By: Kerry Inserra
Women Grow Leadership Summit, Denver, CO
“Appreciate the bitch. Embrace the bitch. Be the bitch.” Those were just some of the “golden nugs” (cannabis speak for nuggets) Ashley Heddy, of BioTrack THC, shared from the stage at the third annual Women Grow Leadership Summit in Denver, February 1-3. While men surprisingly make up 40 percent of Women Grow’s membership, there is no denying that the Leadership Summit-was for and about-the power of women in cannabis.
Women Grow, founded in Denver in 2014, by serial entrepreneurs Jane West and Jazmin Hupp, was created to connect start-up businesses with thought leaders in the cannabis industry. The 1500 member organization resides in 35 cities across the country and Canada and meets on the first Thursday of every month.
In July 2016, attorney Leah Heise was hired as the new CEO of Women Grow charged with expanding the organization’s mission of educating, connecting and empowering diverse leaders in the cannabis industry. Not even a year on the job, Ms. Heise’s star power continues to rise and could be felt throughout the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver where part of the event took place. Without a doubt, she is a tour de’ force and a major player in the cannabis industry. It seems Ms. West and Ms. Hupp hit a home run in selecting Ms. Heise as the new CEO for their expanding company.
The Women Grow Leadership Summit is one of the largest gatherings of women in cannabis in the country. Day two of the event centered on Lighting Talks-a series of 33, 10-minute back-to-back Ted Talk style presentations. Everything from “Finding Your Red Lipstick: How to Embrace You Femininity While Building An Empire,” to “How to Survive a Lawsuit,” and my personal favorite – “Embracing the Bitch.” Information, connections, and encouragement were plentiful. There were no bitches (in the traditional sense) at this conference, only solidarity and a mutual respect for the green plant they call cannabis.
On the plane ride home I had the not-so-good fortune of getting stuck in the dreaded middle seat. At least my seatmates were kind enough to give me both armrests. Isn’t that an unspoken rule? I sat back, relaxed, closed my eyes and ruminated over all the golden “nugs” I learned at the Women Grow Leadership Summit.
Despite being trapped in the middle seat, I was feeling alive, invigorated and definitely inspired.
Founder and President of Zip2Media, a marketing and advertising agency located in the Bay Area and Orange County.