Cannabis Career Watch | New Hires and Promotions April 10, 2020

Charlotte's Web, Gatekeeper, 4Front, NACB, Willow make executive changes; Grenco Science forms partnership; Canopy Growth, Driven Deliveries, Neptune Wellness make changes to board; Inner Spirit enlists new advisor; Acreage, MJBizDaily, Organigram announce workforce reductions.

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Image: mavo / Shutterstock.com

Christopher DeSousa has joined the board of directors at Driven Deliveries. He currently serves as the head of operations for goPuff, a digital convenience retailer providing door-to-door, high-speed delivery.

“We are excited to have Christopher join the Board,” said Christian Schenk, Driven Deliveries chief executive officer and chairman of the board. “His experience in market expansion, as well as his participation in mergers and acquisitions along with supporting large scale capital fundraising, will be instrumental in our next phase of growth.”


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Kevin Kane joined Gatekeeper Innovation as chief executive officer and member of the board of directors. Most recently, Kane served as CEO at Linkd.

“Kevin Kane brings essential experience to Gatekeeper Innovation,” said outgoing Chief Executive Officer Kim Box. “Kevin’s leadership skills are essential for this point in our journey. He has led many technology companies to double digit growth, increasing shareholder value resulting in multiple liquidity events over his 25-year career. Kevin’s experience in the healthcare vertical includes launching a joint venture with an electronic health record (EHR) SaaS offering for a multi-billion healthcare organization, which fits well with our product roadmap as we expand into the digital locking cap space in order to address medication adherence and analytics.”


Canadian retailer Inner Spirit Holdings appointed Manjit Minhas as strategic advisor to its board of directors. Minhas is well known in Canadian business circles due to her role on the CBC series, Dragons’ Den. Her personal accolades include PROFIT Magazine‘s “Top Growth Entrepreneur,” Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs in Canada, Canada’s Top 40 under 40, Chatelaine Magazine‘s “Top Entrepreneurial Women of the Year 2011,” and Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year for the Prairie Region.

“Manjit is a well-recognized business visionary in Canada with a strong track record of building retail brands and expanding their growth opportunities,” said Inner Spirit President and Chief Executive Officer Darren Bondar. “We look forward to her insights on our white labelling and licensing of house-branded cannabis to benefit the Spiritleaf network. She also has knowledge and insights for the distribution of our products which will be very valuable as we look to optimize our product strategy. We anticipate working with her to find ways to manage most effectively during this unprecedented time.”


Grenco Science formed a brand partnership with B Real, former frontman for the band Cypress Hill, rapper for Prophets of Rage, and cannabis entrepreneur behind Dr. Greenthumb’s Dispensaries. Under the terms of the partnership, B Real will be both ambassador and collaborator to G Pen.

“We’ve had a longstanding relationship, and to partner with B Real in an official capacity now is an honor,” said Grenco Science Founder and Chief Executive Officer Chris Folkerts. “B Real has been a cultural force in both music and cannabis, and together with Grenco Science, we are reinventing the cannabis experience for our customers who have come to expect quality and innovation like only Grenco Science can provide.”


Canadian biotech company Willow Biosciences announced changes to its management team with the promotion of Chris Savile to chief operations officer and the departure of Chief Scientific Officer Peter Facchini and Vice President, Applied Science Jill Hagel.

“Chris’s extensive scientific knowledge and proven business acumen will be a valuable addition to our executive leadership team,” said Willow President and Chief Executive Officer Trevor Peters. “Chris has played an integral part in the success Willow has achieved to date. He is the driving force behind our scientific achievements, including developing our state-of-the-art, high throughput strain engineering laboratory in Mountain View, California, and negotiating key partnerships that will advance our business towards commercialization.”


Charlotte’s Web appointed David Panter to the position of chief operating officer. Panter brings more than 20 years of supply chain experience at leading cosmetic, agriculture, pharmaceutical, medical device, and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, including Estée Lauder Company, Luxottica Retail, Campbell Soup Company, and Tyco Healthcare/Covidien.

“David’s proven track record in global supply chain optimization and operational excellence across multiple industries makes him a valuable and timely addition to our top-tier management team,” said Charlotte’s Web Chief Executive Officer Deanie Elsner. “We think he is a natural fit for Charlotte’s Web as we map out our global strategy for international expansion.”


4Front Ventures made several changes to its executive team. Leo Gontmakher, previously chief operating officer, will transition to the position of chief executive officer; former CEO Josh Rosen will transition to executive chairman of the board of directors; former Executive Vice President of Finance Nicolle Dorsey will replace Brad Kotansky as chief financial officer.

“As CEO, it’s been my job to recognize the business needs, including identifying our core capabilities, potential holes, and how they map to the market opportunities available,” said Rosen. “I wholeheartedly believe we have the best team in the industry at efficient, quality indoor cannabis cultivation and low cost finished goods manufacturing. … I am confident that we’re on the correct path. When mixed with the current retrenchment within our industry, now is the time to more fully empower and support Leo and his core team, making us truly an operator-led company at the top, and allowing me to focus on those areas that maximally leverage my strengths.”


The National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB) appointed Mark Gorman as its new executive vice president and chief operating officer. Gorman joins NACB from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), where he served 20 years as senior vice president for government relations overseeing the distilled spirits industry’s legislative, public policy, and advocacy activities at both the federal and state levels.

“We are delighted to have Mark join our team as the leader of our governmental policy and outreach efforts,” said NACB President and Chief Executive Officer Gina Kranwinkel. “Mark’s depth of experience with the challenges faced by highly regulated industries make him an ideal fit with our organization.”


Terry Yanofsky and David Lazzarato will replace John Bell and Peter Stringham on Canopy Growth Corporation’s board of directors. Yanofsky most recently served as senior vice president, general manager for Sephora Canada. Lazzarato has held senior executive positions with Alliance Atlantis Communications, Allstream, Bell Canada, and CAE.

“It is my pleasure to welcome both Terry and David to the board,” said Judy Schmeling, chair of the board of directors at Canopy Growth. “Their leadership and experience in highly competitive industries will be instrumental as we focus the business and evolve into an execution-driven operating company. I also want to thank outgoing board members, Peter Stringham and John Bell, for their contribution and service to the board during times of rapid expansion and growth.”


Joseph Buaron and Michael A. de Geus joined the board of directors at Neptune Wellness Solutions; Dr. Toni Rinow appointed as chief financial officer.

“We are very pleased to welcome two such experienced and accomplished individuals to our board of directors. Joseph’s vast array of technology expertise and Michael’s expansive understanding of government and policy, combined with both of their entrepreneurial expertise will be instrumental as we continue to work towards our vision of becoming a leader in the health and wellness space,” said Neptune Wellness Solutions Chief Executive Officer Michael Cammarata.

“We are excited to have a professional with Toni’s diverse expertise join our team as she brings significant executive business, financial, and technical leadership experience to Neptune,” continued Cammarata. “Toni is an extremely accomplished and adaptable problem solver with international experience growing businesses, executing transformational plans, and building high performance teams. Her experience with private equity sponsors has allowed her to take on diverse leadership roles across industries, applying each of her broad capabilities from executive leadership, maximizing operational and production effectiveness, and applying strong business controls. She will be an invaluable asset.”


MJBizDaily announced a temporary reduction in its workforce. Though the number of downsized employees was not disclosed, the company said those who were let go will continue to receive health insurance coverage for a few months.

“MJBizDaily and the MJBizCon family of events are only successful because of the team we have onboard today and our amazing sponsors, advertisers, and exhibitors,” said MJBizDaily Chief Executive Officer Chris Walsh. “We have been successful over the years by making pragmatic and sometimes difficult decisions, and this is certainly one of those times. By taking these steps we ensure that the company has the right resources to provide the news coverage, market analysis, and high-quality events our industry expects from MJBizDaily and that our staff knows how to deliver. The board of directors and the executive leadership of the company are unified in ensuring the reduction is for the shortest time possible.”


Canadian cannabis producer Organigram Holdings announced the temporary layoff of approximately 45 percent of its workforce, representing nearly 400 employees. Volunteers made up the majority of the layoffs. Lump-sum payments will be paid to the affected employees and the company will continue to offer health and dental coverage

“These are unprecedented and trying times,” said Organigram Chief Executive Officer Greg Engel. “Our priority right now is to make sound strategic decisions that are in the best interests of our people and which will contribute to the long-term sustainability of the company.”


Acreage Holdings announced the resignation of Executive Vice President Steve Hardardt. The company also furloughed 122 employees, temporarily closed facilities in multiple states, and killed two pending acquisitions: Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Rhode Island and Deep Roots Medical in Nevada.

“Although we are facing difficult times, I remain optimistic about the U.S. cannabis industry and Acreage in particular,” said Acreage Chair and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Murphy. “But as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made the very difficult decision to furlough several of our employees and close certain facilities while we navigate through the crisis. Additionally, we withdrew from certain agreements with Deep Roots and Greenleaf as circumstances have materially changed. These bold measures will help to ensure that we emerge from this very challenging situation stronger than ever before.”


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