Advisory Board

We are pleased to introduce you to the Hemp Grower Conference 2021 Advisory Board, which is comprised of growers, researchers and industry professionals who were carefully selected for their industry leadership, expertise and passion for the advancement of the fiber, grain and CBD commercial hemp market.

Rachel Berry
Farmer and CEO
Illinois Hemp Growers Association

Rachel Berry is the founder and CEO of the Illinois Hemp Growers Association, a women-led benefit corporation and grassroots organization representing over 700 members. Her roles in the hemp industry have included secretary on the board of directors for the U.S. Hemp Building Association; client relations/superintendent on a 25,000-plant startup grow in 2019; and a frequent speaker and panelist at University of Illinois Extension, the Illinois Farm Bureau, the Illinois Small Business Development Center, and many other hemp industry and community events. Berry is a first-generation regenerative farmer raising poultry, growing heirloom vegetables, native medicinal plants, and industrial hemp with her family on their 13-acre homestead. Her work is dedicated to building the resources and relationships necessary to grow a sustainable and equitable Illinois hemp industry. Berry also serves on the board of directors for the Illinois Stewardship Alliance. She believes local food matters and that hemp should be a part of local food systems in the future. Rachel is also experienced in hemp-lime construction.

Alyssa Ann Collins
Director, Southeast Agricultural Research & Extension Center
Associate Professor, Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology

Dr. Alyssa A. Collins is the director of Penn State’s State Southeast Agricultural Research & Extension Center in Lancaster County. She is a member of the PA Department of Agriculture Industrial Hemp Steering Committee, serves on the editorial board of Hemp Grower magazine, and leads the Penn State Extension hemp education and outreach team. Along with colleagues, she has been participating in hemp production research in Pennsylvania since 2017. Her research focus is on fiber and grain crop production and building regional networks for a successful hemp value chain.

Jeff Kostuik
Director of Operations
Hemp Production Services and Hemp Genetics International

Jeff Kostuik spent 20 years as an agronomist and hemp contact for the government of Manitoba, where he also managed the Parkland Crop Diversification Foundation, conducting applied research. In 2015, he joined Hemp Genetics International and Hemp Production Services, Canada’s largest Canadian-owned bulk hemp supplier, where he now serves as Director of Operations. Kostuik’s mission is to continue the company’s decades-long pedigreed seed line and explore opportunities in CBD-rich varieties.

Marty Mahan
Farmer and President
Heartland Hemp Co-Op

Marty Mahan is a fifth generation farmer in Rush County, Indiana. He is a co-founder and president of the Heartland Hemp Cooperative and a member of the board of directors for the Indiana Farmers Union. Since 2015, Mahan has been a consistent hemp advocate and educator in Indiana and has served as the agricultural advisor for organizations such as the Midwest Hemp Council and INHIA. After studying electronics in college, Mahan spent 20+ years working in building automation as an engineer and project manager. After the passing of his father, he returned to oversee the farm operation and immediately began to research alternatives to diversify the farm’s income. Mahan’s focus is on fiber/grain and helping small family farms access those markets and maximize their profits.

Bear Reel
Senior Director of R&D Cultivation
Charlotte’s Web

K. Bear Reel is the vice president of cultivation R&D for Charlotte’s Web Inc., the market leader for high quality hemp derived CBD extracts. While at Charlotte’s Web, Reel established a new division where she drives the company’s plant breeding strategies, creation of new hemp varieties, seed production efforts, and integrating molecular technologies. She oversees a growing team of scientific minds and seed producers, while engaging directly with hemp farmers and growers across the country. She is most excited about researching hemp’s underlying genetic mechanisms of phytochemical profile expression and the subsequent applications for human health. Reel has been in the hemp industry since 2014 and has intimate knowledge of hemp regulations, tissue culture, cultivation practices, extraction techniques, and cGMP compliance. Today she works most closely with generating high CBD hybrid varieties of feminized seed for the U.S. hemp industry.

Harold Singletary
Founder and CEO
BrightMa Farms

Harold Singletary is the founder and CEO of BrightMa Farms and treasurer of the U.S. Hemp Growers Association. Singletary is a native of Charleston, S.C., and has 20 years of tax and finance industry-leading expertise. BrightMa Farms sells hemp clones, breeds hemp, conducts research and development, and grows boutique smokable flower. Through BrightMa, Singletary is aiming to fulfill hemp’s potential to benefit both farmers of color and society as a whole.

Luis Vega
Founder and CEO
¡WEPA! Farms

Luis Vega, founder and CEO of ¡WEPA! Farms, runs or manages 270 acres of hemp farmland, primarily in rural Shelton, Conn. ¡WEPA! Farms works with multiple cultivars of hemp, contracts with agricultural businesses across three states—Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut—and sells everything from hemp face masks to cannabidiol (CBD) coffee online. His business received an investment of $150,000 through the i2 Accelerator Program. Vega studied finance at the University of New Haven and earned a postgraduate degree in business.

Maureen West
Chief Compliance Officer
Functional Remedies LLC

Maureen West is general counsel for Functional Remedies LLC. She also owns Maureen West & Associates LLC, a firm that includes cannabis regulatory and business transactional law.

For 16 years, West served as Colorado assistant attorney general where she represented over a dozen regulatory boards. She then dived into hemp by becoming the first Industrial Hemp Program Manager for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Denver.

Luke Zigovits
Owner and Farm Manager
Higher Level Organics

Luke Zigovits is the owner and farm manager at Higher Level Organics, a certified organic, and Sun+Earth certified farm. With a 20-year history of cultivating and breeding cannabis, Zigovits has worked with landrace, heritage, and low-THC hemp cultivars. His experience includes broadacre, greenhouse and indoor production. He brings a wide array of experience focused on breeding, selection and variety trials in organic cropping systems. He currently conducts ongoing breeding programs that include cultivars of various chemical compositions.