A strong mission: This is important not only for the founder but also for the organization’s employees as well as its audience. The purpose and legacy always connects back to the core of the mission.
Sasha Kalcheff-Korn brings a wealth of experience in human rights, education and communications to her role at Realm of Caring. Long interested in the intersection between cannabis legalization and human rights both here and abroad, Sasha is passionate about connecting individuals to effective plant-based methodologies for medicine and care. In her current role, Sasha also helps to keep Realm of Caring’s internal teams, clients and the community at large educated on industry developments and scientific advancements by producing webinars, writing blogs and more. She also represents Realm of Caring in the Marijuana Working Group of Colorado Springs.
After earning her master’s degree in International Human Rights from the University of Denver, Sasha received her elementary teaching license from the University of Colorado. She first taught with the service organization AmeriCorps, then sixth-grade math in Colorado Springs for three years. Seeking a career shift that would allow her to utilize her master’s and work for a nonprofit she is passionate about, she joined the Realm of Caring team in 2019. Sasha, who is also a trained yoga instructor, lives in Colorado with her husband and son.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?
In no particular order, the first is volunteering at a school in rural Uganda where I assisted with education and health initiatives. This solidified my desire to work in education and with nonprofits. The second would be having my son, who helped me slow down and focus on what is most important — one’s personal health, wellbeing, and overall quality of life. I want him to be proud of the work his mom accomplishes but also know that she is always there for him.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? We would love to hear a few stories or examples.
Patience, gratitude, and determination. Each requires being thoughtful. For example, in the classroom it was critical to be patient with the students’ varied learning styles and not provide an answer, but rather the tools. When leading, it is not only important to show gratitude toward individuals but also acknowledge what they’ve each taught you to personally understand. Overall, people deserve sincere acknowledgment to know they are valued.
What’s the most interesting discovery you’ve made since you started working at Realm of Caring?
How far our work is from being done when it comes to cannabinoid research. We have helped an incredible amount of individuals worldwide, including advocating for access to plant-based therapies; educating about the benefits and how to use cannabis in a responsible way; and publishing three research papers so far from data collected through our groundbreaking Observational Research Registry (ORR). We have done a lot but as we are witnessing, the cannabis consumer has outpaced the scientific and medical world, and Realm of Caring is what we need to bridge the gap between the two.
Can you please tell our readers more about how you or your organization intends to make a significant social impact?
Our goal is to improve lives through research, education, and community. By funding and conducting research, we learn more about cannabis and its effects while legitimizing the therapy. Education empowers consumers to select the best products for their individual needs and informs healthcare professionals. Through community, we spread the truth about cannabis and expand access to those in need.
What makes you feel passionate about this cause more than any other?
This cause embodies so much that I am passionate about — human rights, education, policy change, and access to more healthcare options. People are still facing criminal charges for personal health decisions while more than half of our country believes cannabis should be legalized. This is a decades-long problem that needs to be solved, and Realm of Caring is doing the work to get there.
Without naming names, could you share a story about an individual who benefitted from your initiatives?
We thoroughly vet all products before recommending them to our clients. We have had a client find a quality, affordable product at an appropriate dose that helped them become seizure- and pharmaceutical-free for five years and counting. Hearing that a parent reconnected with their child once the seizures eased, or a veteran with severe PTSD being able to hug his kids again, or that a man suffering from dementia was able to have a conversation with his spouse for the first time in 10 years, is an invaluable part of this work. These are our reasons for showing up day after day.
We all want to help and to live a life of purpose. What are three actions anyone could take to help address the root cause of the problem you’re trying to solve?
The first would be gaining a personal understanding of the potential medical benefits of cannabinoid therapy by sourcing accurate information through readily available research to help further reduce the stigma.
The second action would be to share the information among your friends or write letters to your government representatives at the state and federal levels so that more informed decisions can be made. Realm of Caring creates weekly blogs and shares client success stories to help facilitate these conversations.
The third action would be sending individuals with questions about starting cannabinoid therapy to Realm of Caring so they may receive accurate information that is backed by research. We offer free, one-on-one support for anyone seeking answers.
Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Create A Successful & Effective Nonprofit That Leaves A Lasting Legacy?” Please share a story or example for each.
1) A strong mission: This is important not only for the founder but also for the organization’s employees as well as its audience. The purpose and legacy always connects back to the core of the mission.
2) Passionate individuals: Everyone on the Realm of Caring team has a personal “why” of their connection to the organization. We also have a beautiful group of sponsors, volunteers, and ambassadors who passionately work to support us and spread our message.
3) A Belief Statement: Realm of Caring believes that “the quality of life matters.” This belief statement is something we see in our work every day. This helps provide a reason behind the information we communicate and the research we do.
4) Agility: The ability to pivot easily is necessary to stay up to date on the constantly changing legislation. This also speaks to maintaining flexibility when it comes to campaigns that fall flat or the need for increased engagement.
5) Delivering Accurate Information: Our role is unique as we focus on educating the public, which means the important work we release must be factual. We have a team of educated individuals including an involved board of directors and a reputable scientific advisory board to ensure we are doing that.
How has the pandemic changed your definition of success?
Success needs to be considered not just as accomplishments but the collaboration, flexibility and balance it took to achieve them. To remain and / or become successful during the pandemic meant finding new ways to collaborate, change the course of action quickly, and maintain a work-life balance.
How do you get inspired after an inevitable setback?
Re-watching videos of Realm of Caring founder’s Heather Jackson and Paige Figi talking about our origin story — remembering the bravery of these two parents and their children, Zaki Jackson and Charlotte Figi, will always be an inspiration to me. Our clients also inspire me daily, especially their stories. Their success stories give me optimism and their stories of struggle remind me that we have a lot more work to do and a lot more people to help.
Is there a person in the world who you would like to talk to, to share the idea behind Realm of Caring?
Honestly, I’d talk to as many people who will listen! We are here for those who have exhausted all other medical resources and those who prefer the plant-based therapy route. We are here to educate doctors, legislators, the cannabis industry, consumers and more. We hope to right the wrongs of the war on drugs by challenging stigmas and legitimizing cannabinoid therapy through observational research.
How can our readers follow your progress online?
Follow us on social media for the latest including important legislation, webinar invites and developing research. We also regularly post educational blogs on our website and have a weekly newsletter with recent progress and the latest information.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.