F. Aaron Smith
Aaron Smith is co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. Prior to launching NCIA, Aaron distinguished himself as a public advocate for marijuana policy reform — first under the auspices of a California-based medical cannabis advocacy group, Safe Access Now, and more recently as the California state policy director for the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project. Aaron has successfully built coalitions with elected officials on both sides of the aisle in order to advance marijuana law reform legislation in the state capitol and among the voting public. Aaron’s opinion pieces have appeared in major newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times, and he has been a frequent commentator on national television news networks. Originally from California, Aaron is currently based in Denver.
Taylor West is deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. She has spent more than a decade in communications and leadership positions in the political, policy, nonprofit, and business arenas. Taylor came to Denver after four years in Washington, D.C., where she worked first as a strategist for a variety of policy and regulatory reform efforts, and then as communications director for National Journal, a highly respected national media organization. She is also a veteran of several high-profile political campaigns and has appeared as a commentator on MSNBC, Fox News, and CNBC. Taylor first became involved in drug policy reform 15 years ago with an internship at DRCNet, now known as StoptheDrugWar.org.
Director of Government Relations
Michael Correia is director of government relations for the National Cannabis Industry Association. His focus is raising awareness and building support for the cannabis industry’s issues on Capitol Hill. In addition, Michael works with other national organizations to increase the cannabis industry profile nationally. Prior to joining NCIA, Michael spent many years working on Capitol Hill, including working for Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA), who retired in 2010, and the House Committee on Resources, serving three different Chairmen. Previously, he was director of federal affairs for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and senior project manager for the Committee for Responsible Federal Budget. In both positions, he advocated for policies in Congress. A campaign veteran, he has worked and volunteered on numerous political campaigns at the local, state, and federal levels over the past two decades. Michael is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego. A native of San Diego, he resides in Washington, D.C.
Director of Events and Education
Brooke Gilbert is director of events and education for the National Cannabis Industry Association. Prior to joining NCIA, Brooke served as the Outreach and Events Coordinator for medical cannabis patient-advocacy group Americans for Safe Access where she facilitated the organization’s first national conference. Brooke has also been instrumental in program development as an intern for Students for Sensible Drug Policy, where she coordinated the first round of mentors & mentees of the Sister-to-Sister program and continues to volunteer as the director of development & special projects for the AMPLIFY project. She also led a statewide medical cannabis amnesty campaign in Virginia from 2011 to 2012. Brooke currently resides in Denver.
Director of Development
Laurence Gration brings over 30 years of association management to the NCIA team. As the Director of Development, Laurence’s role is to grow NCIA, in membership, services and general strength. Laurence is continuing to expand the benefits of NCIA’s membership benefits and keeping the association ahead of its members’ changing needs.
Originally Australian, Laurence is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and comes to NCIA after ten years in Washington D.C., where he is famous for forging industry alliances and creating joint venture opportunities on Capitol Hill. He is an award-winning speaker, a best selling author, and sought after presenter. Gration is widely published and has presented in the association world to U.S. and international markets. In addition to running for the Australian Parliament, Laurence has been active in all levels of politics here in the United States. He was published in every newspaper in Australia and appeared on television and radio regularly. He has degrees from the internationally-regarded University of Sydney, the Queensland University of Technology, and has been engaged in studying programs at the Australian National University and University of Colorado; he is working on his next degree locally. Originally from Melbourne, he now lives in Golden, Colorado, with his wife, dogs, and horses.
Bethany Moore is development officer for the National Cannabis Industry Association. Bethany has extensive experience in non-profit activism work, including drug policy reform and church-state separation issues. She spent two years as the campaign manager of the First Freedom First campaign at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, while also volunteering with Maryland Americans for Safe Access. Most recently, Bethany served as a multimedia project manager for an international finance and investment firm. She also has a strong background in communications and public relations. Bethany is originally from the Washington, D.C., area and relocated to Denver in January 2014.
Jeremy DePasquale is membership coordinator for the National Cannabis Industry Association. Jeremy has extensive experience in non-profit membership organizations. He spent two years with the American Institute of Architects, primarily with the Colorado Chapter, planning their 2013 National Convention in Denver. He has a degree and background in politics, including serving as a campaign scheduler for a mayoral campaign in New York City. Jeremy is originally from upstate New York and lived in Washington, DC, before relocating to Denver in April 2012.
Northwest Regional Development Officer
Joanne Conger is northwest regional development officer for the National Cannabis Industry Association. Joanne comes to NCIA with over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector in Seattle, where she served as Executive Director for agencies that provide emergency human services, focusing her work and education on the crisis of homelessness. Prior to receiving her Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management from Seattle University and B.A. in Human Services from Western Washington University, she worked as a development officer for Catholic Housing Services, The Center for Battered Women, and Rosehedge: AIDS Housing and Healthcare. For the past five years, Joanne has operated her own nonprofit management consulting business, The Nonprofit Life. Outside of her work, she has volunteered her time with the American Red Cross and the effort to bring the Dalai Lama to Seattle, as well as serving on boards for Center for Ethical Leadership, PAWS, and The Historic Everett Theater. She is the author of “Planning Services Projects for the Homeless,” and “Strong Woman’s Playbook,” and teaches workshops on conflict mediation and nonprofit management.
Brian Gilbert is events coordinator for the National Cannabis Industry Association. He works to ensure the success of the NCIA events program through sponsorship support among member businesses, coordination of promotional efforts, and management of on-site event logistics. Brian got his start in the drug policy reform movement in 2009 as one of the founding members of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. He quickly became involved on the local, state, and national level as an Outreach Coordinator for SSDP’s live music activism-based AMPLIFY Project, transforming it over four years into a leading voice for drug policy reform and harm reduction within the live music community. In addition to his work with NCIA, Brian also serves as director of artist and volunteer relations for the AMPLIFY Project and sits on the board of directors of the non-profit harm reduction organization DanceSafe. He is originally from northern Virginia but relocated to Denver in 2014.
Government Relations Coordinator
Michelle Rutter is government relations coordinator for the National Cannabis Industry Association. Prior to working for NCIA, Michelle was a research analyst at a government affairs firm in Washington, D.C., where she analyzed and tracked legislation on numerous issues. Michelle graduated from James Madison University in 2012, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in History. During her studies, she held a year-long internship with Virginia House of Delegates member Tony Wilt (R). There, she communicated with constituents, businesses, and government officials alike, facilitating meaningful conversations. Michelle was also a member of a pre-law fraternity where she planned events and hosted social functions that sought to encourage long-lasting professional and personal relationships with members. A native Virginian, Michelle currently resides in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Alexandria, VA.