Amidst the glitz and glamor of the MJBizCon in Las Vegas, Nevada, a collection of remarkable women gathered together to honor the achievements of their peers. Dubbed the Industry Power Women Awards, the ceremony aimed to recognize the accomplishments of women in the cannabis industry—from entrepreneurs and investors to influencers and advocates.
The award ceremony was hosted by the group Industry Power Women (IPW). Founded in 2017, IPW is an organization established for women, by women. IPW aims to elevate and empower female entrepreneurship within the cannabis industry by creating a support network of like-minded individuals.
Attending the ceremony was broad assortment of women from across that country and all walks of life. Some were photographers, others were cannabis producers, and some ran cannabis-related women’s organizations in their home states.
Green Market Report co-founder and CEO Debra Borchardt acted as hostess for the event. The first to take home an award was Kristin Hope for the Rising Star Award. At just 15 years old, Hope became the first person to launch a pharmaceutical grade hemp beauty line, HOOP, and was most recently nominated for the Bell scholarship.
The next award recipient was Gaynell Rogers, who won Influencer of the Year. As one of the most respected voices in public relations, Rogers has worked with some of the best and brightest in the cannabis industry; including Harborside Health’s Co-Founder Steve DeAngelo.
Outside of the cannabis industry, Rogers is also known for her work as the senior publicist for Lucasfilm and the Head of Feature Film Publicity at Pixar for the first Incredibles and Cars.
“Finally, a breath of fresh air of women leaders who ‘get’ that we have to propel our voice in every way we can and collectively,” Rogers said. “This mosaic of women from all walks of life inspires, heals and offers a memorable and meaningful coalition. This is our time.”
For her outstanding work as a cannabis advocate, Amy T. Margolis was granted the 2018 Leadership Award. Margolis is the founder of the Oregon Cannabis Association, which is one of the largest trade organizations in the cannabis industry.
Most recently, Margolis was also named by Cannabis Business Executive (CBE) as one of the 2017’s 100 Most Powerful Political People in Cannabis and one of the 50 Most Important Women in Cannabis in both 2016 and 2017.
Taking the prize for Advocate of the Year was Wanda James. As an outspoken political voice and serial entrepreneur, James was named one of the 50 Most Important Women in the Cannabis Industry by CBE.
Emily Paxhia, co-founder and Managing Partner of Poseidon Asset Management, was named IPW’s Investor of the Year. Throughout her career, Paxhia has reviewed thousands of cannabis companies and has always taken the time to uplift promising female entrepreneurs by helping them shape their pitch preparations, go-to-market strategies/ product launches, and advised on day-to-day business operations.
Taking the top honor of 2018 Business Woman of the Year was Jessica Billingsley, the co-founder and CEO of MJ Freeway Business Solutions: a technology company that provides software solutions to cannabis firms, as well as small-business consulting services and application license support. In addition to her entrepreneurial accomplishments, Billingsley has been named to Fortune’s list of Top 10 Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs.
“I’m honored to be named IPW Business Woman of the Year in recognition of the challenges MJ Freeway conquered in 2017-2018,” Billingsley said “After all that my team has been through, we are now stronger than ever and thriving. I encourage women to empower one another.
Following the ceremony, many of the attendees would later recount with exuberance how empowered the event made them feel. For many, this event stood out as one of the few places where they could be with other women and talk about their trade. In an industry that continues to be dominated by men, that matters. It only serves to highlight the continued relevance, and need, for ceremonies like the Industry Power Women Awards.