Spotlighting Hispanic and Latinx Team Members: Liana Aguirre
At Vireo Health, we pride ourselves on the diversity of our team, and on our ongoing commitment to social equity initiatives including expungement clinics, fundraising for Last Prisoner Project, and a creating educational programming for our team members and communities.
Of our more than 500 employees, more than 100 identify as Hispanic or Latinx, ranging from our retail and cultivation teams right up to our Chief Operating Officer, Christian Gonzalez. Diversity has been a cornerstone of our culture since our earliest days (for example we were the first cannabis company to sign the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge), and we believe celebrating the diversity among our team members and our communities makes us a stronger company and a better community partner.
Hispanic Heritage Month is a great time to learn more about Hispanic and Latinx history and culture, and with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to affect in-person gatherings, many events have been moved online. The Smithsonian Institution is offering several online events, including story times for children and an exploration of singer and Tejana icon Selena for adults. The National Gallery of Art is offering a free virtual exploration of Mexican painter Diego Rivera’s “No. 9, Nature Morte Expagnole,” as well as a free virtual discussion about Mexican printmaker and political activist Leopoldo Méndez’s work “The Peoples Revenge.”
Looking for a new book to read? Refinery29 has suggestions for 10 books by Latinx authors to check out. On Sept. 29, Cambalache, a Chicano-Jarocho group from Los Angeles, will perform a free virtual concert. Kids can check out a Virtual Pajama Party, hosted by the National Archives on Sept. 25, which will include a discussion with civil-rights activist Sylvia Mendez about her book, “Sylvia & Aki,” and about friendship, fairness, and civil rights.
Hispanic Heritage Month is also a great time to learn more about the events and struggles that have shaped the ongoing fight for civil rights for Hispanic and Latinx U.S. citizens. The Library of Congress has an online guide, with information and online websites, as well as book recommendations, about dozens of pivotal events, protests, court cases and more.
Our Hispanic and Latinx team members are an important and valued part of our team! As we recognize Hispanic Heritage Month, we want to take this time to celebrate Hispanic heritage and our team members who identify as Hispanic and Latinx. As part of that effort, Vireo’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council is highlighting our Hispanic and Latinx teammates, as well as Hispanic business leaders in the cannabis industry. We recently profiled Patrick Gonzales, one of our cultivation technicians who knows first-hand the benefits of plant medicine. You can read that profile here.
Our second interview is with Liana Aguirre, one of our budtenders in New Mexico who holds a degree in Medical Anthropology.
The DEI Council was excited to catch up with Liana and ask about her experiences helping patients find relief, why she advocates for cannabis instead of addiction-forming medications, and what it’s like being a Hispanic person selling cannabis.
Hi Liana! Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you live now? Do you have family you want to mention?
My name is Liana Aguirre. I am originally from New York City and lived there for most of my life. I moved to Las Cruces about 10 years ago and it has become my new home that I love. I have one awesome 11-year-old daughter who is an artist in every sense of the word and two Siamese cats that are brothers.
When did you start at Vireo/Green Goods, and what is your title?
I was hired here back in March and started in June. I am a budtender here at Green Goods.
What made you interested in the cannabis industry?
Besides the fact that I really enjoy the recreational side, I’ve seen the benefits of CBD and THC on many levels, physically and mentally. I hold a degree in Medical Anthropology and, being educated in pharmaceuticals, I also prefer for anyone to medicate with cannabis over any opiates or addiction-forming medications. I would love to be a voice and advocate for cannabis.
What do you like about working at Vireo/Green Goods?
Working at Green Goods makes me feel like I’m part of a team. I like the dynamic we have and the market that we back. I also respect and appreciate the research that is currently being done by Vireo.
How does it make you feel to help patients find relief?
It is very satisfying and therapeutic to help patients find relief, especially since I am telling them to medicate with cannabis instead of anything else.
What are your favorite activities or hobbies outside of work?
Outside of work I love cooking, gardening, volunteering at the food bank, meditation, spending time with my daughter and going on awesome hikes here in New Mexico.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
Hispanic Heritage Month is a month for Hispanics to represent their achievements and their cultural additions to society.
Are there any unique challenges to being of Hispanic heritage in the cannabis industry?
As a Hispanic person selling cannabis, there are some challenges where I feel that sometimes my position as a budtender/peer counselor is not taken as seriously because I am a person of color. Another is that when I tell people that I work at a dispensary they don’t believe that I genuinely look at cannabis as an alternative form of medicine and a perfectly viable substitute for medicine all around and not to just get high and have fun.
Are there any other quotes or stories about working in cannabis or at Vireo/Green Goods that you want to share?
I just love all of our customers and regulars that come back and show us how awesome of a job we are doing by having them return. I love how we can dedicate ourselves to our customers and they can come and tell us their success stories and results. I enjoy meeting all the pets our patients bring in and am happy we can offer our service to them.
Thank you, Liana, for taking the time to share your story with us! Look out for more profiles of our Hispanic and Latinx team members throughout Hispanic Heritage Month!