Cannabis Career Watch | New Hires and Promotions January 3, 2020

ManifestSeven, Akerna, Zenabis, Leading Edge Pharms, Aurora, and The Peak Dispensary shake up executive teams; C3 International, Trulieve, Sundial Growers, and SLANG Worldwide make changes to advisory boards; Indo Expo creates new role; CCIA announces 2020 board election results.

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Image: SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock.com

Cannabis platform ManifestSeven (M7) appointed former Xerox executive Hélène Blanchette president of its women-focused retail subsidiary, MyJane. Blanchette replaces outgoing president and co-founder Kim Kovacs.

“Hélène is a known innovator with vast experience translating customer wants into winning business models,” said M7 Chief Executive Officer Sturges Karban. “And with her background in business-to-business marketing, sales, and operations, we are fortunate to have her onboard to drive MyJane’s growth throughout California’s legal cannabis market and through CBD sales nationwide.”


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Ten-time Olympic medalist Gary Hall, Jr. has joined biopharmaceutical company C3 International’s board of advisors where he will focus on healthcare and patient advocacy. Hall is an Olympic Hall of Fame Inductee and was the first recipient of USA Swimming’s Humanitarian Award.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome such an influential medical activist like Gary Hall Jr. onto our Board of Advisors,” said Steele Clarke Smith III, chairman and chief executive officer at C3 International. “Hall will bring his vast expertise to our innovative biopharmaceutical company and we can’t wait to work with him!”


Canadian cultivator Zenabis Global Inc. appointed Kevin Coft as its interim chief executive officer, replacing former CEO Andrew Grieve and has engaged management consulting firm Korn Ferry in its search for a permanent CEO.

“The Board thanks Kevin for taking on the role of chief executive officer on an interim basis,” said Monty Sikka, chairman of the Zenabis board of directors. “Kevin has a track record as a leader in the cannabis industry, with experience as CEO in a previous iteration of the Zenabis business. We will take full advantage of his knowledge of the company and industry, as well as his steady leadership as we continue to mature as a business. In this phase of our growth, we look forward to Kevin’s leadership as we continue our search for a permanent, CPG [consumer packaged goods] and operations-focused CEO.”

Zenabis also announced the appointment of Chief Financial Officer Eric Rasmussen who replaces Mike Smyth upon his retirement.


Compliance technology company Akerna Corp. hired John Fowle to replace terminated Chief Financial Officer Ruth Ann Kraemer. Fowle previously served as CFO at REV360, a SaaS and business services company, and as vice-president and controller at WELLTOK.

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John Fowle

“We are excited to have John on board. His M&A experience, coupled with his proven integration track record, aligns well with our strong performance-oriented culture,” said Akerna Chief Executive Officer Jessica Billingsley. “The depth of his SaaS expertise, strength in metrics and reporting, as well as his impressive reputation for execution and achieving results, makes him the right choice to lead our finance team.”


Indo Expo named government relations consultant and lobbyist Cindy Sovine to the newly created position of hemp program coordinator. In the role, Sovine will focus on the hemp sector, curating workshops and seminars and facilitating political action.

“The hemp industry is booming,” said Indo Expo Chief Executive Officer Chris Olson. “We couldn’t be more privileged to have a respected professional of twenty-two years joining us to lead our brand and events in this vertical nationwide.”


Biotechnology company Leading Edge Pharms, Inc. hired Steve Armstrong to the position of vice president of sales. Armstrong’s previous experience includes time at Heineken and Anheuser-Busch.

“Leading Edge’s effective pain relief solutions have entered the market during a transformational time in the cannabis industry,” said Armstrong. “Our science-based approach sets us apart from other companies developing cannabinoid-based products…I look forward to working with the Leading Edge team to expand our sales operation—and increase the availability of our current and future products.”

“Steve has a solid track record in the cannabis industry, and he brings his talent, energy and experience to his new role with us at an exciting time of growth,” said Leading Edge Chief Executive Officer David Chadwick.


Canadian company Aurora Cannabis Inc. announced the departure of Chief Corporate Officer Cam Battley. His replacement has not yet been announced. Battley joined Aurora in 2016, serving in several positions before assuming the role of COO in 2018.

“Our roots run deep, and Cam has been an integral part of the development, growth, and expansion of Aurora,” said Aurora Chief Executive Officer Terry Booth. “We are grateful for Cam’s leadership and passion over his many years with Aurora. I am sure Cam will be successful as he moves on to tackle Australia.”

With the approval of Australia’s Federal Office of Drug Control, Battley was appointed to MedReleaf Australia’s board in November 2019.


Trulieve Cannabis Corp. added Susan Thronson and Thomas Millner to its board of directors. Thronson formerly served as senior vice president of global marketing for Marriott International, and as a director at Angie’s List and SONIC Drive-In. Milner formerly served as chief executive officer at Cabela’s, president and CEO at Remington Arms, and is currently a director and chair of the audit committee at Best Buy.

“We are extremely pleased to add two seasoned executives with strong retail and hospitality backgrounds—both highly consumer-focused—as advisors to our board of directors,” said Trulieve Chief Executive Officer Kim Rivers. “Tom brings extensive executive leadership skills and Susan has deep marketing expertise, and I expect we will greatly benefit from their global retail experience as we execute on our strategic growth plans as a leading multi-state operator.”


Canada-based Sundial Growers Inc. appointed Bryan Pinney to its board of directors to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Lee Tamkee. Pinney also will serve as chair of the board’s audit committee.

“Bryan has had a remarkable career in finance, audit, and risk, working with some of Canada’s largest corporations. He also brings an extensive resume of board experience,” said Greg Mills, chair of Sundial’s board of directors. “We are very fortunate to welcome Bryan to Sundial’s board. He will no doubt provide valuable expertise as we execute our strategy and drive value for Sundial shareholders.”


The California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA) announced the addition of five new members to its board of directors—Michael Wheeler from Flow Kana, AnnaRae Grabstein from NorCal Cannabis Company, Conrad Gregory from Harborside, Pamela Epstein from Eden Enterprises, Tiffany Devitt from CannaCraft—as well as two re-elected incumbents: Dr. Swetha Kaul and Kimberly Simms.

“With the addition of our new board members, CCIA truly represents every region of California and every sector of the industry,” CCIA said. “The CCIA Board of Directors are the leaders of California’s cannabis industry, and represent our membership with honor, integrity, and determination.

“2020 is going to be a year of challenges as we address tax reform, local access, and enforcement among many other priorities, but with the skillset and expertise of the CCIA board of directors, we are confident that streamlining business operations are in the near future,” the company continued. “We look forward to the leadership and perspective of this new board representing and advocating for the California cannabis industry.”


Oklahoma-based dispensary chain The Peak Dispensary dismissed its former Chief Executive Officer Corbin Wyatt and filed legal action regarding locations with which Wyatt is still associated. Blake Cantrell will assume the role of CEO.

“Looking ahead, The Peak will continue to build on our momentum by supporting and expanding our franchise presence, creating meaningful local relationships, and ensuring we have the resources in place to deliver the value and service that our patients expect and deserve,” said The Peak Dispensary Chief Operating Officer and President Phillip Mazaheri. “At the end of the day, our goal is to enrich the quality of life in our communities. That’s what is most important.”


Cannabis consumer packaged goods company SLANG Worldwide Inc. announced the resignation of Jeremy Heidl from its board of directors. Heidl was a co-founder of Organa Brands and its predecessor, O.penVAPE.

“After a decade working in the regulated cannabis industry, and the successful acquisition and integration of Organa Brands into SLANG, I am happy to announce my retirement,” said Heidl. “I am incredibly proud of the team and culture we’ve built through the years, which continues to this day. I remain fully supportive of the SLANG team and look forward to their continued execution of their strategic vision. The future of SLANG is bright.”

“Jeremy has been a true pioneer and innovator within the legal cannabis industry since its inception,” said SLANG Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board Peter Miller. “We thank him for his contributions over the years and wish him the best.”


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