Debby Goldsberry Voted #10 on the CBE 75 Most Important Women In Cannabis 2017

2017 CBE 75 Most Important Women

CBE 2017 75 Most Important Women

Wowza, CBE Press (CBE) is extremely impressed with the credentials and accomplishments of the many women that we reviewed this year who are involved in building the cannabis industry, and we are grateful for the opportunity to be able to share the names, roles and accomplishments of each of the members of the 2017 CBE 75 Most Important Women (actually 81) in cannabis list, and Debby Goldsberry came in at # 10 – congrats Debby!

This year’s list includes women representing licensees (producers, processors, and retailers), ancillary businesses, the regulatory arena (state and federal), advocacy and state-based associations, plus a couple of individuals who have made their mark in the past year moving the industry forward, in the unrelenting effort to create a nationally regulated and prohibition-free industry that competes under the same rules and guidelines that other similar industries enjoy.

CBE Press vetted over 250 women this year to compile the 2017 list and, as is the case with any CBE list, we erred on the side of ranking list members based on a variety of factors. But at the end of the day, performance in the form of running a business and achieving solid revenue generation and growth (like expanding footprints domestically and abroad) were overriding factors deciding placement.

This list included women from the following categories:

Producer, Processor or Retailer:38
Ancillary Business:29
Advocacy or Association:6

Similar to the 2017 CBE Ancillary Business 150, we experienced a few non-transparent individuals that didn’t want to be included. But as always, we use all the information available to us publicly or through direct conversations, or information exchanges with candidates, to do our best to include, in our opinion, the most deserving candidates.

And as usual, I am sure we missed some folks along the way. We aren’t perfect, and we encourage any and all to let us know who we might have missed so we can include them in the consideration set for future rankings.

This year’s list has been expanded from the 2016 CBE Most Important Women’s list to a total of 75 to make room for other go-getters that are great examples for aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs to emulate. We were very impressed with the listed’s business pedigrees, and included that as part of our consideration criteria, as well as more and more professional managers continues to make dramatic inroads in the industry.

I would be remiss not mention that all that we are seeing occur in the cannabis industry wouldn’t be possible if not for the efforts made by the hundreds of activists and advocates for a prohibition-free industry, and we salute all of the men and women who have tirelessly worked to make this industry possible.

That said, CBE is a business publication and our goal has always been to recognize business performance – the ultimate criteria in measuring success and failure – regardless of the impediments that have to be dealt with by all members of the cannabis community on a daily basis even after prohibition eventually ends.

As was the case last year, this year CBE decided to share the top spot on the list between two exceptional women that I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the past several years – Patricia Rosi,  CEO of Wellness Connection of Maine and Nancy Whiteman, co-founder/owner of Wana Brands.

These two women share several characteristics that CBE admires and believes are imperative not only in this industry but for success anywhere:

  • They both came to the cannabis industry with successful track records and extensive experience in other industries.
  • They both are transparent, direct and incredibly focused on the task at hand, and don’t shy away from getting their hands dirty and doing the work necessary.
  • They incorporate what they learn into their best practices.
  • They lead by example, are motivated by a pursuit of excellence and share the joy in what they do with all around.
  • They contribute to the industry and give back to their communities through action.

And.. they are just good solid human beings that I am proud to call my friends.

That said, I would like to recognize Patricia and Nancy as the 2017 CBE Most Important Women in cannabis.  And yes, I am biased – these two exceptional women have taken the time to share their successes and challenges with me over the last several years, and selflessly with CBE’s readers and their peers.

Please take the time to review the bios of each and every woman on this year’s list, and join CBE in celebrating all that these women have done to help advance the world’s next great industry.


2018 RankingName and ImageJob TitleCompanyLocationCategory
1Patricia RosiCEOWellness Connection of MainePortland, MEPPR
Patricia Rosi is CEO of the Wellness Connection of Maine, the state’s largest group of medical marijuana dispensaries. Wellness Connection operates four state-licensed dispensaries and one growing facility. Motivated by a newfound commitment to make a positive difference in the lives of others, Rosi joined the board of directors of the Wellness Connection. From there, she advanced to VP of Marketing, then to chief operating officer, and finally to her current position as CEO. As the largest medical marijuana dispensary group in Maine, Wellness Connection is currently serving over 10,000 qualified patients a year.
1Nancy WhitemanCo-Founder & Co-OwnerWana BrandsDenver, COPPR
Heralded as “The Queen of Legal Weed” by Inc. Magazine (May 2017), Nancy Whiteman is co-founder and co-owner of Wana Brands, which produces Wana Edibles, Wana Extracts, and Wana Medicinals. Nancy founded Wana Brands in 2010, and now Wana Brands is ranked the No. 1 edibles producer in sales revenues in the highly competitive Colorado market according to BDS Analytics. Nancy directs the development of partnerships and licensing agreements domestically and internationally. She also leads the company’s strategic vision, and has been instrumental in Wana Brands’ growth into new and emerging markets. Prior to founding Wana, Nancy was a principal with The Whiteman Group, a sales and marketing consultancy, and previously held a range of senior level marketing and business development positions including Vice President, Marketing and New Corporate Ventures for the Paul Revere Insurance Group in Massachusetts. Nancy holds a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University and an MBA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is on the Board of the Cannabis Business Alliance (CBA), and is a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association, and Colorado Leads, which promotes an environment of sensible regulation that creates certainty and sustainability for all companies that have benefited from legalization of medical and adult use marijuana. In addition to being available in nearly 85 percent of Oregon’s dispensaries, the company is also in two-thirds of Nevada dispensaries, and has partnerships in Arizona and Illinois that will bring its products to those states in 2017. Additionally, Wana Brands will launch in 2018 in Maryland and Florida, and is in discussion with potential partners in discussion with potential partners in California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and internationally in Canada.
3Beth StavaloFounder & CEO of Stavola Medical Marijuana Holdings, Health for Life Inc., President of CGXHealth for LifeMesa, AZPPR
Ms. Stavola is the founder of Stavola Medical Marijuana Holdings, Health for Life Inc., GreenMart of Nevada, GreenMart of Maryland, Elemental Health Group of Pennsylvania, and CBD For Life. She has been the driving force behind the development of these thriving cannabis businesses into profitable, strong brands. Prior to her successful career in the cannabis industry, Ms. Stavola was a senior Wall Street executive, where she spent most of her career at Jefferies and Company, most recently as Senior Vice President, Institutional Equity Sales. Earlier this year, The Canadian Bioceutical Corporation (CSE: BCC, OTC PINK:CBICF) appointed Stavola as President of the Company’s wholly owned subsidiary, CGX. In her new role, Ms. Stavola will be responsible for the operation of the Arizona business, as well as the Company’s other U.S. operations.
4Kirsten GillibrandUS SenatorNew YorkNew York, NYRegulator
In March, 2015, Gillibrand co-sponsored The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act (CARERS) which seeks significant reforms in marijuana policy in the U.S., according to the Brookings Institution. In June, 2017, Gillibrand (D-NY) – along with Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Al Franken (D-MN), and Mike Lee (R-UT) – reintroduced the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act, a bipartisan bill that would allow Americans to access medical marijuana in states where it is legal without fear of federal prosecution. The bill would also permit doctors with the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical marijuana to veterans to treat serious injuries and chronic conditions. When the CARERS Act was originally introduced in the last session of Congress, it was the first medical marijuana bill ever to be introduced into the U.S. Senate.
5Sally Van Der VeerPresident & Co-OwnerMedicine ManDenver, COPPR
Sally Vander Veer, president and co-owner of Colorado’s Medicine Man, runs the day-to-day operations of the 40,000 square foot cultivation facility, four dispensaries and 90 employees. Under her leadership, Medicine Man continues to expand their retail footprint by adopting mainstream retail strategies to expand both customer experience, customer base, and profit. Vander Veer holds degrees in chemistry and business, and spent over 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry working for Parke-Davis and Pfizer, first as a research and development chemist and later in sales and clinical trial development prior to entering the marijuana industry.
6Brooke GehringCo-Founder, Chairwoman, & CEOFGS Inc.Denver, COPPR
Brooke Gehring founded Live Green Consulting in Denver, Colorado and first became involved in the medical marijuana industry in 2009. She is co-founder, chairwoman and chief executive officer of FGS Inc., Patients Choice of Colorado and Live Green Cannabis, an industry leading state legal medical and recreational marijuana company holding 26 state and local licenses that operates across four locations in the front range of Colorado, and two large-scale cultivation operations that employ upward of 75 state licensed employees. She serves on the executive board of the Marijuana Industry Group (MIG), which is the largest and oldest industry trade organization in Colorado. She is a sustaining member of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), and board member of the Cultivation 2017 conference. She is also on the Cannabis Dispensary Times Editorial Board. Gehring is a founding board member of the Council for Responsible Cannabis Regulation (CRCR), and a funding founder of Women Grow. Gehring also consults in three of the country’s extraction-only markets in Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania. Gehring most recently served on the Colorado State Licensing Authority’s A64 Working Groups several times as member and stakeholder for the Production Management, Licensing, Licensed Premises, Transportation and Storage, Taxation, Testing and Random Sampling discussions, along with the Senate Bill 40 work group. Gehring is actively involved in promoting the public policy for Amendment 20 and 64, 280E tax reform, and banking solutions that will continue to help shape the future of this industry.
7Rosa CazaresCEOLaMota FarmsPortland, ORPPR
Rosa Cazares is the CEO of La Mota, one of Oregon’s largest dispensary chains – with fifteen locations so far around Oregon. The company also has a variety of other cannabis businesses and is a force to be reckoned with.
8Kristi Knoblich PalmerCo-Founder & CEOKiva ConfectionsOakland, CAPPR
Kristi Knoblich Palmer is co-founder and chief operating officer of Kiva Confections. Founded in 2010, Kiva’s mission is to produce safe, consistent and delicious edibles. Palmer is the driving force behind Kiva’s customer service philosophy, employee development and best practices in manufacturing, business and marketing. She and her team have successfully grown the company to more than 80 employees, serving over 1,000 stores in California, Arizona, Nevada and Illinois. Palmer also holds a board seat on the CCIA as the northern California vice president, and chairs its manufacturing committee. She is one of the co-founders of the California Cannabis Manufacturing Association.
9AC BraddockCEOEden LabsSeattle, WAAB
AC Braddock is CEO of Eden Labs an innovative organization that designs and builds multiple types of distillation and extraction systems across industries such as nutraceuticals, flavorings, liquor, essential oils, food oils, hops, and many other applications. She is a board member of Pacific Century Holdings, NCIA (National Cannabis Industry Association), the NCIA Federal Policy Council and Washington state’s The Cannabis Alliance. Ms. Braddock is also a founding supporter of three Cannabis Women’s groups, WOW (Women of Weed), The Cannabis Women’s Alliance, and Women Grow.
10Debby GoldsberryExecutive DirectorMagnolia WellnessOakland, CAPPR
Debby Goldsberry has nearly 30 years experience as a leader in the medical and adult use marijuana industry. She is executive director at Magnolia Wellness, an award-winning dispensary in Oakland, California, and is the managing director of the Berkeley Community Care Center dispensary at Amoeba Music. She co-founded the Berkeley Patients Group (BPG) medical cannabis collective in 1999, directing its growth for over 11 years. Goldsberry also owns and operates Emergent Management Consulting, a cannabusiness firm in Oakland. She developed and implemented standard operating procedures for procurement, product safety, patient relations, and business management and operations, which have been replicated by dispensaries around the nation. As a community leader, Goldsberry is active in the campaign to reform the California cannabis laws and to protect patient’s rights. She co-founded and directed Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Medical Cannabis Safety Council (MCSC), and Cannabis Action Network (CAN). She is a former board member at California NORML and of the Marijuana Policy Project, and is a professor at Oaksterdam University, teaching dispensary operations and management. In 2017, Goldsberry published her first book, Idiot’s Guide: Starting and Running a Marijuana Business (Penguin Random House). Goldsberry has been a staff writer at DOPE Magazine and High Times Medical Marijuana Magazine, was a featured blogger at “Smell the Truth” and “Ladybud.” She currently writes for Freedom Leaf and Cannabis Dispensary Magazine.


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