Panel sessions & topics
For an overview of the agenda and session times, click here.
Panel #1: Must-haves: Hiring, banking, insurance and security
Experts will discuss the key ingredients to planning a successful cannabis business: Hiring for a culture of compliance, navigating banking and insurance in an industry that can't easily access those services, and planning for security beyond just cameras and alarms.
- Elizabeth Ely, Dutchie
- Dave Myers, Cannaspire
- Cecilia Walsh, NYS Department of Labor
Panel #2: Understanding 'upstream': Cultivators, processors and labs
Let's talk about the beginning of the supply chain: How do you start a growing, processing or lab operation? What does the "upstream" landscape look like today in NY, what are the biggest problems affecting these operations, and how does that bode for the future of the state's cannabis marketplace?
- Shawn Kassner, Kaycha Labs
- Aaron Leentjes, UNIFI Gardens
- Mack Hueber, Beak & Skiff
Panel #3: Where's the help? Free to low-cost resources for cannabis entrepreneurs
Starting a new business can be an expensive undertaking, but there are tons of people and organizations you can approach for free to low-cost help – if you can just find them. Panelists will talk about these opportunities in NY and give expert advice on keeping your startup costs as low as possible.
- Mike Golden, The Higher Calling
- Scheril Murray Powell, The JUSTÜS Foundation
- Katie Neer, Lantern
Listed alphabetically by last name.
When not working, he enjoys improving his photography, cycling and hiking skills and trying to not fall down while skiing with his family.
Originally from a small farm in the historic Leatherstocking region of NY with a focus on organic and sustainable practices Aaron relocated to the Central New York area to pursue both undergraduate and graduate studies in Syracuse. After completing his studies, he felt drawn to return to his agricultural roots and in 2020 was licensed by NYS Dept Ag and Markets to Cultivate Industrial Hemp.
After cultivating craft cannabinoid hemp for two years, UNIFI Cannabis was in the first batch of conditional cultivator licenses issued by the Office of Cannabis management this year and is currently cultivating at their canopy cap.
Prior to joining Cannaspire, Dave had a distinguished 26-year law enforcement career with the Pennsylvania State Police. As a supervisor of the Governor’s Executive Security Detail, Dave managed an elite security team charged with executive protection of the Governor of Pennsylvania and other dignitaries. During his career, Dave participated in the planning and execution of numerous security missions nationally and internationally. Dave has extensive experience and has received highly skilled training in personal and asset protection, security of high-level facilities, protection of sensitive information, crisis management, leadership, and investigations. He also developed and conducted highly sought-after security training to law enforcement professionals from around the country.
Dave is a Certified Protection Professional (CPP®), Board Certified in Security Management by ASIS International. In addition, Dave received certification in Infrastructure Protection through the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and is certified by the American Crime Prevention Institute (ACPI) as a Law Enforcement Security Assessment Specialist. Dave also holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Administration of Justice from the Pennsylvania State University.
Prior to private practice, Katie served as Assistant Secretary for General Government and Financial Services in the New York State Governor’s Office. At the Governor’s office, Katie was a member of the state operations team overseeing policy and operations for six agencies: the Department of Financial Services (DFS); the State Insurance Fund; the Department of State; the Department of Tax and Finance; the Office of General Services; and the Gaming Commission. During her time in the Governor’s Office, Katie was responsible for negotiating and overseeing the implementation of several key policy initiatives, including Paid Family Leave, Ride-Share, and the DFS’s cybersecurity regulations.
Katie also gained in-house experience in the cannabis industry, working as the Director of Government Affairs for a multi-state-operator and Chair of the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association. In those roles, she gained a specialized understanding of the challenges facing cannabis operators in several states, including New York, where policymakers recently enacted legislation to legalize and regulate cannabis for adult-use.
Katie was listed as an attorney on The Best Lawyers in America, “Ones to Watch,” List for Administrative and Regulatory law in 2021. In 2018, she was profiled as an Albany 40 Under 40 Rising Star. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood.
A member of the New York State Bar, she received her J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law, her M.P.A. from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, and her B.A. in political science from SUNY Albany, where she earned the 2009 SUNY Chancellor’s Award of Excellence and played Division I Lacrosse.