Creating Diversity at the TOP Shapes the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission
Updated: Feb 9
Shawn Collins, Executive Director
Shawn Collins, who came on board in 2017 as the first Executive Director of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, was instrumental to ensure there was diversity at the senior level with a team that reflects the landscape they would oversee.
Collins, previously served as Assistant Treasurer and Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs to Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg. In that role, he spearheaded the research and policy agenda to help prepare Massachusetts for the legalization of marijuana, prior to and following the passage of Chapter 334 of the Acts of 2016, The Regulation of Marijuana Act.
Before we highlight the incredibly diverse team and the work they are doing at the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, let’s review the mission’s first. The mission of the Cannabis Control Commission is to honor the will of the voters of Massachusetts by safely, equitably and effectively implementing and administering the laws enabling access to medical and adult use marijuana in the Commonwealth.
The Commission will foster the creation of a safely regulated industry that will create entrepreneurial and employment opportunities and incremental tax revenues in and to communities across the state and which will be a best practice model for other states. The industry will be characterized by small and larger participants and with full and robust participation by minorities, women and veterans.
They will develop policies and procedures to encourage and enable full participation in the marijuana industry by people from communities that have previously been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and positively impact those communities.
The “Diverse Executive Leadership Team” of Ethnic professionals include:
Chief Financial and Accounting Officer
Chief Financial and Accounting Officer Adriana Leon comes to the Cannabis Control Commission after working for the Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means Committee for more than six years. In her previous position as Budget Director, she led the development of the Senate’s spending and revenue recommendations for the state’s $40 billion-plus operating budget.
Yaw Gyebi, Jr.,
Chief of Investigations & Enforcement
Chief of Investigations and Enforcement Yaw Gyebi, Jr. leads the Cannabis Control Commission’s enforcement team, which is responsible for the evaluation of license applications and processes for Marijuana Establishments, conducting of background checks for establishments and agents, as well as ensuring compliance with state regulations. Mr. Gyebi comes to the Commission after working most recently worked as Chief of Enforcement at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
Chief Communications Officer
Chief Communications Officer Cedric Sinclair comes to the Cannabis Control Commission after serving as the Director or Communications, Marketing, and Strategic Alliances at the University of Massachusetts Boston - College of Advancing and Professional Studies. At the University, he led brand-building and lead-generation efforts for nontraditional programs that generated $35 million in annual revenue.
Mr. Sinclair brings nearly 20 years of integrated marketing communications experience in the higher education and government sectors.
Chief People Officer
Chief People Officer Erika White joined the Cannabis Control Commission after having most recently served as the Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Commonwealth Care Alliance. Prior to that, Ms. White was the Director of Employee Relations at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), where she led the Office of Employee Relations and advised senior leaders and their respective operating divisions in the administration and implementation of workplace policies that promoted mutual respect, accountability, improved communication, and employee engagement.
We’d be remised if we didn’t acknowledge the outside counsel of Governor Charlie Baker, Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg and Attorney General Maura Healey who appointed Commissioner Nurys Camargo. Commissioner Ava Callender Concepcion was appointed by Attorney General Maura Healy. These two well qualified Commissioners, along with Chairman Steven J. Hoffman, fellow Commissioners Jennifer L. Flanagan and Bruce Stebbins round out the 5 person “Commissioners Team” at the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.
Commissioner of Social Justice
Nurys has served since 2013 as the Director of External Affairs in Massachusetts for AT&T. In this role, she worked to foster positive relationships with the community, creating philanthropic funding opportunities and developing regional corporate social responsibility initiatives. Immediately prior to joining AT&T, she served as a Senior Policy Advisor at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. Ms. Camargo also served previously as Director of Community Relations for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. In addition to her professional work, she currently serves on boards including United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley’s Community Board, and Eastern Bank’s Board of Ambassadors.
She is also the Founder and Board Chair of Chica Project, a social enterprise dedicated to closing the opportunity divide for young Latina women in Boston, Lawrence, Springfield and Holyoke. Ms. Camargo earned a Master’s of Public Administration at Baruch College as a National Urban Fellow and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Mount Ida College.
Ava Callender Concepcion,
Commissioner of Public Safety
Ava a Dorchester resident, will bring to the Commission a background in public safety, including experience in a variety of roles. Most recently, she served as Director of Governmental Affairs and External Partnerships for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office where she advised on legislation and policy.
As Counsel to Senator William Brownsberger, Concepcion served as staff to the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Conference Committee on the Criminal Justice Reform Act of 2018, a comprehensive legislative package designed to reduce crime and improve public safety. In that role, she gained extensive experience working with a range of public safety stakeholders, advocates, and constituents.
Concepcion is a graduate of New England Law | Boston and a member of the Massachusetts Bar. She holds a B.A. in Criminology from Johnson C. Smith University and is a graduate of Boston Latin Academy.
Concepcion started her career as a Victim Witness Advocate in Boston Municipal Court where she worked with victims and survivors and provided crisis intervention and in-court guidance to victims and families suffering from crime-related trauma.
Concepcion has additional government experience in roles including the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development and the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board.
The “Diverse Executive Leadership Team” along with the appointed “Commissioners” are dedicated to ensuring that these “Operating Principles” are adhered to:
The Commission promises to:
Conduct all of our processes openly and transparently; and
Engage in regular two-way communication with all concerned citizens, patients, health care providers and caregivers, partners, and other constituencies.
Build a world-class state agency by:
Committing to the highest level of constituent services using state-of-the-art technology and multiple media.
Defining and publicly measuring our performance versus metrics regarding timely execution, accessibility, impact on public health and safety, impact on disproportionately harmed communities, and incremental tax revenue generation.
Becoming self-funding and generating a revenue surplus; and
Creating a great place to work.
Enhance and ensure public health and safety by:
Developing and enforcing effective regulations.
Developing and executing a program of continuing public education.
Conducting and contributing to research on marijuana-related topics; and
Using surplus funds to help address issues in these areas.
Ethnic Online would like to commend the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission for recognizing the importance of diversity and implementing a Diverse Competent Executive Leadership Team at the top! We know the work, oversight and commitment to excellence of these individuals will serve as a model for future “Cannabis Control Commissions” around the country as well as Corporate America!