F. AARON SMITH
Aaron Smith is co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, the largest trade association representing legal cannabis businesses in the U.S and the only one working to advance the industry on a national level.
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 in 2005, and then as the California state policy director for the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project until founding NCIA in 2010. Aaron has successfully built coalitions with elected officials on both sides of the aisle in order to advance marijuana law reform legislation. 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.
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 the director of events and education at the National Cannabis Industry Association. In her role, she develops NCIA’s robust event calendar, manages the annual execution of 35+ networking, advocacy, & educational events nationwide, curates NCIA’s educational agendas in conjunction with NCIA’s internal led committees, and oversees NCIA’s speaker bureau. In addition to her work with NCIA, she is a volunteer member of the Denver Department of Environmental Health Cannabis Sustainability Work Group, where she helps to plan and execute the Cannabis Sustainability Symposium.
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 first got involved in drug policy reform through Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and is a proud recipient of the “Outstanding Alumni Award”.
Brooke is a Virginia native and graduated from James Madison University in 2010 with a B.S. in Public Policy and Administration. She currently resides in Denver, CO with her husband and dog.
Lisa is the Marketing Director at NCIA and has extensive experience changing what people know, think, and do about controversial issues. Her career in communications, marketing and public policy began during her tenure at Colorado Coalition for the Homeless where she worked with the state house lobbyist to protect the housing rights of low-income individuals. Lisa then spent a year volunteering with the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms program in New Zealand and honing her photography skills. She has also directed marketing at a start-up, The Financial Health Institute, while teaching Behavioral Economics to adults experiencing financial stress. Lisa transitioned into the cannabis industry as a cannabis content writer and most recently directed marketing on the horticultural side of the industry. She believes no plant should be illegal and that federal cannabis policy reform is imperative to reduce social and economic inequity.
Communications and Projects Manager
Bethany Moore is Communications and Projects Manager, responsible for member-facing communications including blogs, newsletters, video projects, and media partnerships. Bethany has extensive experience in non-profit activism work, including drug policy reform and church-state separation issues. Before NCIA, 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. Bethany also served as a multimedia project manager for an international finance and investment firm, and worked for National Foreign Language Center at University of Maryland, as well as Radio Free Asia. She also has a strong background in project management and strategic planning, as well as communications and public relations. Bethany is originally from the Washington, D.C. area and relocated to Denver in January 2014.
Jeremy DePasquale is Membership Director 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.
Brian Gilbert is events manager 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.
Jon Dinh is the membership manager for the National Cannabis Industry Association. Jon has over eight years of professional customer service experience. Having worked in retail, restaurants, and call centers, Jon brings an array of service experience that is both intimate and personalized to every encounter. His role is to provide front line assistance to members and help resolve any issues relating to membership. Native to the Rocky Mountains, Jon graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a degree in both Technical Communications and Business Management.
Government Relations Manager
Michelle Rutter is government relations manager 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. neighborhood of Capitol Hill.
Finance and HR Manager
Jamie McDonnell is the finance and HR manager for the National Cannabis Industry Association. Before joining NCIA, Jamie spent two years as the finance manager of a large medical marijuana operation, giving her invaluable experience in the industry. She also has years of experience working as a bookkeeper and accounting specialist for a variety of other companies and individuals, including running her own bookkeeping business. Jamie is originally from Illinois but relocated to Colorado in 1999.
Director of Business Development
Curtis is the Director of Business Development at NCIA. His primary focus is to build and enhance relationships among NCIA, its members, and the broader cannabis community. Curtis got his start in the industry working in marketing and branding before pivoting to advertising. He then went on to launch a cannabis-focused consulting firm that assisted a myriad of companies, from human resources companies and law firms to magazines and celebrity product brands. While diverse work throughout the cannabis industry provided Curtis a sound base in the field, it also motivated him to seek more competitive and rewarding work that held broader policy implications, ultimately galvanizing him to join the team at NCIA. Curtis currently resides in downtown Denver.
Business Development Manager
Rachel Kurtz is business development manager for the National Cannabis Industry Association, making sure NCIA is well represented in WA, OR, AK, HI, and NorCal. Rachel started as a cannabis activist in the mid 90’s as an undergrad before working for a member of Congress and then heading to law school at the University of Washington where she started an SSDP chapter. Following graduation in 2003, she was a drug policy advisor to bar associations around the country, owned a medical marijuana authorization clinic, and worked with various patient and industry organizations before settling into law practice to represent cannabis businesses in the licensing process. She has worked with the speaker committee for Seattle Hempfest for 15 years and serves on the board of directors for the Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy, Portland NORML, and the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance. Rachel is a lifelong Army brat and nomad, but considers the Pacific NW her home.
Business Development Officer
Kaliko Castille is a Business Development Officer for the National Cannabis Industry Association, focused on recruiting business owners to join the only national trade association representing the cannabis industry in Washington D.C. Prior to joining NCIA, Kaliko spent the previous six years as a marijuana reform activist and freelance strategist. Starting out as an intern for NORML’s National Outreach Director, he quickly immersed himself in grassroots activism scene. Wanting to inspire his fellow millennials, he filed to run for Congress at the age of 23. In 2012, he went on to become a Co-Director for a political action committee called Oregonians for Law Reform, which raised money independently for Measure 80. Shortly after passage of HB 3460, he opened and managed a dispensary in SE Portland before having to close down due to local regulations, giving him unique insights into the struggles cannabis operators. Along the way, Kaliko has honed his craft as a marketing & branding strategist, helping to run sales for several prominent cannabis media outlets, in addition to consulting for brands. Born in the Bay Area, Kaliko grew up in Portland, Oregon before recently moving to Vallejo with the love of his life.
Government Relations Coordinator
Madeline Grant is the Government Relations Coordinator for the National Cannabis Industry Association. Prior to working for NCIA, Madeline worked for two members of Congress on Capitol Hill, Congressman Scott Perry (R-PA) and Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO). During her first year on Capitol Hill, she gathered cosponsors and support for the Charlotte’s Web Medical Access Act of 2015. Later she became a Scheduler/Executive Assistant, where she strategically allocated the Congressman’s time, while managing the day-to-day operations of the office in a fast-paced environment. Madeline’s interest in the cannabis industry started in college while conducting research on the medical use of cannabidiol oil. Madeline graduated from the University of South Carolina, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications and Journalism with a focus in Public Relations.
Account Manager and Assistant to the Executive Director
Amy Rose is the Account Manager & Assistant to the Executive Director for the National Cannabis Industry Association. Before joining NCIA, Amy provided administrative support for both the retail and testing segments of the cannabis industry. Before joining the cannabis industry, she spent several years freelancing in the hospitality industry. Her favorite assignments were implementing decor for events large and small. Amy is a native of New Jersey. She studied sociology at the University of Tampa, attended a study abroad program in Australia, and has a passion for travel but has been calling Denver home since 2014.