Vireo Health Women: Leading with Compassion
From the Desk of Amber Shimpa, CFO of Vireo Health
In the fast-growing cannabis industry, ensuring equal representation for women and historically underrepresented populations is more important than ever. Recently, one of the cannabis industry’s top recruiting platforms, Vangst, surveyed 166 cannabis companies and found that only 38.5 percent of employees across the industry were female-identifying individuals, and more than 50% of the companies surveyed had one or fewer women in a leadership position.
Since Vireo Health was founded, gender and racial diversity and inclusion have been cornerstones of our company. From our pharmacists to our corporate leadership to our board of directors, we have continuously strived to ensure that the Vireo team is representative of our commitment to inclusion. We are proud to report that today roughly half of Vireo’s leadership team and three of our seven Board of Directors are women. This includes our Chief Security Officer, Vice President of Sales, Vice President of E-Commerce, Vice President of Dispensary Operations, General Manager of our New York operations and myself as Chief Financial Officer.
In my role as the CFO of Vireo Health, it is my goal as leader to develop a compassionate team of individuals and support each one in their meaningful contributions to our mission. At home with my family, the goal is similar: to develop compassionate young boys and support each of them as they grow into young men.
I am a proud mom to two sons. Beckett is 10 and Gus is turning 7. One of the many cool things about my boys is that they both know their mom works in the cannabis industry and they are just as proud as I am about this fact. It’s refreshing when there is no stigma to break through with a young, open mind.
This year for Mother’s Day, we wanted to highlight a few of the Mothers of Vireo who inspire us and have helped our company grow and become the industry leader we are today, including Cindy Dikmen, Sarah Overby, Jennie Leuzarder.
Sarah Overby, LPN, has worked in the healthcare industry for more than two decades and currently serves as the Medical Science and Patient Liaison for Vireo. When I asked Sarah about her role as an executive and a mother, she said, “I have been blessed with an amazing career and am also a proud mama of 3 beautiful babies – Breckston (age 6), Marty (age 5) and Aurelia (age 3). Maintaining work-life balance is vitally important to be successful in each role. It’s something I strive for daily and couldn’t do it without the support of my wonderful husband, Josh!” Sarah has lectured on medical cannabis at conferences across Minnesota and throughout the country to hundreds of medical providers, while building and maintaining strong relationships with both patients and providers.
Cindy Dikmen, RN, is the Director of Dispensary Operations for Vireo Health in Minnesota. Cindy has worked for Vireo for the past two years, after being a nurse for 35 years! Cindy and her husband Ali raised five children together, including twin daughters. Their oldest daughter Sibel is following her mom into the healthcare industry and is currently attending medical school at St. George University. When I spoke with Cindy about balancing a career and family she said, “Being a nurse is an amazing job and I loved to provide patients with compassionate care, but the best job I could ever have is being a Mom! I am blessed to have an AWESOME role model in my mother, Rita.”
Jennie Leuzarder serves as Vireo’s Vice President of Sales where she oversees the company’s sales and marketing strategy in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, and other emerging markets. She brings a breadth of knowledge from the highly regulated wines and spirits industry, where she held different positions, leading global luxury brands at Diageo, and Pernod Ricard. Jennie is also a mom, fitness and wellness advocate, an avid traveler, adventure seeker, tennis player, baseball fanatic, tequila & wine enthusiast. She loves to travel around the world with her son Lucas, and together they are on a mission to visit ever MLB stadium.
We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that some may have a heavier heart on Mother’s Day. Whether you’ve experienced loss or ache to become mother, please know the women of Vireo see you and support you. And from all of us at Vireo Health, Happy Mother’s Day and be well!