Advisory Board

Jessica Billingsley

Jessica Billingsley serves as Akerna’s Chief Executive Officer. In June 2019 she became the first CEO of a cannabis ancillary company to be listed on Nasdaq. She co-founded MJ Freeway in 2010, where she served as President until April 2018, and later as the CEO until MJ Freeway was acquired by MTech to form Akerna. In 2015, she was named as one of Fortune’s Most Promising Female Entrepreneurs, in 2018, she was named one of Inc. Magazine’s 100 Female Founders, and in 2019, she was named to Entrepreneur’s inaugural list of 100 Powerful Women.

Prior to MJ Freeway, Jessica earned her degree in Communications and Computer Science from the University of Georgia and later became CEO and founder of Zoco, a technology services firm with clients across the United States. With 20 years of technology and systems experience in rapidly scaling businesses, Jessica is a highly regarded executive in both the tech and cannabis space.

Tyler Beuerlein

Tyler is Safe Harbor Financial’s Chief Strategic Business Development Officer. In that position, Tyler helps guide and enhance the company’s growth through strategic planning, new business development, joint ventures, marketing and M&A. He also spearheads Safe Harbor’s growth initiatives with national cannabis operators and potential M&A partners.

Previously, Tyler was Chief Business Development Officer for Hypur. During his time there, he was responsible for more than a thousand direct cannabis bank account referrals and helped facilitate over $500 million worth of cannabis-related transactions and loans to the state-legal cannabis system.

Tyler possesses an intricate knowledge of the banking and regulatory climate, key industry influencers, industry dynamics and market history. As a result, he has become a key contact for media outlets, analytics companies, industry consultants and investment firms.

Tyler also has served as Chairman of the NCIA Banking and Financial Services Committee, and has been a member of the NCIA Policy Council, the Forbes Business Development Council, and the ATACH Beverage Council.

Before joining the cannabis industry, Tyler founded and managed a large beverage company and was a professional athlete in the New York Mets organization.

Liz Connors

Liz is the Director of Analytics at Headset, a cannabis data intelligence company. At Headset Liz and her team are responsible for everything from creating SKU level, realtime market forecasts of Adult Use cannabis sales across the US and Canada to the creation of dashboards for our Retailer product. In addition, Liz and her team write Industry Reports and run webinars working to increase data literacy across the cannabis space. Instead of sending over just a PDF of numbers and graphs, Liz’s team provides users with cutting edge insights via user friendly dashboards that allow you to get the data you need quickly.

Prior to working for Headset, Liz worked as a Data Scientist in CPG retail and financial services, as well as spent some time in Financial and Economic Consulting. After eight years working as a Data Scientist Liz started her own Data Science consulting business where she advised small businesses on how to use their data to make better product, marketing, and operational decisions. Along with her work at Headset, Liz currently works with researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and London Business School doing experimental research on heuristics and biases that impede business decision makers from optimally using data to drive decisions. Liz has a BS in Accounting and an MBA from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.

Mara Gordon

Mara Gordon is the Co-Founder of Aunt Zelda’s™, Zelda Therapeutics (now Zelira Therapeutics) (stock symbol: ZLD), and Octopi Wellness™. She specializes in the development of data-driven cannabis treatment protocols for seriously ill patients and is dedicated to bringing about change in the healthcare system. Prior to working with cannabinoid-based medicine, Gordon worked as a process engineer, helping Fortune 500 companies create intelligent software. This experience has enabled her to take a detailed and scientific approach to medical cannabis. Gordon has transformed the lives of thousands of patients suffering from a variety of ailments, including chronic pain, autoimmune conditions and multiple forms of cancer. Her pioneering work in the field of medical cannabis has been chronicled in films such as The Medicine in Marijuana, Mary Janes: Women of Weed, and the award-winning documentary Weed the People. Gordon is an outspoken and respected advocate for medical cannabis, reshaping perceptions and leading a healthcare revolution. She has presented at medical and industry conferences around the globe and holds multiple board positions, including North Bay Credit Union where she has been instrumental in helping cannabis businesses and their employees access safe banking.

Jesce Horton

Jesce Horton is an engineer by education, an energy management and automation expert through training, and a horticulturalist by passion. In 2013, soon after moving to Portland, OR, Jesce began growing medical cannabis in his home for two elderly patients who were suffering with cancer, pain and insomnia. After having success in cannabis cultivation, Jesce founded LOWD, a Tier I indoor connoisseur focused cultivation facility in metro Portland. Also, he co-founded the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), the first and largest non-profit organization founded to create equal access and economic empowerment for cannabis businesses, their patients, and the communities most affected by the war on drugs.

Due to his past work in industrial energy efficiency and recent cannabis success, Oregon’s own Governor Kate Brown appointed Jesce to the Task Force for Cannabis Environmental Best Practice. He has continued this work through joining the Board of Directors for the Resource Innovation Institute (RII), an organization that is building the central platform for energy issues and collaboration in the cannabis industry. This year, he was elected Chairman of the Board to help RII develop a market-driven certification standard to propel adoption of energy-efficient grow techniques.

As a result of his hard work and dedication to making positive contributions to the cannabis industry, Jesce has been featured by numerous publications like the Guardian, The Washington Post, Cannabis Business Times, Marijuana Business Magazine and USA Today. Additionally he has served on numerous federal, state and local cannabis regulatory advisory committees that have helped shape the legal cannabis market in Oregon and California.

Jesce sees it as his mission to leverage his resources and experience to make a positive and sustaining impact in the cannabis industry: “Cannabis has the ability to do amazing good in our society, but the industry will never reach its full potential without keeping sustainable business practices, like diversity and environmental efficiency, as core principles of development and growth.”

Last year, with his wife and notable industry executive, Jeannette Ward Horton, Jesce founded an historic initiative initially funded by the City of Portland, the Nu Leaf Project. This new non-profit will deliver grants, educational resources, job matching assistance and entrepreurial services to cannabis business owners and career hopefuls.

In his spare time, Jesce bikes and runs with his dog Buddha and 2 year old son, Tabor, in his beloved hometown of Portland, OR.

Chanda Macias

Chanda Macias,PhD, MBA is the CEO of Ilera Holistic Healthcare, the medical marijuana cultivator and processor for the State of Louisiana. In Louisiana, Dr. Macias focuses on delivering affordable medical marijuana healthcare options. Dr. Macias has spent 15+ years developing her knowledge of medical marijuana to have a positive impact on patient lives. Dr. Macias contributes growth to the market through education on ailment strain alignment, aligning a medical marijuana strain with a specific condition or ailment. Dr. Macias focuses on delivering quality medication to the State of Louisiana and key outcomes through the strategic partnership with Southern University and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. In addition to cultivating and processing medical marijuana, Dr. Macias has worked with thousands of patients that choose medical marijuana as an alternative medicine at the leading medical marijuana dispensary in Washington DC, National Holistic™ Healing Center (NHHC). Under her leadership, NHHC has majority market share in Washington, D.C., significant patient retention, and has increased patient enrollment through her educational platform.

Dr. Macias educates women entrepreneurs and patients through her outreach platform as the Chairwoman of the Board of Managers and CEO for Women Grow. Women Grow is the global leader in connecting, educating, inspiring, and empowering the next generation of women leaders in the Cannabis and Hemp Industry.

Finally, Dr. Macias is the Vice-Chair of the National Cannabis Roundtable (NCR) Board. NCR is dedicated to promoting common sense federal legislation, tax equity, and financial services reform. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Minority Cannabis Business Association focusing on business development for communities adversely impacted by the War on Drugs. In her local market, she proactively engages in legislation, regulations, and compliance with the Department of Health, and is a proud member of Americans for Safe Access, promoting safe and legal access to medical marijuana for research purposes.

Dr. Macias earned a PhD in Cellular Biology from Howard University, and extensively studied cancer including breast cancer, colon cancer, and evolved into developing a model to understand the mechanism of prostate cancer metastasizes to bone. She has a scientific portfolio to support her contribution to biomedical research.

As a Research Scientist, Dr. Macias investigated oral diseases and possible treatment options at Colgate-Palmolive Company, a Fortune 500 Company. She contributed to the launch of several billion-dollar brands. Her innovations have resulted in numerous scientific achievements including publications, compilations, U.S. and Global Patients (World Intellectual Property Organization).

Dr. Macias was the Director of STEM Education in the College of Engineering, Architecture, and Computer Sciences at Howard University, where she was awarded millions in federally funded grants. Through the NIH-Minority Health International Research Training grant, Dr. Macias trained students including MD’s, PhD’s, and advanced undergraduates in biomedical research including infectious diseases in several global communities including Africa to address healthcare disparities.

Dr. Macias earned an MBA from Rutger’s University in Supply Chain Management, and has demonstrated excellence in the design, planning, execution, control, and monitoring of the supply chain in the medical marijuana market. She has created net value, built a competitive infrastructure, leveraged logistics, synchronized supply with demand, and measured performance in the industry. Dr. Macias’ education, experience and skill set have contributed greatly to the medical marijuana industry. She is dedicated to biomedical research, the personal and healthcare industries, and education which is clearly demonstrated.

Jim Makoso

Jim is a Director at Lucid Lab Group and CEO of Flowe Technology. Jim is a business development specialist and serial entrepreneur. Following a successful career in finance based out of New York, he began looking west and invested in several cannabis startups in newly legalized markets back in 2013. Jim has served the past five years as the Vice President of Seattle-based Lucid Lab Group, an internationally respected company operating within the cannabis extraction and processing sector. Jim sits on several advisory boards and is also Vice Chair of the NCIA Scientific Advisory Committee. Recognized by his peers as an extraction and processing technologies specialist he regularly contributes to printed publications in addition to speaking at some of the largest industry events around the country.

Roz McCarthy

Roz McCarthy is the Founder/CEO of Minorities for Medical Marijuana Inc a national nonprofit organization representing the Cannabis and Hemp industry. She is also the CEO/President of The Genesis Group a full-service Cannabis consulting firm and Managing Partner of Plant Life Company a full spectrum Cannabis nutrient company.

Roz displays her radiant energy, passion, and fearlessness as the Founder/CEO of Minorities for Medical Marijuana, Inc. she is responsible for the day to day operations and is the chief strategist involved in developing advocacy, education, and marketing campaigns to promote awareness, information, and education about the efficacy of cannabis and the viability of hemp. It is a varied role that includes planning, marketing, advertising, public relations, event organization, fund development, sponsorship, and research. The work is often challenging and fast-paced. When asked should marijuana be legalized for medical use, without hesitation Roz boldly says yes! “In 1983 my father lost his vision due to glaucoma and in 2005 my mother passed away after a courageous battle against breast cancer. I’m sure if medical marijuana were a viable option then the medicine could have made a difference and improved their quality of life.”

Kristin Nevedal

Kristin Nevedal is the principal consultant at The Nevedal Group, offering cannabis permitting, licensing, and compliance support services to medical and adult-use cannabis businesses. As an appointee under Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr, to California’s Cannabis Advisory Committee (CAC), Kristin serves as chair of the Cultivation Subcommittee and the Laboratory Testing Subcommittee, and as a member of the Microbusiness Subcommittee and the Annual Report Drafting Subcommittee.

Kristin has extensive leadership and entrepreneurial experience in the nonprofit and trade association sector. She is a co-founder and board chair of the International Cannabis Farmers Association, whose mission is to empower traditional Cannabis farmers through education, research, and advocacy. In 2009, she helped co-found America’s first sun grown cannabis farming trade association, the Humboldt Growers Association, and co-founded and served as board chair for the Emerald Growers Association.

Kristin serves as a board member for the California Cannabis Industry Association, where she co-chairs the Agriculture and Manufacturing Committee, and is a member of the Patient Focused Certification Peer Review Board, a project of Americans for Safe Access. She is a co-founder and board secretary for Sun + Earth Certified, where she assisted in the development of standards for beyond organic earth care and cultivation, human empowerment, and community engagement.

With over 20 years of experience farming sustainable sun grown cannabis, Kristin is well-known for her work on the development of appellations of origin for cannabis, and as an advocate of public policies that foster equitable, sustainable, and readily accessible medical and adult-use cannabis programs.

Rod Elliot

Rod Elliot is the senior vice president at Global Public Affairs. Since joining Global’s Toronto office in 2009, Rod has been at the forefront of supporting clients in both disruptive and regulated industries including the health, cannabis and technology sectors.

With more than two decades of experience providing senior-level public affairs counsel, Rod is a proven leader in managing government relations and public affairs activities during periods of transition, disruption and crisis. He began his career in financial services, managing public affairs and government relations during Y2K and through a major Canadian financial services merger.

Rod also spent five years working at Queen’s Park as chief of staff to three ministers, including the government house leader and minister of economic development.
Rod holds a certificate in corporate community involvement from Boston College and a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and political science from Carleton University in Ottawa.

Nancy Whiteman

Heralded as “The Queen of Legal Weed” by Inc. (May 2017) and “The Martha Stewart of Edibles” by Entrepreneur (Jan. 2019), Nancy Whiteman is CEO of Wana Brands, the producer of top-selling cannabis infused products featuring a portfolio of diverse forms including edibles, vapes and extended-release capsules, four different CBD/THC ratios as well as a variety of different dosages, onset times and duration of effects. The portfolio is designed so products can be used singly or in combination to address specific health, wellness and recreational needs.

Wana Brands is ranked the No. 1 edibles brand in sales revenues in the United States, according to the BDSA 2019 Brand Share Report. Nancy leads the company’s strategic vision and has been instrumental in Wana Brands’ growth into new and emerging markets. She also directs the development of partnerships and licensing agreements domestically and internationally. Nancy founded Wana Wellness Hemp Herbal Supplements leveraging her expertise in cannabinoid innovation and product development.

Nancy serves on Marijuana Business Daily’s Advisory Board and the Benzinga Cannabis Advisory Board. She was recognized as one of Green Entrepreneur’s 35 Most Influential Women in Cannabis (May 2020) and named MJBizDaily’s first-ever Industry Impact Award Winner (December 2019). She was one of six women included in High Times 100 (March 2019) and was listed as No. 3 in Cannabis Business Executive’s 2019 Power Women in Cannabis (May 2019). She is a member of the Colorado Cannabis Manufacturers Association, National Cannabis Industry Association, Cannabis Trade Federation and Marijuana Policy Project.

Prior to 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.