Standing Committee for Social Equity
The National Hemp Association Standing Committee for Social Equity is passionate about capturing the state of cultural diversity, social equity, and inclusion in our nation and creating a conversation of social equity and justice through advocacy and educational programs. The members of this committee represent people of color of many ethnicities, immigrant backgrounds, and genders; African Americans, Native Americans, Latin Americans, first-generation Americans, Asian Americans, and Women members bring vast experience in the hemp industry, business sector and law industry. As diverse and bold as the hemp plant is, this committee will capture and embody the plant’s symbolism and bring it to fruition.
The mission to extend supportive education opportunities to communities missing generational inclusion begins with supporting existing inclusion visionaries, new business owners, leaders and experienced consultants to improve the social, economic, and environmental well-being of our communities by fostering education into the 50,000+ products hemp can produce. This committee desires to create a hub for knowledge, social equity validation, and a national movement for business owners to have access to experts and workers from underrepresented groups through health, education, and inclusion.
Our goal is to leverage the hemp industry to provide opportunity in everything from farming, handling, manufacturing, and in the emerging high tech sector to heal the planet, create the future, and make sure no one is left behind.
Scientist, activist, entrepreneur, and Pre-ICO license holder Calvin Frye has 14 years of experience as a dispensary owner and Medical Marijuana (MMJ) industry consultant. Mr. Frye was recently awarded, as part-owner, one of the highly sought-after West Hollywood edible consumption lounge licenses. Mr. Frye has held several key positions in the Biotech industry for major companies like Xoma, Amgen, and Baxter Biosciences, advancing his career from Research Associate to Associate Scientist. Mr. Frye has more than a decade of experience in the cannabis industry, working alongside some of the founders of the MMJ industry (Dennis Peron and Richard Eastman) as well as many of the industry pioneering groups in Los Angeles (Americans For Safe Access and Norml).
Mr. Frye has one of the oldest Pre-ICO licenses in Los Angeles and is one of the first dispensary owners in the entire country. He has been pivotal in the progression of the cannabis movement throughout the United States. As an activist, Mr. Frye travels all over the United States to help shape and pass current MMJ legislation. He has appeared in numerous documentaries and television shows and has been featured in many magazines as one of the premier voices in cannabis. Nationally, Mr. Frye has been the featured speaker at many conferences including the World Congress Cannabis Expo, Blunt Talks, and in the months ahead, MJ Biz. Mr. Frye has first-hand knowledge of the regulatory issues affecting the cannabis industry through his extensive work with local LA government bodies and agencies. Currently, he is participating in the sponsored mentorship program that oversees and teaches social equity program owners how to operate and run a successful dispensary for the City of Los Angeles. Mr. Frye has also branded his line of cannabis genetics and trademarked the name “Cloneville” which he has attached to his genetics. In 2009, Mr. Frye consulted in the hydroponics industry where he gained extensive knowledge in the actual growing, set up, and production of cannabis. Mr. Frye also owns Frye Consulting and Management Group, a full-service firm that provides consulting services from startup to full-scale production, including regulatory expertise. Mr. Frye earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Iowa (Big Ten Conference) in Science Education. He also attended graduate college with an emphasis in General Science.
Leo Bridgewater Sr. was born and raised in Trenton NJ. He attended Trenton Central High School graduating in 1994. In 2001 Leo enlisted into the United States Army in response to the September 11 attacks in New York City and Washington DC. Leo spent 5 years as a Telecommunications specialist with multiple deployments to Iraq. Leo separated from the Army in 2006 and spent 2 ½ years working for the Dept. of the Army at the Pentagon in Washington DC. As a Department of Defense Contractor serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Leo has worked for companies like L-3 Communications, ITT systems, and Excellis.
Having had 3 battle buddies attempt suicide and 2 being successful. The number of Veteran suicides per day (22) is an issue Leo finds to be totally unacceptable. Leo’s advocacy has seen him testify in NJ Senate Committee to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) added to the NJ Medical Marijuana Program. In September of 2016 NJ Gov. Chris Christie signed bill S-2345 adding PTSD to the NJMMP. Leo currently serves as Chief Innovation Officer CWCBEducation, National Director of Veterans Outreach M4MM Advisory Board Member for Cannabis World Conference Business Expo (CWCBE), and advisory board member for MPX NJ. Leo is Co-Founder of Cannagather NJ and Leaf Lauch Holdings. Leo has partnered with organizations like Minorities for Medical Marijuana, Coalition Medical Marijuana New Jersey, Women Grow, Drug Policy Alliance, The Americans Civil Liberties Union, Cannabis Cultural Association, and the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association, and NJ Cannabusiness Association. Leo has testified in NJ Senate Committee for bill S3195 The Taxation and regulation of cannabis for adult use. Signaling his evolution as Advocate/Entrepreneur to the Cannabis Industry in NJ. Leo hopes to be a vessel by which the industry works through in the state of New Jersey. Leo is married to Dr LaShona Bridgewater PhD and has two children: Leo Jr 14 and Langston 4.
Richard is a member/attorney at Weaver Johnston Nelson, PLLC serving exclusively in the healthcare and cannabis industries. His practice is focused on corporate transactions, healthcare and cannabis regulations, administrative appeals, and compliance matters. Richard developed a cannabis regulatory and corporate practice starting in late 2013. He formerly served as outside general counsel for the Texas Cannabis Industry Association, served on the National Cannabis Industry Association’s FDA coalition, and currently serves as an advisory board member to a hemp biopharmaceutical development company.
Richard represents and regularly advises a broad base of cannabis-related clients, including, physicians, private equity groups investing in the cannabis industry, cultivators, processors, wholesalers, retailers, distribution centers, reverse distributors, and ancillary providers (e.g. testing labs, biomass brokerage firms, MLM companies etc.) in regulatory and corporate matters. In addition, he also represents post-acute care providers (e.g. skilled nursing facilities, assisted living, hospices, home health agencies, rehabilitation providers), physician groups, management service organizations (MSOs), dental service organizations (DSOs), community hospitals, retail medicine providers (e.g. free-standing ERs), ancillary providers (e.g. pharmacies, labs, DME), digital health companies, behavioral health, chiropractors, and veterinary practices, private equity groups and investors in the healthcare industry.
Ms. Coleman has extensive knowledge of operations, company culture, and employee engagement. Her expertise includes program implementations in key
corporate areas such as supply chain, global diversity and inclusion, and talent management strategies designed to build “employer of choice” organizations.
Before launching Pure Genesis (PG), LLC, Ms. Coleman began her agile career successfully serving in diverse leadership positions with Kraft General Foods, Campbell Soup, and Vlasic Foods International. Next, Ms. Coleman successfully transitioned into retail leadership with the Home Depot, Target, and CVS Pharmacy where she led significant market teams to drive business excellence as it relates to sales,supply-chain optimization, customer service, pharmacy operations as well as Brand standards while leading with a team-first mentality. Today Ms. Coleman is a multi-state operator, educator, and consultant within the cannabis industry with an extensive list of community first business initiatives that PG is excited to move forward.
A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ms. Coleman was the first African American female to graduate from the school of Industrial Engineering at West Virginia University. She earned her Masters in Business Administration from Saint Joseph’s University and Executive Education certifications in supply chain management and product development from The Harvard Business School.
For Ms. Coleman, service is a focus in all she does. She has served as a Board of Trustee for Lourdes Medical System and as an Advisory Board member for Saint Joseph’s University Executive MBA program. Today, Ms. Coleman continues to direct her efforts towards serving as a board member for the African American Chamber of Commerce for New Jersey, as a member of the Governor’s Council for adult-use legalization, and as a board member for the New Jersey Hemp Policy Committee. Ms. Coleman also supports her alma mater, West Virginia University by mentoring students and sharing her professional life experience through campus-focused speaking engagements in hopes that by sharing her story she will encourage those aspiring young leaders to excel in their career paths.
With an innate desire to stay connected, influence, and mentor within her local community, Ms. Coleman has had the opportunity to do so through several organizations such as The NAACP, The Network of Executive Women, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, The National Black MBA Association, The National Hemp Association, Women Grow, Minorities for Medical Marijuana as well as, NORML, Jack & Jill of America, Inc. and The Girl Friends Inc.
Ada has successfully acquired hemp licenses for processing, research, handling, brokering and collaborated on zoning industrial processing facilities correctly. She has experience with office management, laboratory work, facilities intake, online scheduling, logistics, lab equipment operation, training, and has a background in environmental studies. Currently, she is focusing on team management and training in office operations for clients.
Ada is a first-generation Guatemalan-American with Spanish as her primary language, she assists in all endeavors with Latinx clients looking to understand their regulations or how to apply a business model to them as well as with general translation.
Clayton has over a dozen years of working experience with lawyers, engineers, biochemical engineers, investors, financiers, banks, and companies for Cannabinoid and Terpene formulations. His skills and history working in distillery businesses have ideally positioned him to work with the largest molecular extraction companies in the world related to the newly expanded worldwide hemp market.
Clayton has started multiple scaled pilot facilities for Industrial Hemp CBD Oil and Isolate extraction as well as THC extraction facilities in Oregon and Washington. Clayton has a diverse background being Squaxin Island Tribe and born in La Conner Washington before traveling to business hubs across the U.S. in his formative years.
Elise N Clote was born and raised in St. Louis, MO, and has always had a head for business and a heart for agriculture. During her time as a Razorback at the University of Arkansas studying Agribusiness Management and Marketing, Elise interned with Southern Risk Management Education Center (SRMEC) and The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI). Her focus at IFAI was the Native American Youth in Agriculture Summit, held each summer on the U of A campus. Elise has always focused on working with small local farmers and building awareness of sustainable agricultural practices. She was the Event Manager at the Fayetteville Farmers Market and the Produce Assistant Manager at Ozark Natural Foods Coop. She had the honor of buying, marketing, and selling local farmers’ produce and goods from over 80 suppliers who resided within a 100-mile radius of the Coop. But the career direction changed from produce to hemp when she began using hemp-derived CBD oil to relieve debilitating migraines.
After this discovery, Elise uprooted her life for a job in Winchester, KY working for a vertically integrated CBD manufacturing company. This startup company offered the prospect to wear many hats that utilized her many skill sets. This opportunity allowed for an educational experience in hemp processing and was a great introduction to the hemp industry. Her excitement for the future of industrial hemp fiber pushed her to leave Kentucky and start her own business, Emerald Bison LLC, with her partner Thomas Bisbee. The team began working with clients to provide educational resources, tools and consultation to underrepresented peoples in the emerging hemp industry. The vision and mission of Emerald Bison LLC aligned with similar goals of Hempstead Project HEART and resulted in Marcus Grignon inviting Elise to be a part of the HPH team as Director of Operations. Elise now resides on the National Hemp Association Standing Committee for Social Equity and previously was the Secretary for the US Hemp Building Association
Erica has been the Executive Director of NHA since 2017. She is also the ED of the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council and serves on the leadership team of the PA Hemp Steering Committee, which is the official advisory council of the PA Dept. of Agriculture.
Erica believes that of the many initiatives of NHA, this is by far the most important. We live in challenging times and we need to make sure that all voices and people have every opportunity to participate in establishing and building the hemp industry, here in the U.S. and around the globe.
As a former educator and current Assistant Director who has worked in schools that served families in urban areas with socio-economic hardships, Anna believes in social equity, equality, and justice due to her professional career and personal experience for the underrepresented demographic. As a first-generation Laotian-American, she faced some adversity growing up due to American culture misunderstandings and ethnic discrimination. The hardships of growing up as a first-generation American from parents who were refugees during the Vietnam war, lead her to become empathetic, kind, forgiving, and courageous. The traits that made her who she is now, have turned her voice a bit louder to issues that needed to be heard and solved.
With a decade of working and sponsoring organizations in different parts of Africa to countless hours of volunteering for her local community, the Standing Committee for Social Equity is a passion project and mission that she believes the team can accomplish and set inspirations for everyone in the hemp industry.
The Standing Committee for Social Equity blog posts series is an extension of the committee members’ personal perspectives and narratives. Related to diversity and inclusion in the hemp industry, this committee is as versatile and diverse as the plant. Our objective with the blog post series from the SCSE initiative is to bring awareness about social disparities in our industry and how we can celebrate diversity and create opportunities for the BIPOC and underserved community, together.
Social Equity Conscious Business
Proudly display to your customers that you care about diversity and social equity. Participating in the NHA SECB Badging programs proves that your company meets our standards of excellence.
Social Equity Conscious Business (SECB) is an extension of our Social Equity Initiative and mission. If you are a business that encourages and has implemented diversity practices and inclusivity within your company, please read more on how you can receive a Social Equity Conscious Business Badge and become a SECB participant.