Stephen Costick is the Operations Manager for the Verdes Foundation and leads the harvest, dry/cure and packaging departments. His 8 years of knowledge and experience working within the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program have developed his attention to detail in best practices, workplace efficiencies, and quality control for Verdes’ in-house horticulture products. As a leader in the company, his passion is to provide resources for his colleagues, bring new opportunities to employees, and foster the culture of meaningful impact through the products Verdes produces.
In 2014, Stephen received two Associate Degrees from Central New Mexico Community College in Applied Sciences and Aviation Maintenance and Technologies in the field of Airframe and Powerplant. His education in mechanics drives his interest in the implementation of automation and production equipment within his departments.
A native to New Mexico, Stephen is an advocate for local economic and community growth, and uses his experience, passion, and position within Verdes to help the company be a part of positive changes happening within the state.
Dot Cook-Simmons is the Human Resources (HR) Manager, with a Masters and SPHR Certification in HR. She oversees anything to do with the employees – benefits, performance reviews, recruiting, interviewing, as well as ensuring the implementation of Verdes policies and procedures.
Dot has worked in Human Resources for over 20 years, serving as a Consultant, Director, Manager and Business Partner. Prior to her employment with Verdes Foundation, she has worked in a variety of industries, including the Santo Domingo Pueblo. Dot says HR is HR wherever you go, it’s a matter of learning the industry and how HR can best support the staff.
Dot tries to serve and represent both employees and management in the positions she holds.
Spring Velasquez is the in-house baker at Verdes. She is a New Mexico native who has spent most of her life in the east mountains. Spring comes from a large family of 6 siblings and has two teenage sons of her own. Her passion for cooking began with family traditions taught to her by her parents Debbie and Robert Velasquez.
Every day, Spring creates Verdes a variety of edibles that patients enjoy. Her work allows her to make a difference by using cannabis to help patients find the comfort they need. Outside of Verdes Spring enjoys being outdoors and watching her sons grow.
Rachel Hessheimer is a Traditional Herbalist and the Laboratory Manager and Lead Extractionist for the Verdes Foundation. She has been studying and practicing Herbal Medicine since 2004, and has applied her knowledge of plants and botanical extracts while working in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program since 2012. She specializes in eco-friendly extracts processing and developing and manufacturing superior quality medicinal wellness products.
Rachel holds a BAFA in Art History and Museum Studies from the University of New Mexico, and is a 200-RYT Certified Yoga Instructor. She has additionally studied Anthropology, Environmental Sciences, and Biology while at UNM and CNM. She is passionately inspired by the intersection of art and science and how the two can be applied within the contexts of education, healthcare, and creating daily wellness practices. She is currently in the process of expanding within her Herbalism studies and is planning to purse an MFA in Art and Ecology at UNM.
Elizabeth Sesler is a Registered Nurse Educator for the Verdes Foundation. She utilizes her extensive nursing and cannabis knowledge to educate patients, providers, and the community.
Elizabeth has worked in healthcare for over 16 years, beginning her experience as a nursing assistant and working in the hospital setting after completing her associate’s degree in nursing from Central New Mexico Community College. Elizabeth completed her bachelor’s degree shortly after from the University of New Mexico, and continued to work at Presbyterian hospital in multiple settings, including general surgical, stroke care, telemetry, cardiac surgical care, and the emergency room. She is currently completing an acute care nurse practitioner program with a focus on adult-gerontology.
Elizabeth is involved in multiple nursing organizations, including the American Nurses Association (ANA), The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), the Nu Epsilon chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau honors society, and she is also a student member of the New Mexico Nurse Practitioner Council. Elizabeth has a passion for volunteering, and is a regular mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central New Mexico.
Zach Buckner is the General Manager at Verdes Foundation where he oversees dispensary operations. Zach is dedicated to educating the public on the positive benefits that medical cannabis can have on people’s lives. He has two years of experience working in the cannabis industry, at multiple dispensaries. He attended and graduated from Oaksterdam University in Oakland in 2015. Before entering the cannabis industry in 2016, he attended New Mexico State University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, and an associate degree in Business. Zach has over ten years of customer service experience and is a stellar go-to for patients and staff at Verdes Foundation.
Aroma: smokey, woody
Symptom relief: insomnia, stress, anxiety, antioxidant, anticancer, antibacterial, antifungal
Found In: Bruce Banners Ghost; Ghost Train Haze; Harle-Tsu
Symptom relief: insomnia, stress, pain, antioxidant, anticancer, antibacterial, antifungal
Found In: Bruce Banners Ghost;
Aroma: pine, sage
Symptom relief: fatigue, pain, inflammation, asthma, short term memory loss (from THC), antioxidant, anticancer
Found In: Blue Dream; Cannatonic; DAD; Ghost Train Haze; Harle-Tsu; Hash Plant; Long Bottom Leaf; Purple OG Kush
Aroma: citrus, tropical, woody
Symptom relief: congestion, antibacterial, anti-viral
Found In: G-13 Haze; Ghost Train Haze; Harle-Tsu
Aroma: musky, cloves, earthy, herbal-citrus/tropical
Symptom relief: insomnia, depression, muscle spasms, inflammation, pain, antibacterial, antidiabetic, antipsychotic
Found In: Blue Dream; Bubba Kush; Buddha Tahoe; Cannatonic; DAD; G-13 Haze; Girl Scout Cookie; Gorilla Glue 4; Green Crack; Hash Plant; Honey Bananas; LA Cookies; Long Bottom Leaf; Purple OG Kush
Aroma: floral, citrus
Symptom relief: anxiety, depression, stress, convulsions (especially in combination with high CBD), antiseptic
Found In: Bruce Banners Ghost; Bubba Kush; Green Crack; Rare Darkness
Symptom relief: anxiety, depression, stress, heart-burn, GI symptoms, anticancer, antifungal, antibacterial, boosts immunity
Found In: Buddha Tahoe; Gorilla Glue 4; Hash Plant; Honey Bananas; Kryptonite; Long Bottom Leaf; Purple OG Kush; Rare Darkness; Skunk #1
Aroma: earthy, herbal citrus/tropical
Symptom relief: appetite suppressant, indigestion, pain, inflammation, antibacterial, cancer fighting
Found In: Bubba Kush; Girl Scout Cookie; Kryptonite; LA Cookies
Aroma: pepper, spicy, woody, cloves
Symptom relief: GI symptoms, inflammation, pain, muscle spasms, anticancer, liver support, reduces cholesterol
Found In: Bruce Banners Ghost; Bubba Kush; Buddha Tahoe; Cannatonic; G-13 Haze; Ghost Train Haze; Girl Scout Cookie; Gorilla Glue 4; Green Crack; Harle-Tsu; Hash Plant; Honey Bananas; Kryptonite; LA Cookies; Long Bottom Leaf; Rare Darkness; Skunk #1
Mark Braithwaite is the Director of Cultivation at the Verdes Foundation. He is engaged in the development, growing, care, and maintenance of the Verdes Foundation’s grow facilities and horticultural products.
Prior to his career in cannabis cultivation that started in 2015, Mark had a fifteen year career as an engineer employed at a top National Laboratory. He attended both Texas Tech University and the University of New Mexico for his bachelor’s degree, learning a broad foundation of science before focusing on computer engineering. Mark employs his laboratory experience and higher education in the sciences to apply proven scientific methods and processes to the Verdes Foundation’s cultivation.
Mark strives to marry technology with the natural science of cannabis plants to cultivate consistent, potent, high-quality produce.
Bill Kirikos is the General Manager for the Verdes Foundation. Bill started in June of 2015 as a customer representative with Verdes. He helped open and manage the opening of the 2nd Verdes’ location in Rio Rancho. Bill brings many years of experience as a business owner and operator in Albuquerque. With this knowledge, Bill continues making Verdes a better place for patients, employees, and the overall community.
Evan Herrmann is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurobiology (in Psychiatry) at Columbia University Medical Center and a Research Scientist II at New York State Psychiatric Institute. Evan completed his graduate training in Experimental Psychology at the University of Vermont (2007-2013) as a research fellow in the Human Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory. Evan then completed postdoctoral fellowships at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (2013-15), and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (2015-2016), before joining the Division on Substance Use Disorders as a faculty member in July 2016.
Evan’s research is focused on the effects of commonly used psychoactive drugs on human behavior, most notably the behavioral pharmacology of cannabis and other cannabinoids. Recent topics of inquiry include laboratory studies examining the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of passive cannabis smoke exposure and oral cannabis (brownies) consumption, as well as new projects examining the therapeutic potential of cannabis/cannabinoids as treatments for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and chronic pain.
In addition to this research activity, Evan teaches courses on Substance Use Disorders and Research Design and Analysis, and mentors undergraduate studies via supervision of research thesis projects.
Donald I. Abrams, MD. is chief of the Hematology-Oncology Division at San Francisco General Hospital and a Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California San Francisco. He has an Integrative Oncology consultation practice at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. He received an A.B. in Molecular Biology from Brown University in 1972 and graduated from the Stanford University School of Medicine in 1977.
After completing an Internal Medicine residency at the Kaiser Foundation Hospital in San Francisco, he became a fellow in Hematology/Oncology at the Cancer Research Institute of the University of California, San Francisco in 1980. He was one the original clinician/investigators to recognize and define many early AIDS-related conditions. He has long been interested in clinical trials of complementary and alternative medicine interventions for HIV/AIDS and cancer, including evaluations of medicinal marijuana.
In 1997 he received funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to conduct clinical trials of the short-term safety of cannabinoids in HIV infection. Subsequently he was granted funds by the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research to continue studies of the effectiveness of cannabis in a number of clinical conditions. He completed a placebo-controlled study of smoked cannabis in patients with painful HIV-related peripheral neuropathy as well as a study evaluating vaporization as a smokeless delivery system for medicinal.
His last NIDA-funded trial investigated the possible pharmacokinetic interaction between vaporized cannabis and opioid analgesics in patients with chronic pain. He is now conducting an NIH-funded trial investigating vaporized cannabis in patients with Sickle Cell disease. He co-authored the chapter on “Cannabinoids and Cancer” in the Oxford University Press Integrative Oncology text that he co-edited with Andrew Weil. He co-edits the NCI PDQ CAM Cannabinoids and Cancer website. He was a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s committee that published The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research in January 2017.
Founder, Aunt Zelda’s, Calla Spring Wellness, and Zelda Therapeutics. Mara specializes in the development of treatment protocols utilizing Bio Pharmaceutical grade cannabis extracts for seriously ill patients in California. She co-founded of Aunt Zelda’s, Calla Spring Wellness, and Zelda Therapeutics in order to provide real outcomes for patients with serious diseases.
Prior to Aunt Zelda’s, Mara worked as a process engineer, helping Fortune 500 companies create intelligent software by utilizing the Rational Unified Process. This experience has enabled her to take a detailed and scientific approach to utilizing cannabis as a Bio Pharmaceutical grade treatment.
Gordon sits on the boards of Zelda Therapeutics, Daya Foundation, International Cannabis Standards Board (ICSB), and Hmbldt. She has presented at multiple CME-accredited medical conferences, including Patients Out of Time 2014, and at POT 2016, delivered a 3.5 hour course along with Drs Cristina Sanchez, Manuel Guzman, and Joe D. Goldstrich. Gordon has spoken at medical cannabis conferences in Australia, Costa Rica, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Israel, as well as numerous events throughout the USA and worldwide. These include CannMed held at Harvard Medical School in April 2016, and Medical Marijuana for Professionals 2014 and 2016. Her work is featured in the upcoming documentaries, “Weed the People”, “Mary Janes: Women of Weed”, and in Joe Dolce’s book, “Brave New Weed”.
Shawna Brown is the Community Relations and Marketing Manager for the Verdes Foundation. Shawna brings her background in fundraising, community development, communications, and public relations to assist in the Verdes Foundation’s community affairs. She also oversees the planning and execution of the Annual New Mexico Medical Cannabis Conference. Since earning her bachelor’s degree from Texas State University in Mass Communications, Shawna has assisted and led a variety communication efforts for nonprofit organizations including the United Way of Central New Mexico and New Day Youth & Family Services. She is the past-communications chair for the Association of Fundraising Professionals board and local National Philanthropy Day Awards, a 2016 Women of Influence Awardee, and a 2013 YWCA Woman on the Move. Fun fact: Shawna LOVES podcasts. If you see her in the dispensary be sure to share with her your favorites!
Briana Perez is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Belmont University in Nashville, TN and was the President of the Student Nurses Association. She has been a Registered Nurse since 2004, working at Baptist Hospital in Tennessee, The Doctor’s Hospital in Dallas TX, and Presbyterian Hospital in NM. She has a wide range of nursing experience from surgical nursing to intensive care and brings all this knowledge to the patients of The Verdes Foundation. Briana has been working at Verdes since May of 2015. She helped create the current patient consultation program and has also written multiple educational documents on cannabis as it pertains to various medical conditions. Briana plans to continue to expand the current nursing program according to the needs of the community.
Rachel is a native New Mexican, born in Belen, New Mexico. Rachel has worked in the medical field for approximately 20 years and specifically as a registered nurse since 2013. Prior to receiving her Associates degree in Science of Nursing at Central New Mexico Community College, she worked as a Medical Assistant and Certified Orthopedic Technician. Rachel’s experience includes orthopedic surgery, pediatric ICU/pediatric oncology and currently, cannabis nursing. She founded the local MeetUps for The American Cannabis Nurses Association’s Albuquerque Chapter and uses this platform to educate patients and healthcare providers about cannabis medicine. Rachel is also currently studying to be an advanced herbalist, with goals to incorporate local medicinal herbs into cannabis therapy.
Hillary Carroll, M.S. CAM, joined The Verdes Foundation in 2015. Hillary was born and raised in New Mexico and has extensive experience in complementary and alternative medicine. She has a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University and a Master’s of Science in Complementary Alternative Medicine from The American College of Healthcare Sciences. Hillary specializes in Holistic Nutrition, Iridology, and Herbal Medicine.
Hillary previously worked as the Chief Administrative Officer for Nature’s Force Organics, where she expanded her work in the cannabis industry. Hillary is the Co-Chairwoman for Albuquerque Women Grow where her passion is to connect patients, producers, and artisans within the cannabis industry.
Rachael Speegle, RN is the Chief Executive Officer and Owner of The Verdes Foundation. As one of Verdes’ founding members she has dedicated her time to learning the art of cannabis cultivation, processing, and distribution.
Splitting her time at The Verdes Foundation and Presbyterian Hospital, she continued to work as a cardiac nurse until leaving the hospital in January of 2015 to fully commit to cannabis nursing. After working with hundreds of patients in private clinic, Rachael has developed care plans for medical cannabis programs all over the Country. She works hand-in-hand with patients and their providers to insure the highest level of safety and efficacy. While counseling patients and their family members, she developed the belief that advocacy is as important as treatment.
Rachael is an accomplished international public speaker, speaking at medical cannabis and wilderness medical conferences. She is a member of the 2018 Aspen Institute’s Health Innovators Fellowship, and the American Cannabis Nurses Association. Rachael also serves as the current Vice President of the New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce and is the past Albuquerque Chapter Chair for Women Grow. Rachael is committed to using her platform to insure the cannabis industry is inclusive and without discrimination.
Eric Speegle is the Chief Operating Officer and Owner of The Verdes Foundation, a non-profit licensed cultivator, processor, and distributor of medical grade cannabis serving patients of the New Mexico Medical Cannabis program. Eric founded the company in 2010 and continues to oversee the vertically integrated company in its entirety.
Eric has a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of New Mexico, Anderson School of Management. He worked for major healthcare organizations including Lovelace Respiratory Labs and Molina Healthcare, prior to founding The Verdes Foundation. His education and extensive experience makes him a valuable asset to the medical cannabis industry.
As one of the first licensed non-profit producers in the state, Eric has worked to create industry cultivation standards, implemented throughout New Mexico and is an advocate for the medical cannabis industry.