Angela, founder of Our Lady Mary Jane, was born in Berrien Springs, Michigan and raised on the northwest side of Chicago by three hardworking, Native American women and her father, a fourth generation Chicagoan and Catholic of European descent. From kindergarten, Angela attended Walt Disney Magnet School where bussing students ensured a very diverse student body. The mix of cultures and an emphasis on anti-discrimination at Disney had a strong impact on Angela’s worldview.
Around third grade, Angela recognized the struggle to belong, to “fit in.” Disney students began to self-segregate by race. Angela and some of her white friends started a singing group. It felt like a perfect fit for Angela, but as friends and their families left Chicago for the suburbs, the singing group disbanded, and Angela clung to other friends, including a group of fun, feisty Puerto Rican girls. She even wore a Puerto Rican flag necklace for a few days but took it off when people started asking, “Are you even Puerto Rican” to which Angela would have to confess she was not.
The summer after sixth grade, Angela transferred from Disney to St. Viator Catholic School, finding comfort in their youth group activities, proximity to home, and retreat offerings. Around this time, Angela became incredibly interested in group dynamics, power, and privilege. In college, she took courses in sociology and anthropology. She participated in a racial dialogue retreat, made a pilgrimage to the American South, and joined Teach for America upon graduation from NIU.
Growing up, Angela rarely partook in cannabis smoking and considered it part of the negative drug culture. It wasn’t until Angela was out of college and struggling with anxiety and PMDD that she understood the medicinal benefits of cannabis.
Angela feels relieved and grateful for the legalization of cannabis in Illinois and imagines a more inclusive, less stigmatized vision of cannabis use. As an educator on Chicago's west side, Angela has heard community members engaging in conversations about the legalization of cannabis and its impact on their communities. Some expressed an interest in learning how to grow and sell it legally. This led Angela to envision a movement to utilize the legalization of cannabis to empower struggling communities and create opportunities for those most hurt by America’s war on drugs.
Angela is currently co-raising her daughter in Oak Park, IL, a village she admires for its emphasis on inclusivity (not just diversity) and wellness (not just achievement).