Women of Cannabis at Evergreen Market
There is no shortage of strong women of cannabis in leadership roles, and there is no exception at Evergreen Market. We’re a company that’s lucky to have attracted a variety of fierce females ready to change the world. We recently named our first official CEO, Shannon Vetto, who comes from the very corporate world of investments. She has spent her successful career navigating a male dominated space. Since coming on board in 2016 (originally as our chief strategy officer prior to becoming CEO) she has joined the ranks of driven & talented Evergreen Market women including our Operations Manager – Amanda Widell, our Staff Accountant – Gillian West (who just got her MBA!), Data Analyst – Bri Williams, Buyer – Alyssa Blackwell, Visual Merchandiser – Porcia Droubay, Marketing Manager – Nikki Marangon, HR Manager – Joanna Monroe, Bellevue Store Manager – Rachel Draper, and Digital & Media Specialist – Emma Titchenal.
Together these women contribute massively to drive our company forward—but it isn’t every industry that see’s the value in female leadership quite as strongly as cannabis (& specifically Evergreen Market) does.
How does being a woman in the cannabis industry compare to previous industries you’ve worked?
Bri Williams, our Data Analyst who has been with Evergreen Market for about three years now, came from managing an industrial supply warehouse and all its inventory. The environment was a big shift when Bri came to cannabis. “Not only am I paid fairly in comparison to male peers, but I’m not looked down upon or questioned solely for being the wrong gender.”
Quite the opposite, when there is numbers or tech that needs to be tended to Bri is the first person that is likely to be called. Additionally, as our data guru, she has a heavy hand in helping set the direction we go in based on what has worked according to the numbers. “People may not see gender discrimination in the workplace, but they haven’t been a woman working in a male dominated industry being paid less money and respect than any man around them.”
Bri’s experience in her previous work life isn’t isolated. Our HR manager, Joanna Monroe, who jokingly calls herself a “recovering corporate executive” due to her 25 years of legal & business experience focused on giving second chances to those who were looking to work said that she’s noticed the embrace of female leadership and success in the workplace since joining the cannabis industry 2 years ago. “In particular, we are deeply blessed with Arne, Jeff and Eric who are invested in the success of women in this company. I have also noticed the strong support of women by women.” The support continues outside of the office for Joanna as well. She shared that “I have become more popular among my girlfriends who enjoy the treats I bring to our get together.”
From Investments to Indicas and joining the women of cannabis
Shannon and her extensive experience in the cannabis industry including cannabis private equity, medical marijuana legalization in Asia, cannabis banking compliance, retail cannabis, and grow ops financing strategies, has seen the timeline of the industry evolve and change. When asked if she noticed any difference between how the cannabis industry treats women in comparison to other industries she’s been in, her response was reflective.
“I think initially (early part of legalization) women were willing to take risks to work and normalize cannabis. As a result, you saw a lot of women in the industry and many of them leading their own companies, more so than other industries.”
Shannon explained further, “When Wall Street started to get interested, you saw the dominance of consolidation and the emergence of larger companies and the cannabis industry started to shift towards a more standard allocation of gender. That said, I see a lot of women focused interest groups within our industry and a lot of innovation being applied for assuring focused career paths within. This industry seems to reward those who embrace the cannabis culture regardless of gender and with focus and innovation, this industry is small and “community minded” and will assure equity across all that we do, women as well. I am personally committed to assuring women and men partner to embrace strong levels of gender diversity throughout the industry!”
Outside of the Office
Of course, just like any other human life isn’t all about work. Outside of the office Shannon is kept busy with a husband of 22 years, two girls who provide her much happiness, as well as a healthy appreciation for cooking, gardening, and getting outdoors. (Very Washington of you, Shan!) Initially her family were a bit surprised at Shannon’s switch to the cannabis industry given the stigma around weed but have since become proud and full of questions around industry developments. “It makes for a much more integrated work/family life!” When asked what impact cannabis has had on her life Shannon shared that “it has opened my mind to many new and different experiences and brought about much deeper meaning in my job and the people I work with.”
How Cannabis Found Us
Bri had a little bit different of a path to cannabis, one that is a little closer to what I and many others experienced. “I’m from Pennsylvania and I got into cannabis like a lot of people, I had friends who wanted to share the love and one day I was feeling adventurous so I tried it, out of a dented tin can with mids and all.” Once legalization was pioneered by Washington and Colorado Bri knew where she belonged. “It was a frowned-upon subject in PA, but I fell in love with cannabis and there was no going back.”
Later on in life cannabis became even more of a saving grace when she became chronically ill with ulcerative colitis and arthritis. “Doctors wanted to put me on a lot of medicines, but cannabis helped curb so many of the symptoms that I didn’t need to go on most of the prescriptions. To this day I use cannabis for symptoms and still haven’t pushed towards pain medication.” Bri’s father has started to learn the medical benefits of cannabis in lieu of harmful medications as well. In addition to weed, Bri finds happiness in her 2 kitties, movies, music, and her vast library of fire memes.
Long before meeting her husband (of 23 years) and having her two fantastic sons, Joanna grew up in L.A., in a house full of women who loved to get high. “My mom had a few small plants in the back yard, but had to mostly rely on dealers, which always made me uncomfortable. When she became ill and moved up to Washington to be closer to us, pot provided her with a healthy alternative to other pain medicines.”
Joanna’s career change to the cannabis industry holds a special place thanks to her memories of cannabis in the house growing up, “Unfortunately, my mom passed away before legalization and I regret she never had the chance to shop openly in stores like ours. My memory of my mom will forever be tied to the pungent smell of pot, and I can vividly recall the grace of her fingers rolling the perfect joint. Walking into our stores brings me closer to her memory and all of the great times we had when I was growing up.”
When asked what would she be doing if not in cannabis, Joanna simply responded, “I am exactly where I want to be.”
Love Note to 502
Anybody who spends time with the humans in this community see the connection that this plant facilitates between people. It’s no surprise to find a deep sense of sisterhood within cannabis. It’s part of the magic and doesn’t let go. I don’t think anybody is surprised at the female-friendliness of the cannabis space. Bri’s sentiment is shared far and wide across 502, “Cannabis saved my soul. I can wake up every day and be happy to go to work because I’m helping promote a product that means so much to my, and many others, health and happiness.“
Written by: Nikki Marangon
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