National Hispanic American Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 through October 15. Green Market Report wants to celebrate the achievements and contributions of some of the leaders in the cannabis industry who identify as such. While this list doesn’t include all of the notable Hispanics in the industry, it’s a start towards recognizing some of the key players.
Jushi Holdings Inc. Chief Operations Officer Leonardo “Leo” Garcia-Berg
Leo brings vast operational experience and global supply chain management to his role as Jushi Holdings Inc.(CSE: JUSH) (OTCQX: JUSHF) Chief Operations Officer at Jushi. Before joining Jushi, Leo served in numerous roles at Anheuser-Busch InBEV (“AB InBev”). As the Global Director of Value Creation, Global Procurement Officer, Leo led strategies focused on improving manufacturing, logistics, sourcing, and operations across the company’s breweries worldwide. While at AB InBEV, Leo had the opportunity to integrate the Modelo facilities located in Mexico into AB InBEV. In addition to his positions at AB InBEV, he also served as an international consultant for McKinsey & Company, focusing on operational strategies, procurement, organizational transformations, along with supply chain and end-to-end process optimization solutions. Leo received his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires in Argentina, and earned his MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Mark Flores, Head of Brand and Customer Engagement, Receptor Brands
Mark Flores has over 18 years of experience in corporate, non-profit, and consumer marketing within the general and multicultural/Latinx markets. With a history in education policy and political consulting, Mark worked as the communications director for one of Chicago’s largest charter school operators and served as Commissioner of Latino Affairs for the city under Mayor Richard Daley. After years in politics, Flores joined ICF Next to build their multicultural department for the MolsonCoors client. During his eight years at the agency, he built the department and became the client team director, managing a 28 person team responsible for Molson’s product portfolio of beers and other alcohol-based beverages. Always ensuring that general market programs included multicultural extensions, Flores built both the business and the teams during his tenure at ICF.
Flores is currently with Receptor Brands, a cannabis-specific marketing firm where he is the director of consumer engagement working on a variety of projects that include retail, brand marketing and public relations. His background in niche community marketing has aided his ability to break into cannabis while having his eye on the future of cannabis marketing in the multicultural space.
Richard Acosta, Co-President, GreenTech Properties, Inc.
Richard continues to advance the development of the cannabis real estate investment world, beginning with the 2018 formation of Los Angeles-based Inception REIT, one of the first private investment funds in the space. In late 2019, Richard co-founded and led a $225mm Canadian-listed SPAC which merged with and took Israel’s InterCure LTD public on the NASDAQ earlier this year. Most recently, Richard formed a real estate investment partnership, GreenTech Properties, focused on supporting environmental sustainability and providing operator-friendly capital alternatives to the popular long-term sale-leaseback model.
Richard is the former CEO & co-founder of Subversive REIT and Inception REIT, both cannabis-focused real estate investment vehicles. Richard is an experienced investor with almost 20 years of investment and portfolio management experience across various commercial real estate property types and investment structures having originated, underwritten or managed over $13 billion of direct real estate and real estate operating company investments.
Richard spent nearly a decade with Colony Capital where he last served as a Director. During his tenure at Colony, Richard was involved in or responsible for the underwriting and execution of equity and related investments with a focus on operationally intensive real estate, including hospitality and gaming. Richard also spent several years developing Colony’s deal sourcing and capital raising functions in the Middle East. Richard began his career in the Real Estate Merchant Banking Group at Wells Fargo Bank. He is a member of the Urban Land Institute and is involved with various philanthropic causes, including Vista Del Mar Child & Family Services where he serves as Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors. Richard is a graduate of the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California where he earned a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in real estate finance.
Cristina Nutzman, VP of Legal-Labor & Employment at Curaleaf
Cristina Nutzman has dedicated her entire career to Human Resources and Labor & Employment law. After graduating from Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology, Cristina worked in Human Resources roles and eventually legal positions within the L&E field. She is a dedicated, caring, and experienced labor and employment lawyer with diverse professional experiences ranging from the federal government, private practice, and corporate roles. At Curaleaf, Cristina oversees all legal labor and employment activations. Recently, Cristina was appointed Chairperson for the Hispanic Lawyers Scholarship Fund of Illinois. As a board member and member since 2007, she has been a driving force behind the success of the organization.
Madeline Padilla, Trade Manager at Papa & Barkley
Madeline Padilla has been with Papa & Barkley for two and a half years and has held several key roles on the Marketing Team. Her role has been critical in building the brand’s awareness both in California and nationally as the company has expanded. Padilla currently serves as the Trade Manager at Papa & Barkley. She works cross-functionally to manage swag, collateral, and merchandising, ensuring the brand has a voice beyond its products and resonates with consumers. Padilla oversees Papa & Barkley’s presence at key national trade shows and events including Expo East, Expo West, Hall of Flowers, and Emerald Cup. She advises on activations and booth designs that highlight Papa & Barkley’s products while providing education, excitement, and value to event-goers.
Steve Bustamante, Inventory Control Supervisor from Glass House Brands
As the only child born in the United States of his four siblings, Steve Bustamante grew up surrounded by his Hispanic heritage. After only being in the US for a short time, his parents moved him and his siblings back to Michoacan, Mexico. By the time Steve was in 2nd grade, the entire family moved back to Oxnard, California and Steve essentially had to start from square 1 –learning English and reintegrating into American culture. Upon graduating from Humboldt State University – known as the capital of the cannabis industry- Steve became the first in his family to graduate from a university. Upon graduation Steve immersed himself in the industry fully and joined Glass House as Inventory Control Supervisor, a role created specifically for him. Steve’s knowledge in botany made him the perfect candidate for processing and inventory. Currently, Steve oversees all finished/salable products and ultimately releases inventory that is suitable for sale.
Arlene Pitterson, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Cannaclusive
Arlene Pitterson is an award-winning experiential marketer, creating memorable strategic events for clients and customers. She has worked with Fortune 100 companies, creating and managing national events such as screenings with Fox, Netflix, Procter & Gamble to local events in major markets such as NYC, Philly, and Los Angeles. Her various experiences in the music, fashion, alcohol, beer, automotive, and education space allow her to have a unique voice that is not only relevant to current trends but understand how to make each activation relevant to the client. Those various experiences brought her as the Director of Strategic Partnerships for Cannaclusive, where she connects cannabis brands with the goal of educating, advocating, and promoting the involvement of people of color in the cannabis business. Arlene is also an adjunct instructor of marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology, instructing students on integrated marketing and event planning. The Brooklyn, NY native holds a degree in Marketing from Drexel University, currently receiving her Masters in international labor relations from Cornell University.