Celebrate Women’s History Month with These 9 Conscientious Cannabis Consultants and DEI Devotees

Alex Pick
March 7, 2022

Each March we get a chance to pay homage and give well-deserved recognition to the women working hard all over the world in their respective industries. The cannabis industry is no exception, and there are many women dedicated to quality assurance and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work in the cannabis space that deserve to be shouted out this Women’s History Month. 

Many of us heard the disappointing news from the MJBiz Daily report released in October 2021 that the number of women in executive positions — as well as the number of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) executives — has fallen since 2019. It can be easy to see these numbers and paint a bleak picture of the cannabis industry’s efforts to build a more socially just and inclusive industry.

We all know there is much work to be done to make the industry just and equitable. Nevertheless, it is imperative to not overlook the tireless efforts of women throughout the industry that are championing DEI, as well as the cannabis consultants and quality assurance experts who are working to make sure products are safe and businesses are protected so the industry as a whole can continue to thrive. While this list is by no means exhaustive, here are nine women doing just that, listed alphabetically by last name.

Carolyn Burek

Carolyn Burek is an extraction and processing specialist at Metta Research & Design. A biochemist with five years of experience in laboratory research and two years in laboratory management and operation experience, she recently began working in the cannabis industry in Colorado and other states. Inspired by emerging research on the medical value that cannabis has and the therapeutic benefit it exhibits for many living with chronic conditions she dedicated herself to contributing her expertise to making cannabis safe and accessible to everyone.

Connect with Carolyn on LinkedIn

Rebecca Colett

Rebecca Colett is a board member of the National Cannabis Industry Association and the CEO of Calyxeum, a cannabis product company with a mission to change perceptions of cannabis in the professional world. Colett is an experienced and dedicated entrepreneur, technologist, and cannabis advocate. She has years of experience in the legal cannabis space advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as veteran access programs and workforce development. 

Connect with Rebecca on LinkedIn

Lezli Engelking

Lezli Engelking is the President and Founder of the Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards (FOCUS), which is an organization that centers on public health, consumer safety, and promoting integrity in the cannabis industry. Engelking brings over 20 years of experience in the healthcare and nonprofit sectors. She gained an intimate and expansive understanding of the pharmaceutical industry during this time. Eventually, she decided to dedicate her professional expertise to the growing cannabis industry.

Connect with Lezli on LinkedIn

Wanda James

Wanda James is the Founder and CEO of Simply Pure Dispensary in Denver. She is well-known in the cannabis space for being the first African American to open and own a legally licensed dispensary, cultivation facility, and edible company in America. James is a veteran and a former Fortune 100 executive who has been working tirelessly to eradicate the stigma that cannabis faces in mainstream culture, as well as drawing attention to racial inequities in the cannabis industry. She remains unapologetically critical of the majority white-owned industry and is a leading advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the cannabis industry. 

Connect with Wanda on LinkedIn

Kathleen May

Kathleen May is Founder and Owner of Triskele Quality Solutions, has more than 20 years experience as a Quality professional in the pharmaceutical, medical device and cannabis Industries. She is the Chair of the D37 Committee on Cannabis at the American Society for Testing and Materials (ATSM) International, which is a developer of international voluntary consensus standards. ASTM Committee D37 on Cannabis started in 2017 to develop standards for cannabis, its products and processes. The activities are focused on meeting the needs of the cannabis industry by addressing quality and safety through the development of voluntary consensus standards and supplementary programs on proficiency testing, training and certification.

Connect with Kathleen on LinkedIn

Mary Pryor

Mary Pryor is the Co-founder of Cannaclusive, a passionate media expert and an accomplished digital and marketing design specialist. She started Cannaclusive with the understanding that there is an inclusivity issue in the cannabis industry that needed to be addressed. Mary brings her years of experience working with major brands to Cannaclusive with the goal of providing fair representation for minority cannabis consumers, as well as facilitating communication between brands and diverse audiences and ensuring minority consumers are not an afterthought but a valued ally in the fight for legalization and destigmatization of cannabis. 

Connect with Mary on LinkedIn

Kimberly Stuck

Kimberly Stuck is the founder and CEO of Allay Consulting, a compliance strategy and services provider serving the hemp and cannabis industries nationwide. She brings a regulator’s keen eye and wide-reaching knowledge on evolving compliance and safety mandates to support businesses in tightly regulated industries. Previously, Stuck held a pioneering role as the nation’s first cannabis and hemp specialist for a major metropolitan public health authority. During her tenure with the City of Denver — home to hundreds of cannabis businesses — she worked as an investigator covering cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and retail compliance. 

Connect with Kimberly on LinkedIn

Sheri L. Tarr

Sheri L. Tarr, JD is the Director and Co-Chair of the Regulatory Committee at the New York City Cannabis Industry Association. Tarr believes compliance is key to successful commercialization and sustainable brand equity in an industry. She has experience on all sides of the equation as a sales-and-marketing-exec-turned-litigator who took on big pharma for deceptive marketing and defective manufacturing. She founded ’68 Partners “to help cannabis businesses and life sciences companies bring safe, life-changing products to market.” 

Connect with Sheri on LinkedIn

Shaloma Wagstaffe

Shaloma Wagstaffe is the Founder of Women of Color Cannabis (WOCC) which is an organization that aims to ensure that the rapidly growing cannabis industry is inclusive to women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) consumers as well as employees and entrepreneurs. This non-profit organization and the women running it are doing important work providing resources and creating opportunities for groups of people often overlooked or locked out of the cannabis industry.  

Connect with Shaloma on LinkedIn

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