Meet the Grasslands Team

Ricardo Baca, Founder & CEO


Erin Barnes, Newsletter Coordinator
Lover of all things creative and social, Erin has spent her 15-year career exploring media’s quirky corners. From her early days as a music journalist to creating an award-winning satirical society blog, The Donnybrook Writing Academy, Erin has rubbed elbows with Denver’s creative community. She represented indie bands at labels United Interests and What Are Records? She also serves as publicist and copywriter for Illegal Pete’s, and runs the burrito chain’s Starving Artists program. Writing credits include Huffington Post, Racked, The Denver Post, Westword, A.V. Club and Ralph Lauren. Her first novel, Tintabula, is represented by The Rights Factory.

Emily Gray Brosious, Content Specialist
Emily Gray Brosious is a multimedia journalist, writer and communications expert specializing in the areas of cannabis and drug policy. Prior to joining Grasslands in September 2017, she served as founding digital editor and chief reporter for Extract, a cannabis news vertical operated under the Sun Times Network between 2015 and 2017, where she produced in-depth coverage of national cannabis business news, politics and legislative issues. She cut her teeth in the Chicago news market, covering politics, activism and crime as a multimedia reporter for Homicide Watch Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times and other local news publications.

Aleta Labak, Copy Chief
Aleta Labak joined Grasslands after a 19-year career with The Denver Post, the largest news organization in Colorado. During her time at the Post, Ms. Labak worked as a copy editor, page designer and digital producer in several departments, including local and national news, business, features and sports. In 2014, she joined Grasslands founder Ricardo Baca as he launched The Cannabist, the Post’s award-winning online vertical covering the historic legalization and implementation of adult-use cannabis in Colorado. Together they helped establish The Cannabist as a go-to national resource for serious cannabis journalism, a platform that ultimately overtook High Times and in digital traffic.

Courtney Mathis, Event Director
For the past five years Courtney has specialized in creating opportunities for cannabis businesses to engage with nonprofits, neighborhood groups and other sector leaders. Her work has spanned from boutique dispensaries to national cannabis industry groups. In addition to co-founding kindColorado and the CSR framework™, she is also the co-founder of Conscious Cannabis Co. Ms. Mathis has been professionally producing events for 15 years, and some of her most memorable events include the Colorado launch party for Whoopi Goldberg’s celebrated Whoopi & Maya cannabis brand; the Easy Brews Festival for the National Hemophilia Foundation and the first annual kindColorado Holiday Party.

Emily McCarter, Social Media Influencer and Publicity
Emily is a spunky creative writer, Instagram junkie and connoisseur of all things cannabis. Emily’s work has appeared in publications such as Westword, 303 Magazine and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She has also assisted a Colorado cannabis start-up with their marketing efforts, and KPIX-KBCW San Francisco with their advertising and sales. As a Midwestern native, she aims to destigmatize cannabis use for the public through her blog Weed Wealthy. Weed is the new wine as far as Emily is concerned.

Sam Pendleton, Event Director
Sam is passionate about creative design, event planning and developing detailed social media management plans. With a keen eye for detail, space utilization and color, Ms. Pendleton brings thoughtful, unparalleled design into every event she produces. After studies at NYIAD, she has brought fresh ideas into event spaces for 11 years, including Dew Tour, Breckenridge Beer Fest,  Riverwalk Event Center,  Tasty Colfax and The Bluebird District to name a few. She partnered with Ms. Mathis on the Whoopi & Maya launch party, Easy Brews Beer Festival and the KindColorado Holiday Party.

Chloe Steerman, Account Director
Chloe Steerman began her career as a PR and Social Media Coordinator with Philadelphia-based agency Brownstein Group. In 2016, Chloe relocated to Colorado to join The Rosen Group as an Account Executive, where she focused primarily on cannabis industry clients. Ms. Steerman has assisted clients both large and small in a variety of industries including cannabis, technology, food and beverage and manufacturing. Chloe’s creative energy and passion for PR have contributed to her success in developing and executing publicity programs that have reached the top tiers of American media. She has secured top-level media placements in national and international publications including Forbes, Bloomberg, FOX, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Entrepreneur.