NY’s Women In Cannabis: Claire Moloney NY’s Women In Cannabis: Claire Moloney

NYs Women In Cannabis: Claire Moloney

Claire Moloney is Leaflink’s vice president of business operations. In the newest entry of “NY’s women in cannabis,” Moloney shares advice on how women can find strong mentors, what companies can do to elevate women in the workplace, and what she’d tell her 25-year-old self.

Women are vastly underrepresented in cannabis, and not just in New York. From 2019 to 2022, executive-level females have seen their industry wide status drop from 37% to 23%. Yet the MRTA makes things very clear: women-owned businesses are a key component of the state’s social and economic equity plan.

NY Cannabis Insider is seeking to elevate women in cannabis through a hyper-focus on female story sourcing, quoting and visual layouts, balanced representation in our “People to know” and “Behind the story” series, and prioritized guest column submissions.

This series will last for as long as submissions come in.

What is your full name, title and company?

Claire Moloney, vice president of business operations at LeafLink.

Why did you launch your career in the cannabis industry? Were there any women who inspired you to do so? How did you do it?

When I was a senior at Cornell University, I took a course where each week, entrepreneurs discussed how they started their companies, the challenges they faced, and how they grew to be successful. I was so inspired by the founders that I simply knew leaving college that I wanted to launch a successful startup.

In all honesty, I had no idea this dream of mine would land me in the cannabis space. In 2015 Ryan G. Smith, our executive chairman, called me to share his vision for LeafLink, and at first, I was a bit hesitant on the idea of working in the space as no one I knew in New York was working in cannabis at the time.

In fact, adult-use was only legal in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska back then, and I hadn’t been to a dispensary. However, I knew I wanted to work with Ryan – he is a natural entrepreneur, strong innovator and leader, and had just sold his previous business, so having the opportunity to work with him to build a company from the ground up sounded perfect.

I asked my family and friends what they thought about it, and when my 84-year-old great aunt told me she thought it was going to be a huge industry and that I should go for it, I decided to take the leap. As the first female hire at the cannabis company in 2015, I was also one of the first female hires in cannatech. I didn’t know a soul in the industry, but fortunately, I quickly met Karson Humiston, the CEO & founder of Vangst. It was great to meet an inspiring female entrepreneur in the space: we’ve remained friends for all of these years and still get to work together on some LeafLink x Vangst collabs.

Looking back, I am so thankful I took the leap: I love the cannabis industry because of its entrepreneurial spirit. As a startup fanatic, I love working in the cannabis industry because it’s an industry full of startups. There’s nothing more rewarding for me than building a startup that helps other growing startups to scale.

What do you think is the most significant barrier to women leadership? Are the barriers different in cannabis than any other industry?

One of the most significant barriers to female leadership is that women are underrepresented in leadership roles across all industries, which I believe means – whether consciously or subconsciously – that fewer women see themselves as leaders.

I personally do not know many female CEOs, and many of

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