We planted the idea that talent was the key to making any organization flourish.

Growing Talent was founded in order to provide the absolute pinnacle of direct hire, executive search, and temporary talent solutions in the cannabis industry.

Our Executive team has more than 50 years of cumulative experience in identifying hard-to-find talent and managing end-to-end recruiting processes. We are ready to help your growing organization identify, attract, and hire top-tier talent to drive your business forward.

Whether you are an Agriculture Technology Manufacturer, Specialized Consulting Firm, or Industrial Hemp Manufacturer/Retailer, we focus on staffing and recruiting for highly specialized professionals that can help your organization become a key player in this growing industry.

Our Founder

Rona Borre

Since joining the human capital industry nearly 25 years ago, Rona has become a nationally recognized leader in the talent space. She specializes in working closely within emerging and high-growth markets alongside both startup organizations and well-established enterprises to create end-to-end recruiting strategies that identify teams and leaders who drive innovation. As a long-standing leader in Chicago, Rona is actively involved with the Economic Club of Chicago, the Young Presidents Organization, and The Chicago Network. She has also been featured in Crain’s Chicago, CNBC, CNN, CBS 2 Chicago, and USA Today as an expert in talent markets and supporting new industry verticals.

She was recently honored as the Enterprising Woman of the Year by Enterprising Women Magazine and was named an Influential Woman in Business by The Business Ledger.

Rona founded Growing Talent to bring her decades of experience driving innovation through talent strategies to the ever-evolving cannabis industry.

Our Team

Kurt Kaufmann

Director, Strategic Accounts

Kurt brings with him a wealth of firsthand knowledge and experience from directly within the Cannabis industry. He joins Growing Talent after a successful career with Green Thumb Industries, and Kurt’s broad set of experiences include managing tens of millions of dollars in wholesale sales, developing a compliant system for the transition from a medical-only market to one of the most robust adult-use programs in the country, conceptualizing and launching a first-of-its-kind, nationally-recognized career immersion program focused on advancing opportunities for social equity candidates, leading the formation of multiple departments including a data-driven customer service program, and spearheading GTI’s effort on corporate product and cannabis training.

Kurt began his career with one of the largest CPG companies in the world and shifted his focus to building brands within emerging markets. Kurt found his home marrying a love for cannabis with successes in helping build scalable teams and brands.  His experience as a primary caregiver for family members battling both cancer and epilepsy, informs his compassionate approach to the responsible and equitable scaling of the cannabis industry.

Kurt is working to develop best-in-class training, coaching, and staffing solutions for our emerging industry, based on real-world experiences and firsthand knowledge.

As an active member of Chicago’s robust cannabis culture, do not hesitate to say hello if you see him out at Illinois Women in Cannabis functions or other social events!

Lisamarie Gayle

Head of Human Resources Practice

Lisamarie Gayle brings more than 15 years of experience in Human Resources.  Throughout her career she has played a critical role for multiple Fortune 500 organizations by providing Human Resources services ranging from talent management, payroll processing, HRIS administration, workers’ compensation, training & development, records management, HR Policy development, compliance, and auditing.

Lisamarie firmly believes that each customer requires a customized solution in order to meet their unique business needs.  She works side-by-side with key executives, direct managers, and employees to create Human Resources policies that drive measurable business results and positively impact each employee.

She has dedicated more than a decade to building and bridging relationships with each client that she has worked with as well as their employees.  She brings extensive Human Resources expertise to each project she supports and has partnered with organizations ranging from start-up to Fortune 500.

Our Advisory Board

Alice Peterson

After starting her career in large public companies (PepsiCo, Kraft, Sears), Alice Peterson shifted to start-ups and smaller, high-growth businesses.  She most recently served as the Executive Vice President of Operations for Fluresh, a recently-founded cannabis grower, processor, and seller in Michigan.  There, she was responsible for bringing together the people, processes, and systems to build velocity into the core business model for an organization that grew to more than 100 employees. 

Prior to joining Fluresh, Ms. Peterson ran a healthcare start-up where she operationalized the founder’s concept, raised capital, and enhanced the UI/UX tech platform for end-users.  She had previously worked in private equity, buying and selling companies with her partners.  She founded Big Shoulders Capital, an asset-based lender, and through The Loretto Group, she helped small and mid-size businesses to achieve sustainable profitability, operational scaling, and winning cultures. 

She has served on the boards of large and small, public and private companies, for more than 20 years. 

She is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, The Chicago Network, and The National Association of Corporate Directors, and the International Women’s Forum.  She holds an MBA in finance from Vanderbilt University

David Friedman

David Friedman is the CEO of Panther Capital and interim CEO of AgTech Holdings, Inc. a leader in advanced applications of agricultural technology (AgTech).

Friedman is also the co-founder of the Panther Funds which has invested over $20 Million in 30 cannabis companies. Friedman is the former CEO of Manifest 7 (Formerly MJIC) and successfully managed the company’s restructuring in 2015/2016. He also co-created the current algorithm for the Marijuana Stock Index for MJIC.

Friedman is an investment and operations executive with over 25 years in venture capital, mergers & acquisitions, and corporate finance. Friedman also co-founded Institutional Cannabis Consultants, a firm that focuses on helping institutions both within cannabis and outside the industry with corporate development, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, and capital structuring.

Currently, Friedman sits on the Board of Directors of Fyllo, a position that was offered to him after successfully selling Cannaregs, a Panther Fund investment, to Fyllo. Friedman is also a board member of PayQwick and Abstrax Technologies and was previously a board observer at Baker, which merged to form the publicly-traded company TILT.

Bryna Dahlin

Bryna Dahlin is a partner at Benesch LLP.  She is widely known for effectively navigating the cutting-edge legal issues present in the fast-growing cannabis industry.  She advises cannabis companies of all sizes, from startups to stars in the industry. Clients rely on her practical, real-world approach to navigating the industry’s complex and contradictory laws and regulations.  Bryna’s clients range from growers, distributors, product manufacturers, and ancillary businesses to traditional companies that work with and are impacted by cannabis laws.

Bryna advises on issues of regulatory compliance; risk avoidance; company formation; contracts and licensing; corporate transactions; advertising and product packaging; and brand strategy and intellectual property protection.  She also performs legal due diligence for investors in the cannabis space and guides hemp, health, and beauty brand clients in navigating CBD and FDA laws.

Bryna’s desire to play a role in helping to correct the social injustices resulting from the war on drugs, combined with her significant branding, food, and drug law experience, led her to form a legal practice catering to the cannabis industry in 2015. She serves as an adjunct professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law, where she taught Illinois’ first law course on cannabis; has lectured around the country on cannabis law, and serves as pro bono counsel to Chicago NORML. She is a nationally ranked cannabis attorney by Chambers USA and has been listed as a Super Lawyer or Rising Star since 2010, and in 2013 was recognized as one of Chicago’s “40 under 40” by the National Law Journal.

Growing Talent is proud to promote diversity and social equity within the cannabis industry and beyond. We are extremely excited to share that we are officially certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through WBENC.

As a professional services organization, we believe that it is critical to help our clients promote diversity through their hires and their strategic partnerships.

There’s no one that knows your business better than you, and there’s no one that knows talent better than us.

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