March is Women’s History Month and The National Hemp Association (NHA) throughout the month is celebrating the women who helped establish the hemp industry and by doing so have made history.

This is the second of three installments which focuses on women advocates and educators. The first edition celebrated women in governments and the final edition will focus on industry business leaders.

 

Throughout history women have played a major role in shaping politics and policy, a major role in changing the world.

Back in the late 30’s women played a very large role in prohibition and the over-all demonization of cannabis and those associated with it. The Pennsylvania Federation of Women’s Clubs claimed responsibility for the introduction and lobbying for pieces of legislation to help eradicate the ‘evil’ marihuana curse. Hemp unfortunately got caught up in the fervor of the times.

No doubt these were well meaning women that truly believed that they were doing the right thing. Hearing all of the propaganda and fear mongering going around at the time it is relatively easy to understand why they felt motivated to unite to ‘protect society’. But right, wrong or indifferent, the inescapable truth is that women have power.

Modern-Day Hemp History Makers

Today we celebrate a few of the many women advocates and educators who have been effectively using their power to right the wrongs of the past and bring hemp back to its former glory. So to all the women out there – no matter what cause you are passionate about – know that you have power. Know that you have a voice. Never let fear or social stigma silence that voice. Never let anyone or anything deter you from making a stand for what you know to be right.

 

NHA is pleased to acknowledge:

Anna Chanthavongseng, Assistant Executive Director, National Hemp Assoiciation

Anna was a former early childhood teacher and assistant director who trained staff and encouraged teachers to implement kinesthetic and nature-based learning to young children. Her love for sustainability and nature brought her to her first hempcrete workshop in Robesonia, PA in the year 2015.

Since learning more about the plant she has been sharing knowledge about the diverse crop through her personal social media pages and with some graphics work. She continues to learn and spread awareness about the plant by attending hemp focused events and promoting businesses and manufacturers in the industry.

Anna is also the co-founder of a new sustainable apparel business, Jasper & Ivy, that focuses on products made with hemp blends. She sees a promising future with hemp in our country and looks forward to working with it.

Alyssa Collins, Ph. D. – Agricultural Research & Extension Center Associate Professor, Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology –  Penn State

Alyssa is one of the first professors and researchers at Penn State to fully embrace hemp and its potential. She has worked tirelessly to  educate farmers with the lessons learned through Penn State’s several years of field trials. She has always been both encouraging and realistic when to comes to the opportunities and challenges confronting the hemp industry and farmers.

She is a member of the PA Department of Agriculture Industrial Hemp Steering Committee, serves on the editorial board of Hemp Grower magazine, and leads the Penn State Extension hemp education and outreach team. Along with PA and national colleagues, she has been participating in hemp production research in Pennsylvania since 2017. She also works with industry leaders, state regulators, and academic colleagues to develop a strong plan of short term and long-term tangible economic opportunities that will compel investment in Industrial Hemp.

Lori Daytner – VP of Program Development, DON Services, Inc.

Lori Daytner hails from New Castle, PA where her grandparents owned a potato farm. Lori began working for DON Services as the VP of Program Development and has spearheaded their DON Processing INC branch with the aim of establishing industrial hemp processing and community development in New Castle, PA.

At it’s core, the DON (Disability Options Network) group of companies are the second largest employer in Lawrence County and are a combination of for and non-profit entities focused on supporting persons with disabilities. DON’s staff is inclusive of individuals with a rainbow of disabilities from physical to cognitive, and is a model for community responsibility and rejuvenation. In their construction and development branch, the DON group of companies have focused on restoring and rebuilding blighted properties with the intention of placing persons with disabilities in these homes at little to no cost to the homeowner.

In 2020, Lori successfully wrote for and received grant funding via the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture for a test acres program focused on training local farmers on growing fiber industrial hemp. Lori also received grant funding for DON Processing to rehabilitate a blighted property in New Castle via the use of fiber industrial hemp building products such as hempcrete, Hempwool and HempWood.

Courtney N. Moran, LL.M., Founding Principal of EARTH Law, LLC and Chief Legislative Strategist for Agricultural Hemp Solutions, LLC

Courtney expertly champions legal policy for sustainable Cannabis hemp agribusiness development. She worked closely with the offices of Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in drafting and negotiating the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, the language included in the 2018 Farm Bill, federally legalizing hemp.

Courtney lobbies for the Oregon Industrial Hemp Farmers Association protecting Oregon hemp agricultural interests. She strategically guided the implementation of hemp programs in South Carolina, Wisconsin, Alaska, and Missouri. She continues to influence hemp policy development in numerous states throughout the U.S. and federally.

Courtney successfully litigated the landmark cases KaB, LLC v USPIS (2018) and RNF, LLC v USPIS, MLB 18-113 (2018) establishing precedent for the shipment of hemp, specifically hemp derived CBD and viable hemp seeds, through the US Postal Service. Courtney is admitted to practice in Oregon, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Lynda Parker – Founding Board Member, National Hemp Association

Acting on her passion and concern for the environment, after 20 years in advertising sales at Dex Media, in 2006 Lynda launched the Colorado Industrial Hemp Initiative. As a citizen advocate, she worked with the Colorado Dept. of Agriculture, Colorado legislature, the Canadian Consulate, Colorado law enforcement, agricultural organizations, Colorado State University and other interested parties for years to educate and involve key people. A pro-hemp Resolution, which she authored, passed in the Colorado legislature in 2010.

Lynda is a founding Board Member of the National Hemp Association, on the board of Pure Hemp Technology and she is an Advisory Board Member of the Nebraska Hemp Association.

Her efforts have made Colorado the epicenter of hemp and served as a model for subsequent states to cultivate hemp. Lynda’s story appears in Doug Fine’s book Hemp Bound: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Next Agricultural Revolution, published in 2014 by Chelsea Green

Jamie Campbell Petty – Executive Director, Midwest Hemp Council

Jamie  built her career as a successful litigation paralegal that continued to evolve over 20 years, while also volunteering in various service roles to support youth, as well as her own military community. Jamie now resides on a small, but ever-expanding farm in rural Indiana, where she and her husband are learning to depend upon smaller living systems. Jamie’s lifelong appreciation for agriculture shows in her countless victories for industrial hemp in Indiana and nationally. Coupled with her desire to serve, Jamie founded the Indiana Hemp Industries Association (INHIA) in 2014 and assembled a strong team of volunteers. INHIA became the recognized leader in education and networking.

In 2018, Jamie teamed with long time hemp advisor, Alan Kimbell and Attorney Justin Swanson to form Midwest Hemp Council. Through tireless effort, Midwest Hemp Council has successfully lobbied for Indiana’s hemp legislation, contributed to regulatory development and continues to support efforts to remove unnecessary barriers for Hoosier farmers.

Jamie has fostered partnerships with Midwest agriculture leaders, while building out the Midwest Hemp Council that interconnects businesses, organizations and community outreach. Midwest Hemp Council continues to educate and communicate, while focusing on building a strong economy in Indiana and beyond. Along with serving as Executive Director for the Midwest Hemp Council, Jamie is a Policy Specialist at Bose Public Affairs Group. She was named “100 People to Know in Hemp” by Hemp Connoisseur Magazine 2018. Jamie currently serves on the Board of Directors for Friends of Hemp and the US Hemp Growers Association.

Erica Stark – Executive Director, National Hemp Association

Erica Stark, a former business management executive, took a leap of faith to leave her job and become a full time advocate of industrial hemp and medicinal cannabis long before it was clear that the tide of popular opinion had turned. She met her husband at approximately the same time, Les Stark, a local historian of Lancaster county, author of “Hempstone Heritage; In Accordance with their Wills”, and executive director of the Keystone Cannabis Coalition.

Together, Erica and Les began lobbying on behalf of industrial hemp at the state government level and quickly realized what a pair of dedicated citizens could achieve in a representative democracy, armed with truth and a truly sustainable, environmentally friendly proposal. They were not your traditional lobbyists; there were no shadow accounts and perks offered for participation, no unnamed wealthy benefactors with boatloads of cash and offshore accounts. Just a pair of dedicated individuals with some knowledge and persistence.

Today, Erica has seen out the success of her early efforts and has transitioned from activist to educator and coordinator when she became the Executive Director of NHA in 2017. Erica is also the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council and serves as the co-chair of the Policy and Regulation Subcommittee of the PA Hemp Steering Committee which is the official advisory council to the PA Dept. of Agriculture. She has years of experience in hemp education and legislative advocacy, including testifying before Congress. The industrial hemp industry has experienced a rebirth, legally, and now it is time to fuel the fires and continue to breathe new life into the fledgling industry, both locally and nationally.

Samantha Walsh  – Vice Chair, Colorado Hemp Association

Samantha Walsh is an expert in public affairs strategies and legislative policy and who started the lobbying effort in Colorado that paved the way for the state to become the premier state in hemp. She worked on every piece of instrumental hemp policy in Colorado starting with historic Senate Bill 13-241, implementing the first legal hemp program back in the United States, to crafting a pro-hemp food policy in Colorado that treated hemp-derived CBD as a food ingredient.

Samantha has worked directly for the Marijuana Policy Project, United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and various hemp and marijuana clients ranging from premier edibles manufacturers, dispensaries and grows to cannabis education and advocacy groups. Samantha consistently serves on several task forces and advisory groups that craft the historic legislation for Colorado’s cannabis laws and regulations.

Ms. Walsh also co-founded the National Hemp Association, where she served as vice-chair and directed communications strategy; managed the organization’s legislative agenda for industrial hemp. She currently sits on several committees for the Colorado Hemp Agricultural Management Plan (CHAMP) and the Colorado Hemp Agricultural Advancement Guild (CHAAG) where she continues to drive policy discussions on hemp in Colorado.