2021 Speaker List


Phillip Alberti

University of Illinois Extension

Phillip Alberti is a commercial agriculture educator with University of Illinois Extension. Phillip works in commercial crop production, assisting growers and producers by providing resources and consultations for production of row crops. His areas of focus include hemp production, soil fertility, and row crop production.

Midwestern Hemp Database Roundtable


Gina Alessandri

Michigan Dept. of Agriculture & Rural Dev., Industrial Hemp Program Director

While working as the Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division Director in 2018, Gina and her team tackled the task of creating a path for industrial hemp research in Michigan. The first hemp growing licenses were issued on Earth Day, April 20, 2019. July of 2019 she was formally named the Industrial Hemp Director.

Michigan Regulations for Industrial Hemp Production


Eric Anderson

MSU Extension

Eric Anderson has been a field crops educator with MSU Extension since 2015. Although his primary focus is traditional row crop farmers in southwest and south central Michigan, he has been learning about hemp production over the past two seasons and has helped entry-level and prospective growers navigate the process of getting started with hemp production.

Midwestern Hemp Database Roundtable

Marguerite Bolt

Purdue University

Marguerite Bolt is the hemp Extension specialist at Purdue University in the Department of Agronomy. Marguerite received her M.S. in Entomology from Purdue University, and her B.S in Entomology from Michigan State University. Her research has focused on hemp-insect interactions and plant chemistry. She is interested in the secondary compounds that hemp produces and how they affect insect pests, although she has had to shift her focus to agronomic production questions surrounding hemp. Her position is new to Indiana and she is serving as a catalyst to link growers to production facilities and the research community through online resources, field days, and workshops.

Insect, Pests & Control

Hunter Buffington

Executive Director, Hemp Feed Coalition

Hunter Buffington is the Executive Director of the Hemp Feed Coalition, a diverse set of stakeholders from across the United States and Canada. Its members were brought together by their motivation of increasing the health of the planet, our pets and production animals, and ultimately for ourselves.

The Coalition will play a historic role in the recognition of Hemp as animal feed and creates an opportunity to work across other industries to create new markets and harness this momentum into FDA approval.

“I believe by celebrating enterprise, supporting our farmers, capitalizing relationships and working together we can change the world. Industrial Hemp is the realization of that opportunity.”

Update on efforts for Federal approval of hemp as an animal feed ingredient.

Jeffrey Cole

US Hemp Brokerage LLC

Jeffrey Cole is the owner and founder of US Hemp Brokerage LLC, which he established in order to become the leading professional brokerage firm in the domestic hemp markets. While Jeff formed the company in August of 2018, he has recently nurtured the firm to its official launch on November 1, 2019. He has 7 team members at US Hemp Brokerage and he is based in Boulder County, CO.

Most recently (October 2018 – November 2019), Jeffrey held the position of Director of Program Development with Restorative Botanicals, a leading hemp firm, based in Boulder, CO. 

Hemp Brokerage and his Hemp Replacement Index

Greg Dean

Greg Dean

The Hemp Plastic Company

Mr. Dean has been involved in the plastics industry since 1998 and has held global executive roles in business development, operations, and supply chain at a global leader in rigid plastic consumer packaging. He has contributed to expansion in sales from $400M to $3.5B, and was instrumental in the creation of new greenfield operations in California, Iowa and Florida. He has a great professional working relationship with many CPG and FMCG organizations, ranging from tier one global organizations, to smaller regional or local companies. He has worked significantly on alternative material and process developments and commercialization in conjunction with end users. Prior to entering the rigid plastic space, Greg spent ten years in the metal can business as Director of International Sales. 

Business Roundtable: Breaking Down the Hemp Holdup

James DeDecker, PhD

Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center

Director of the MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center in Chatham, MI and a Specialist in the MSU Extension Community, Food and Environment Institute. He earned a BS in Environmental Studies and Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, as well as MS and PhD degrees in Crop Sciences from the University of Illinois. James specializes in soil health and fertility, integrated pest management and the human dimensions of agriculture.

Grain and Fiber Variety Research Insights

Cross Pollination Panel Discussion

Bruce Dietzen hemp car

Bruce Dietzen

Founder, Carbon Negative Fiber, Renew Sports Cars

Renew Design (parent of Renew Sports Cars) pursues Henry Ford’s vision of a world where everything possible is made from carbon neutral or negative plant materials… from the cars we drive, to the buildings we live in, to the “meat” we eat.

Building Carbon Negative


Shelby Ellison, PhD

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Dr. Ellison is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in the Department of Horticulture. Her research program focuses on preserving, characterizing, and utilizing genetic diversity in alternative crops to address modern day agricultural challenges. Dr. Ellison works with a multidisciplinary team to develop best production practices for hemp in the Midwest. She is also trials high cannabinoid hemp cultivars and teaches the course, “The Science of Hemp”, at UW Madison.

Midwestern Hemp Database Roundtable


Ryan Farmer

MSU Extension

Ryan is currently a second year master’s student in the Crop and Soil Science program at Michigan State University and has been working with hemp production in Michigan for the last two years, looking at grain, fiber, and oil production. Before attending MSU, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in agriculture science from Western Illinois University where he was first introduced to the cannabis species by studying with a professor who was breeding cannabis for different end results.

Midwestern Hemp Database Roundtable


Gavin L. Gaynor

Vice President, Research and Development, Mohawk Fine Papers

Gavin Gaynor has been working for Mohawk Fine Papers, Inc. for 20 years. He serves as Vice President, Research and Development, and is responsible for developing and commercializing new technologies. He plays an integral role in marrying market opportunity with viable technical and manufacturing solutions.

Gavin has great experience identifying potential opportunities and developing mutually-beneficial collaborative partnerships. He is well known in the paper industry as a technical and business innovator, and is recognized worldwide as a thought leader in the digital printing industry.

Prior to Mohawk, Gavin spent six years with Westvaco paper, where he led the Inkjet Development Group. Gavin did his graduate and undergraduate studies in Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University.

Business Roundtable: Breaking Down the Hemp Holdup

Chase Hubbard

Senior Hemp Analyst

Chase is a senior Hemp Analyst at The Jacobsen and has been reporting on the hemp markets. His insight will help growers and those involved in the hemp market understand where hemp products will go in the future.

CBD Market Report


Brandon Iker, PhD

Plant Scientist

Brandon is a Research and Plant Scientist with Amway Corporation. He joined Amway in 2014 as a postdoctoral researcher studying low-cost water filtration for emergency use in lesser-developed countries. In 2015, he began working as a research scientist and clinical investigator where he led research efforts in agriculture, the human microbiome, and plant-based diets and lifestyles.

Recently he joined the newly-formed Plant and Agriculture Innovation team at Amway where he works to develop applications in controlled-environment agriculture, new crop discovery, upcycling, and sustainable packaging and consumables.

Brandon has nearly 20 years of growing experiences in diverse growing climates around the US. In his free time, he runs a small research farm and consulting company in Clarksville, MI. The farm provides an open innovation research platform where Brandon works on new crop innovation, sustainable growing practices for northern climates, plant-based diet solutions, and new vegetable consumer testing.

Brandon sees hemp as a significant part of our sustainable agriculture future in Michigan.

Business Roundtable: Breaking Down the Hemp Holdup

Marty_Mahan, Heartland_Hemp_Cooperative

Marty Mahan

President, Heartland Hemp Cooperative

Marty is a long-time farmer and hemp advocate. With experience in growing for fiber and principal founder of Heartland Hemp Cooperative, Marty will share his experience and insight.

Hemp Fiber: Where are the Markets?

Eric McKee

Founder and CEO of Wndr LLC

Eric McKee is a veteran and eco-entrepreneur specializing in hemp-based solutions to combat global problems. Eric is the Founder and CEO of Wndr LLC, a Colorado startup, whose mission is to infuse sustainability and style with economic viability. His firm is built around developing startups capable of solving industry wide bottlenecks in the industrial hemp industry. His international clientele are positioned at all parts of the supply chain from seed to retail. Eric’s deep knowledge, expertise, connections and business acumen culminated in the formation of the US Hemp Building Association. As a co-founder and Director of Strategic Development, Eric is currently facilitating the organization’s 1st year expansion, leveraging his years of experience working in the sector.

How Hemp Is Changing the Building Industry

Jesse D. Miller, PhD

Director of Innovation, Neogen

With a great team, I oversee our innovation portfolio and process, bringing meaningful products to market that improve the lives of humans and animals worldwide. Without process and continuous improvement, Innovation is but a buzzword, and my team blends the two to provide value to our customers and the organization.

My scientific and professional strong points lie in the areas of Food Safety, Cannabis, Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Front End Innovation, please message me to discuss collaboration opportunities. 

Phytoremediators – How To Protect Your Crops and the Planet

Jonathan Miller US Hemp Roundtable

Jonathan Miller

Member in Charge, Frost Brown Todd, Lexington, Kentucky

Jonathan Miller has emerged as one of the nation’s leading advocates for the legalization of hemp. Upon leading successful lobbying efforts that laid the groundwork for the 2018 Farm Bill, Miller serves as trusted counsel to dozens of companies in the hemp space, with his full-service complement of law partners offering client counsel on issues ranging from intellectual property to corporate transactions to FDA regulation. Miller helped lead the successful legal battle against the DEA’s 2014 efforts to ban the importation of hemp seeds for Kentucky pilot programs, and now serves as general counsel to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, a trade association of more than 80 hemp companies, representing every link of the product chain, from seed to sale. In nearly two decades of public service, Miller held numerous senior positions in state and federal government, including two terms as Kentucky’s elected State Treasurer, serving as Kentucky’s Secretary of Finance and Administration, Deputy Chief of Staff of the U.S. Department of Energy, and Legislative Director for Congressman Jim Cooper.

2021: A Year of Promise for Hemp Policy on Capitol Hill and State Capitals

Lisa_Miller, Carhartt

Lisa Miller

Manager, Global Products RD, Carhartt

Lisa Miller is the Global Product – Advanced Development Manager at Carhartt Inc. in Dearborn, MI.

Lisa started at Carhartt in 2012 and has been responsible for care labels, textile development, product development, managing Men’s & Women’s Outerwear & Accessory categories and R&D/Innovation during her tenure.

A graduate of University of Miami, she majored in English and Marketing, but always had an eye for design and a love of textiles. After falling into a job designing and developing textiles for the hospitality industry, Lisa landed in LA, where she worked for brands like Juicy Couture and 7 For All Mankind.

Lisa and team have spent the last two years dabbling with hemp and is excited to be a part of this forum.

Business Roundtable: Breaking Down the Hemp Holdup 

Lori Putt

Founder, HOH Hempnotize
A Seed to Sale, Michigan Grown Hemp Company

Lori has a vast amount of experience in working with Fortune 100 corporations, as well as building and coaching entrepreneurial businesses in many diverse markets. 

Her latest venture being HOH Hempnotize in Northern Michigan with her son Andrew and husband Doug.  Lori can draw many parallels from the last four years of building a specialty hops business to their newest venture in growing, processing, marketing and selling Hemp/CBD. In 2020, HOH Hempnotized launched 25 new products, developed multiple new retail partners, and introduced new capability of offering wholesale and private label products. They grew seven strains of Hemp in Northern Michigan and leveraged many learnings from the prior year’s harvests. She is excited to share her learnings and insights, so others can benefit from her vast experiences.

Building Your CBD Brand from Field to Shelf – Start with a Plan A but have a Plan B! 

Adam Rosenberg

Vlasic Labs, Chief Financial Officer

I am passionate about education as a tool to advance the emerging hemp industry. My experience includes founding Green Wolverine at the University of Michigan as the first student organization focused on education and professional development of young talent to add value to the market. I have seen the industry from multiple angles, including cultivation and processing, and I see tremendous untapped potential which we can unlock through education. Lastly, I was impressed by the event last year and appreciated the opportunity to participate as a speaker.

Healthy and Sustainable Production of Medicines from Hemp

Gary Schuler

Founder and CEO of GTF LLC

GTF LLC was founded in 2014 and specializes in creating secondary applications for unused plant-based materials including; farming over-production, hemp waste, brewers spent grain, and post-consumer food waste. 

GTF uses a revolutionary drying and pulverizing technology that enables wasted materials to be “re-purposed” into new “green” materials such as consumer food products, next generation animal feed, bio-degradable plastic, and building products. 

Hemp Innovation 

Esther_Shekinah,_PhD, Michael_Fields

Esther Shekinah, PhD

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute

Dr. Shekinah joined MFAI in 2017 and comes to the organization with more than 18 years of research experience in sustainable agriculture. She earned her Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Agronomy and worked for many years with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research as a Senior Scientist on limiting external input use in agricultural systems by promoting resource and residue recycling, integrated crop – livestock systems, and co-developed land use plans for the five major agroecosystems of India. Later, working on crops such as rice, wheat, soybeans, pearl millet, sugarcane, and forage crops, she focused her research on conservation and sustainable use of resources, nutrient cycling and micro irrigation by conducting field trials and basic research.

She has been involved with cover crop research at MFAI over the past three years and is managing the CBD and grain hemp trials this year. MFAI has provided her a platform to work in organic agriculture and she continues to engage in cover crop research, develop production practices for crops in organic agriculture, diversity in cropping systems, and resource conservation. She is also working to involve herself with women in agriculture.

Midwestern Hemp Database Roundtable

Kurt Thelen, PhD

Michigan State University

Dr. Thelen is a professor at Michigan State University, in the Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences Department and the Great Lakes BioEnergy Research Center.  His research program is focused on developing crop systems that increase food, feed, and energy security while safeguarding soil, air, water, and biodiversity.

MSU Grain & Fiber Trials

Craig VanBuren

Laboratory Division Director, Michigan Dept. of Agriculture & Rural Dev.

Mr. VanBuren became the Metrology Lab manager in 2003 and served in that role until 2010 when he became the Director of the Consumer Protection Section, which administers the State’s Metrology Lab, Motor Fuels Quality Program and the Weights and Measures Program.  In 2016, VanBuren was named the Director for MDARD’s Laboratory Division which provides scientific and analytical services for the programs of the MDARD and other agencies. In addition, the Lab division provides testing services on a fee basis to Michigan’s industry and private citizens.  Additionally, Mr. VanBuren is past-Chairman of the National Conference on Weights and Measures and is a member of the board of directors.

MDARD Industrial Hemp Rules & Testing

Mark Vollmar

Organic Farmer

We have been certified organic since 1996.

In 1999, I co-founded Organic Bean and Grain, an organic grain elevator and food grade grain cleaner, with my brother Steven. We sold that company to Cooperative Elevator Co. in 2016 to focus on farming.

In 2019, my son and I started shifting our farming practices to regenerative organic because we have seen a deterioration in soil quality. This means we have drastically reduced tillage, dramatically increased cover crops and increased diversity from more grain, cover crop mixes and grain hemp in our rotation.

Farmer Tales

James_Vosper, AIHA

James Vosper

President, Australian Industrial Hemp Alliance

James is an experienced Director with an extensive knowledge of the industrial hemp industry in Australasia. James is the President and Public Officer of the Australian Industrial Hemp Alliance, the peak body for the hemp industry. He is also the President of the Industrial Hemp Association NSW.

With an Honours Degree in Environmental Management and being a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, James also has good understanding of business sustainability.

In 2013 he trained with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Corps in Chicago. He was a appointed a Mentor for the training in Brisbane in 2019 and for the virtual training in 2020.

Hemp & Carbon Sequestration

Marielle Weintraub

Marielle Weintraub, PhD

President, U.S. Hemp Authority

While the hemp industry is awaiting FDA regulations, the need for self-regulation became clear. In this session we will discuss how manufacturing and distributing standards, farming best practices, and third-party independent audits can help protect your business and your customers.

Seeing hemp clearly. Building trust and transparency through self-regulation.

Nate_Wittkamp, Wittkamp_Farms

Nate Wittkamp

Wittkamp Grain and Vegetable LLC

Nate Wittkamp grows asparagus, hemp, pickles, and zucchini on his farm in Oceana County. Nate graduated from Michigan State University and worked as a sales agronomist for Wilbur Ellis. After working for them and farming at the same time, he was approached by investors and asked to grow 200 acres of hemp. Instead of having two full-time jobs, he concentrated only on the farm to develop this commercially-new crop. In his free time, he follows Michigan State sports, bow hunts, and goes to the beach.

Farmer Tales

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This