Alejandro Alvarez, Co-Founder of Soulful Synergy and The New Grow Center. He designs training programs and curricula for an evolving marketplace in order to meet employers' demands. Since 2013, under Alejandro's leadership, Soulful Synergy has trained thousands of NYC and Westchester residents both in English and Spanish to prepare them for job opportunities in the construction, energy efficiency, tech, security, and urban farming industries. Soulful Synergy has helped to employ hundreds of program graduates to meet the demand of an ever changing workforce.
Alejandro has traveled across the country to learn cannabis cultivation best-practices and built his experience on organic and sustainable cannabis cultivation. Currently, Alejandro is working with many local agencies in partnership to provide workforce training in Cannabis through The New Grow Center. He has also been instrumental in spearheading a city wide Urban Farming initiative with a few New Rochelle partner agencies, including WestCOP, New Rochelle Community Action Partnership, The Boys & Girls Club of New Rochelle, New Rochelle Municipal Housing and Heritage Homes. Alejandro is a founding member of Generation Now New Rochelle, and is a My Brother's Keeper New Rochelle Fellowship Mentor. Most recently, he has been a recipient of the Business Council of Westchester 2020 Rising Stars Award and 2022 Department of Energy The Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize.
Joe Belluck, Esq.
Joseph W. Belluck is widely recognized for his outstanding representation of his legal clients, high ethical standards, and public service. He has been advocating for cannabis legalization since 1985. Joe has a national reputation for excellence in mesothelioma, truck accidents and other serious injury litigation. He is a dedicated, compassionate attorney who has spent his entire life and legal career advocating for injured consumers and workers. He has settled over $1 billion of asbestos and personal injury lawsuits.
Prior to 2002, Joe represented the State of New York in its tobacco litigation. He was responsible for forcing the tobacco industry to stop sponsoring fake scientific research and to take down their tobacco billboards in New York State. He started representing asbestos victims across the United States in 1999.
He previously served as a judicial law clerk at the Texas Supreme Court and as a staff attorney for the consumer group Public Citizen in Washington, D.C. In 2001, after the 9/11 terrorist attack, Joe spent six months at a volunteer legal organization known as Trial Lawyers Care. There he provided free representation to the families of people killed at the World Trade Center. Joe is a dedicated public servant. In 2008, he was appointed to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which investigates allegations of misconduct, and disciplines all state and local judges in New York. He was elected Chair of the Commission in 2017.
He was appointed as a trustee of The State University of New York (SUNY) in 2010. The SUNY Board of Trustees oversees the entire public university system in New York which is comprised of 64 campuses. A professorship at SUNY Buffalo Law School, his alma mater, is named after Joe and his wife: the Joseph W. Belluck and Laura L. Aswad Professor of Civil Justice. He also chairs the Charter School Committee at SUNY. In 2017, Joe was appointed to the advisory committee of the Rockefeller Institute of Government's Center for Law and Policy Solutions. He previously served as a member of New York's Medicaid Redesign Team and advised the State of New York on cannabis legalization.
Joe is also very philanthropic. He is Chair of the Board of Precious Dreams, a national organization that provides comfort items to foster and homeless youth; and serves on the Board of New York Special Olympics. He previously served on the board of Children's Rights, a national advocacy group working to reform failing child welfare systems and protect foster children.
Dr. Junella Chin, MD
Dr. Junella Chin has specialized in integrative medicine for over 15 years. Dr. Chin founded and operated 7 bicoastal integrative cannabis medicine clinics. She has a unique perspective on cannabis-based therapies that incorporates the lessons of data science, crowd-sourced experiential knowledge, and individualized treatment strategies. Through her work as a cofounder, advisor of several cannabis start-up companies, consulting for industry leadership, speaking at conferences internationally, and as an author, she has created medical cannabis protocols for the industry and internationally accepted methods for cannabinoid formulations, research, education, and training programs.
Her training includes Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine in California, Medical Acupuncture at Harvard University, and research at Columbia University, Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Women's Health. Her work has been featured in Forbes, LA Times, CNN, Good Morning America, among others. The book she co-authored, Cannabis and CBD for Health and Wellness, was published in June 2019 .
Ebro Darden has been in media since 1990, where he began as an intern at KSFM 102.5. He went on to do the Night Shift and AM drive before departing to be Program Director and Afternoon Drive host on KBMB 103.5 in 1997.
In March of 1999, he was asked to become the AM Drive host for KXJM 95.5 in Portland Oregon and continued to be PD of KBMB in Sacramento.
In 2003 Ebro Darden would become the Music Director and Asst. Program Director of WQHT HOT97 in NYC. He would go on to become Program Director of WQHT in 2008 and then the VP of Programming for all of Emmis Communications properties including CD 101.9, 98.7 KISS fm and HOT 97 by 2010.
In 2015, Apple Music would launch a worldwide radio content platform called Apple Music 1. Apple Music hired Ebro and started The Ebro Show streaming in over 120 territories around the world. By 2019 Apple Music had made Ebro Darden the Global Editorial Senior Director of HipHop and RnB, the host of the Ebro Show as he still continues to host AM Drive at HOT97 with Ebro in the Morning.
TheArthur A. Duncan, Esq.
TheArthur A. Duncan II Esq is an ex-felon, turned New York State Attorney. He was born in Los Angeles but primarily raised in Buffalo. Mr. Duncan sold drugs for over 10 years until he was indicted by the FBI in 2000. He served 3 years in federal prison.
After prison he enrolled in a local community college and decided he wanted to be a lawyer. The completion of undergraduate studies, law school and taking the NY State bar was about 7-to-8-year process. Over the next 7 to 8 years, Thearthur graduated from community college and a 4-year university with honors, got married and concentrated on his family, work and school.
Upon returning home for law school, M. Duncan was voted President of Black Law Students Association. He interned for a Buffalo City Court Judge and worked for a New York State Assemblywoman on her education initiative. He also interned for a City of Buffalo Councilman in the City of Buffalo Law Dept and was hired as the Chief Law Clerk.
Thearthur graduated from law school in 2012 and took the bar in June. He was admitted into the New York Bar in 2013. Upon his admission, he was promoted at his job from Chief Law Clerk to Assistant Corporation Counsel where he defended the City of Buffalo and all its departments in civil litigation matters. In November of 2015, Mr. Duncan published his true-life autobiography Felon-Attorney.
Allan Gandelman is an organic vegetable, hemp, and cannabis farmer and entrepreneur. In 2018 he founded the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association (NYCGPA) in order to advocate for small farmers and other businesses in the hemp and cannabis industries. The association worked on the Hemp Extracts bill to ensure all hemp products sold in New York were safe for consumers. Over the past five years the NYCGPA has grown to represent over 400 small business owners who work together to advocate for an equitable cannabis industry.
In addition, Allan is the co-founder of Main Street Farms, New York Hemp Oil, and Head & Heal. Main Street Farms provides local schools, farmers markets, and restaurants with organic vegetables. Head & Heal is a leader in high quality cannabinoid products across the country.
Garry Anthony Johnson is a respected Innovator, Entrepreneur and Real Estate Development executive with over 30 years of broad experience in complex Real Estate Development, Construction Management, Master Planning and Economic Development. His foundation in Architecture honed at the CUNY City College School of Architecture, provided him with the valued ability to plan, innovate and coordinate development projects in the United States and internationally.
Mr. Johnson was born in the United Kingdom, lived his early life in Jamaica and attending the prestigious St. Francis Xavier High School in New York City. While studying Architecture at the City College of New York, he became the first undergraduate student to be credited with the design and adaptive reuse of an existing campus building. This recognition led to an appointment to the Office of Campus Planning for CUNY’s Baruch College where he became a key participant its Master Planning.
As an expert Zoning & Code Consultant, he has led hundreds of complex development projects in the greater New York City area as well as spearheading his own high-end Residential and Commercial projects. Professional work includes lead roles on notable projects such as the transformation of the iconic AT&T building on Madison Avenue into Sony’s Headquarters, the former Republic National Bank Center on Fifth Avenue, the Kalahari Condominium project in Harlem, and private projects for noted celebrities such as Spike Lee, John Saunders and others. His work and travels have taken him to sites in Canada, Brazil, Dubai, France, Malaysia, Mexico and the United Kingdom.
In 2006 Mr. Johnson was appointed by then Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to serve on Manhattan Community Board 11 - East Harlem, where he led their Economic Development Committee and was a key member of the Zoning Committee for almost 10 years. His efforts spearheaded the planning, rezoning and redevelopment of that diverse and dynamic community that continues today.
In 2008 he was appointed by NAACP New York State Conference President Dr. Hazel N. Dukes to be the first Economic Development Chairman for the State Conference, comprised of over 50 branches representing thousands of members. His commitment to Economic Development, particularly for urban communities, drives his efforts working with both state and local governments as well as the private sector, leading to increased contract opportunities for small businesses, professionals, and contractors.
He is the founder of Paradise Express Ferry, the first MBE-certified Maritime Operations Company in New York City, which operates the Harlem Rocket tour and specializes in immersive, culturally tailored excursions and workforce development programs for underserved communities. In 2022 he was selected by NYSERDA to participate in their Offshore Wind Supply Chain and Jobs Technical Working Group, to help ensure participation by disadvantaged communities in the burgeoning Offshore Wind industry.
Mr. Johnson currently works in New York City and lives in Long Island, with his wife, Dr. Regine Fortune, and his children Aiden and Alexandra.
Nikki Kateman is the Political & Communications Director for Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW, a labor union that represents approximately 13,000 people working in a variety of industries, including cannabis, throughout New York State and Northern New Jersey. In this role she handles legislative and community advocacy in support of the work of the union and issues that directly impact Local 338 members and their families. She is also responsible for overseeing of Local 338's internal and external communications, as well as implementing the union's core events and projects.
Nikki is a member of the Executive Board of the Women's Network, a member constituency group within the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). She serves as the Secretary and Board Member of the Local 338 Charities, Inc., a 501-(c)3 organization that provides scholarship opportunities and supports working families in need. Nikki is also a member of the Board of Directors for two worker centric nonprofit organizations - Workforce Development Institute and Long Island Jobs with Justice.
Nikki graduated summa cum laude from Adelphi University with a bachelor's degree in Political Science and Gender Studies. She holds a Certificate in Advanced Labor Union Leadership from The New York State AFL-CIO/Cornell University Union Leadership Institute.
Marc Ramirez earned his law degree from the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, with a focus in Social Justice, Equality, and Civil Rights. While at CUNY he interned at several civil rights organizations and was the CUNY Law Review Symposium Editor. Since law school he has worked as a public defender in the Bronx defending people accused of various crimes. He brings both personal and professional experience with the criminal legal system to the Cannabis Advisory Board.
Sarah Ravenhall, MHA, CHES is Executive Director at the New York State Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO), a nonprofit membership association representing all 58 local health departments in New York State. With over ten years of experience in the field, she has led a diverse array of initiatives in hospital, population health-based and nonprofit membership association settings. Sarah has been recognized by City & State as an honoree on both the Health Power 100 and 40 under 40 lists.
In her role as Executive Director, Sarah is responsible for administration and operational oversight, membership satisfaction, partnership development and utilizing innovative strategies to advance the organizational mission forward. Sarah functions as the organization's lead lobbyist for advocacy and messaging at the State and National level and serves as secretary to NYSACHO's Board of Directors.
Prior to her arrival at NYSACHO, Sarah led the Population Health Improvement Program at Nassau Suffolk Hospital Council. In this role, Sarah was recruited to identify evidence-based population health strategies, optimize program processes, set program vision, provide oversight of fiscal management and measure program impact.
Sarah lives in Altamont, NY with her husband, son, daughter and dog. She holds great pride in serving as the voice for governmental local public health agencies on both state and national levels with regard to the life-saving impact it has on families and communities worldwide.
Chandra Redfern, the CEO of the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers (BFNC), is best described as a compassionate, creative, and visionary servant leader. As a nonprofit executive with over 20 years of experience, Chandra is known as a leader who strives to create diverse and strategic partnerships that make a community impact.
The Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers, a New York Community based nonprofit organization birthed from the Settlement House movement, has provided Chandra the opportunity to develop the insight and expertise to create solutions to help those in most need of assistance.
Her previous roles at the BFNC have included serving as the Chief Operating Officer, Director of Residential Services, Coordinator of Adult Case Management, and Director of Support Services for Buffalo Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Services.
Prior to becoming the CEO Chandra served as BFNC's Chief Operating Officer. In addition to developing operational processes and overseeing the daily operations of the organizational programs, Chandra served as the project manager for the agency's first mixed use affordable housing development. She is proud for the opportunity to have helped develop the structure for a human services safety net with the goal providing seniors the opportunity to age in place.
Chandra is a graduate of Canisius College, earning a Master of Science in Counseling and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology & Criminal Justice. She also received a certification from Houghton College in Pastoral & Christian Ministries. As a lifelong learner she continues to build on her knowledge and obtain complementary skills.
Her community service includes volunteering with several organizations that focus on filling community needs and uplifting by providing programs that help people overcome life's obstacles.
Armando Rosado was born and raised in the county of the Bronx; is a product of the New York City public schools; and attended the State University of New York at Albany.
Upon returning to New York City, he began his career as a case manager at the Center for Alternate Sentencing & Employment Services (CASES). A year later he was promoted to Senior Case Manager. Mr. Rosado left CASES to become an investigator for the Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Right Practice in the Bronx.
After 14 years with the Legal Aid Society, Armando left to open up his own investigation office in the Bronx. As a private investigator, he provides professional, confidential, and investigative services specializing in Civil, Family, Matrimonial and Criminal Court matters. Services include process serving, locating clients and witnesses, obtaining witnesses statements, aerial photographs, diagrams, measurements, canvassing for video footage, and surveillance. Mr. Rosado also provides services to law firms, insurance companies and individual members of New York City diverse communities.
In April 2022, and in addition to maintaining his private investigation office, Mr. Rosado was hired by Empire Merchants, Freedom Division as a sales consultant. In that capacity, Mr. Rosado is responsible for maximizing the sales of supplier brands to the trade through effective territory planning, selling, merchandising and communication that enables the achievement of company and supplier objectives. Mr. Rosado also consults off-premises retailers of spirits and wines within the borough of the Bronx and Manhattan.
Mr. Rosado is married and is the proud father of two sons.
Peter Shafer is the current co-owner of NG Growers Inc. dba Nanticoke Gardens. Peter received his bachelor's degree in English and Philosophy from Oswego State University and his Master's in Business Administration from Baruch College in Manhattan.
After receiving his undergraduate degree from Oswego, Peter moved to New York City where he taught in Brooklyn High Schools for a year. In 2001 Peter started a new career in the beverage distribution business working for Union Beer Distributors in Williamsburg Brooklyn. Peter started in Sales and then was quickly promoted to Sales Management. After he received his MBA in 2005, he took a position as the Operations Manager where he stayed for another 5 years. His responsibility included everything from logistics and inventory to delivery and warehouse staff. The distribution territory spanned 14 counties including the 5 boroughs of New York City, Long Island and 7 contiguous upstate counties. As an Operations Manager, Peter oversaw a staff of 120 employees. While in the beverage industry, Peter sat on the Business Advisory Council for the Brooklyn Bureau of Community Service where we worked to place Special Needs candidates in part-time and full-time employment positions throughout the Bureau.
In 2011 Peter and his family moved home to Endicott NY where he teamed up with his brother, Chip and purchased an existing greenhouse business where his brother had worked since 1999. Peter brought with him an expertise in people management, project management and budget management. Since owning Nanticoke Gardens, Peter has been an active member of the NY Farm Bureau where he sat on the board of the Broome County Farm Bureau for 3 years from 2011 - 2014. Further Peter sat on the board of the Broome County Cornell Cooperative Extension from 2011- 2014. Currently Peter serves as the Vice Chair of Broome County Soil and Water District Board.
Since owning Nanticoke Gardens, Peter and his brother have grown their bedding plant business sales considerably by taking on a wholesale division and adding a Fall Mum crop. In addition, in 2017 Nanticoke Gardens acquired and Industrial Hemp license and they have been growing Hemp for CBD production ever since.