November 2021, the company was acquired by Canopy Growth.
Managing a team of engineers and scientists at a 200,000 square foot facility in Watkins, Colorado, innovative ideas come out of Kazmira. Under the leadership of Dr. Priyanka Sharma and her STEM expertise, specializing in chemical engineering and molecular modeling.
Kazmira processes and manufactures THC-free cannabidiol (CBD) products under the Dr. Diol® brand. The company also offers private label services to provide quality CBD supplements.
Dr. Sharma is a passionate educator about cannabidiol (CBD), advocating its value as a nutraceutical and pharmaceutical. She disrupted the cannabis industry by formulating CBD products with non-detectable levels of THC while maintaining quality terpene and cannabinoid content. Brands that choose to private label with Kazmira can adjust the formulations for a unique product.
Gender equity in the cannabis business sector has been a passion and priority for Lilach Mazor Power, the CEO, and Founder of Giving Tree Dispensary. The dispensary located in Phoenix, Arizona, is one of the state’s only female majority-owned cannabis businesses.
Cannabis and women’s health is another area where Lilach Mazor Power is disrupting the U.S. cannabis industry. She recently co-founded a cannabis wellness brand designed to provide relief for symptoms of menopause. The Revelry product line includes day and nighttime capsules and CBD oil.
Sara Gullickson has appeared on lists like Women to Watch and Top 20 Women to Dominate the International Cannabis Space. And when you learn more about her acumen as a cannabis business consultant, it’s not hard to see why.
At twenty-seven, Sara Gullickson founded a consulting firm called Dispensary Permits. And over the past ten years, Gullickson has continued to build and grow ancillary cannabis businesses. Sara is also a multi-state cannabis license holder, holding permits in sixteen states.
Gullickson is a fierce advocate for the American cannabis industry. She volunteered with several states to consult on frameworks for medical marijuana legalization. Gullickson’s expertise in the cannabis sector allowed her to contribute to policy development in Canada, New Zealand, and EU countries.
When Colorado was a frontrunner for cannabis legalization, Texas native Meg Sanders was ready. One of the first medical dispensaries in Colorado to serve patients was Mindful. Meg Sanders was eventually appointed to assist Colorado state officials when retail cannabis regulations were established. This was critical to the adult-use voter approval in 2012.
Applying her expertise in the cannabis sector, Meg Sanders launched Will & Way with Erik Williams. The consulting firm helped municipalities and government agencies, investors, and startups navigate the complexities of the cannabis business climate.
Meg Sanders has been featured on The Wall Street Journal, 60 Minutes, The New York Times, and industry publications, including High Times. She was also interviewed for National Public Radio and appeared in Rolling Stone magazine.
Leveraging extensive experience in the cannabis industry, Meg Sanders co-founded Canna Provisions in Massachusetts. The popular dispensary specializes in the chemical-free processing of cannabis products and has two locations in the state.
At Paybotic, we honor the contributions of trailblazing female executives in the American cannabis industry. We are proud to celebrate these seven business leaders during Women’s History Month and inspire more women to ‘break the glass ceiling”. And encourage female business professionals to create an impact in the cannabis sector.
Paybotic Women in Finance & Technology Scholarship
We are pleased to announce the Paybotic Women in Finance & Technology Scholarship. In June 2022, three accomplished women pursuing higher education in finance or technology will be awarded a $2,500 scholarship.
The scholarship seeks to boost prosperity and innovation by supporting female students and reducing gender gaps in leadership. Learn more about the scholarship initiative from Paybotic CEO and Founder Eveline Dang on PR Newswire.
Aplications for the Paybotic Women in Finance & Technology Scholarship To apply, students must be studying at an accredited U.S. institution and pursuing a STEM-related field. Applicants must share what female leader has provided the most inspiration and how they hope to become a leader through their career path.