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OUR LEADERSHIP

The CRAV Board is comprised of nine individuals who are retail store owners, licensed growers and licensed manufacturers.

CHAIR

Colleen McQuade M.A.

Colleen McQuade is the owner of Juniper Lane, Bennington’s first retail cannabis dispensary, and currently serves as the President of the board of the Cannabis Retail Association of Vermont. Her love of cannabis and her dedication to community building comes after receiving her master’s degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution led her to work with diverse populations both internationally and locally. A decade ago, she shifted gears to working in the medical cannabis industry using cannabis as a tool to help others heal, managing multiple dispensaries, organizing national community service projects for cannabis industry employees, and educational classes for veterans, doctors, patients, and cannabis industry employees. Since opening Juniper Lane, Colleen has become even more involved in her community serving on the board of the Better Bennington Corporation which works to promote and enhance downtown Bennington, as well as, the VT Saves Advisory Board which is working to make retirement savings available to many more Vermonters.

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VICE-CHAIR

Dusty Kenney

Dusty brings a wealth of experience and a visionary approach to his role as Vice Chair of the Cannabis Retail Association of Vermont (CRAV). With over 15 years of leadership in high-end retail sales at Luxottica, Dusty transitioned to the legacy cannabis market, first as a grower, then as an expert in extraction, creating a line of legacy topical and edible infusions. In June 2022, Dusty founded Cambridge Cannabis Company, assembling a team dedicated to bringing the best cannabis products to the community. Leveraging his expertise in purchasing and negotiation, he has created a thriving retail cannabis market. Dusty's entrepreneurial spirit has also led to the launch of Vermont Heady Labels and Heady Decals, Modern Day Kannabis, and a new line of infused beverages. Additionally, he has been involved in bringing many cannabis products to market. Dusty's dedication to the cannabis industry continues to drive innovation and excellence in every venture he undertakes.

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BOARD MEMBER

Ryan Chaffin

Ryan Chaffin is the Director of Business Development at Upstate Elevator Supply Co, Green State Dispensary and Upstate Elevator Operators. He focuses on growing the brand’s omni-channel business through various categories in the cannabis and hemp industry.

 

Chaffin has experience in consumer behavior and customer relationship management, as well as brand and community development.

 

Before transitioning to the hemp and cannabis industry, Chaffin acquired decades of experience in marketing, brand development, market development, and management within the alcohol industry, and distribution industries.

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BOARD MEMBER

Jesse McFarlin

With a career that began in the impactful realm of social work, focusing on addiction recovery, Jesse transitioned full time to cannabis farming in 2020 leading to the foundation of Old Growth Organics. Having navigated the stark contrasts between the legacy market and the legal landscape, through both family history and personal choice, Jesse possesses a unique perspective on the cannabis industry.

 

Due to her work in the addiction recovery space, as well as holding a Bachelor's degree in Social Work and a 500-hour Yoga certification, Jesse has always been deeply invested in the well-being of individuals and communities alike. This foundation has fostered a commitment to building bridges between diverse groups, a testament to her belief in the power of community. With an innate ability to facilitate communication and uncover common ground among individuals, Jesse embodies the spirit of diplomacy and understanding vital for the evolving cannabis industry.

 

Central to Jesse’s approach to life is a profound respect for family and spirituality. Her approach to cultivation is grounded in sustainability and a harmonious relationship with the land. Her vision of living with the land and within the community, rather than merely existing in these spaces, speaks to a future where cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and retail collaborate communally, fostering meaningful relationships over mere business partnerships. Thus allowing this budding industry to integrate into the fabric of society in a responsible and enriching manner.
 

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BOARD MEMBER

Michael Sims

Michael has over 20 years of experience in the creative fields including marketing, branding, packaging, website design and development, content creation and product formulation.

Since 2017 he has been involved in the cannabis and hemp spaces. His first experience was with a large scale hemp operation in Vermont growing over 150 acres of high CBD and CBG hemp. In addition to selling bulk raw hemp ingredients and smokeble flower, Michael formulated and created over 50 new cannabinoid products under the label METHOD Organics. Michael was among the first in the country to create and distribute CBD retail products into stores. He continued that work with publicly traded company Real Brands Inc from 2020 to 2023. He managed over 10 brands and created 4 new brands and product lines for Real Brands.

In the fall of 2022 Michael co-founded FLŌRA, Vermont's first retail cannabis store and remains the CEO. Since then, he has created many new products and packages that have entered the Vermont market. He continues to discern top tier, premium products to sell through the store, as well as making new and exciting products that don't yet exist. He also performs cannabis consulting and design work through his consulting business MARKANNA Design.

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BOARD MEMBER

Lauren Andrews

Capital Cannabis Company was founded by Lauren Andrews, a registered nurse, clinical aromatherapist, and a graduate of University of Vermont’s Cannabis Science and Medicine Certification Program.

 

Lauren has always been drawn to those struggling with mental illness and served as a charge nurse/nursing supervisor at the Inpatient Psychiatry Unit at Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin, Vermont and at the Vermont State Hospital, roles which clarified her desire to explore and expand complimentary options for addressing both physical and mental dis-ease. The growing body of scientific evidence supporting the use of cannabis inspired Lauren to launch AroMed Essentials in Montpelier, an organic essential oil and Vermont CBD retail and online company in 2013. She felt called to introduce and educate her community about plant-based health options that support a higher quality of life, along with providing affordable, effective, evidence based Vermont sourced products.

 

Opening Capital Cannabis Company was a natural next step in normalizing the sale and use of cannabis to both locals and visitors alike.

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BOARD MEMBER

Miriam Wood

Miriam Wood is a long-term Vermont resident who is a mother, entrepreneur, and advocate for minority representation in the cannabis industry. She is passionate about the role cannabis can play in the holistic approach to wellness and self-care. She has strong beliefs in the strength of community outreach, social equity, and movement towards policy changes in social justice. 

She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and multiple cannabis related knowledge proficiency certificates. In her free time, Miriam enjoys spending time with her kids, cooking, kayaking, gardening.

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BOARD MEMBER

Michelle Chapman

Michelle brings a unique and heartfelt perspective to our organization, with her diverse background and dedication to our mission. Her journey from education to the cannabis industry, driven by personal experiences and a desire to make a positive impact, adds compassion and empathy to our board. Her commitment to supporting medical patients and driving philanthropic initiatives is evident in her actions, guiding us towards sustainable growth and meaningful community engagement. Michelle possesses expertise in the cannabis industry, including business management, cultivation, and compliance. Her passion for advocacy and patient-centered care complements her professional knowledge.

 

As a leader, Michelle demonstrates strong communication skills and a collaborative spirit, guided by a firm ethical compass. These qualities make her a valuable asset in shaping our strategic direction, enhancing fundraising efforts, and developing impactful programs. Michelle's ability to incorporate personal experiences and insights into her work ensures that our organization remains grounded in empathy and authenticity, leading to positive outcomes for all stakeholders. We are confident that her contributions will be instrumental in advancing our mission and achieving our goals.

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BOARD MEMBER

Jon Erdman

Prior to launching Polestar Cannabis, Jon spent 14 years streamlining retail operations for Vermont-based Spare Time Entertainment, the largest privately held FEC (Family Entertainment Center) chain in the US. Earlier in his career, Jon held a number of technical consulting positions including tenures with PwC and Blackbaud Inc., where he managed the implementation of accounting and ERP systems. Jon’s technical and accounting skills led to multiple startup opportunities in CA and VT where he led technical operations and managed teams in the US and abroad.

 

Jon’s professional career began in Princeton NJ where he grew up and where he founded a landscape contracting company in 1987 after graduating from St. Lawrence University. He still loves to work outdoors, growing his personal Cannabis Garden, inspired initially by the positive effects that the plant has had on his own life and health which includes three successful cancer surgeries.

Jon moved to Vermont with his family in 2003 and is the proud father of three girls, all of whom grew up in Williston VT and attended UVM. Jon’s passion for the outdoors, and skiing in particular, has landed him in Crested Butte, CO and San Francisco CA prior to moving to Vermont. It has also inspired him to launch a ski-inspired Cannabis brand called Reprieve.

 

Jon is the founder and CEO of Polestar Cannabis located in Randolph VT.

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Our Journey So Far

2022 CRAV IS FOUNDED

OCTOBER 1, 2022 RETAIL CANNABIS BECOMES LEGAL

CRAV was formed at the same time retail cannabis became legal. Retail store owners saw a need to connect with each other to navigate this nascent and challenging industry.

2023

HIGHER CALLING MUSIC FESTIVAL

Higher Calling: In a spirited demonstration of community and resilience, CRAV sponsored a concert to unite our community and launched an initiative to support local cannabis businesses affected by the 2023 flooding.

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