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The Lookout | April 12, 2021

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Alumnus Spotlight: Robin Schneider

Alumnus Spotlight: Robin Schneider
hookl
  • On February 25, 2021

By Maddy Warren
Editor In Chief

In high school, Robin Schneider, a registered lobbyist and executive director of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, wanted to pursue a career in cosmetology.

“I had gone to the career center while I was in high school,” Schneider said. “I got my cosmetology license and began working in hair salons right when I graduated high school, and I ended up cutting hair … and paying for my own college.”

Schneider said she was able to work as a cosmetologist and put herself through school.

“Part of the reason why I went to LCC was … so that I wouldn’t have to take out any student loans or get into any kind of debt,” Schneider said.

While taking classes at LCC over 20 years ago, Schneider met former LCC Political Science Professor Jerry Roe, when she was a student of his, and the pair formed a close friendship.

Schneider credits Roe as the inspiration for why she got into politics.

“While I was at community college, Professor Roe really took me under his wing and saw something in me that I didn’t even realize I had,” Schneider said. “(I) naturally, was enthusiastic about politics and wanted to make a difference; I understood how laws could be changed and Professor Roe cared about me very much.

“We had a very close, I would say relationship, where he really helped me get my start in the political arena.”

Schneider said Roe helped her get multiple jobs, including an internship with the Michigan Republican Party. Roe served as the executive director of the party from 1969 to 1979.

“What (Roe) taught me was how to do campaign kind of work,” Schneider said. “He believed in me and my ability to enter into this arena. He was so encouraging and supportive of me, and really just opened so many doors for me early on in my life.”

During her career, Schneider has worked on several campaigns regarding the legalization of medicinal and recreational cannabis in Michigan. 

“Right now, I’m the executive director for the state’s largest cannabis trade association, so we represent approximately 300 state-licensed businesses,” Schneider said. “We lobby to protect their business interests.”

Schneider said she and her team hope to mainstream their industry so that cannabis will lose its stigma and be grouped in the same category as alcohol and tobacco.

Before assuming her current position, Schneider worked as the finance director for the Michigan Proposal 18-1 campaign in 2018, and before that helped pass several medical marijuana bills.

“My job as the finance director was to fundraise for the campaign,” Schneider said. “We raised $3.5 million to put that initiative on the ballot, and so that was my primary role.”

Schneider said she also helped advocate to free Michael Thompson, who was Michigan’s longest-serving prisoner on a non-violent cannabis-related charge. Thompson was released on Jan. 28, 2021.

Schneider added: “We spend a lot of time protecting and maintaining the laws that we’ve spent over 10 years working on.”

In addition to her political career, Schneider is a mom to four teenage children. Schneider said she took a 10-year break from working to have four kids and be a mom.

“(I) spent pretty much all of that time, just being a wife and a mother,” Schneider said. “Once the kids were older, stepped back into working on campaigns and lobbying.”

Schneider’s oldest son, Alex, is a student at LCC.

“I think it is really cool that she’s a lobbyist,” Alex said. “She gets to work with all kinds of different people. When me and my siblings were younger, she used to work a lot, but we knew it was to support and take care of us.”

As a single mom to four teens with a big career, Schneider described her relationship with her kids as a team.

“The only thing I really ever wanted to be was a mom … and that’s not the cards that life handed me. I stepped into being a career woman instead,” Schneider said.

Schneider said she sometimes regrets not always being there due to work, and that her mom helped raise her kids.

“There’s a piece of me that regrets it and there’s another part of me that knows that I taught my children that, with enough work and discipline, they can go out there in the world and do absolutely anything that they want to,” she said.