Features

Stacey Mahone – Eli Lilly and Company

Pharma lawyer regulates company growth

When Stacey Mahone started at Green Thumb Industries in 2019, the company didn’t have programs  for enterprise risk management, corporate compliance or privacy.

By the time she left two years later, it had all three, as well as over four times the number of people on the compliance team. While she had strong experience in the pharmaceutical and medical industries, she  had never built programs like this.

“Cannabis was a new industry to me, but I saw a connection between it and my previous work,” Mahone says. “They’re highly regulated industries and I was used to working at lightning speed, although Green Thumb is the most fast-paced place I’ve ever worked.”

Stacey Mahone | Senior Director, Assistant General Counsel, Leader of Litigation and Government Investigations | Eli Lilly and Company

Stacey Mahone | Senior Director, Assistant General Counsel, Leader of Litigation and Government Investigations | Eli Lilly and Company

She says the ever-changing nature of the industry, plus the start-up atmosphere, created a work environment that was never dull. Green Thumb Industries, based in Chicago, is a national cannabis retailer that sells edibles, vape pens, CBD-infused skincare products and  .

While Mahone enjoyed her work there, she’s now at Eli Lilly and Company where she works as senior director, assistant general counsel and leader of litigation and government investigations. She started the role in August.

“Having spent my career in the pharmaceutical industry, this was an opportunity to be part of one of the largest pharma companies in the world,” she says. “It was too good an opportunity to pass up.”

Privacy matters

At Green Thumb Industries, Mahone was hired as the vice president assistant general counsel, litigation and compliance.  She started the enterprise risk management program after discussions with Green Thumb’s general counsel, Beth Burk. Through the program, Mahone made sure the business had multiple vendors. That way, if any have shortages or delays, Green Thumb will still get supplies from another vendor.

Mahone says Burk often encouraged her to gain  new skills, including privacy law.

“As I started to shape the compliance team and programs, I had Beth Burk as a wonderful mentor who identified my skill set and ability to lead and agreed  I should be the chief compliance officer,” she says.

In pursuing the promotion, Mahone got her privacy law certification, making her the only person at Green Thumb with that skill. She was promoted to senior vice president, chief compliance officer and chief counsel litigation in November 2020. From there, she developed the privacy program in conjunction with the IT department.

“No one else was doing privacy at the company, but we were growing and I knew it was important to develop a program around it,” she says.

Compliance upkeep

When Mahone was at Green Thumb, it went through an acquisition that doubled the size of the company and allowed it to expand into new markets. Compliance wise, this created many challenges, she says.

Through the new corporate compliance program, she and her team made sure all licensing, marketing, advertising, packaging and labeling met the differing state standards for cannabis. They also ensured the company was compliant for retail and dispensing cannabis.

While working on the corporate compliance program, Mahone hired an attorney to support the regular compliance team so she could focus on larger initiatives, such as updating the company’s code of ethical conduct and corporate policies.

“I had an amazingly skilled and smart compliance and legal team at Green Thumb,” Mahone says. “It was really energizing working with such a great group of people doing their best every day.”

Litigation leader

Much of Mahone’s work at Green Thumb also included litigation, which has been an area of expertise throughout her career.

Prior to working at Green Thumb, she spent 12 years at Takeda, a global biopharmaceutical company, where she specialized in litigation and investigations. As assistant general counsel, she directed defense of over 10,000 mass tort claims in the U.S. and Canada. Her case portfolio included commercial, class action, product liability, employment, whistle blower and patent infringement matters.

Mahone also did litigation at Baxter International, a medical device company, and at Locke Lord, a Chicago-based law firm, where she represented a global pharmaceutical company.

As Eli Lilly and Company’s leader of litigation and government investigations, she says she’s excited to continue this work.

“I enjoy litigation because of the challenge,” Mahone says. “I like identifying creative solutions in cases and using them to help my client.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Winter I 2022 Edition here.

Published on: November 9, 2021

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