A public policy and community affairs expert with more than 25 years of experience in both Jefferson City and the nation’s capital is the new board chair of the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association.

Dena Ladd, of St. Louis, spent the previous 12 years as the executive director of an organization that works to promote and protect medical research in Missouri. She stepped down from that role in early March.

She also played a role in the Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures campaign, a 2006 ballot initiative in which voters approved a constitutional amendment ensuring that any stem cell research and treatment allowed under federal law would also be legal in Missouri.

“Dena has been a part of our board since day one, and her extensive experience in public policy, healthcare and the medical cannabis industry makes her an ideal fit to lead MoCannTrade’s board of directors,” said Andrew Mullins, the organization’s executive director. “Our hundreds of industry members and the state’s nearly 200,000 medical cannabis patients and caregivers will all benefit from her passion for cannabis as medicine, medical cannabis research and commitment to patient care.”

Ladd has also served as executive director of the Missouri Leadership Council PAC and is currently the principal of DSL Consulting, focusing on government relations, economic and business development, research and policy strategy.

“I’m excited to continue collaborating with the talented team at MoCannTrade and work alongside board colleagues who bring their own extensive experience in business, medicine, healthcare, the law and more,” said Ladd. “I’ve devoted my professional career to looking out for the best interests of Missouri patients and research and look forward to continuing in that role.”

In 2013, Ladd developed the statewide Women in Science, Entrepreneurship and Research (WISER) initiative, which brings together women working in STEM fields. She is also a founding member of the D.C.-based Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM), serving on its board for seven years, and currently sits on various research boards in Missouri. Ladd  recently took a leadership role with the Association of Cannabinoids Specialists, founded by Harvard physician Dr Jordan Tishler.

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