Cannabis Forum Past Speakers
Cannabis Forum Summer 2020 speakers will be announced closer to the event. Check back for updates!
Co-Founder & CEO, Evo Hemp
Ari Sherman and Jourdan Samel are Sales & Marketing executives in the natural products industry. Ari and Jourdan Co-Founded Hemp Health, and natural foods brand Evo Hemp, to facilitate the evolution of the United States family farm. By establishing a supply chain of U.S. grown hemp, they’re working to revive the country’s agricultural system. The Evo Hemp brand was created to bring innovative hemp based consumer products to the U.S. market. Evo’s product line consists of organic energy bars, hemp protein powder, hemp hearts, hempseed oil, and hemp extracts. Their products can now be found in over 3,000 retail stores nationwide. In 2017, Ari and Jourdan were recognized by Forbes magazine as a 30 under 30 member in the Food and Drink category. Their mission is focused on reviving rural communities out of poverty through industrial farming. Recently, they announced their partnership with Alex White Plume, a U.S. army veteran of the Lakota Tribe. This partnership will highlight how hemp can be used as a tool for economic growth and prosperity in rural areas.
Co-founder & President, Think BIG
Willie Mack is a brand marketing executive, creative director, and photographer with over 20 years of experience in creative and executive leadership in New York City and Los Angeles. He has led teams to execute award-winning marketing campaigns for clients that include Absolut Vodka, Estée Lauder, GQ, Microsoft, Montblanc, Persol, Ray-Ban, TED, the Obama Administration, Vanity Fair, and Wired Magazine. He is also a co-founder of Think BIG, where he serves as the company’s president and leads its executive management and strategic vision. He became involved with the company when CJ Wallace, founder of Think BIG, was his client at Flint Studio. Willie was drawn to the company because he shares CJ’s vision of removing the stigma associated with cannabis use, both for healing and to stimulate creativity. Willie has used cannabis to inspire his creativity for most of his adult life. He credits it with driving his photography and his work on creative campaigns for global brands. Before starting Think BIG, Willie most recently served as Chief Marketing Officer for Starling Brands, Inc. and Jayden’s Juice, a CBD-rich cannabis strain thousands of people worldwide have used to treat symptoms associated with severe epilepsy, anxiety, autism, pain, and cancer in addition to using it for general health and wellness. In 2015, prior to his work with Starling Brands, Willie founded Flint Studio, an LA-based cannabis branding studio. In 2011, he founded Bleecker SP, a boutique creative studio based in LA and NYC. He also served as Head of Marketing for Bionic Yarn, an eco-textile innovation company that spearheads global ocean plastic pollution campaigns.
Kristi Knoblich Palmer
Co-founder & COO, Kiva Confections
Kristi Knoblich Palmer is cofounder of Kiva Confections, one of the most recognized cannabis companies in California. Kristi is the driving force behind Kiva’s customer service philosophy and has created and applied best practices in sales, distribution and marketing to cannabis operations. Kiva serves the states of CA, AZ, NV, IL, MI and HI with its high-quality edibles, as well as provides category leaders in other verticals through its distribution company, Kiva Sales and Service. Kristi is passionate about creating a healthy regulatory environment for the cannabis industry. She serves as the Board President for CCIA and is a founding Board member of CCMA, two reputable California cannabis trade organizations.
Founder & CEO, Ojai Energetics
Will Kleidon founded Ojai Energetics in 2014. His goal was to provide the purest, healthiest, and most ethically produced cannabidiol (CBD) product on the market… giving people a viable supplement for living the most effective and healthiest life possible. Four years later, the small business is a leader in cutting-edge, science-driven organic nutraceutical and medical food products for achieving optimal physical and spiritual health. Will has collected one of the most interesting executive boards in the world, including famous athletes, doctors, and well-connected members of the entertainment industry. Prior to founding Ojai Energetics, Will coordinated a sustainability summit with 25 organizations and 500 attendees. He went on to study permaculture in Australia, where he apprenticed with one of the world's leading experts, Professor Robyn Francis, at Permaculture College Australia.
Chief Knowledge Officer, New Frontier Data
John Kagia is considered to be one the pioneering thought leaders in the cannabis industry. He has developed market leading forecasts for the growth of the industry, uncovered groundbreaking research into the cannabis consumer, and led the first-of-its-kind analysis of global cannabis demand. Kagia is a sought-after speaker and his presentations have been regarded as some of the most thought provoking and rich updates on key trends shaping the industry. He is widely quoted in countless publications (NYT, WaPo, CNN, Fortune, BBC, ABC) and has played an active role in advising lawmakers and regulators looking to establish and regulate cannabis industries. Leveraging his years of experience managing research studies for industry-leading clients including Accenture, Microsoft, The George Washington University, and the U.S. Department of State, Kagia brings a keen understanding of how market insights enable organizations to plan, grow, compete, and measure performance more effectively. Kagia received his MSc. in Marketing with a Market Research focus from Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School. He concurrently studied Japanese at the university’s School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He received an MA in Management from the University of Durham in the United Kingdom, and his B.A., Joint Honors, in Japanese and Management from the University of Leeds also in the UK.
Founding Partner & COO, Big Rock Partners
Joyce leads operations at Big Rock Partners, a strategic advisory firm serving investors and companies at the intersection of food, hospitality and cannabis. Their portfolio includes PharmaCann, Cannacraft, Phylos, Henry’s Original, Kikoko, Sonoma Hills Farm, Garden Society, Sava, and others. She previously founded a boutique artist management firm, and lead business development, licensing and partner integrations for e-commerce start-ups. A long time craft cannabis cultivator, she co-founded of an Emerald Cup winning operation, and served as Co-Chair for Women Grow, Sonoma. She attended Smith College, and lives with her wife and puppy children in San Francisco.
SVP of Commercial Development, BDS Analytics
Jessica leads the Sales and Consumer Insights Divisions at BDS Analytics, the premiere market research firm serving the global cannabinoid market. Together with her team, she works with brands, retailers, and investors to deliver unmatched insights and analytics. Prior to joining BDS Analytics and the wild world of cannabis data, Jessica Lukas spent over 10 years working with and for top global CPG and beverage alcohol companies.
CEO, Good Tree Holdings, LLC
Rashaan Everett is the CEO of Good Tree Holdings, LLC, a vertically integrated cannabis startup. Good Tree has earned 7 social equity licenses throughout California, including a 25,000 sq ft microbusiness in Downtown Los Angeles. Good Tree's technology arm is a proprietary point of sale and technology ecosystem that’s powered by Salesforce. The technology automates compliance, accounting, and delivery operations; making it easy for equity partners to operate their own world-class delivery and/or retail business. Good Tree’s Growing Talent Incubator trains social equity partners to become a Good Tree franchise owner via a robust curriculum and hands-on learning opportunities. Good Tree Capital, a financing partner of Good Tree, currently has loans outstanding in 8 states and provides funding to select graduates of the Growing Talent Incubator.
Co-Founder, CEO, Chairman, Lighthouse Strategies
Mr. Hayford, initially entered the legal cannabis industry in Oct. 2013 as an investor, which evolved to have Michael oversee the application development, production and submission for Silver State Wellness in June and Las Vegas Releaf in August of 2014. Today Michael serves as CEO and Chairman of Lighthouse Strategies and their (11) subsidiaries and affiliates, inclusive of Las Vegas Releaf and Silver State Wellness, San Diego Releaf Research and Wellness Center, US Coffee & Tea Pod, Cannabiniers, Helm’s Brewing, Co dba Two Roots Brewing, Co and associated companies. Michael is directly responsible for the company’s strategic planning, production innovation, national and global expansion, as well as mergers and acquisitions, to include corporate business development inclusive of joint ventures and like agreements and contracting. Michael Hayford a serial entrepreneur and business development professional who brings 26 years of sales, business development and management experience to Lighthouse. Over the course of his professional career he has held sales, operations, management, and executive management positions for both private and public companies, with annual revenues ranging from $10M to $150M. Hayford’s extensive business development expertise has delivered compounding growth to local, regional and national markets. Hayford has built and lead sales, operations, engineering, construction and project management groups in the capture and execution of multi-million dollar private and government contracts ranging in value from $500k - $50M. As division president Mr. Hayford was responsible for 500+ employees in 10 markets covering CA, NV, TX, BA, PA, NY, NJ, CT, MA and GA.
Partner, DLA Piper
Alva C. Mather is a business lawyer and litigator with more than a decade of experience representing clients ranging from startups to Fortune 50 companies. Her areas of concentration include regulatory counseling, commercial contracting, as well as investigatory and litigation support for clients in the food and beverage, particularly alcoholic beverages, cannabis (hemp) and franchise and distribution industries. Alva combines extensive knowledge of the regulatory and litigation landscape and well as her deep understanding of the food and beverage industry to help clients mitigate risk, respond to challenges and capture opportunities. She represents and provides business counsel, regulatory advice and litigation support to companies along the food and beverage spectrum, among them manufacturers, suppliers, grocery stores and restaurants. Alva is nationally recognized for her support of clients in the alcoholic beverages industry and is frequently asked to write and speak on matters affecting this highly regulated industry.
Ben Larson is CEO of Nanogen, an advanced active ingredient manufacturer in the emerging cannabis and hemp industry. Calling upon his experience as a serial entrepreneur, investor, and startup adviser, he and the Nanogen team accelerate infused products to market by pairing their vast network of partners and extensive regulatory and testing knowledge with their highly effective and scalable water soluble active ingredients. Ben is an early-stage startup investor and adviser who Co-Founded Gateway, California's first cannabis startup accelerator based in Silicon Valley. Additionally, he is a Director and Mentor for the Founder Institute, where he formerly managed global operations and helped grow the program into over 100 cities around the world. He’s active on several boards inside and out of the cannabis industry and travels the world speaking to audiences of various industries while advising early stage companies across many verticals. Ben was recognized in the 40 Under 40 Class of 2018 by the San Francisco Business Times.
Founder, Good Bites Group
Angelica Xavier, founder and creator of GOODBITES, has been called a “Raw Foodie Extraordinaire” and a leading innovator within the raw food movement. After being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis nine years ago, Xavier turned to a predominantly raw food diet after western medicine was not able to adequately treat her ailment. Seeing a significant improvement in her health, she began to perfect raw food recipes and ultimately crafted the complete GOODBITES snack line in her own kitchen. Combining carefully-sourced, nutrient-dense ingredients, GOODBITES is now carried in major markets by Whole Foods, Dean & Deluca, and Thrive Market. During the ongoing success of GOODBITES, Xavier began researching plant-based healing and discovered the benefits of CBD. Not only did she see extraordinary results in her own health, GOODBITES became the first mainstream food company to pivot to CBD-infused products. In 2018, Xavier turned her talents toward new product offerings with both a CBD (hemp-derived) division and an Edibles (cannabis-derived) division. Prior to GOODBITES, Xavier provided consulting services for artists and entrepreneurs for over 15 years, helping their companies reach new levels of success. An entrepreneur herself, this experience naturally transitioned into coaching on health and personal issues. She has organized both group and individualized raw food detox programs which have been used to set many standards for the raw food industry.
Take a Look at How Cannabis Impacts Food and Beverage on June 12th
Three registration options are available, including a stand-alone ticket as well as
add-on tickets for NOSH Live and BevNET Live attendees.