About Us

Mike Fitzgerald
Co-Founder & Institute Director

Mike is the Co-Founder/President of New England Grass Roots Institute, New England’s first medicinal plant learning center, established 2012. In addition to creating a mission and science based curriculum, Mike is an established expert in plant medicine, cultivation and treatment, and a successful entrepreneur, with a focus on industry leadership, quality and education. Mike is a Medical Cannabis Cultivation Expert Witness for the Massachusetts Court System and lecturer with frequent invitations for radio and TV appearances

Ben James
Ben James
Co-Founder and Strategic Planning & Development

Ben has been a founding partner of 3 private equity firms, including North Castle Partners, a $600 million consumer health focused fund. He has over 30 years experience successfully working with private companies and  management teams to grow and add value to businesses in various capacities, including as frequent board member, private equity partner, consultant and CFO.  In his free time,  Ben has served in a number of roles at various non-profit organizations.

Vinnie Posca
Vinnie Posca
Director of Product Development & Production

Vincent is the Director of Marijuana Infused Products at the Thomas C Slater Compassion Center. He has 10 years’ experience both overseeing and performing solvent and solventless extractions, and producing a wide variety of edible, topical and smokeable products focusing on patient safety, shelf life and profitability. He has created accurately dosed prescription medications for pediatric patients connected with Hasbro Children’s Hospital and is consistently refining and manipulating cannabis oils’ physical properties to develop efficacious, use-specific products. Vincent has created many profitable product lines that are still in production today. 

Dennis Cardiff
Dennis Cardiff
Director of Finance & Administration

Dennis holds a degree in Business Administration and has continued his studies at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.  His background includes broad experience in business start-ups, having built and sold a multi-million-dollar software company, and presently, by serving as CFO/COO in a mobile app start-up.  In addition, Dennis is very involved with his community. He has been elected to several local political positions over the last 40 years and frequently sits on boards of both local for-profit businesses and non-profit organizations.

Ruth Hurwitz
Ruth Hurwitz
Executive Director

Ruth has a comprehensive background in communications, leadership development and organizational management.  She is skilled in public relations and community relations, is a talented administrator and strong project manager.  Ruth is also a professional coach and it is rumored that she is the most organized person to walk the earth.

Melissa Fitzgerald
Director of Education

Melissa is the Co-Founder and Director of Education of New England Grass Roots Institute, New England’s first cannabis learning center, established 2012. In addition to creating cutting edge, high quality, holistic health class content and study materials for thousands of students with an emphasis on business, law, horticulture and science, for years now Melissa has been very involved in providing free community patient support group meetings. Her vision around patient education is coming to fruition and culminating in her dream of the New England Grass Roots Foundation, a place of support and education for all patients, their families and caregivers, a place to achieve greater access to much needed holistic education and empathy. Melissa describes herself as a Speaker, Consultant, Educator, Human Being. 

Stephen Champagne
Stephen Champagne
Director of Sales

Stephen after being introduced to CBD over 18 months ago, is a daily user and advocate. Graduating with a degree in Marketing, he is a seasoned sales professional, and a natural people-person who is passionate about bringing CBD to all those who will benefit from it, sharing his story and spreading the word. 

Sarah Shulman
Sarah Shulman
Co-Chair, Medical Advisory Board

Sarah is the Director of the Resiliency Project at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a wellness initiative for the staff that is tackling the burnout crisis that the healthcare industry faces.  She received her medical degree from Tufts University in 1994, and went on to specialize in Pediatrics at Fletcher Allen Hospital at the University of Vermont. Sarah is board certified in Pediatrics, in 2012 completed her training in Peruvian Shamanism and in 2018 was initiated into the Incan tradition in Peru.  She is an emerging expert, physician, speaker and consultant in the field of mind body medicine. She is devoted to working to redefine western medicine’s approach to health and wellness. She intimately believes that chronic disease can benefit, if not be cured, by adopting a healthy lifestyle.  

Evan Lean
Assistant Retail Manager

Evan has over a decade of retail sales experience and is a home cultivator. He is passionate about educating anyone who will listen about cannabis and CBD. Evan and with his dog Willy are both daily users and proud proponents of CBD. 

Shannon Burgess
Instructor

Shannon, a long-term cannabis patient and breast cancer survivor, is very passionate about spreading the word of cannabis and its many health benefits. Working alongside Mike Fitzgerald as his assistant and as an educator at The Leaf Collaborative, not only does she hope to teach others about how they can be in charge of their medicine and their own health, but she also hopes to continue educating herself as the vast world of cannabis continues to change and take shape. As a patient and a caregiver, Shannon has been working tirelessly in her kitchen for the past three years to create and provide oils, tinctures and some of the most delicious edibles for not only herself, but also her family and friends. Through her personal experience and her trials and errors in kitchen, she is looking forward to sharing all that she has learned with the cannabis community.