Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force
We believe that success for the cannabis industry means a thorough commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. These values are fundamental to Cannabis Trade Federation’s core mission and identity.
That’s why we formed the Cannabis Trade Federation Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. The DEI Task Force is comprised of a diverse and experienced collection of prominent national minority business and cannabis industry leaders. The DEI Task Force is working in conjunction with CTF leadership to develop an industry-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion policy to be adopted by the full CTF board. Upon adoption, CTF member companies will have to agree to CTF’s DEI policy as a requirement of membership. The DEI Task Force will also be charged with developing benchmarks and goals to measure the industry’s progress and crafting policy proposals that could be incorporated into future legislation.
DEI Task Force Members
The DEI Task Force is a diverse and experienced collection of over two dozen leaders who together bring a wealth of industry, political, policy, and operational experience to the organization. The group is chaired by Linda Mercado Greene, a small business owner who was the first resident of color to own a dispensary in the District of Columbia.
Linda Mercado Greene
Executive Leadership Team, Cannabis Trade Federation
Owner/CEO Anacostia Organics
Linda Mercado Greene is the Co-Founder, Chair of the Board, and CEO of BCG Holdings, Inc., incorporated in Washington, DC. The company focuses on the emerging cannabis industry and is active in several national cannabis organizations. Considered a Washington insider, Linda has been very influential in shaping the cannabis industry in Washington, DC and on Capitol Hill working both sides of Congress. She is the Chair of the Board of the DC Medical Cannabis Trade Association, serves on the Board of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, organizing MCBA’s first Congressional Black Caucus Lobby Day, serves on the Steering Committee of the National Cannabis Festival, and is a member of other national cannabis organizations. BCG Holdings, Inc. was recently awarded a license to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in the District of Columbia, in one of the city’s most economically challenged areas void of access to medication. Anacostia Organics held its grand opening and ribbon cutting with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and Congressional Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton on January 24, 2019 in Historic Anacostia. Linda was also instrumental in identifying that longtime residents and minorities were excluded from the city’s awards of licensing in vast percentages. As well, none of the licensed dispensaries were located in economically challenged communities, which ironically held the largest number of medical marijuana cards. Thus, Linda took it upon herself to give the city an opportunity to amend this oversight by successfully lobbying the Executive and Legislative branches of the city government resulting in emergency legislation, passed unanimously by the City Council and immediately signed by Mayor Bowser. This legislation required the Department of Health to reopen the application process to allow at least two medical marijuana dispensaries to be located in those economically challenged areas with a priority scoring included for minorities, longtime DC residents, and Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) companies. Linda’s company, BCG Holdings, Inc., was the first cannabis CBE company in the District of Columbia. BCG Holdings, Inc. was one of two companies awarded.
Linda is also a nationally and internationally established public relations consultant, strategist, and entrepreneur. Celebrated for her uniqueness, creativity, detailed messaging, planning, she is recognized for her ability to bring together various people and businesses from around the world together for a particular cause. The Linda Greene Group (a subsidiary of LMG Holdings, Inc.) was established in Washington, DC in 1989 providing full-service public relations for local, national, and international clients. Linda’s diverse career spans from serving as a political advisor, strategist, and fundraising consultant to many members of the United States Congress, to planning national events, to representing and providing consultation to African Heads of State, including the late President Nelson Mandela, His Majesty Otumfou Osei Tutu II (Asanthane) and other official delegations, to being a senior executive of an institutional investment firm, to representing many acclaimed entertainment and sports figures. Additionally, she actively serves on numerous nonprofit boards, locally, nationally, and internationally. Linda is known for building binding relationships on both sides of the aisle in the United States Congress, regardless of party affiliation.
She has orchestrated many political victories in her home base of Washington, DC, planned and managed Mayoral Inaugural events, served on Mayoral and Council transition teams, and proudly served as the Chief of Staff to The Honorable Marion Barry. Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed Linda to serve to the Historic Preservation Review Board which was unanimously approved by the Council of the District of Columbia.
Linda has appeared on many television broadcasts and has been profiled in numerous magazines and newspapers. Amongst her many honors are the selection of MEA Magazine as one of the top “50 Women of Influence and Power”, The Council of the District of Columbia Government’s Linda Greene Recognition Resolution for “her many years of outstanding public service and her stellar contribution to the District of Columbia”, and listings in “National’s Who’s Who in Executives and Professionals and “Who’s Who in Black Washington”.
CEO, Nuka Enterprises
Prior to founding 1906, Barsoom had an extensive career in finance and business strategy, holding a variety of senior management positions at leading institutions including American Express, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, BlueMountain Capital and Intercontinental Exchange. In September of 2018, Barsoom was recognized by “Entrepreneur” magazine as one of the Top 100 Leaders in Cannabis. He serves on the board of numerous leading cannabis industry associations including the Marijuana Industry Group, Colorado Leads, and the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association.
Vice Chair, NAACP
Karen Boykin-Towns has built a reputation as a visionary and strategic results-driver in complex business and government environments based on demonstrated success in the areas of policy, advocacy, communications, and proactive change management. Since concluding her impressive 22 year career at Pfizer Inc she now serves as President/CEO of Encore Strategies, LLC and was recently elected Vice Chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Board of Directors, the oldest and largest non-partisan civil rights organization in the nation established in 1909.
Ms. Boykin-Towns' career at Pfizer spanned 22 years where she advanced quickly into executive management roles. She was recruited as a Senior Legislative Analyst based on her reputation for success in state government, and held key leadership roles in public affairs, government relations, global policy and human resources. Based on her positive impact driving change across the organization, in 2008 she was selected by Pfizer’s CEO to serve as its first Chief Diversity Officer. In this role she successfully developed an integrated, global strategy resulting in internal progress and external recognition of the company’s advances in diversity and inclusion as a competitive advantage. Karen concluded her career as Vice President Corporate Affairs for their $34B Innovative Medicines business where she served as a member of the Senior Leadership Committee (SLC) which consists of the top 200 leaders in the 90,000 person global organization.
Karen is credited with numerous contributions at Pfizer that were instrumental in maintaining Pfizer's brand integrity and ensuring the company's global expansion during periods of industry consolidation, economic instability, and dynamic organizational restructuring. One of her key accomplishments involved preserving Pfizer's brand reputation in spite of a controversial corporate decision to close the company's headquarters in Brooklyn, NY, a historic landmark and cornerstone for the company and the community. Karen was also sought out to provide public affairs advocacy in response to proposed government legislation that threatened continued use of a multi-million dollar drug providing significant healthcare benefits
Embracing her passion for policy and politics, Karen's early career involved serving as Legislative Director then Chief of Staff to New York State Senator David Paterson, who later became the 55th Governor of New York In this role, she led strategy and execution of legislative efforts related to civil and human rights, community development, and environmental issues.
Ms. Boykin-Towns leverages her talent as a coalition-builder and social change agent through her active participation in various organizations. She has served as a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors for 12 years before being elected as Vice Chairman of the Board in 2018. She is also the Chairman of its National Health Committee. Karen is a member of the Brewster Academy Board of Trustees and past Co-Chair of the Business Council of New York State. She has been featured in Black Enterprise, Bloomberg Businessweek, Ebony Magazine, Crain’s, African American Career World, Network Journal and Crisis Magazine. Savoy Magazine named her a “Top Influential Woman in Corporate America” in 2016.
Karen holds an MBA degree from the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College of the City University of New York (CUNY), as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of Mount Saint Vincent. A mother of two girls, Karen is married to former State Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Ismael Vince Canales
President, CLG & Associates
Vince Canales was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He served six (6) years in the United States Air Force (USAF) and was awarded the National Defense Medal for Service during Operation Desert Storm. Upon his separation from the USAF, he became a Prince George’s County Police officer and served for over 21 years. Vince also served three terms as President of the Fraternal Order of Police, Prince George's County, Lodge 89 (FOP Lodge 89) where he helped manage over $600 million in assets for the police pension plan. He currently serves as Chairman of the Bowie City Ethics Commission and is a member of the Maryland Police Training Commission. Vince attended and completed the prestigious Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Executive Education for State and Local Government program. He is serving in his third two-year term as President of the Maryland State Fraternal Order of Police. In 2016, he became President/CEO of CLG and Associates LLC, a security company specializing in personnel management, comprehensive design planning, and implementation of strategic security programs within the cannabis industry.
Yolanda H. Caraway
President and CEO, The Caraway Group
Yolanda H. Caraway has nearly thirty years of policy-making, project management and national and international political experience. Often sought to coordinate major activities for the Democratic Party, as well as private organizations, her list of professional achievements showcases years of organizational ability and management expertise.
Ms. Caraway has played a major role in shaping the goals and objectives of the National Democratic Party and has been called upon throughout her career to coordinate various party efforts. From 1982-1985 she served as Director of Education and Training for the DNC under the late Chairman Chuck Manatt, and in 1985 Caraway was appointed Sr. Advisor to Chairman Paul Kirk and Executive Director of the Fairness Commission, the committee responsible for developing the rules for the 1988 convention. In late 1985, she joined the National Rainbow Coalition as Chief of Staff to what became Jesse Jackson’s historic second bid for president. In 1988 she was appointed an At-Large DNC Member and served in that capacity until 2009. 1989, she played a pivotal role in the historic election of the late Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown to Chair the Democratic National Committee. She later became Chairman Brown’s Senior Advisor at Party Headquarters and managed the Site Selection process for the 1992 Democratic National Convention. Since 2008, Ms. Caraway managed the backstage and podium operations for the Democratic National Convention.
Since founding The Caraway Group in 1987, she has led her team in the counseling of a number of well-known Fortune 500 companies, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and high-profile individuals in every aspect of communications strategy. She is a nationally recognized public relations and public affairs strategist who is known for policy-making, political management and public relations work in government and the nonprofit and private sectors.
Ms. Caraway has worked with major U.S. companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, Airbnb, AT&T, MGM MIRAGE, Mitsubishi and Texaco. She has also counseled government and nonprofit agencies such as the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, the Center for American Progress, the NATO 50th Anniversary Summit, and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Foundation Project.
In 2009, Ms. Caraway was appointed to the Council on American Politics, a group of nationally renowned political leaders addressing current affairs and working toward the growth and enrichment of The George Washington University School of Political Management.
Ms. Caraway is a member of the Corporate Directors Group and the American College of Corporate Directors, and is a member of the advisory board of Head and Heart Philanthropy.
In October 2, 2018, Yolanda Caraway became a published author – co-writing “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics” with Donna Brazile, Leah Daughtry and Minyon Moore for which they won the 2019 NAACP Image Award for the Literary Non-Fiction category. The book has received critical acclaim and has led to the authors speaking at numerous corporations, universities and non-profits. Ms. Caraway is represented by McMillan Speakers Bureau.
Rev. Delman L. Coates, Ph.D.
Founder & President, New Abolitionism Campaign and the Black Church Center for Justice and Equality
Rev. Delman Coates is a graduate of Morehouse College (B.A. in Religion, 1995), Harvard Divinity School (Master of Divinity, 1998), and Columbia University (Master of Philosophy in Religion, 2002; Ph.D. in New Testament & Early Christianity, 2006).
Dr. Coates published articles including: "And the Bible Says: Methodological Tyranny of Biblical Fundamentalism and Historical Criticism" in Blow the Trumpet in Zion (2004, "Towards a Progressive Christian Interpretive Praxis" in The African-American Pulpit (2004), and "Origen of Alexandria" in Union Seminary Quarterly Review (vol. 59:3-4, 2005). Coates wrote a piece entitled “The New Abolitionism: Monetary Reform and the Future of Civil Rights,” which is in the book “Mr. President: Interfaith Perspectives on the Historic Presidency of Barack H. Obama” (2017). Among his published sermons include “From Proclamation to Protest” (The African American Pulpit, July 2008) and “Race Still Matters” (TAAP 2009).
Dr. Coates has served as the Senior Pastor of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, MD since 2004. During this time, the congregation has grown to 10,000 members. Dr. Coates has initiated and revitalized ministries, expanded the church's ministry campus and land holdings, and incorporated the Mt. Ennon Development Corporation (MEDC). In October 2009, Outreach Magazine named Mt. Ennon as one of the 100 Fastest Growing Congregations in the U.S.
Pastor Coates is Founder of the New Abolitionism Campaign, Founder and President of the Black Church Center for Justice & Equality (BCC). He is a board member of the Parents Television Council and the National Action Network. He is also a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Morehouse College Board of Preachers, and the NAACP. In 2008, TAAP honored him as one of the "20 To Watch." In 2012, “The Root” named Dr. Coates as one of their 100 African American achievers and influencers. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) honored Dr. Coates in 2013 for his commitment to advancing civil rights and liberties for all. The same year, Ebony magazine selected him as one of their “Power 100.”
Coates’s ministry, messages, and social activism spans a variety of media platforms. He has appeared on, and been profiled in, national media such as MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, Essence Magazine, NPR, VH1, The New York Times, The Washington Post, & Huffington Post, and is featured in the documentary The New Black.
Dr. Coates is the proud father of four children: sons, Nathaniel and Joshua, and twin daughters, Ava Marie and Leah Blair.
Carlos Curbelo was born in Miami, Florida in 1980, to political refugees who fled tyranny and oppression Cuba. He was educated in the public school system and then at Belen Jesuit. From there he became a student at the University of Miami where he obtained a Bachelor's in Business Administration while majoring in Political Science. He later returned to UM for a Masters in Public Administration.
In 2002, after earning his first college degree, Carlos founded a media and public relations firm which he managed successfully for over 10 years doing work for a wide array of local and international companies as well as political campaigns and policy initiatives. In 2009, Carlos took leave from the firm to become State Director for U.S. Senator George LeMieux and an advisor on Latin-American policy. He served in this role until late 2010, when he was elected to the Miami-Dade County School Board, overseeing the fourth largest school district in the country. Carlos was part of a board that reduced taxes and administrative expenses, increased teacher pay, and expanded school choice while winning national accolades for improved student performance.
In 2014, Carlos was elected to represent his community in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Education and Workforce Committee, the Small Business Committee, and the powerful Committee on Ways and Means where he co-authored the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 - comprehensive tax reform legislation that delivered historic tax relief, drove investment to challenged communities, and made American businesses more competitive.
While in Congress Curbelo also led on climate policy, immigration reform, and gun safety. He co-founded and co-chaired the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, served in a leadership role in the Problem Solvers Caucus, and led the Brazil Caucus to strengthen the bilateral relationship with Latin-America's leading economy. In 2017, Curbelo was honored by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation with the New Frontier Award for his work promoting bipartisan cooperation on environmental policy. In 2018 he filed the landmark Market Choice Act, ambitious legislation that would invest nearly a trillion dollars in American infrastructure while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by pricing carbon. Also in 2018, he led a discharge petition initiative that forced the U.S. House to debate and consider comprehensive immigration reform legislation - including a path to citizenship for Dreamers - for the first time in a decade.
Curbelo has consistently advocated for decency, sobriety, and civility in politics and more broadly in American society. Just weeks before leaving Congress he made news for holding a press conference with a young man who threatened his life where he publicly forgave him and announced he would not press charges. He was ranked the fourth most bipartisan Member of the House where he represented South Florida until returning to the private sector in 2019.
Carlos and his wife Cecilia have two daughters, Sylvie and Carolina. The family lives in MIami's Kendall neighborhood
Dr. Patricia Frye, M.D.
Founder and Medical Director, Takoma Park Medical Care
Patricia Frye M.D.is the founder and medical director of Takoma Park Alternative Care. Her practice focuses on the role of cannabis in the management of chronic pain, autoimmunity, neurological and neurodegenerative disorders, autism, insomnia, and psychiatric conditions. Dr. Frye works closely with patients residing in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC and with referring clinicians to develop sound treatment plans that are based on both observational and scientific evidence.
Professionally certified by the University of Vermont School of Medicine in Cannabis Science and Medicine, Dr. Frye is Chief Medical Officer for HelloMD, an international digital healthcare platform offering education and guidance for both medical cannabis and hemp-derived products. She also serves on the board of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, an organization dedicated to educating healthcare providers and establishing appropriate standards of care in the practice of cannabis medicine. She is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and lectures nationally, educating medical providers, patient groups, policy makers, and government agencies on the science and medical benefits of cannabis.
Dr. Frye earned her medical degree at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. After completing her pediatric residency, she trained in Anesthesiology at Baylor College of Medicine where she gained experience in medical pain management and pain management procedures.
As a volunteer, Dr. Frye has worked for a number of organizations which include the St. Mary’s AIDS Care Team, Phoenix House, a residential drug rehabilitation program for adolescents, Piedmont Head Start, and as a court-appointed special advocate for children in the family court system because of abuse or neglect.
Former President, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Wade Henderson is the immediate past president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Leadership Conference Education Fund.
Henderson recently retired as the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law's first Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Chair of Public Interest Law.
From 1996 until 2017, Henderson served as President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund. The Leadership Conference is the nation's premier civil and human rights coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States.
Henderson is well known for his expertise on a wide range of civil rights, civil liberties, and human rights issues, and is the author of numerous articles on civil rights and public policy. After taking the helm of The Leadership Conference in 1996, he worked diligently to address emerging policy issues of concern to the civil and human rights community and to strengthen the effectiveness of the coalition. Under his stewardship, The Leadership Conference became one of the nation's most effective organizations in advocating for progressive civil and human rights policies.
Henderson currently serves on the University of the District of Columbia Foundation Board; FDIC Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion; the Board of Directors of the Center for Responsible Lending; and the Board of Trustees of the Educational Testing Service.
Prior to his role with The Leadership Conference, Henderson was the Washington Bureau Director of the NAACP; Associate Director of the Washington national office of the ACLU; and Executive Director of the Council on Legal Education Opportunity.
Henderson is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Hubert H. Humphrey Award for Civil and Human Rights; the Congressional Black Caucus Phoenix Award; the US State Department’s Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award; and the AFLAC Lifetime Achievement Award.
Henderson is a graduate of Howard University and the Rutgers University School of Law, and holds honorary doctorates from CUNY Queens College School of Law and Gettysburg College. He is a member of the Bars of the District of Columbia and the US Supreme Court.
President & CEO, NAACP
On October 21, 2017, the executive committee of the NAACP National Board of Directors elected Derrick Johnson President and CEO. Derrick Johnson formerly served as vice chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors as well as state president for the Mississippi State Conference
A longstanding member and leader of the NAACP, Mr. Johnson will guide the Association through a period of re-envisioning and reinvigoration.
Born in Detroit, Mr. Johnson attended Tougaloo College in Jackson, MS. He then continued onto Houston, TX to receive his JD from the South Texas College of Law. In later years, Mr. Johnson furthered his training through fellowships with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the George Washington University School of Political Management, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He has served as an annual guest lecturer at Harvard Law School, lending his expertise to Professor Lani Guinier’s course on social movements, and as an adjunct professor at Tougaloo College.
Mr. Johnson is a veteran activist who has dedicated his career to defending the rights and improving the lives of Mississippians. As State President of the NAACP Mississippi State Conference, he led critical campaigns for voting rights and equitable education. He successfully managed two bond referendum campaigns in Jackson, MS that brought $150 million in school building improvements and $65 million towards the construction of a new convention center, respectively. As a regional organizer at the Jackson-based non-profit, Southern Echo, Inc., Mr. Johnson provided legal, technical, and training support for communities across the South.
In recognition for his service to the state of Mississippi, the Chief Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court appointed Mr. Johnson to the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission, and the Governor of Mississippi appointed him Chair of the Governor’s Commission for Recovery, Rebuilding, and Renewal after devastation of Hurricane Katrina. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Johnson founded One Voice Inc. to improve the quality of life for African Americans through civic engagement training and initiatives. One Voice has spawned an annual Black Leadership Summit and the Mississippi Black Leadership Institute, a nine month training program for community leaders.
CBD Leader, Curaleaf
Lindsay Jones is currently holding the role of Vice President of Contract Manufacturing & Sourcing of Curaleaf Kentucky and has recently been designated as President of Curaleaf Georgia. Prior to his most recent role he held the position of President of Curaleaf Florida where he was tasked with developing and executing a rapid expansion plan within the State of Florida. He assembled a team of subject matter experts and provided the leadership and guidance necessary to establish Curaleaf Florida as one of the major Brands within the State. Under his leadership the Florida Business Unit expanded from two dispensaries employing ~60 employees to 22 dispensaries across the State employing ~450 employees while adding a 5 Acre Dutch Greenhouse to support significant increases in revenue and patient services. He and his team have positioned Curaleaf Florida as one of the leading providers of high-quality Cannabis products, medications, information/education, and patient advocacy.
Prior to joining Curaleaf, Lindsay held positions of increasing scope and responsibility ranging from Front Line Supervisor up to and including VP of Operations within US-based companies small and large including Kraft Foods, Frito Lay, Starbucks Coffee, Campbell Soup Company, Chiquita Brands International, and The Original Cakerie of Ontario, Canada. His ability to build strong organizations will serve him well in his new role, as Curaleaf seeks to build a reputation for superior customer service, quality products and education and advocacy.
Vice President, Human Resources, LivWell Enlightened Health
Dakeana has been in Human Resources as well as retail for over 20 years. Dakeana has experience in big box Department stores, as well as high end specialty retailers. Her experience ranges from retailers such as Macy’s, Maraolo, Polo Ralph Lauren and Salvatore Ferragamo.
Dakeana is a collaborative Senior HR Business Partner who has shaped high- performing executive teams by leading organizational development and human resources initiatives linking talent to strategic business results. She has had direct interface with corporate, region and district level executive leadership up to the Executive Committee level. Dakeana develops executable strategies that motivate teams individually and collectively to exceed individual and Company deliverables.
Dakeana is an active philanthropist in the community. She has been a continuous member of many non-profit organizations. She has helped to keep kids engaged in low-income neighborhoods by being a part of an affordable football organization (Pirates Football) that provides continuous support in a positive team environment. Keeping these kids apart to of this team kept them from being exposed, wanting to be gang affiliated and drug-free.
She has also been on the board (Denver Metro Partners) to help youth gang members break free of the gang lifestyle and have an opportunity to turn their lives around. Part of this program revolves around helping gang members wipe away their affiliation by allowing them to tattoo removal to begin their new journey
Her most recent non-profit member seat is Doctor’s Care. Dakeana helps assist with affordable health care needs and services for low-income families in need of medical assistance. Through Doctor’s Care, Dakeana and her family have also continuously provided 250-300 backpacks and school supplies a year, to kids who could not afford the essentials for back to school.
Dakeana has a passion for leading high-quality teams with a commitment to integrity, trust and mutual respect for every aspect of business which allows her to be a positive role model in her community.
Managing Partner, Dickerson Insurance Services
Tony Lee is one of two managing partners at Dickerson Insurance Services, an Alera Group Company, LLC. He was formerly the CEO of Dickerson Insurance Servcies which, at the time, was the nation’s largest African-American owned insurance brokerage firm. Lee oversees the sales activities of the Large Group Benefits Consulting Department as well as the Property & Casualty Division of the company.
He was born in London and traveled extensively during his childhood, finally settling in California where he graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara. After working for several years in the entertainment industry, Tony joined Dickerson in 1997 and has garnered a reputation for innovative leadership in identifying creative solutions for the company’s larger clients. During his tenure, he has helped expand the company to include the addition of the rapidly growing Property & Casualty division specializing in large construction projects around the country. He has led the team in establishing a firm foothold in specialty markets, including Cannabis, Charter Schools and Contractor Bonding.
Tony is a board member of the Los Angeles Urban League, St. Joseph Center for the Homeless and is one of the few non-attorneys to sit on the Public Counsel Law Center Board of Directors.
Medical Cannabis advocate and retired National Football League player
Eugene Monroe was the first active NFL player to openly advocate for the use of cannabinoids to treat chronic pain and sports-related injuries. He recognized cannabis as a healthier alternative to opioids and has actively campaigned for marijuana policy change. He joined GTI for its patient-first focus of striving to provide the best medicine possible, active community support and research initiatives.
Previously, Eugene was drafted 8th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2009 NFL Draft and later joined the Baltimore Ravens on a trade in 2013. Eugene enjoyed a 7 year NFL career and retired with long term health and family as a priority.
Eugene serves on the Board of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation and HealthyUNow and is a supporter of the Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Athletes for Care. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Virginia. Eugene and his wife Nureya have three children and reside in Maryland. Eugene loves spending time with his young family, fishing offshore, and focusing on health and fitness.
CEO and President, Foxwise Enterprises
Mercy Morganfield, President, Foxwise Enterprises, LLC, the parent company to RightHands Resources Learning Solutions, (RHR), The Power of a Woman Series, and The African American Salon Series. All three learning entities provide cutting-edge training tools that are innovative and informative. Whether the audience is a Fortune 50 company or a public forum, Mercy has created training curricula to meet a variety of needs from performance management to advocacy and outreach. With over twenty-five years in the pharmaceutical industry as a top-level executive, Mercy continues to collaborate with medical healthcare providers, marketing directors, corporate counsel and C-suite executives to design and implement learning processes that directly impact business results. Mercy is an involved community leader who holds key leadership positions within the DC community. She has a B.S. in Mass Communications and a Masters in Transformative Language Arts.
Marc H. Morial
CEO, National Urban League
Marc Morial, who has been described as one of the few national leaders to possess “street smarts”, and “boardroom savvy”, is the current President and CEO of the National Urban League, the nation’s largest historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization.
He served as the highly successful and popular Mayor of New Orleans as well as the President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He previously was a Louisiana State Senator, and was a lawyer in New Orleans with an active, high profile practice.
He is a leading voice on the national stage in the battle for jobs, education, housing and voting rights equity.
A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, and the University of Pennsylvania, he has been recognized as one of the 100 most influential Black Americans by Ebony Magazine, one of the top 50 Non Profit Leaders by the Non Profit Times, one of the 100 Most Influential Black Lawyers in America and he has also been inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in Atlanta, GA.
Laura W. Murphy
Former Director, Washington, DC Office of the ACLU and President, Laura Murphy & Associates
Laura W. Murphy is President of Laura Murphy & Associates, a firm that provides counsel to clients on crisis management, civil rights and civil liberties challenges, interest group relations, message development, and government relations. She is an influential national civil liberties and civil rights leader and a sought-after policy strategist.
Murphy currently serves as Senior Advisor to two technology companies. She advises Airbnb, the home-sharing company, on strengthening its policies and products to help promote civil rights values at the company. Murphy authored a 32 page report Airbnb’s Work to Fight Discrimination and Build Inclusion that outlines the steps Airbnb is taking to tackle discrimination.
Murphy also advises the largest social media company in the world, Facebook, leading its civil rights audit, and through that process she solicits feedback from civil rights groups and members of Congress on ways that the company can better serve all of its communities.
She is designing structural changes to advance equality and inclusion at Facebook. Her interim civil rights report was referenced in a recent post by Sheryl Sandberg.
Murphy served for 17 years as Director of the ACLU Legislative Office, where she played a crucial role in major civil rights and civil liberties legislation and policies enacted during the last 25 years. She advanced legislation on free speech, criminal justice reform, national security, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, civil rights, and Internet privacy. She has been especially celebrated for building unique and effective bipartisan coalitions. She has testified more than a dozen times before Congress and has presented at international forums including the United Nations. Laura Murphy was the first woman, first African American and longest serving head of the federal affairs operation in the ACLU’s 100 year history.
Prior to her work at the ACLU, Murphy served as a cabinet member for the Mayor of the District of Columbia, as a chief of staff to a California Assembly Speaker, as an account executive for a public affairs firm, and as a legislative assistant for two members of Congress.
Murphy is an alumna of the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University where she served, during 2016, in a year-long fellowship for highly accomplished and experienced leaders committed to tackling national and global challenges. She has been honored by the ACLU affiliates of Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, Maryland and Mississippi. In 2015, Murphy received the Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award "for selfless and devoted service in the cause of equality" from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Murphy has authored over 50 blogs and opinion pieces and chapters in three books, most recently a chapter in Journeys, An American Story: 72 Essays about Immigration and American Greatness
She is an artist, gardener and mentor to numerous rising executives.
Kim Napoli, Esq.
Director of Diversity Programs at NETA, and Massachusetts Cannabis Advisory Board Member
Kim Napoli is a Massachusetts-based attorney practicing labor and employment law. In 2006 Ms. Napoli co-founded the Hempest in Harvard Square (now The Hempest, Inc.), a hemp-based retail clothing boutique whose mission is to educate the public about hemp and cannabis. Ms. Napoli continues to educate the public on the benefits of cannabis and equity in Massachusetts through her work as Director of Diversity Programs and Marketing Specialist at New England Treatment Access, Inc.
As a Massachusetts state Cannabis Advisory Board member and Chair of the Market Participation Subcommittee, Napoli also works to develop and deliver messaging on the significant topic of social justice and equality in the Massachusetts cannabis industry in order to support and bolster equity in ownership amongst disparately impacted communities. Ms. Napoli also served as the Director of Outreach for the successful Yes on 4 Campaign to Regulate and Tax Marijuana in Massachusetts in 2016.
Commercial Counsel, Green Thumb Industries
Akele Parnell is commercial counsel at Green Thumb Industries Inc. (GTI), one of the largest legal cannabis operators in the US, where he works on commercial transactions, market expansion activities, finance and securities matters.
When Akele isn’t closing deals, he’s organizing community and social impact initiatives at GTI and as an active member of the Chicago chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). He is also a Board member of Social Change, a Chicago-based grassroots nonprofit that works to create a more equitable society for communities of color through advocacy, organizing and media.
Prior to joining GTI, Akele was an attorney in private practice where he counseled startups and public and private companies on mergers and acquisitions, finance, securities and general business matters. Before his career as an attorney, Akele taught English at a children’s home in the Dominican Republic and worked as a program associate for North Chicago Community Partners, a community school-focused nonprofit that was early adopter of the venture philanthropy model.
Akele earned a J.D. and M.P.H. from Washington University in St. Louis and a B.A. in History from Auburn University.
CEO, National Cannabis Festival
Caroline Phillips is a public relations and event strategist with more than 12 years of experience conceptualizing, strategizing and executing a wide range of political campaigns, non-profit initiatives, live events and marketing experiences. In 2014, Caroline founded The High Street LLC, a public relations and event production company with the mission of cultivating projects and ideas that leverage business and advocacy for social good. In 2016, Caroline launched National Cannabis Festival (NCF) in Washington, D.C. and in 2018 she expanded the program to include the National Cannabis Policy Summit, the only nationally televised cannabis conference in the country. Going into year 5, NCF is now the largest ticketed cannabis gathering on the east coast, and the only event of its kind owned and run by a woman of color. Caroline is a native Washingtonian. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University, completed post-graduate studies at Howard University and received her Master’s degree from Georgetown University.
Tracey D. Syphax
President, Phax Group Consulting Design and Co-Founder, Reentry Ventures
Mr. Syphax was educated in the Trenton Public School system & received his diploma in 1980. He later attended and graduated from Mercer County Vocational Technical School. Mr. Syphax has spent his 24 year career in business as a strong advocate for proper reentry opportunities for returning residents using the 3 E’s of education, employment and entrepreneurship. In 2018 Mr Syphax was named 1 of 25 “Most Influential African Americans in the state of New Jersey” by the South Jersey Journal. He is a founding Board member of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey. In 2011 Mr. Syphax was awarded “Entrepreneur of the year” by the Princeton Chamber of Commerce becoming the 1st African American to receive this award in the Chambers 51 year old history.
Mr. Syphax out of an unprecedented 900 Nominees throughout the Country is a 2014 Pres. Obama White House “Champion of Change” Honoree for his work in reentry and employment. One of his most proudest accomplishments is he is the former founding board member & Chairman of the Board, of the Minding Our Business (MOB) program. This a 20 year old National award winning program that mentors and teachers 6 & 7th grade students how to start and operate a business. This program was ranked top ten in the Country 2010-2011 by Johns Hopkins University . Mr. Syphax is also Author of the award winning Memoir “From the Block to the Boardroom” detailing his life story from prison to successful entrepreneur .
Mr. Syphax has received many awards nationally and locally for his business success and his passion of giving back to his community, uplifting and encouraging the next generation of entrepreneurs. Mr. Syphax is the Empower Magazine’s 2014 “Person of the Year” He is the former host of a weekly radio and TV show titled “Violence Serves No Purpose” and “Trenton Talks” on WIMG 1300 AM and WZBN Channel 25. He has been featured in numerous publications, magazines & News outlets such as NJ BIZ, Cspan, The Network Journal, Black Enterprise, NJN News, CNN Ireport, Don Diva Magazine, Young Men’s Perspective magazine, The Source Magazine and the BBC News of London and is a contributor in the documentary “Elementary Genocide 1 & 2” and co-stars in the award winning documentary “Incarcerating US”
Founder, MPT, LLC
Khadijah Tribble is principal at Marijuana Policy -MPT and founder of Marijuana Matters. She is a social entrepreneur on a mission to do good.Also, a recent graduate of Harvard Kennedy School where she was a Cheng Fellow at the Social Innovation Change Initiative.Khadijah served on the board of Changing Perceptions DC, a community-based organization that enables ex-offenders and formerly incarcerated individuals to open small businesses.As a recipient of the Dubin Leadership award, she developed a social equity toolkit aimed at interrupting the current cannabis regulatory landscape by modeling equity outcomes in cannabis regulations at local, state and federal levels.
Nicholas R. Turner
President and Director, Vera Institute of Justice
Nicholas Turner joined Vera as its fifth president and director in August, 2013. Under his leadership, Vera is pursuing core priorities of ending the misuse of jails, transforming conditions of confinement, and ensuring that justice systems more effectively serve America's growing minority communities. To that end, Vera is working across the country to reduce jail populations in major cities, shrink the number of people held in solitary confinement, and develop systems to ensure that police are held accountable for building public trust. Vera is also using new tools and leveraging its half-century of experience working on the frontlines of justice to shape public debate at a time when interest in justice is at a new height. Recent major initiatives include a high-level study tour of the German justice system that was covered by 60 Minutes, a multimedia public engagement campaign exploring the legacy of the 1994 Crime Bill, and a first-of-its-kind interactive data tool that sheds new light on the role jails play in mass incarceration.
Nick previously served at Vera from 1998 to 2007. During his first tenure, he developed ideas for demonstration projects aimed at keeping troubled youth out of the justice system and easing reentry for adult prisoners. He also guided the expansion of Vera’s national work, launching and directing Vera’s state sentencing and corrections initiative, while supervising Vera’s domestic violence projects and the creation of its youth justice program. As vice president and chief program officer, Nick was responsible for the development and launch of the Prosecution and Racial Justice Program and the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons.
Prior to re-joining Vera, he was a managing director at The Rockefeller Foundation, where he was a member of the foundation’s senior leadership team and a co-leader of its global urban efforts. He provided leadership and strategic direction on key initiatives, including transportation policy reform in the U.S. to promote social, economic, and environmental interests, and redevelopment in New Orleans to advance racial and socioeconomic integration.
Earlier in his career, Nick was an associate in the litigation department of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York from 1997 to 1998. He was a judicial clerk for the Honorable Jack. B. Weinstein, Senior United States District Judge in Brooklyn from 1996 to 1997. Before attending law school, Nick worked with court-involved, homeless, and troubled young people at Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a Washington, DC youth services organization, from 1989 to 1993.
He is author of several op-eds, including “Finding A Home After Prison” (the New York Times), “What We Learned from German Prisons” (with Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the New York Times), “The Steep Cost of America’s High Incarceration Rate” (with Robert Rubin, co-chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former U.S. Treasury secretary, the Wall Street Journal) and “Treating Prisoners with Dignity Can Reduce Crime” (with John Wetzel, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, National Journal’s The Next America). He has also published a number of articles on criminal justice, including Politics, Public Service, and Professionalism: Conflicting Themes in the Invention and Evaluation of Community Prosecution (with Chris Stone, 1999) and “The Cost of Avoiding Injustice by Guideline Circumventions,” in Federal Sentencing Reporter (with the Honorable Jack B. Weinstein, 1997).
In 2015, Nick joined the advisory council of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a new, independent nonprofit aiming to eliminate the gaps in opportunity and achievement for boys and young men of color. He currently serves on the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform and the Advisory Board to New York City’s Children’s Cabinet. Nick has previously served on the boards of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Living Cities, Center for Working Families, and St. Christopher’s Inc.
Nick received his BA from Yale College and his JD from Yale Law School.
Herbert P. Wilkins, Jr.
General Partner, Syncom Venture Partners
Mr. Wilkins Jr. is an experienced entrepreneur, advisor, and investor who has been in the venture capital industry for over 27 years in various positions with SYNCOM/SCI Ventures funds.
Currently he is a Managing Director with Syndicated Communications Inc. Management Company. Prior to SCI Management he was an analyst, associate, senior associate and general partner at Syncom Venture Management/Syncom Venture Partners. Mr. Wilkins has participated in the investment, development and management of companies across a wide range of segments and stages in the Media and Communications Technology, Services, Real Estate and Cannabis industries.
He currently serves on the board of directors of a Maya Cinema’s North America and Culta Ventures, LLC. He previously served on the boards of MediaPlatform, Nuvo TV/Si-TV, Newcomm, and TMX Interactive.
Mr. Wilkins has also served as a member of the board for many non-profit organizations including as a founding board member for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE Baltimore), The Baltimore chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Athletes Serving Athletes, and the Babson College Alumni Board.
Mr. Wilkins received a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Maryland University College and a M.B.A. from the F.W. Olin School of Business at Babson College.
Judge Shelli Williams Hayes (Retired)
CoFounder, Tetrasol Holdings, LLC
Judge Shelli Williams Hayes (Retired) served as a Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois for 18 years. While on the bench, Judge Hayes acquired courtroom legal experience in business, taxation, marketing and management. Her last assignment was presiding over a high-volume Civil Jury Trial Courtroom.
She originally entered the Cannabis industry during the creation of the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. Her background has carried over into a valuable and unique role in the Cannabis and Hemp industry. She is a Founding Board of Director of the National Cannabis Bar Association and a Founding Board of Director of the Minority Cannabis Business Association. Additionally, Judge Hayes serves a Founding Board Member on the NuLeaf Project in Portland, Oregon. She is also a Founding Member of the Cannabis Trade Federation’s, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Task Force.
She has worked with numerous start-ups from the ground floor, and with investors seeking to enter the industry through the creation of compliance programs and applications for licensure. She brings passion into everything she does. A familiar smile at trade shows and conferences, she shines light into the industry as someone you can trust.
She currently is the Co-Founder and Chief Legal Officer for Tetrasol Holdings LLC. Tetrasol is a formulation, manufacturing and development company. We specialize in new technology involving the manufacturing of water dissolvable THC and CBD. We also specialize in oil extraction, separation and solubilization. Through our management team we also provide substantial management, staffing, procurement, advisory, financial, real estate leasing, logistics and administrative services in the Denver and Las Vegas market. Recently, she Co-Founded S&P Holdings, LLC, to obtain licenses to cultivate and dispense cannabis for recreational use in Illinois.
Judge Hayes received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York and her Juris Doctorate Degree from Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Bloomington, Indiana. She is a wife and mother of two daughters and a son.
Partner, Hogan Lovells
Ivan Zapien is well known in every facet of the government relations community in Washington, D.C. From politics and Capitol Hill to corporate America,
Ivan is well respected on both sides of the aisle. Serving as a chief of staff in both the U.S. House and Senate, Ivan built deep networks across both House and Senate Democrats. He also drove the government relations strategy and outreach for Walmart, the No. 1 company on the Fortune 500 list. Thus, Ivan brings a unique and complex perspective to client engagements.
Ivan is a bilingual lawyer, executive, advocate, and leader with international and domestic experience in government affairs management and campaigns. He advises clients on diverse strategies, capitalizing on the opportunities of the current environment, while minimizing risk. Prior to joining the firm, Ivan managed Walmart's Mexico and Central America foundation, communications, government relations, and sustainability efforts. Before moving to Mexico City, he served as the vice president for federal government relations and head of Walmart's Washington office. These experiences resulted in international management experience in government, public Political Law Compliance relations, and corporate communications. He has vast experience as a leader in the Democratic Caucus of the Congress, having served as national outreach director of the House Democratic Caucus and as executive director of the Hispanic Leadership Council of the Democratic National Committee.
Ivan has been recognized as one of the "Most Influential Hispanics" by Hispanic Business and as one of the top lobbyists by Latino Magazine. He received the 2015 Alumni Achievement Award for Advocacy Efforts from the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management.