meet the JUDGES

Ryan is the Co-Founder and CEO of LeafLink. Prior to co-founding LeafLink, Ryan successfully founded and exited two companies, one of which he sold to an NYSE public firm. Ryan brings his experience creating and managing B2B firms and online marketplaces and investing in a highly-regulated space to LeafLink as Chief Executive Officer. LeafLink, the cannabis industry’s standard platform for orders, sales and relationship management, raised $1 Million in angel investments. Since its launch in Colorado in March, more than 325 retailers and brands such as CannaPunch, Dixie Elixirs, Keef Cola, Wana, and Sweet Grass Kitchen have joined the platform. In 2016, Ryan was the first CEO of a cannabis-facing company to be listed on Forbes’ 30 Under 30. 


Jeanne is a Co-Founder of StarVest Partners, a venture capital firm in NYC and long-time tech investor.  She serves on the board of the New York Venture Capital Association; is a member of the Women’s Leadership Board at the Harvard Kennedy School, and is an Athena Entrepreneur Fellow for Barnard College. She also serves as advisor for many women-focused organizations that work to “fund and fuel” women entrepreneurs and is on the Global Board of Trustees of Astia, an organization that funds high-growth female entrepreneurs. 

Forbes cited Sullivan as “one of the women VCs changing the world – grooming the next generation of female entrepreneurs”.  She is passionate about delivering ideas, information, and inspiration to entrepreneurs, and is a fierce advocate for entrepreneurs and changing the prohibition rules in the Cannabis industry.

Niki is a documentary film Director & Producer who specializes in telling stories about emerging cultures for networks including MTV, ESPN, MSNBC and  In 2014 she spent eight months documenting the leading CEO's of the emerging legal cannabis industry for MSNBC's, "Pot Barons of Colorado."   In 2015, Niki pivoted to become a full scale cannapreneur by creating Love and Marij; a website aimed at sparking the upscale cannabis wedding movement.  Love and Marij educates wedding vendors on how to legally and tastefully include cannabis in their current business practices and connects newly engaged couples with cannabis-friendly wedding products and resources.

Jason is dedicated to helping organizations better understand their employees and the communities they serve.  As a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of The Design Gym he’s helped leadership teams from some of the most forward-thinking organizations in the world harness the creativity of their teams to launch new products, drive internal change and standup internal labs programs.  He’s worked with leaders at Capital One, Marriott, Porsche, Etsy and the Dept. of Education among others. 

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Named by Fortune as one of the five Most Powerful Women in the Cannabis Business in April 2016, Tahira previously served as General Manager of Marley Natural, which she was instrumental in helping launch, and Investment Manager at Privateer Holdings. She now focuses on assisting entrepreneurs and early stage venture leaders bring their ideas to life, utilizing her cannabis, startup, and finance experience. Tahira is particularly interested in assisting female leaders further develop in the cannabis industry and increasing diversity throughout organizations.

meet the speakers

Dan is a pioneer of human-centered product design with nearly 40 years of experience. Dan has focused on a variety of industries over the course of his career, including designing product experiences for people with a wide range of health concerns, such as arthritis, vision problems and mental disabilities. He created the Masters of Branding program at SVA and is featured in the documentary “Objectified.”

                       VETA BATES

Veta is a strategist who has consulted for organizations ranging from Disney to Six Flags to cannabis startups. Her expertise is broad, including copywriting, insight-mining and creative direction. She and her business partner created the brand identity of “To Whom It May,” a Los Angeles-based cannabis-infused chocolate company.

                      SALONI SONI

Saloni is a designer who has created high-concept, lasting designs for brand identities, campaigns, products and more, for companies ranging from Mars to MoMA to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. She and her business partner created the brand identity of “To Whom It May,” a Los Angeles-based cannabis-infused chocolate company.