This is the team at the Grasslands marketing agency

RICARDO BACA / FOUNDER & CEO

Ricardo Baca is a 20-year veteran journalist, keynote speaker, TEDx veteran and thought leader in modern media and drug-policy circles. He served as The Denver Post’s first-ever marijuana editor and founded news vertical The Cannabist, where he extensively covered the advent of adult-use cannabis and related issues across the country and around the world, as seen in the feature documentary Rolling Papers (Netflix).

In 2016, Ricardo launched Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency to work directly with business leaders in highly regulated industries, including cannabis, energy and traditional healthcare. Named Marketer of the Year by AdCann in 2019, Ricardo has received numerous accolades for his trailblazing work covering drug policy, cannabis business and culture, and continues to columnize and host podcasts for a number of top publications.

Three media outlets I check every single day: The Denver Post, Vox, The New York Times

Super inspired by: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: The Marshall Project

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Travel. Design. Writing. Feminist. ENFP.

 

DEBBIE McHUGH / CHIEF OF STAFF

Debbie McHugh is a 20-year media publishing veteran and joins Grasslands from Rodale, Inc. (since acquired by Hearst), where she served as Director of People Operations & Strategy across all Rodale brands including Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Runner’s World. Her career overseeing large-scale media operations includes the roles of senior managing editor at Men’s Health and managing editor at Condé Nast Publications, Seventeen and Aspen Magazine.

Debbie additionally helped guide the nationwide launch of Jane magazine, where she also served as managing editor. In addition to her extensive network of national journalists, Debbie also has substantial contacts and experience in the book publishing world, where she was part of the team behind several New York Times bestselling franchises such as, Eat This, Not That!, The Abs Diet, and The Men’s Health and Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises. She has demonstrated exceptional acumen in the media-publicity space throughout her career, spearheading numerous high-profile partnerships and wide-reaching programs.

Three newsletters I check every single day: Marijuana Moment, Entrepreneur, Morning Brew 

Super inspired by: Brené Brown 

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Alzheimer’s Association 

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Skiing. Hiking. Kayaking with @dollythedachshund.

amanda

AMANDA LOWELL /
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS

Amanda Lowell is a public relations professional with over 10 years of agency experience. She has assisted clients of all sizes in industries including talent, fashion, food & beverage and health & wellness, and has been a large part of the tactical planning and strategizing for the accounts she has overseen.

Prior to joining Grasslands, Amanda spent three years in Los Angeles as a senior account executive at coded{pr} working on accounts including TechStyle, Watters and Naturalizer. Before that, Amanda spent nearly seven years in New York at Identity Talent + PR where she learned the industry through high-level contracts with Victoria’s Secret and Sports Illustrated. She has secured top-level media placements in national outlets including CNN Travel, E! News, Forbes and People Magazine.

Three media outlets I check every single day: The Skimm, Refinery29, People Magazine

Super inspired by: My family

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Green Chimneys 

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Family. Fitness. Food. My dog.

emily gray brosious

EMILY GRAY BROSIOUS / CONTENT MARKETING DIRECTOR

Emily Gray Brosious is a marketing communications professional with a background in digital storytelling, content marketing and multimedia journalism. Her expertise centers around the highly regulated cannabis industry, and she specializes in communicating key messaging through innovative editorial strategy, resonant brand storytelling and compelling content development.

Prior to joining Grasslands, Emily served as founding digital editor and chief reporter for Extract, a national cannabis news vertical operated under the Sun Times Network, 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.

Three media outlets I check every single day: The New York Times, The Atlantic, WBEZ 91.5FM (Chicago Public Radio!)

Super inspired by: My bad@ss mom

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: ProPublica

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Family. Art. Music. Civics. Tinkering.

MACKENZIE METER / MARKETING SPECIALIST AND COPYWRITER

MACKENZIE METER / MARKETING SPECIALIST AND COPYWRITER

Mackenzie Meter is a marketing and writing professional who has worked with clients from craft beer to law to banking. By combining research- and data-driven insights with creative approaches to business problems, Mackenzie is able to help businesses and clients reach the right audiences and grow. 

Prior to joining Grasslands, Mackenzie worked in the craft beer industry and in a Denver-based marketing agency. She also provided freelance marketing and writing services to select clients. Originally from Michigan, Mackenzie earned her bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and her master’s in marketing from the University of Colorado, Denver. She is HubSpot-certified for Inbound Marketing, Software, Social Media and Content Marketing. 

Three media outlets I check every day: Colorado Public Radio (print and radio), Wonkette, Vox

Super inspired by: Dream-chasers and creators like Jimmy Chin; steadfast leaders like Gretchen Whitmer; anyone with creative solutions to climate change. 

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Environmental Defense Fund

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Hiking. Yoga. Running. Cooking. Family.

publicist for the Grasslands marketing agency Julie Dietel

JULIE DIETEL / PUBLICIST

Julie Dietel is a public relations professional with a varied background in marketing and communications. In working with nonprofits and private startups, Julie has helped clients reach national, international and local audiences, ushered in fundraising news and successfully announced partnerships. Having worked both in-house and on the agency side, Julie has a passion for storytelling and a knack for thinking creatively without losing sight of strategic goals. 

Prior to joining Grasslands, Julie served as an account executive at Barokas Communications— representing technology clients in the B2B, e-commerce, aerospace, remittance and telemedicine industries—as well as a marketing and communications associate at the Mark Morris Dance Group. An East Coast transplant, Julie earned her bachelor of arts in public relations from Hofstra University with a minor in dance.

Three media outlets I check every day: Axios Sports, The New York Times, The Denver Post

Super inspired by: The people in my life—I am beyond grateful.

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Americans for the Arts

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Patriots Football. Anything outdoors. Water.

a photo of Erin Curry the project coordinator at Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency

ERIN CURRY / PROJECT COORDINATOR

Erin Curry is a public relations professional specializing in relationship building, account management, media relations, strategy and design. As a Project Coordinator at Grasslands, she merges purpose, passion and fresh energy to deliver seamless, world-class service to every client account. 

Prior to joining Grasslands, Erin served as a Public Relations Account Coordinator at Webb Strategic Communications where she provided strategic public relations and account management support. She earned a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri (MIZ!)

Three media outlets I check every single day: The Daily (podcast), The Colorado Sun, Marijuana Business Daily

Super inspired by: Strong, intelligent women such as my mother, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Michelle Obama, Greta Thunberg… the list goes on!

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Enjoying / embracing the little things.

sean

SEAN BILLISITZ / PR AND SOCIAL MEDIA SPECIALIST

Sean Billisitz is an advertising and public relations professional who excels in media relations, strategic campaign development and social media messaging. Prior to joining Grasslands, he served as an associate account executive with Michigan-based communications firm Truscott Rossman, assisting clients in a range of industries including healthcare, insurance, energy and biomedical research. Sean earned his Bachelor of Science in advertising and public relations from Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in 2018. His work in the Advertising and Public Relations program for the GVSU Department of History and the American Cancer Society garnered multiple awards. In May 2019, the West Michigan Public Relations Society of America named Sean the “Newcomer of the Year.”

Three media outlets I check every single day: Denver 9News, Leafly, Rolling Stone

Super inspired by: My father

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Little Kids Rock

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Bud. Beer. Boarding. Bass music. 🤘🏼

a photo of Sarah Cobb, the PR intern at Grasslands Marketing Agency

SARAH COBB / ACCOUNT COORDINATOR

After graduating from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a bachelor’s degree in public relations, Sarah started working as an intern with Grasslands’ PR team. Prior to Grasslands, she served on an internship with anti-hunger organization Metro Caring, supporting the nonprofit group’s communications efforts. Sarah enjoys the creative aspects of storytelling and brand building, and is passionate about learning new strategies for reaching business goals.

Three media outlets I check every single day: The Denver Post, BuzzFeed, The New York Times

Super inspired by: Barbara Corcoran from Shark Tank

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Metro Caring

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Craft beer. Snowboarding. Furry friends.

Jesse Burns CMO at Grasslands: A Journalism Focused Agency

JESSE BURNS / CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER

Jesse Burns is a cannabis marketing veteran who served as the longtime marketing director for Sweet Grass—Colorado’s leading edible in the baked goods category—before joining Grasslands as CMO in 2020. He believes that product design and a deep understanding of the customer journey are the driving forces for exceptional brands, and that marketers must strive to understand what emotions customers experience in order to craft a meaningful brand narrative and build lasting relationships. 

Jesse has received multiple awards for marketing and product design, including Colorado’s THC Classic and a Gold Clio. He also serves as a mentor for the CanopyBoulder cannabis startup incubator. He sits on the MBA Alumni Board for the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and is co-chair of the programmatic committee for the Cannabis Entrepreneurship Academy, an executive education program at CU Boulder. 

Three media outlets I check every single day: The Indicator from Planet Money (podcast), AdAge, CNN

Super inspired by: Exceptionally well-designed products and sexy brands 

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: West Virginia 4-H Forward Fund

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Skiing. Rafting. Cooking. Sports. Music.

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.

She has assisted clients both large and small in a variety of industries including 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 upper tiers of American media. She has secured top-level media placements in national and international media outlets including Forbes, Bloomberg, FoxCanadian Broadcasting Corporation and Entrepreneur.

Three media outlets I check every single day: AdAge, Fast Company, The New York Times

Super inspired by: Don Draper

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: National Parks Conservation Association

When I’m off the clock (in five words): I’m on the road again.   

Business development manager of Grasslands John Svoboda

JOHN SVOBODA / BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

John Svoboda is a sales and marketing professional with over 15 years of experience leading business development organizations. His expertise centers around the highly regulated cannabis industry, with a specialization in technology, operational efficiency and compliance. Prior to joining Grasslands, John served as the head of sales and marketing for top cannabis software platforms Trellis, Green Bits and Flowhub. John has spent time living in Colorado, Oregon and California, experiencing the distinct nuances of each market. He draws from this experience to help license holders, investors and ancillary brands build successful businesses.

Three media outlets I check every day: The Athletic, Marijuana Business Daily, The Oregonian

Super inspired by: My mother

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Sound Equine Options

When I’m off the clock (in five words):  Music. Animals. Nature. Grilling. Soccer.

Alexis Lipnicki Grasslands PR Manager

ALEXIS LIPNICKI / PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGER

Alexis Lipnicki is a public relations and marketing professional with 10 years of agency and in-house experience, including senior management roles. She has supported clients of all sizes in sectors such as food & beverage, automotive aftermarket, luxury lifestyle, and health & wellness. Alexis considers herself a 360-degree communications professional and enjoys creating and executing upon integrated marketing strategies, with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to joining Grasslands, Alexis ran the marketing and communications department at knife and tool company Cold Steel. She has worked at numerous public relations agencies in Los Angeles, most notably Porter Novelli, where she worked on accounts including The Almond Board of California, Nature Made and Ben’s Original (formerly Uncle Ben’s). Alexis also recently earned her Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Northcentral University, graduating with honors. She has secured top-level media placements in national outlets including Parade, USA Today, Everyday Health and People Magazine.

Three media outlets I check every single day: Forbes, Refinery 29, LA Times

Super inspired by: The Stanley Brothers

When I’m off the clock (in five words): My dogs. Spicy food. Outdoors.

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Westside German Shepherd Rescue

ALETA LABAK / COPY CHIEF

Aleta joined Grasslands after a 19-year career with The Denver Post, the largest news organization in Colorado. During her time at the Post, Aleta 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 Marijuana.com in digital traffic.

Three media outlets I check every single day: The New York Times, The Denver Post, Montrose Press (support local journalism!)

Super inspired by: The plant kingdom—amazingly adaptable and resilient. 

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Outdoors. Horticulture. Craft. Cook. Explore.

a photo of Lindsey Clark, a publicist at Grasslands: A Journalism Minded Agency

LINDSEY CLARKE / PUBLICIST

Lindsey Clarke is a public relations professional with versatile experience representing luxury consumer and lifestyle brands, from startups to international labels. She has worked in both agency and in-house environments to develop and successfully execute on campaigns and media outreach. 

Prior to joining Grasslands, Lindsey worked in media relations for five years in Los Angeles, supporting notable brands including Eddie Bauer, Teva and Ulla Johnson fashion. Lindsey’s drive to strategically communicate a brand’s story has landed significant media attention in top-tier outlets including Robb Report, Forbes and Rolling Stone.

Three media outlets I check every single day: The Daily (podcast), all things NYMag.com, The New York Times

Super inspired by: My grandma, Jane

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Podcasts. Nieces. Spicy margs. Adventuring.

TM_circle headshot

TREVOR MANISCALO / PUBLICIST

Trevor Maniscalo is a Denver-based public relations professional focused on utilizing story-driven strategies to secure all levels of client media coverage. Since joining the Grasslands team in January 2019—first as an intern, then accepting a full-time position upon receiving his bachelor’s degree in journalism—Trevor  has worked to support the communications efforts of nonprofit organizations, as well as companies in the cannabis and restaurant industries.

Three media outlets I check every single day: Marijuana Business Daily, Wall Street Journal, Westword

Super inspired by: Snoop Dogg

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Human Rights Watch

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Mountains. Music. Family. TV. Weed.

MADDY-NEW

MADISON WARE / JUNIOR PUBLICIST

Madison Ware is a Denver-based public relations professional focused on creating brand stories and sharing them on the world stage. She is passionate about collaborative storytelling and building strong client and media relationships. Madison previously served as an account coordinator at MAPRagency, where she assisted clients in the tech and healthcare sectors with B2B communications efforts. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado-Boulder, where she earned a bachelor’s in public relations with a minor in business.

Three media outlets I check every single day: Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Los Angeles Times

Super inspired by: Ellen DeGeneres 

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Best Friends Animal Society / No-Kill Los Angeles 

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Food. Concerts. Netflix. IPAs only.

Kirsten Cavnar

KIRSTEN CAVNAR / PR INTERN

Kirsten Cavnar is a public relations intern focused on supporting the team on a tactical level. Before Grasslands, she held an intern position with the anti-hunger organization Metro Caring, supporting its communication efforts. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the Metropolitan State University of Denver. A lifelong storyteller, Kirsten is passionate about communicating a client’s vision and helping it become a reality. 

Three media outlets I check every single day: The Denver Post, Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone
 
Super inspired by: The holy trinity (aka my mom, Matthew McConaughey and Miley Cyrus)
 
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Family. Outdoors. Spicy Margs. Movies. 

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