The Sira Spotlight series focuses on one of the most interesting aspects of Sira Naturals: our people. Each month, we highlight members of our staff from across the entire organization.
In this Sira Spotlight, we are highlighting Government Relations and Community Investment - Program Assistant, Tanisha DeLeon to learn more about her role in shaping the organization's focus in the communities it serves and beyond.
Tanisha DeLeon, Program Assistant, Government Relations & Community Investment
What is your role?
Sira Naturals Program Assistant, Government Relations and Community Impact
How long have you been a part of the Sira Team?
How has your prior experience in Community Project Management informed your current work at Sira?
As a Black woman who’s had to exist in predominantly white space I’ve have learned to create and seek my own community. It wasn’t until high school that I sat in a room with other black and brown people to talk about my own experiences of racism, sexism, and confusion from growing up in a predominantly white school system. It was the first place I was comfortable to be my whole-self, learn about my identity, and unlearn white supremist history. That comfort challenged and encouraged me to pursue new adventures such joining a democratic education program, School Within a School. There, students helped create curriculum, drove student advocacy and created community through facilitation.
My senior year of high school I accepted a scholarship from the Posse Foundation to go to school Centre College. Posse sends a co-hort of ten students from different cities to colleges and universities around the United States. The summer before, students get together to learn how to navigate college campuses, create inclusive spaces, and facilitate uncomfortable conversations. That training allowed me be a change agent on campus and within the workplace. Within four years I became comfortable with community organizing, program creation, project management, sociological/anthropological research, protests, and re-founding the Black Student Organization.
Overall, my life and work experience allowed me to learn about how socially responsible planning/programming can create community, instill confidence in individuals, and create a path of success for black and brown people. Community helped build me and I’m building it back. I’ve brought this work to the Sira Naturals Government Relations and Community Investment team where I am a Program Assistant. I’m excited to work on a team that is radically rethinking community engagement, and aims to make cannabis more equitable by truly creating community, providing access to resources, and advocating against injustice.
What does the Sira.Community program entail?
Siira.Community is focused on portable job skills that empower individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs to create careers within the cannabis industry. It is a three-phase program of community engagement, job training and, workforce development, as well as empowering entrepreneurs. Participants receive training and mentoring to help them decide in what capacity they would like to engage the cannabis industry. Participants will have access to entry level positions, or through extensive training and mentorship become entrepreneurs.
Where can one learn more about the Sira.Community program?
Sira community website: https://www.siranaturals.org/cannabis-social-equity
What’s new with the Sira Accelerator program?
Accelerator 2.0 works to empower entrepreneurs from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Through providing access to resources that can prepare a cannabis business for success 2.0 allows entrepreneurs to create their own paths towards success with less financial burden, more resources, and a community of support.
What types of community efforts has Sira focused on throughout the COVID-19 crisis?
Sira was able to donate PPE supplies to several cities, working departments, and community organizations during COVID-19. We have donated several thousand masks and gloves to the City of Boston, Brockton, Somerville, the Cape Verdean Association of Boston, and Boston Pride (pending distribution). Additionally we partnered with CAAS to volunteer and help distribute their resiliency fund to those in need.
What has been your favorite experience working in the community so far?
I’ve loved getting to visit our manufacturing facility in Milford. I’ve loved interacting with our hard working and positive staff. Getting to see the process of a flower seed to sale is beautiful. These visits are what fuels my work to get people out of jail for cannabis and more people of color into the industry.
What is your favorite product at Sira and why?
My two favorite products are our Mother of Grapes and our Blueberry flower. Both indca strains are a great way to relax after work. The flavor is tasty and calming.
What do you enjoy outside of work?
I have a very large family with lots of cousins aunts and uncles. When I’m not spending time hanging out with friends and family I practice mindfulness meditation, listen to lost of music – especially R&B, I love trying new vegan recipes, photography/art, anything outdoors and watching Pablo Escobar related Netflix shows.